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12 Ways to reduce food expenses while traveling

12 Ways to reduce food expenses while traveling

Transportation and accommodations often dominate vacation expenses, but food costs can also accumulate rapidly. Surprisingly, according to Bankrate, food and entertainment tend to be the last budget priorities for travelers. While dining is a necessity, there are numerous strategies to minimize food expenses while traveling.

Before departure, estimate a food budget based on the destination’s typical costs, considering that urban areas usually entail higher food expenses than rural locales.

Flexibility is key; exceeding or undercutting your budget on certain days can balance out overall spending. Some travelers find solace in budget spreadsheets, while others prefer setting a daily spending limit.

Regardless of your approach to budgeting, here are simple methods to economize on travel food expenses.

01. Bring a reusable water bottle

Bringing your own reusable water bottle while traveling saves on food expenses and benefits the environment by avoiding the purchase of disposable bottles, which are often overpriced and harmful to nature.

Additionally, staying hydrated throughout the day aids in distinguishing between hunger and thirst cues.

However, ensure tap water safety before refilling. Hydration is vital for well-being and helps identify hunger accurately. When traveling, dehydration can occur rapidly, so incorporate water-rich foods like cucumbers and grapes into meals for sustained hydration.

02. Avoid dining out for every meal

Avoiding dining out for every meal during travel can lead to substantial savings. Instead of skipping meals entirely, prepare some yourself and limit dining out to once per day. Lunch is recommended for indulging in dining out, particularly in Europe, where many restaurants offer discounted lunch specials featuring items from the dinner menu.

These meals may even suffice for dinner. Although individual meal expenses may not appear burdensome initially, they can accumulate quickly. By reducing dining-out occasions by half, significant savings can be realized.

03. Never skip breakfast

Skipping food during travel isn’t wise for budgeting. If your hotel offers free breakfast, take advantage to save money. Enjoy it and maybe grab some fruit for later. Breakfast provides essential physical benefits, like combating dehydration and boosting energy for the day’s activities.

A balanced breakfast prevents overspending on snacks. Incorporate fiber, protein, and healthy fats for satiety. Look for hotels with complimentary breakfast or budget-friendly options to save on food expenses.

04. Inform about house wines or beers

Ordering alcohol can significantly inflate your bill, especially if you’re often choosing wine or beer. Inquiring about the house options not only lets you sample local flavors but also helps to save money on food expenses.

House wines often have interesting stories and may even be family-made, especially in family-owned restaurants. However, house options aren’t always the cheapest. So, it’s wise to check the menu before deciding.

Ordering by the bottle or half bottle can also be more economical, especially if others in your party will be drinking.

05. Prepare your own meals

Don’t worry about cooking without a kitchen while traveling; it’s still easy. Shop early at the grocery store for simple, affordable ingredients to try regional recipes. This saves on your food expenses and promotes healthier eating, ideal for accommodating special diets or picky eaters. Buying groceries is far cheaper than eating out often.

At the local market, observe others’ selections for recommendations. Try local ingredients and be adventurous; you might find a new favorite, like halloumi cheese, which many travellers discovered while traveling and now love.

06. Enjoy a picnic to reduce food expenses

Enjoy picnics against famous backdrops like the Eiffel Tower, or find picturesque spots worldwide. Grab local specialties, like baguettes, for a travel-friendly charcuterie board.

Source fresh ingredients from local markets, but beware tourist traps. Check prices and ensure fair transactions. Ultimately, savor the experience of picnicking to save on food expenses and enjoy your surroundings.

07. Don’t dismiss the food carts

Food stalls or carts often receive criticism, but they have long served hungry patrons. Opting for meals from these local vendors while traveling offers a budget-friendly alternative to restaurants or a quick snack to satisfy hunger.

Frequent globe trotters emphasize that street food allows travelers to experience local flavors at a fraction of the cost of dining in restaurants. Sampling dishes from multiple stalls can provide a diverse culinary experience while keeping food expenses low.

08. Pack snacks for a trip.

Carrying snacks helps curb impulsive purchases and cut costs on your food expenses while traveling. Lengthy adventures often lead to hunger-induced overspending. Whole food snacks like vegetables, fruits, nuts, or trail mixes are excellent choices.

When flying internationally, ensure snacks comply with customs rules to avoid confiscation. Purchase local produce upon arrival instead.

beautiful women eating cake and drinking hot green tea sitting on the chair mountain view

09. Schedule your meals

Opting for a substantial lunch instead of dinner can save you money. Restaurants often offer lower lunch prices, making it a cost-effective option. This is especially useful if you’re not a big breakfast eater or have an early start. However, be aware of lunchtime closures, especially in Europe.

Restaurants price lunch and dinner differently due to various factors. Lunch diners spend less time and face more competition, leading to limited menu options. Additionally, lunchtime meals are simpler, saving time and money for exploring.

10. Share your food

Tapas-style dining isn’t just for Spain. Sharing appetizers or entrees with friends helps save money and lets you try different dishes.

In many restaurants, appetizers can make a full meal when combined. Pairing them with a house salad adds more food without overspending. During happy hour, appetizers are often discounted. Opting for tapas-style dining leaves room for dessert without breaking the bank.

11. Avoid assuming things are free

Food customs vary globally, especially in restaurants. When traveling, don’t assume items are free. For example, in Italy, ‘pane e coperto’ (bread and cover) may incur charges.

Similarly, European restaurants may not offer complimentary refills like in America. Being aware of these differences helps manage your budget effectively.

12. Familiarize yourself with tipping customs

Tipping, common in the U.S., is often considered rude in many other countries like Japan, China, and South Korea. In most places outside the U.S., tipping isn’t expected but may still be appreciated. While it might feel awkward for American travelers, leaving without tipping is generally acceptable elsewhere. Just remember to be kind wherever you go!