There are smart ways you can eat cheap while traveling around the world. Cheap eats or food doesn’t necessarily mean bland or less appealing meals. Nor it means that you need to starve yourself. It can be a delicious, quality, healthy meal, even maybe something you prepared yourself. Here are some smart ways you can save on food costs when traveling. You can thank me and me later.
Nope, I didn’t mean whip up a gourmet meal and make a total mess out of your Airbnb or CouchSurfing host’s kitchen and dining area. I meant to cook simple, one-pot, quick and easy meals. Cooking is way cheaper because you are using local products and ready resources. If you’re staying with CouchSurfing or AirBnB host, usually they offer the kitchen for you to use. When I was staying with a nice family in Paris, I met 2 Koreans who actually cook one-pot rice meal in the morning and heat up when they arrive in the evening because they’re already too tired after all that walking tours.
When planning to stay in an accommodation where you can use the kitchen, try to bring a local ingredient from your home that may be hard to find in your travel destination. Believe it or not, those 2 guests I mentioned earlier bought their own thin noodles.
Get up early
If you are staying in a hostel or hotel with a free buffet breakfast, get up early and eat like a king. Usually, in buffet style, these free breakfasts offer a wide variety of choices to cater to different cultures and dietary requirements. So go ahead, wake up early and have a hearty full breakfast that will last you up to your next mealtime. No need to buy mid-morning snacks, no sweet tooth cravings, so you save up more and stay healthy!
Buy from the local supermarkets
Make the local convenience store your best friend. Aside from being open 24 hours, these convenience stores also offer fast cheap meals at any time of the day. On my Sweden trip, my host allowed me to use their kitchen if I wanted to, but I was too lazy so I opted to go to the supermarket across the street and got myself a tv microwave dinner. For 3 days, I had sole ownership of their microwave oven.
Craving for some wine at the end of your tiring day? Buy local wine from the supermarket. You get to taste cheaper local goods plus you get to experience more of what’s to taste in Baguio, Philippines. I really loved their local strawberry wine.
Eat it on the go
Sometimes you might want to try local restaurant meals. One option to save up is to order your food to go or take out. This means less service tax and tips. In Paris, your jambon et Fromage baguette is 1-2Euro cheaper when you tell the waiter it’s for taking out. I usually do this and bring my baguette to the nearby park where I lie or sit around doing my people-watching. Instant picnic!
In Japan, there are places where you can buy your beer from a vending machine, or a standing beer joint! Another reason why Japan is friendly to budget travelers.
Go where locals eat cheap
Maybe you have been staying in Thailand for some time now and getting tired of pad-thai for lunch. And that’s totally fine. You’re on a holiday anyway so go ahead, and eat what you want.
However, non-local food is almost always more expensive than local cuisine. In Vietnam, a bowl of pho noodles is less than a dollar but a burger is about 3 times as much. In Yangon, eating at a western burger joint will cost you $2-3 more than eating at the local eatery. Go local and you will save up more.
A small box of macaroons here, a gelato later, and another march frappuccino drink in the evening. Before you know it, these small snacking costs here and there will soon add up to dollars or euros. Not only the cost but your weight too! So snack less and you will keep your food expense cost down.
Drink less soda. Drink less wine. Buy less bottled water. Refill a water bottle at home. Drink less beer. Drink less alcohol. Do this, and you will keep your cost down and stay healthy while traveling.
I love to eat out, especially in a foreign country. In fact, I always reserve a special dinner every last night of my trip as a reward for me. I go out on a date with myself and order a simple meal and a glass of wine. Doing this is perfectly fine, but you need to keep your cost well within your budget. It is important to find the right balance between cheap quality meals and still enjoying your trip. You can thank yourself later. If you’re in Tokyo, on your last night go grab a sake!