Outside of your transportation and lodging expenses, food is one of the biggest costs while traveling. If you don’t plan, you can be forced to spend a lot more on food than anticipated, eat really unhealthy, spends lots of your vacation time scouring the web for budget-friendly places to eat, or all of the above.
Now, we definitely love to “wine and dine” with the finest of ’em! Going out for a meal is one of our favorite activities to do while traveling (and while not traveling!). Some of our greatest memories we’ve had were over meals or during culinary experiences. You definitely have to live a little and adopt a YOLO mentality sometimes. However, buying breakfast/lunch/dinner/snacks/coffee every day during your trip can get costly for anyone (especially during extended travel!), so we try to strike a balance between living it up and being financially responsible.
Here are some things we do to keep more of our travel budget for sights and activities rather than food:
1 – Bring snacks! Pack light, compact, and easy to carry snacks in your carry on or suitcase. Use these bites to fill up before you head out for a meal so you’re not as hungry, or throw some in your bag during a day excursion so you don’t have to buy any from the store or market. We like to pack individual packets of peanut butter, tuna or chicken pouches, and nuts or trail mix.
2 – Go grocery! Opt for the grocery store over eating out when you can. We read somewhere to think of this as a cultural experience and an opportunity to try out foods you might not have at your local market. Pretty much everywhere you go has either local or unique breads, cheeses, and meats. Grab your smorgasbord and a couple of fruits from the produce section and you’ve got a delicious meal on the go. This has always been a really fun one for us, and it also encourages you to find a local park or outdoor area for a picnic. Budget-friendly and an adventure – two for one!
3 – A B&B is the way to be! Elect for an Airbnb or a hotel room that has a mini-fridge and microwave (or a kitchenette if you’re lucky!). Being able to cook food and store leftovers makes eating on a budget so much easier while traveling. It’s also an obvious perk if your hotel offers free breakfast too!
4 – Leave prepared! Do your research before you leave, and have a few budget-friendly restaurants on hand for the places you’re going. The last thing you’ll want to do when your famished and tired is spend time looking for a decent, affordable place to grab some grub, and going hungry or going broke aren’t great options.
5 – Water only please! When you do find yourself out to eat, try to stick to good ole’ H20. If you’re like us, chances are you don’t drink enough of the stuff anyways, so you’ll be doing yourself a favor!