How to save cash on food and drinks while traveling

Running low on cash to fill your growling stomach and guzzling gas tank? Eat dinner during commute hour -- especially if you're on a roadtrip or driving quite a distance for vacation sight-seeing.

The late-afternoon to early-evening traffic crunch coincides with happy hour, which is when some restaurants and bars offer discounted appetizers. If you pick wisely, you can even eat a full dinner for a fraction of the price at one of the finer establishments simply by sampling every happy-hour appetizer.

Plus, sitting at a table instead of sitting in gridlock means you won't be wasting cash burning fuel that will get you nowhere.
This tactic afforded me my first taste of Boston's 33 Restaurant & Lounge, a sleek upscale eatery where the traditional New England cuisine infused with exotic flavors was dimly lit by the surrounding LED lights that pulsated through a rainbow of colors.

It was a restaurant I was dying to try before abandoning Boston for San Francisco by way of a 17-day relocation roadtrip. But, being unemployed, I cringed at that thought of shelling out $16 for an appetizer dish of lamb lollipops to dunk in gorgonzola fondue.

Luckily, the restaurant Web site's home page touted its recently launched "3 for $3" deal, available from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. Wednesdays through Saturdays and from 8 p.m. to 11 p.m. on Fridays and Saturdays.

So a friend and I got to savor three of the lamb chop lollipops for just $3. We turned our goodbye get-together into a full-blown dinner of six satisfying $3 dishes -- including a trio of Cape Cod oysters, three jumbo shrimp with cocktail sauce, and a basket of duck-fat fries -- for just $2 more than the lamb appetizer alone would have normally cost.

Also, as I checked into hotels across the country, I quenched my thirst with filtered spring water that the hotel provided -- without ever touching the expensive bottles sitting on my guestroom table. Why pay $2.50 for a quart of room-temperature Evian when you can jog downstairs to the hotel's fitness center and fill your sports bottle up for free from the chilled water cooler as often as you wish?

After all, the more cash you save, the more you can travel!
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