When you’re traveling more than a week or two, eating out for every meal is not only expensive but also a bit tedious. There’s something about a home-cooked meal, even when you’re not at home, that just tastes right. Of course, I usually prefer my home-cooked meals to be cooked by someone else, because I am lazy. But when I’m solo traveling, I don’t really have that option. So I try to make sure that there’s a kitchen wherever I’m staying.
Not all hostels have kitchens, so you have to check the listing before booking. Once you’re there, check out the equipment provided (do they have sharp knives? more than one pan?) and see if there’s any communal food or spices before heading out to the store, so you don’t buy more than you need. Eva Holland provides a guide on hostel cooking, and Fiona Honor Hurley’s step-by-step list even includes recipes to try out in hostels.
If you’re couchsurfing, many of the same principles apply, but since you’re in someone’s home, there are additional things to take into consideration. Are your hosts cooking at the same time; is there enough room in the kitchen for several meals to be made at once? Or even better, cooking a meal for your host is a great way to say thank you for their hospitality. Be sure to check for any dietary restrictions and kitchen rules before starting. For example, one of my former roommates was a vegan, and she had a special cutting board and knife that we meat eaters couldn’t use; good info to have before you start chopping up ingredients for a chicken stir-fry.
Home rental service
There are fewer limitations when using a home rental service like Airbnb, since renting out the whole apartment means you have free rein of the kitchen provided. Still, surprises are possible; the twins and I checked the cupboards at our rental in Montreal and saw table salt. It was only when we returned from the grocery store and started cooking that we discovered the salt was a rock-hard block of indeterminate age.
What tips do you have, dearest fellow travelers?