Never fear! There is a workaround! Simply turn off the publishing site features and you will have the ability to save your publishing site as a template.
The steps are as follows:
- Create your publishing site and configure it the way you like.
- Go to Site Actions à Site Settings à Modify all site settings
- Under Site Administration, select “Site Features”
- The status of “Office SharePoint Server Publishing” will be set to Active
- Click Deactivate
Now your Site settings will show a “Save site as template” option.
Save your site template and then simply reverse the process to turn your publishing features back on.
Please note that publishing features will not be active on any site you create from this type of template. If you want to use them, you will need to turn them on as your sites are created.