Guest post by Lauren Cordell
Food is always a concern when travelling on a budget. It’s already hard to figure out how to afford three meals a day on top of your other travel expenses, yet food costs easily add up when you’re away from home!
The good news is, with advanced planning, you can cut back and save money on food when travelling. If you’re really smart, you can even find a way to not pay for your food at all. Try these six ways to have cheap, great eats on vacation.
Always Check First
If you have good travel research methods, then this will serve as a reminder. Don’t forget to check out the places you want to eat in advance. Check their social media pages or websites to ensure that the menu prices they offer could fall within your budget.
If the entrées on the menus are beyond your means, try having appetisers. For example, you might find a place where you can have house salad and your appetiser and still spend less than you will on an entrée. Sure, they’re less than a full meal, but they can still be filling.
Check alcohol prices too. They’re usually more expensive at restaurants, so you’d rather splash out on fancy drinks at a local bar or pub. But there are times too when they’re a lot cheaper than water! So be sure to ask the locals where they go for a night in the area.
Use Apps and Social Media
Have you ever heard of the app called Leftover Swap that can match you with people who are willing to give their leftover food for free to reduce food waste? Yes, it exists! Of course, this is not for everyone. But if you think one man’s rubbish may be another’s treasure, give this a whirl.
Use social media to your benefit too. Social networking sites like Yelp, Couchsurfing, or Foursquare can tell you which restaurants offer appetisers, drinks, desserts or even parties for free. Others may require a small stipend, but you still enjoy cheap eats with the locals either way.
Don’t be bashful and ask the locals. The driver, hotel staff, store owner, or random locals walking on the road can direct you to a lovely hole-in-the-wall pizzeria, fabulous cheap taco stand, or some secret spots only locals know.
Ask them for recommendations outside the tourist zone too. You’ll be lost for words on how great yet inexpensive the local foods are in these neighbourhoods. Of course, the places will be a bit more quaint, but you would surely enjoy the scenery free from many tourists.
Take Advantage of Tourism Cards
Don’t take your tourism cards for granted. They aren’t only used for transportation and attractions. They could also offer discounts at many restaurants, where lunch specials can be discounted up to 50%.
Spare some time to drop by the local tourism office. Then ask about the ins and outs of your tourism cards, especially regarding the food discounts. If you take the time to learn about them, you’ll be able to save up even more.
Splurge on Lunch
Opt for lunch specials if you feel like splurging out on a good meal. They’re usually 30-40% off what you might pay at dinner, yet both are of the same food quality. Although the lunch menu options and portions aren’t as large as dinner’s, you’ll never feel limited.
For dinner, try happy hour specials or go outdoors, like food trucks, street food stalls, picnics, or small-plate evening events, like Spain’s tapas or Italy’s aperitivos. You’re not only getting some dinner but also enjoying local traditions!
Be Water Wise
When eating out, opt for water to cut the cost of your dining bill. Other drinks tend to cost you some money. Moreover, drinking water before and after the meal will make you full, so you’ll likely curb your cravings for more food, like dessert.
It’s also good to hydrate yourself during mealtimes, especially when walking around and sightseeing. It’s better than buying bottled water on the road. While water may not be as expensive as other drinks, buying a bottle or three every day can be costly.
Most tourist spots will likely capitalise on you not having other choices to quench your thirst. So, the best option is to carry a refillable bottle of water with you. Fill it up at water fountains, fast-food joints, filtered water fill-up stations, or straight from clean, drinkable taps.
Bear in mind that when you’re in Rome, do as the Romans do. Try to be open-minded and learn the customs and culture of the country you’re visiting. It’s a way for you to show respect. It could be hard for you to understand them, but you’ll find them helpful in your travels.