One of my favorite activities, particularly while traveling, is eating. Food is an integral part of many cultures, and to miss out on local cuisine means missing a part of that culture. I find it disappointing when I meet travelers who only cook in hostel kitchens, as they miss out on experiencing the local cuisine.

It’s understandable that some travelers may have concerns when it comes to food, such as expense or dietary restrictions. However, I believe it’s important to be open to trying new dishes and experiencing the food culture of the country you’re visiting.

As a backpacker, I don’t often cook while on the road, but rather eat out to fully experience the local cuisine. To save money while eating out, I’ve learned to balance my budget by being creative and finding ways to save. It’s possible to eat out on a budget and still enjoy the flavors of the world. Here’s how:

Food is an essential part of travel, and trying local cuisine is one of the best ways to immerse yourself in a new culture. However, eating out can quickly become expensive, especially if you’re traveling long-term or on a tight budget. Fortunately, there are many ways to eat cheaply around the world, without sacrificing taste or experience.

In this article, we’ll share tips and strategies for eating cheaply while traveling, including ways to save money on food, where to find cheap eats, and how to make the most of local cuisine without breaking the bank.

  1. Eat Like a Local

One of the best ways to save money on food while traveling is to eat like a local. Instead of dining at tourist hotspots or Western-style restaurants, seek out local eateries, street food vendors, and markets. These places often offer authentic and delicious food at a fraction of the cost of high-end restaurants.

In many countries, street food is a part of everyday life and can be a great way to experience the local culture. Street food is often cheaper than restaurant food and can be found in most cities around the world. In Thailand, for example, you can find delicious pad thai and other Thai dishes for just a few dollars from street vendors.

Local markets are also a great place to find cheap and fresh produce, as well as prepared foods. In many countries, you can find markets that sell local specialties, such as cheese, meats, and bread, at a fraction of the cost of grocery stores.

  1. Cook Your Own Meals

While eating out can be a fun and delicious experience, cooking your own meals can save you a lot of money in the long run. Many hostels and guesthouses offer communal kitchens that you can use to cook your own meals. By buying groceries and cooking your own meals, you can save money and have control over what you eat.

If you’re staying in a place with no kitchen or limited cooking facilities, you can still prepare simple meals using a microwave or kettle. Instant noodles, oatmeal, and canned foods are all cheap and easy options for travelers on a budget.

Another option is to use a service like Airbnb or Couchsurfing to find accommodation with a kitchen. This allows you to buy groceries and cook your own meals while traveling.

  1. Look for Deals and Discounts

Just like at home, there are many ways to find deals and discounts on food while traveling. Look for happy hour specials, lunchtime deals, and early bird discounts at restaurants. Many restaurants also offer set menus or prix fixe meals, which can be a good value for the price.

In some countries, you can also find discount cards that offer discounts on food and drinks. For example, in Australia, the Entertainment Book offers discounts on dining, entertainment, and travel.

  1. Drink Water

Drinking water instead of soda or alcohol can save you a lot of money over the course of your trip. In many countries, tap water is safe to drink, so bring a reusable water bottle and refill it throughout the day. In some countries, bottled water is cheap and widely available, but be sure to check the price before you buy.

Avoiding alcoholic drinks can also save you money. In many countries, alcohol is heavily taxed and can be very expensive. Stick to water, juice, or tea instead.

  1. Share Meals

Another way to save money on food while traveling is to share meals. Many restaurants serve portions that are large enough to share, so consider splitting a meal with a friend or travel companion. Not only does this save you money, but it also allows you to try more dishes.

  1. Use Apps and Websites

There are many apps and websites that can help you find cheap eats while traveling. Yelp, TripAdvisor, and Foursquare are all popular

  1. Visit Local Markets and Grocery Stores

One of the best ways to eat cheaply while traveling is by visiting local markets and grocery stores. Not only will you save money, but you’ll also get to see what locals buy and eat.

In many countries, street markets are a way of life, and they are often the cheapest place to buy fresh produce. You can find everything from fruits, vegetables, bread, meat, and cheese at a fraction of the price you would pay in a supermarket.

Shopping at local grocery stores is also a good option. You can buy fresh produce, bread, and other essentials for a fraction of the price you would pay in a restaurant. Plus, you can make your meals, which is an excellent way to save money.

  1. Eat Like a Local

When traveling, it’s always a good idea to eat like a local. Not only will you save money, but you’ll also get to experience the local cuisine.

You don’t need to eat at fancy restaurants to experience the local cuisine. Many countries have street food that’s just as delicious, if not better, than what you would get in a restaurant. In fact, some of the best food in the world can be found on the streets.

Ask locals for their recommendations, and don’t be afraid to try something new. You might be surprised at how delicious it is.

  1. Drink Water

Water is often the cheapest drink available, and it’s also the healthiest. Drinking water is an excellent way to save money on your food budget, and it’s good for you too.

When eating out, ask for tap water instead of bottled water. In many countries, tap water is safe to drink, and it’s free. If you’re not sure if the tap water is safe, ask locals for their recommendations.

  1. Avoid Touristy Areas

Touristy areas are notorious for having higher prices than other areas. Restaurants and cafes in touristy areas know that travelers are willing to pay more for food, so they charge accordingly.

If you want to eat cheaply, avoid touristy areas and head to areas that locals frequent. Not only will you save money, but you’ll also get to experience the local culture.

Final Thoughts

Eating cheaply while traveling is possible, but it takes a bit of planning and creativity. By following these tips, you can save money on your food budget and still enjoy delicious meals.

Remember to be flexible and open-minded when it comes to food. Try new things, eat like a local, and enjoy the experience. After all, traveling is all about experiencing new things, and food is a big part of that experience.


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