I don’t like to brag but I consider myself an expert in budget travelling. I’m a student forced to survive with a minimum income so I’m obliged to find ways to travel without bankrupting me. What I’ve noticed on my journeys abroad, is that a great amount of money is spent to eat.
If you enjoy trying the local cuisine like I do, you’ll find hard to cut back on food. Luckily, with some planning you won’t have to. After some trial and error I managed to write down a few useful tips on how to eat on a budget while travelling!
1. Grocery Stores
Buy food in Supermarkets or bakeries instead of going to the restaurant. I know…it’s not fancy, but if you want to stay under a certain budget that’s the best option. Luckily, supermarkets offers an amazing range of cheap products. Sandwiches, pizza and salads are only a taste of what you can find, and the cool thing is that you can consume them wherever you want (in a park, on a bench, on a rooftop, be creative 😉). As a reward, on the last day of your holiday, you can treat yourself to a nice meal at the restaurant, you will appreciate it even more!
2. Avoid Tourist Traps
Don’t deny yourself the pleasure of trying dishes from the local cuisine but please, stay away from tourist traps. As you will know, the areas near the attractions are usually filled with high-priced and low quality restaurants. So remember: never go visit a museum hungry, you might feel the need to stop there to eat. In your search for food, TripAdvisor is your friend, use it to find cheap and good restaurants near you (you can also plan them in advance).
A great idea while on the go, is to bring snacks with you for when you’re hungry. Do this and you’ll be less impulsive in your eating choices. Always keep filling snacks in your bag like granola bars, nuts or dried fruit.
4. Hotel Breakfast
If you are staying in a hotel, take advantage of the offered breakfast and save some for later. Be smart with your eating choices, skip the sugary stuff in favour of a combination of protein, grains and fruit, it will fill you up for longer. You can also prepare some sandwiches for the day using the breakfast buffet. Last year in Elba Island, a family prepared their food for lunch every morning. It wasn’t exactly allowed by the hotel but they were sneaky and no one from the staff noticed.
Buffets are a very good option, they can fill you up and usually they are not that expensive. This option is preferable for lunchtime because it’s usually cheaper. In Italy we have many buffets, usually located near the city center.
6. Rent an Apartment
Renting an apartment is absolutely the cheapest option. You can buy everything you need in grocery stores and cook it at “home”. It’s also the healthiest option because you have control over the ingredients and how you are preparing your food. Another option is to pack lunch and dinner and eat it on the go.
7. Outdoor Vendors and Street Food
Cheap for sure but not necessarily healthy. Be careful and look at how the food is prepared, the trick is: if the locals are eating it you can too.
8. Fast Foods
Personally I try to avoid them because it’s low quality food but I thought I’d mention them anyway because of how cheap they are. However, in some areas of the world like Asia, fast foods will be more expensive than the local food.
If you are always thirsty like I am, you will spent a lot of money on water bottles. My advice is to bring a self filtering bottle like this one from Brita, you can fill it up in your hotel/hostel room for free!
10. Ask The Locals
You might not know the local language, but keep in mind that asking around for information it’s always a great idea. Try to learn basic phrases in the language of where you are travelling to. Even if you’ll make mistakes, the locals will appreciate your efforts and they’ll be more keen to help you. Remember to ask where they usually go to eat, not where they think tourists might like to eat.
Interacting with them it’s also a great way of getting familiar with a different culture, so why would you pass up this opportunity?! Trust me, you’ll be amazed by what people want to share! 😜