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BYOB: Drink Up, Save Up

Whenever someone asks me how I keep costs down while traveling, a lot of my answers (much like my life) revolve around food: book a hotel where breakfast is included, treat lunch as your main meal of the day, pack a picnic, ask a local shopkeeper or taxi driver for his favorite restaurant. And since this economic downtown began, I’ve been hearing more and more that travelers are choosing to eat at BYOB restaurants.

Bringing your own bottle to dinner is certainly a great way to save cash, and it affords you the added pleasure of exploring local groceries and shopping for local wines. And if you’ve already picked up a bottle or two on your trip, drinking them at a restaurant guarantees you’ll have zero chance of them being confiscated when you try to smuggle them home.

Photo courtesy of IgoUgo member indigirl

I’ve heard people say that BYOB restaurants focus more intensely on their food and offer tastier dishes. I can’t vouch for that, but I can say that walking into a restaurant with your own bottle certainly has a way of making you feel like a local, and that’s always a good thing.

With this trend in mind, I found some great sources for BYOB listings, depending on where you’re headed:

–Food & Wine’s new list of the “best BYOBs in America” includes choices in New York, New Orleans, Napa, San Francisco, and Chicago.

–New York Magazine’s got 50 listings and sorts them by neighborhood.

–BYOB heavyweight Philadelphia features an awesome interactive BYOB map on its official tourism website.

–Dr. Vino maps out Chicago picks on a map—the red pins are his favorites.

–London’s Evening Standard was ahead of the curve with a list last year, including a pick that’s a reverse-BYOB situation.

Do you ever choose a BYOB on the road, and do you have any to recommend? Cheers!


My name: Michelle Doucette

How I earn my keep: I'm an editor at

Favorite way to get around: Some of my favorite trips involved renting cars in foreign countries and driving through the countryside, stopping on whims. You get a feel for the culture away from the big cities and meet interesting people on the road, including, I must admit, an embarrassingly high number of local policemen. I suppose it would be prudent to learn all of the traffic laws ahead of time.

Best meal I've had while traveling: Since a succession of gelato cones probably doesn't count as a meal, my favorite must have been a fresh crabmeat lunch prepared by a St. John sailboat captain while we took a break from snorkeling in the Caribbean. Sharing baklava as the sun came up over Paros, Greece, (while, once again, not technically a meal) was also memorable.

Travel ambitions: Since climbing Mount Kilimanjaro, I've figured out that I'd like to keep trekking while traveling. I've got my eyes on epic hikes in Nepal, Bhutan, and Peru.


Anne & May

Very cool! I love BYOB restaurants but never thought about hitting them up on vacation.


My way of keeping costs low is to go for free and easy.

First, I will book a cheap flight my self through the internet.
Second, I will book day tours throught the internet.
Third, I will book the hotel through the internet.

If you look at the total bill, the main cost comes from these three components. If you can cut them to the minimum, you will save alot.

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