When traveling, one major expense is food. Dining out three times a day - not to mention snacks and drinks - can really add up. Luckily, there are tips and tricks you can use to stay full without breaking the bank of your next trip.
Unless you're traveling through an English-speaking country, skip touristy restaurants with English menus and opt for local mom and pop eateries where you can sample traditional dishes at an affordable price. Typically the food at these places is more authentic than what you would find in a tourist restaurant, giving you more value for your money. And as these eateries cater to locals rather than travelers, the menus tend to be much more affordable.
Shopping at grocery stores and cooking your own meals is a great trick for saving money on food when traveling. Choosing an accommodation with a kitchen is smart, as you can make satisfying meals without spending much money. This is also great for those trying to eat healthy. To add a cultural twist, look up some local recipes beforehand so you're not just eating what you would at home.
While some people think of street food as being unsanitary, the truth is you can often enjoy a delicious and satisfying meal of authentic dishes for an extremely low price. When traveling, a major part is experiencing the culture, including trying local foods. By sampling street food, you can try a variety of authentic dishes made without pretension for a cheap price.
This is especially true in terms of airport dining, where a small house salad can be upwards of $10. Pack easy meals and snacks - like cold pastas, sandwiches, trail mix, chips and (if you're allowed) fruit - to stave off hunger and save money at the airport and in flight. Additionally, I like to stock up on oatmeal, granola bars and trail mix to eat for breakfast and during the day so eating out for every meal isn't necessary.
Combining meals is another way to save money. Instead of having breakfast, lunch, dinner and snacks, have two large meals - one in the late morning and one in the late afternoon - to keep you full throughout the day. This also saves you time, as you can spend less of it lingering over food and more of it seeing the sites.
Depending where you are, picnicking can be a smart way to save money on food while making new friends. Western Europe is especially great for picnicking, as the parks are often filled with snacking locals and travelers. Bring some wine and munchies and offer to share your goods with someone in exchange for some of theirs. It's an easy way to enjoy a full meal without paying for one.
Happy hour isn't just for cheap drinking, as many bars also offer certain food items at a reduced rate. Ask your accommodation where the best happy hours are or download an app like Happy Hour Finder or Happy Hours to see what deals are available nearby.
While the hotel restaurant may have tasty food and a romantic ambiance, chances are it's also very overpriced. Save this option for a night when you're splurging and instead hit the streets to find a more local option. Not sure where to start? Ask your barista, local shopkeeper or bartender where they like to eat to learn where the locals go.
What are some ways you save money on food when you travel?
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Jessica Festa is a full-time travel writer who is always up for an adventure. She enjoys getting lost in new cities and having experiences you don’t read about in guidebooks. Some of her favorite travel experiences have been teaching English in Thailand, trekking her way through South America, backpacking Europe solo, road tripping through Australia and doing orphanage work in Ghana. You can follow her adventures on her travel websites, Epicure & Culture and Jessie On A Journey. You can also connect with Jessica directly on Facebook, Twitter and Google Plus, or follow her epicurean adventures on Facebook and Twitter.
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