A guide to eating on a budget while travelling

eat cheap around world

Currywurst in Berlin

So we have worked out that food is a big part of travelling for me. Indulging in the local foods of the different areas of the world is something I look forward to, it is a social time to make more plans, to reflect on the day and it also helps to shape my overall feel for the city or country but  eating out every day is costly and can take up a huge amount of your budget. So over the years I have picked up little ways to help save on the cost of food without compromising on taste or experience.

Eat local
The biggest one right here, where ever you maybe the local cuisine is pretty much always going to be the cheapest as you are using the local produce. I am a massive believer in eating the local food anyway but I do understand that sometimes people just want the food that they are used to from their home countries, but do not be surprised when this is at least double the price. Be brave, try new flavours!
eat cheap food world
Street food vendors / stalls
Street food vendors and markets are gold mines for incredible food at a low-cost. I still remember eating the best Pad Thai of my life cooked by a twelve-year-old girl at her Mum’s stall in Chiang Mai, and I believe it cost about 50p. I know a lot of people worry about hygiene but it helps to look for the places that are busy with lots of other travelers and better still skip the meat for a safer veggie alternative. In Asia especially most markets will have seating areas so you do not miss out on the social aspect of eating.

Buffet
This one is mainly aimed at American travel, as buffets are very prominent in big tourist cities such as Orlando and Las Vegas, but buffets are a good way to fill yourself up for a low-cost. You can also be cheeky and sneakily pop a few non-perishable items in your bag for lunch or breakfast the next day!

cheap eat world

Blue Taco street food in Copenhagen

Drink Local
Following on from eating local, the other best way to save money is to drink the local beer or spirits as ordering imports are going to be a higher cost. Please do not waste money on expensive alcohol, I never drank beer until I went to Vietnam where the local beer of Siagon is roughly about £1 a bottle compared Rum which was about four times the price. No brainer.
Snacking
This may be a slight contradiction to my earlier comment of trying all the local foods, but snacking on all the waffles in Amsterdam or danishes in Copenhagen is going to add up, so if you are on a budget try to eat larger meals at lunch to help you last until dinner time. In Asia look out for local people selling fresh fruit, it is usually ridiculously cheap and is always so much fresher and juicier than anything back home.

cheap eat world

Hostel/hotel
When booking your accommodation look for places that offer free breakfast and make the most of it. I generally do not find breakfast an exciting meal, so would much rather have something basic and save money for a nicer lunch or dinner. As well if you are on a really tight budget, use the hostel kitchen to prepare the odd meal and by cheap produce from the supermarket, I do urge you not to have all your meals like this, though, just on the odd occasion.

Coupons 
Another American thing, most hotels will provide you will a coupon book, a lot of this book will be rubbish, but there will be the odd great discount or deal for a restaurant, so it is totally worth searching through. The same with European tourism cards, aside from free entry to the local attractions, these cards often provide a discount at local eateries.

Frequent travelling often means being on a strict budget, but it does not have to mean compromising, and in my opinion that especially means never compromising on good food.  Before you leave research where you are going, find recommendations on where to eat from other people who have visited and when you are there talk to the locals, after all, they know it better than anyone and know all the best spots!

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Further reading: How to save money for travel ( While still having a life!)

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12 Comments

  1. October 2, 2016 / 8:16 pm

    Really good tips here! Sadly I always find that popular tourist hubs are always so expensive for food, especially in Western Europe- here in France its extortionate to eat out 🙁

    • October 3, 2016 / 8:51 am

      Yeah I did find Paris particularly pricey when I visited!

  2. Nicola
    October 3, 2016 / 11:39 am

    It’s so hard to eat properly when abroad! We just came back from holiday and as it was my boyfriends’ first trip away he really struggled.

  3. October 3, 2016 / 8:14 pm

    Great tips here – I have just returned from our all inclusive holiday – where I ate my own body weight! It is such a rare treat! Kaz x

    • October 3, 2016 / 8:22 pm

      I am the worst on all inclusive holidays, it is like I see it as a challenge to eat as much as possible haha!

  4. October 3, 2016 / 10:05 pm

    I love trying new food when travelling, I always try to look for places that are a bit hidden away that the “locals” seem to go to 🙂 Great tips, I’ve never been brave enough to try street food abroad but sticking to veggie options is a great tip!

    • October 4, 2016 / 8:06 am

      I always find the best places are the hidden away ones full locals, but yes try to try the street food next time, you find some real treats for really low costs

  5. Sarah (Mum x3x)
    October 4, 2016 / 8:21 am

    These are great tips! I think eating local would work well for me! And I love the idea of Street food vendors and stalls! I’ve seen so many different places on Youtube with food stalls, they always look great and so reasonably priced! Very helpful post. 🙂

  6. October 4, 2016 / 8:52 am

    I always love to try the streetfood vendors and the small cafes that the locals use, you always seem to get the best food then.

  7. October 13, 2016 / 7:09 pm

    Buffets and street vendors are my favourite places to visit when I am away from home. Can get so full from a buffet and also try lots of new foods!

  8. November 2, 2016 / 2:57 pm

    Some great tips indeed. will definitely help on my future travels 🙂

    Thank you!

  9. November 5, 2016 / 11:00 pm

    That’s a really good advice that you are giving here. I usually tend to eat a good breakfast, a late lunch and then just a snack for dinner. So I guess I’d call it meal planning…

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