You gotta feed yoself tho.
I have been to a few many places in the last two years. And although each trip was unique in its own way, there was one thing in common with all of them. I self-catered.
My first self-catering holiday was with my family to Turkey. Although all of the outside food was halal, with seven people in tow, it was simply cheaper and easier to have a place to make our own food. My mum sorted out all of the food. She packed marinated chicken, lasagna and other things that I ate, but did little to help prepare. I only found out how my mum had prepared it all when she shared her tips with other family members.
One year later, I travelled with my husband and in laws to Andalusia, Spain. We were six adults and two children, and self-catered the entire journey. One key reason was that it would have been very difficult to find halal food in that region, especially when we were out and about sight seeing. My sister in law did most (if not all) of the preparation beforehand, and my mother in law shared a lot of her European shopping tips whilst we were there.
I later went on two short breaks (Gran Canaria and Barcelona) with my husband, and am now writing from not-so-sunny Sligo in Ireland – all self-catered.
Why choose self-catering?
The three reasons I chose self-catering were cost, dietary requirements (halal food), and the privacy/comfort of apartments.
In Turkey with my family, an all-inclusive holiday would have actually been cost-effective, however, the privacy of the villa and pool outweighed everything. Everything. When travelling with more than a couple of people, it was nice to have our own space to eat together and chill together.
In regards to cost, I booked all apartments through AirBnb/Homeaway. The apartments were usually lost cost (compared to bed and breakfast hotel rooms), with the added advantage of not having to spend money eating out.
What about the local cuisine?
I love trying new food. I know people who self-cater because they require home-food everyday (chapattis for the indians), but I could happily eat adventurously for a week. When visiting Barcelona, all food that was even possibly halal (possibly because they all serve alcohol), was Pakistani/Arab/Turkish – food that can be found in England. I didn’t try Paella or any tapas because, quite simply, they weren’t halal.
On another note, I ate a whole bunch of churros in Barcelona, and ate out in Gran Canaria and Turkey in the same way that I would eat out at home, as a treat/convenience because we’re out anyway.
Also, self-catering doesn’t just mean bringing food only from home. It includes using and cooking with local ingredients and spices.
I go on holiday to get away from everyday life, including cooking?
You do you. If cooking and preparing meals is something you do not want to do on holiday, go all inclusive and enjoy. If I visit Turkey again, I would probably look at all-inclusive/bed and breakfast options, simply because I know that I can eat it all, and Turkish food is just so good!
However, if you are going somewhere where your dietary requirements will be difficult to meet, and have to self-cater, remember that a lot of the prep can be done from home. It is a lot more work, but you don’t have to give up your fun for food.
If cost is important, I assume that the chosen apartment/self-catering option does not include house-keeping or room-service. This does not apply to suites in hotels.
The one big downside is the cleaning. This relates to the previous point, as cleaning, cooking and laundry are a part of everyday life that many of us hope to get away from on holiday. However, when a budget is involved, having a washing machine to do your own laundry just adds to the savings (on a laundry service).
Overall, self-catering has always worked for me, but I know that its not for everyone. Here’s a little breakdown:
Pros: Cheap, (often) private, can cook and eat what you like, can eat cereal at midnight.
Cons: Cleaning. Cooking. Sometimes the place you go to has an oven that smokes the room up.
Have you got a positive or negative self-catering experience to share?
Are there any more pros or cons you can add to the list?
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