budget travel

Smart Ways to Eat Cheap While Travelling

There are smart ways you can eat cheap while travelling around the world. Cheap eats or food doesn’t necessarily mean bland or less appealing meals. Nor it means that you need to starving yourself. It can be a delicious, quality, healthy meal, even maybe something you prepared yourself. And you save money to travel cheaper and longer!

Here are some smart ways you can save on food cost when travelling. You can thank yourself and me later.

Cook

AirBnB Kitchen in Paris
AirBnB Kitchen in Paris

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 cook simple, one-pot, quick and easy meals.  Cooking is way cheaper because you are using local products and ready resource. 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 you home that maybe 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 a staying in a hostel or hotel with free buffet breakfast, get up early and eat like a king. Usually in buffet style, these free breakfasts offers 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 meal time. 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 offers fast cheap meals anytime 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 me a tv microwave dinner. For 3 days, I had the 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 what’s to taste in Baguio, Philippines. I really loved their local strawberry wine.  

 

My packed lunch from the local supermarket. Carbo loading for the long walking tour later. #cheapskate #cheapeats #solotraveltips

A photo posted by carla abanes (@justtravellingsolo) on

 

Eat it on the go

Sometimes you might want to try local restaurant meals and experience dining like a local. One option to save up is 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 take out.

I usually do this and bring my baguette to the nearby park where I lie or sit around do my people watching. Instant picnic! In Japan, there are places where you can buy your beer from a vending machine, a standing beer joint! Another reason why Japan is friendly to budget travellers.

Local Beer Joints in Tokyo Japan
Local Beer Joints in Tokyo Japan

 

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, eat what you want. However, the non-local food is almost always more expensive than the 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.  

 

Foodtrippin’ #yangon #myanmar #southeastasianfood #southeastasia #femaletravelblogger #gltinstagramphotos A photo posted by carla abanes (@justtravellingsolo) on

Snack less

A small box of macaroons here, a gelato later, another macha frapuccino drink in the evening. Before you know it,  this 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.

eat cheap

Drink less

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 travelling.

Lastly,

I love to eat out specially on a foreign country. In fact, I always reserve a special dinner on every last night of my trip as a reward to me. I go out on 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 enjoy your trip.

If you’re in Tokyo, on your last night go grab a sake!  

 

Sake shot glass. Kampay! #afterwork #sake #japantrip #japaneseculture

A photo posted by carla abanes (@justtravellingsolo) on

 

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  1. Reply

    I was just looking at a great one-pot spaghetti dish recipe on YouTube yesterday! Such great tips for saving food-wise on the road. I find that I eat less in general when travelling just because I’m so absorbed in a new culture/exploring/don’t eat until I’m starving. And then I get to shed some pounds too haha. Kampai!

      • carlaabanes@justtravellingsolo.com
      • May 16, 2016
      Reply

      Yep, youtube is a great source for one-pot meals that is quick simple and healthy too! not to mention that it keeps your food expenses down while travelling. Thanks for dropping by and visit again soon!

  2. Pingback: Experience Tokyo on a Budget - Just Travelling Solo

  3. Thanks for these great tips. We do a lot of supermarket shopping when we travel, but cook accordingly to the local cuisine. Fun and we save our pennies for the best restaurants: quality not quantity : )

  4. Yes to all of these! My biggest temptation is going out to eat and trying local foods… too many local foods lol. I like the idea of having one special “treat” meal in each spot. I also never book a hostel without free-breakfast, and if there is a fruit option, I’ll sneak an extra piece into my day-pack just in case.

  5. Reply

    Oooh….such a great idea in posting ways to eat wisely when traveling. I, too, love to find great deals when traveling.

  6. Reply

    I love to eat and drink when I travel and since I travel with a family of six, I do have to watch it. We always stay at hotels with complimentary breakfast and we share meals at lunch and dinner. I do like to enjoy local hot spots, because they are usually delicious and affordable.

  7. Reply

    These are all fantastic tips! I try to cook when I travel as well, local farmers market are always my favorite in new cities.

  8. Reply

    Excellent tips:).. Thanks for the write up.. Also, I must say I loved the main pic of this post.. 🙂

  9. Great tips on the smart ways to eat cheap when traveling. I think it would be fun to buy local produce and fish and make my own meal. Thanks for sharing! 🙂 #feetdotravel

  10. Reply

    Love all the tips! We do cook when we stay in self catered apartments. If not, eating like the locals is a great way not just to save money, but also to experience their culture.

  11. Reply

    I agree with all of these tips. We don’t cook often enough on vacation, but we are getting more and more frugal. Some of the best meals I’ve had on vacation are simply going to the local grocery and getting cheese, cheap wine, and bread and having a little easy picnic, or eating at a local food cart. Great, informative post 🙂

  12. I love the local street food through Asia and trying to stay within a budget is sometimes quite fun. Spending what I’ve saved on a blow-out meal at the end of my trip is fun too!

  13. Reply

    Some awesome tips here – one of my biggest problems when travelling is spending too much on food and your tips are definitely useful. While I tend not to cook when I am away, I do like eating cheap food from street vendors or local joints – it’s a great way to save money while also immerse yourself in the culture. Thanks for sharing

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