As a travel blogger, I have come to realize that food is an essential part of traveling. It is a way to experience different cultures and traditions, and it is a shame to miss out on that opportunity. However, eating out all the time can be expensive, and many travelers have dietary concerns that prevent them from fully embracing new foods. As a backpacker, I have had to learn how to balance eating out while still finding a way to save money. Here are some tips on how to eat out on a budget while you travel the world:
1. Eat at Buffets
Buffets offer great value for your money, especially since they are all-you-can-eat. More often than not, you can fill up on one meal for the entire day. They are a good economical choice and give you the most food for your buck (while allowing you to sample a lot of different foods).
2. Visit Outdoor Street Vendors
Small stands that sell hot dogs, sausages, sandwiches, and similar foods are great places to get a cheap and quick meal. While they are nothing fancy, they are tasty and cheap! These quick and inexpensive meals won’t win any Michelin stars, but they will keep you full without emptying your wallet.
3. Eat Street Food
In most places around the world (and especially in Asia), the streets are lined with little food stalls and areas where food is cooked openly on the street. Street food is some of the best food in the world. Meals at street stalls cost less than a dollar most of the time and are a great way to really experience the local cuisine.
4. (Sometimes) Eat Fast Food
Fast food isn’t the best for you, but it is another option if you want a cheap meal in inexpensive parts of the world. For as little as $5 USD, you can get a filling (and hugely caloric) meal. Moreover, the local dollar menu will save you even more.
5. Go Local
Non-local food is almost always more expensive than local cuisine. Go local and you will save yourself a ton of money in the long run!
6. Find the Lunch Specials
Many restaurants offer lunch specials, where items on the dinner menu are offered at a huge discount. You can get an amazing afternoon meal for a fraction of the cost you’d pay for the same meal in the evening.
7. Skip the Soda
Grabbing a refreshing can of Coke or Pepsi might seem like an inexpensive way to quench your thirst, but it’s a choice that adds up. When you’re visiting a tropical location, an ice-cold soda is definitely appealing. But spending a couple of bucks every day can really add up over the course of a long-term trip!
8. Refillable Water Bottle
Carry a refillable bottle of water (with a filter) with you instead and just use the tap water. It ensures your water is always clean and safe.
9. Don’t Snack
Snacking really does add up over the long term. Avoid snacks and stick to big, filling meals instead.
10. Cook Often
Cooking is one of the best ways to keep your travel costs down, and supermarkets are also great places to go to see what the local people eat.
This is something I do a lot for lunch if I’m somewhere where the weather is nice. I usually head to a local food market, pick up a bunch of food, and go picnic in the park.
12. Use Tourism Cards
Tourist cards also offer discounts at many restaurants. Typically, discounts are around 15-25%, but sometimes lunch specials can be up to 50% off.
13. Find Free Breakfast
If you can find hostels or hotels that include breakfast, you’ve already eliminated the cost of one meal.
14. Eat With Students
Where there are universities, there are students, and since students are usually broke, that means there are likely cheap places to eat nearby.
15. Use Supermarket Deals
In many countries, supermarkets offer lunchtime specials for workers in the surrounding areas.
By using these tips, you can afford to keep your costs down while still being able to afford a quality meal every so often. Finding the right balance between eating great food and saving money is important because if you can manage to do so, both your wallet and your stomach will thank you!