This was my first adventure as a truly frugal traveler – from start to finish.  It started with an amazing $450 airfare from Philadelphia to Beijing, routing through Boston and Chicago, with 5 days in Beijing.  The return was a more direct Beijing to Chicago to Philadelphia (the Boston leg on the outbound was thrown in merely to accumulate some extra miles).  If you’re keeping track at home, that’s about 20k miles for $450, or 2.25 cents per mile (CPM), an amazing rate.  Plus it got me to China, which was the point of the trip in the first place (yes, the miles are an extra benefit, not always the primary reason to travel J).

After securing the flights, I began searching for a hotel.  As a result of my Diamond Status Challenge with Hyatt in May 2014, I would still be a Diamond member during this trip, which entitles me to Lounge access at Hyatts (i.e., free breakfast, free evening reception).  Getting the trick yet to travel frugally?

I booked the Grand Hyatt Beijing, which is a very nice property, located very close to major tourist sites in Beijing.  Also, running directly in front of the hotel is the Beijing subway, which I found to be AMAZINGLY convenient to get to the more far flung locations around the city (at a cost of about 30 cents per ride!).  In addition, all signage is in both Chinese and English, so there were no issues with understanding the route maps.

(front entrance to the Hyatt)


(front entrance from the street, with a nice display for Chinese New Year)


The room at the Hyatt was faily basic, and what you would expect from a Grand Hyatt.  Comfortable and functional.

Pictures of the room – a Standard King – below


I will cover the sites of Beijing in a separate post.

Back to the original title of this post – “cheap” food and drinks.  As I said earlier, Diamond status with Hyatt entitles you access to their Lounge, which has both a breakfast buffet and cocktails/ anacks and appetizers in the evening.  This is an amazing benefit if you’re trying to travel on the cheap!

I didn’t take any pictures of the morning buffet, but there were the typical buffet options – breads, meats, cheeses, some cold cuts, a wide assortment of coffees teas and juices.  I didn’t find any of these to be picture worthy as the fare was pretty standard.

The evening reception was where I was much more impressed!

I’m not much into hard alcohol, but if that’s your preference, there was a very nice selection, all of which was self service


For those of you (myself included) who enjoy wine, there were a few selections of both red and whites (I’m a fan of red, so here are those)


More of a beer drinker?  The Hyatt Beijing has you covered!  My recommendation?  The Asahi Dry – very interesting selection.  Again, all beverages are self service 🙂



IF you’re going to be enjoying yourself with a few cocktails, you’ll probably want to grab some food to eat as well.  Again, the Hyatt Beijing has you covered.  Each night the selections changed, providing a very nice array of options.

A nice selection of Chips and Salsa, Sausage, and some other munchies.  There were traditional Chinese food options available as well, but I’m not that adventurous of an eater (Prawn dumpling?  No thank you!)





That’s a quick summary of how to eat on the cheap (i.e. free!) while travelling.  Yes, it takes some work and some preparation, but it is certainly possible.

By the way, if you’re  asking yourself where the $5 I spent went, since that hasn’t yet been covered, this was something I just could NOT pass up.  On a day trip the Great Wall of China, there was a vendor selling beverages on the wall itself.  I couldn’t pass up the experience to say I drank a beer on the Great Wall, so I spent the $5 and enjoyed one, as shown here:


All in all it was a great trip and a great experience!