One of the biggest costs, when you are travelling, is the food you will be eating. While you can control the cost to some degree, some preparation can help you avoid breaking the holiday budget too much.
Taking some time to do a little research before leaving home can help. While planning what your must tries are and when to splurge can be offset with a few more basic and frugal meals. Then you will be able to return home without the surprise credit card bill, and feeling satisfied with the food you have enjoyed.
A Little Research
Thanks to the internet it is easier than ever to research options for eating out. The best part is that you do not need to wait until you arrive in a foreign country to do so.
The easiest way to start is with a search for “How much does it cost to eat in (the city you are visiting)?” You will find a wealth of advice for almost any city in the world. Information both from the guidebooks and from people just like you who have visited the city and experienced the food.
The information may not always be perfect. It may not be for the exact restaurant you will visit. Some of it may be generalisations. However, you are going to be able to find out if you can expect to pay $10 or $50 for a good meal.
If you want to spend a little more time, you can dig in and search for suggestions on specific restaurants or cafes. Which you may then be able to research further and find the menus for these restaurants.
One key thing to keep in mind when researching is to look at dates. Information may help, but not if the information is more than 12 months old.
Plan Your Meals
If sticking to a budget is important for you, planning your meals might be an essential aspect of your trip. It is great to eat out every night when you are travelling, but in reality, this can end up costing a lot of money.
What I like to do is set aside maybe one or two meals for something with a local flavour. These couple of meals I will spend a little more money. Then the rest of the meals are just simple finding something healthy and appetising that is not expensive.
Depending upon your choice of hotels it may even be possible to whip something up in your hotel room. I don’t mean ordering room service if anything this is likely to cost more. What I mean is stopping at a supermarket and grabbing some basics, things like fresh fruit, salads, or other quick prep meals.
Save On Breakfast
Breakfast can be one of those quick prep meals to enjoy in your hotel room. In fact when I travel it is rare that I will go out and pay for breakfast. On some occasions, I will be in an area where there is a cheap cooked breakfast on offer. However, if it is going to cost more than $8-9 for breakfast at a cafe, I will organise something else.
I will often find a local supermarket and grab some basics to eat for breakfast. Things like fruit, yoghurt, pastries, and juice. If the hotel provides a toaster, you can even get a loaf of bread.
It can also be worth looking for hotels that offer a breakfast included. They can be quite common through America, and Europe from my experience. For a free breakfast, this can be a great option, while there is not always a lot of choices, it is often sufficient.
Instead of spending anywhere from $10-$30 on breakfast at a cafe or restaurant it is easy to eat for under $5. It just comes down to being aware of what is available nearby and planning accordingly.
Eating Big At Lunchtime
Lunch time specials can be an excellent way to taste the local food without paying the full price. The reality is that most people eat out at night because stopping in the middle of the day is not always convenient. But always keep an eye out for lunch time specials.
I have found cafes and restaurants the world over offering special deals at lunch time. Often it is a case of they just want to encourage people to come and eat.
Planning to eat your main meal at lunch time, can also have the added benefit of more variety. You can stop wherever you see something of interest. As opposed to staying close to your hotel or taking a taxi to a particular restaurant, which would cost more still.
Enjoy A Lighter Meal For Dinner
Eating a lighter meal for dinner has a couple of advantages. The first it can be better for your digestion which can help you sleep better.
The second is especially good for those travelling alone. It is not always safe heading out at night in search of somewhere to eat. You can grab something quick on the way back to the hotel. Also, you can take some time to rest after a big day out, instead of needing to find somewhere to eat.
Enjoy The Trip
At the end of the day though you don’t want to put to much focus on penny-pinching too much. If you focus too much on saving every cent you can on eating, you may just end up not enjoying your trip.
On my first trip to Melbourne, I spent a little to much time thinking about how much food was going to cost. While I still enjoyed the trip, I remember spending a bit too much time walking rows of restaurants. Trying to find something that fit with what I wanted to spend. You can read a little about it – Food On A Budget, When Travelling.
What Your Eating Out Tip
When it comes to travelling and eating out, what do you do? Do you put much thought into where, and how you eat when travelling? Or do you just eat what you need to when you need to eat? Let me know in the comments below. You can connect with me on social media, pick your favourite social network below.