Eating on the Cheap

Travel budgets often vanish quickly in tourist destinations because the food is typically so much more expensive than other places. But it doesn’t have to be this way. You can also enjoy fine culinary experiences without breaking the bank with a little know how.

You can save money on your vacation by packing your snacks, drinks and sandwiches before you go to avoid temptation on the way. This is perfect for day trips although you will need to check if the bus or train allows you to carry food on board. In Asian, African and Latin American destinations the scheduled stops at restaurants won’t cost so much but in Europe and North America they can be pricey.

Buying food from the local grocery store or food market will save a lot of money while allowing you to sample and experiment with local produce. If you don’t have cooking facilities where you are staying you can still buy a picnic spread.

If you are eating out a golden rule of thumb is to eat where the locals eat. Not only are these fun affairs where you’ll feel like you’re having a genuine experience, but restaurants geared towards local residents are generally far less expensive. Ask around for local haunts when you get to your destination or consult guidebooks or internet sites. Once you have found a place check the menu prices before you sit down and make sure it matches your predetermined budget. Also check on the menu for hidden charges like service fees or added tax. You should also check if extras like water and bread are free.

In a lot of the world tipping is not expected so don’t overdo it. In Europe rounding up to the nearest euro or five euro is completely acceptable. And in the South Pacific tipping is almost unheard of. Restaurants often have specials or may even serve half portions, and fewer drinks also means a cheaper bill.

Eating fast food can be less expensive than eating in restaurants, but it does add up, particularly those between meal snacks. If you do need a snack get a bottle of water at a grocery store rather than a tourist snack shop. And if you’re in Europe always eat standing up at the bar as sitting can double the price.