12 Ways To Eat On A Budget While Your Traveling
For many travelers, food is the most exciting part of any trip. The chance to experience exciting and strange cuisines in an unfamiliar setting, usually enhanced by a beautiful ocean or countryside backdrop. Whether it’s pizza and pasta in Italy, Chinese Peking duck, or escargots in Paris, there are so many culinary delights for foodie travelers to enjoy all over the globe.
But the only downside is that eating out is expensive. Eating in fancy restaurants for every lunch and dinner over a two-week vacation will set you back hundreds of dollars, and even more if you have the family in tow. If you’re not careful with your money, you might find yourself resorting to the complimentary hotel biscuits for the last few nights of your stay.
Of course, you could save money by purchasing cheap sandwiches and ready-made meals from supermarkets each day, but this isn’t an ideal solution. Food is such an integral part of travel and you shouldn’t let your budget prevent you from enjoying it. This is the best chance you’ll have to experience authentic Mexican, Indian or Japanese food and you want to come home with the delicious memories still lingering on your tastebuds.
To help you enjoy the local cuisine while still saving money, here are some tips to eat cheaply on your next holiday.
Set a budget
The most effective way to keep control of your finances while traveling is to set a budget for the duration. This budget should outline all of your expenses including accommodation, food, transport, and entertainment. This will give you a clear view of how much money you have available to spend on eating out. You’ll have a better understanding of where your money is going and whether or not you can afford that fancy dessert. It’s relatively easy to create a budget using a Microsoft Excel spreadsheet, or there are free applications and templates online that are designed to help you create a travel budget.
When you arrive at your new destination, you might be tempted to wander the city streets, follow the delicious smells, and have lunch in the first place that grabs your attention. But this is a surefire way to spend way too much money and squander your limited opportunities to eat the best food available. Rather than throwing caution to the wind, a better option would be to plan ahead. When planning your international vacation, make a list of all the local dishes you want to try when you’re there, as well as a separate list of the notable eating establishments you want to visit. Check the menus of these websites online or call them up to find out about specials and prices, and this will give you all the essential information you need to make your plan.
Having made this plan, you will now have a good idea of where you are going to eat each day and how much it will cost you. You can then feed this information into your budget and work out how much you are likely to spend. If it looks like the cost is too high, consider swapping out some of the restaurants for cheaper alternatives.
Not every meal on your trip needs to be an event. There will be times when you’re traveling or busy with activities when you just need something quick and easy to tide you over. It’s a good idea to keep some cheap, nutritious, and tasty snacks with you for such occasions. This way you can have something to eat on the plane journey without purchasing a mediocre in-flight meal or munch happily in the car without stopping at an overpriced service station. Snacks like homemade sandwiches, carrot sticks, and fruit are excellent options for the whole family.
Carry a reusable water bottle
When you’re traveling in a hot country, you will need to drink a lot more fluid than usual. When you’re wandering around city streets and crowded squares, you will no doubt be constantly stopping at cafes and bars for a refreshing beer or soft drink to quench your thirst. Although this is an undeniable treat on holiday, the costs can really add up over the course of a week. Keeping your thirst at bay will prevent you from overspending on beverages and carrying a reusable water bottle is the best way to do this. Simply fill it up at the hotel or a water fountain, or even ask bar and restaurant staff if they can top it up for you.
An insulated flask such as a thermos will keep your water cold for you all day, and the best part is, you can also use it to keep hot drinks warm. Perfect for those cold winter destinations.
Make the most of the hotel
When choosing your holiday accommodation, it’s worth taking into account the free amenities it provides. Picking a hotel with a complimentary breakfast will give you a free meal every day, and will effectively reduce your eating budget by a third. Make the most of this free breakfast by having your fill in the morning, and then you won’t feel the need to buy an enormous lunch later on. If the hotel breakfast is a buffet, you may even be able to take some food items with you for a mid-morning snack or fill up a flask with tea or coffee to prevent the need to stop at a cafe throughout the day.
In most cities around the world, there are areas that international tourists flock to. These areas will generally be full of restaurants and bars desperate to attract travelers with bulging wallets and a limited grasp of the exchange rate. As a result, these establishments are always hugely overpriced. If you want to eat authentic and delicious local cuisine while saving money, the best thing you can do is to eat locally. The people who live nearby aren’t going to be wasting their hard-earned cash in the overpriced tourist traps every day, so find out where the locals eat and you’ll be much better off. You could either explore the less frequented areas of the city, ask a local, or search online message boards to find out. Not only will you save a great deal of money, but the meal is likely to be fresher and of better quality too.
Staying in a hotel can be luxurious and take a lot of stress off your hands, but it does mean you’ll be spending money on eating out every night. Consider renting a self-catering accommodation with its own kitchen and dining room for the duration of your trip. This way you don’t have to frequent expensive restaurants each night and can instead prepare your dinners at home. If you shop locally and buy fresh produce you can quite easily prepare a delicious feast for a fraction of the price.
Take a walk
If you are taking buses, trains, or taxis to get to restaurants, you’re spending money before you’ve even sat down at the table. Save a few dollars by opting to walk to your evening meal instead. This way you’ll have more money to spend on your meal, and you’ll have worked up a healthy appetite too.
Look for deals
Lots of restaurants and bars offer discounts and special deals to their customers and it’s worth doing your research in advance to make the most of them. Look online for vouchers and discounts in the area you’ll be staying, and look at the websites of restaurants to see if they do any deals at certain times or days that might make your bill a bit smaller.
Limit the alcohol
If you’re looking for ways to save money on meals abroad, one option is to cut down on the alcohol. Of course, a local wine or craft beer is all part of the experience, but you don’t need to overindulge to enjoy yourself. Limit yourself to a glass or two with a meal or a single beer in a cafe. A little moderation goes a long way. In addition, you could also look for restaurants that have a bring-your-own policy, so you can get a cheaper bottle from a supermarket before you arrive.
Take it slow
We’ve all been there. You’re on holiday and you want to indulge, so you eat and drink everything you can as quickly as possible. But this is unnecessary. By eating more slowly, you will savor each bite and you will give your body more time to digest it and you’ll feel more full. This will prevent you from overspending on food and you’ll garner much more enjoyment from what you eat.
Travel to cheaper destinations
It’s a simple fact that some countries are cheaper than others. By picking your destination wisely, you can enjoy a much more affordable holiday and have a bigger budget at your disposal to spend on tasty treats and marvelous meals. European cities and Scandinavian countries are particularly expensive, and you might find the bills rack up a lot quicker than expected. But on the other hand, South American, Asian and African countries are often extremely affordable for Western travelers. Buying ingredients in Mexican stores or meals in a Vietnamese restaurant will often come at an alarmingly low price.