Even More Ways To Save Money On Food While Traveling


Bronze Wordsmith
May 17, 2018
Previously, I talked about how to eat cheaply while on vacation. Since I love both vacationing and eating, I guess another post on how to save money on food while traveling is overdue! Kidding aside, I have so many tips that I want to share with you based on personal experience. These are the results of learning from other savvy travelers, as well as by trial and error (mostly error – which I don’t want you to go through!).

I had so many misconceptions about food in relation to traveling that I slowly unlearned since I started vacationing on my own (as well as with other people). The biggest ones had to do with eating at touristy dives. I used to splurge on what travel sites tout as places where one “must simply dine” (expecting them to reflect local culture and flavors). Not only are these places super expensive; they are also likely paid to have positive write-ups done by so-called influencers and bloggers!

But there are more lessons I learned about saving money on dining while traveling. Here are four of the biggest ones which I want to share with you today.

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Do Some Grocery Shopping

Say what?! We’re talking about vacation meals here, and this dude immediately inserts this tip about grocery shopping?!

I’m dead serious, though. In the many places I’ve been, one of the first things I try to locate is the nearest supermarket. While it’s tempting to just get all your meals from the hotel or nearby restaurants, practicality dictates that you also get food within your budget. For the most part, that means meals you’ve prepared yourself!

If your accommodations do not include a kitchen, or cooking utensils and appliances, don’t fret. You can always create a sandwich from scratch, or make a salad using fresh produce from the local market. I’ve done this so many times that I already have a list of “cheap travel food favorites” anywhere I may be. My simple criteria are that they are affordable, filling, and tasty. Fortunately, vegetables, meat, fruit, and bread are universal grub I can get from practically any grocery store in the world!

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Know When to Splurge on Food

It only makes sense to want to indulge in a special meal, primarily if a particular location is known for it. I remember wanting to sample all the pizza and pasta dishes Italy had to offer when I first traveled there. Unfortunately, my food budget could only cover a couple of days’ worth of meal splurging. I’m not even talking about the fine dining kind here – just several meals’ worth at the local pizza joint or even that hole-in-the-wall eatery that emits such delicious smells whenever I pass by.

What I did was do some simple calculations based on the menu prices of the establishments I wanted to try out. I figured that if I stuck with my prepared, market-bought meals for the best part of a week, I could actually indulge in several indulgent meals for a couple of days. That made me feel like a real tourist minus the FOMO (fear of missing out) while avoiding a massive deficit in my food budget.

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Gorge On One Big Meal a Day

I usually prefer going on foot to take in a location’s sights, sounds, and smells. Of course, part of the walking tour would be to taste certain kinds of food, as well. What I usually do is I wake up and have a simple breakfast – choosing to skip the breakfast buffet at the hotel or inn and having just coffee (and maybe a plate of fresh fruit or a piece of toast with some butter or jam). Then I start walking before it gets too hot or crowded, and so I can witness how an unfamiliar town or city slowly wakes up to greet the day. I find it so exhilarating!

The other reason I do this is that I want to catch the sunrise in an exciting new place. That means I have to sacrifice a big breakfast. I don’t mind, really. Some of my most memorable travel photos include gorgeous sunrises and the sleepy morning expressions of locals and tourists alike. Second to that, I have lots of Instagram-worthy “big” meals (either lunch or dinner) during my vacay. These are the ones I allow myself to gorge on per day so that I can have an enjoyable gustatory experience without breaking the bank, or compromising my other meals.

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Get Tips On Cheap Eats From the Locals

As I mentioned several paragraphs up, travel and “influencer” blogs are not the best sources to find great places to eat. Go ask the locals! They would know where to guide you towards the best and most affordable places to eat.

But you have to ask the right question, though. If you inquire where the tourists usually go to dine, or which one has the best ambiance, chances are they will point you in the direction of a hotel or upscale restaurant that’s bound to be expensive. Instead, ask where they themselves usually eat. This usually paves the way for hidden eateries with delicious yet affordable food, as well as invitations to partake in feasts and get-togethers by friendly locals! I’ve had more than my fair share of impromptu gatherings when I summoned the courage to ask people where to eat.

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In Conclusion

That’s how to save money on food while traveling on a budget! They are all practical, doable, and won’t require much time and effort on your part to accomplish. I had to learn all of these after several trips abroad. The first few times I felt shy about actually asking locals about their dining preferences, I was forced to pay some serious cash for tourism-inflated restaurant bills. Not wanting to repeat that experience, I finally learned how to get the best burps for my buck, and earn some new friendships along the way. You should give it a try the next time you travel, too!

Catch you later!
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