In order to keep our budget under control while we travel, Matt and I make a real effort to reign in our spending on food. Between getting meals for cheap and staying at inexpensive hostels, we stretch our budget far. Here are my top tips for eating for less money while you travel.
- Use Local Grocery Stores: When Matt and I arrive at a hostel, we immediately ask where the closest grocery store is. You should look for a real grocery store too. That’s going to be the cheapest. Convenience stores are great for when you need them but they definitely won’t be as cheap as a typical market. In the grocery store, pick things that you will have to cook for yourself. Anything pre-made will, once again, be more expensive. Matt and I enjoy cooking so the task of making a meal isn’t a task at all. Matt and I have some basic staples that we are always buying. Cheese and bread always fill us up and usually are a part of every meal for us. We also buy large containers of yogurt and share them. Typically we also buy tomatoes and eggs. Plus odds and ends that we think of or need for a specific meal. We haven’t been spending that much money on food so it seems to be working. You might notice that we don’t buy any meat. I’m a vegetarian and Matt’s willingly along for the ride. Because of this, I’m not quite sure how buying meat would affect the budget. I always found it more costly than the other items that I would buy when I did buy meat. So, if you can handle it, maybe stay away from meat if you want to cut costs.
- Leave Wiggle Room to Indulge: Everyone has their favorite types of food. Trying new food and drinks is also a big part of traveling for me. I have room in my budget to eat new pastries or other traditional (vegetarian) fare while Matt always leaves some money for trying local beers. If food isn’t that big of a deal to you, you could probably just strike this tip completely but I know for a lot of people (including myself) it is important to have money to indulge in new types of cuisines.
- Don’t Bother Stressing Over Food In Between Destinations: About every five days or so Matt and I find ourselves moving to a new location. We try to bring cheap snacks with us but we also don’t stress if we don’t have time to buy something in advance. Travel days are definitely part of the wiggle room in our budget. Usually it only ends up being one expensive meal if we are traveling by plane. When we travel by bus, we are sure to collect some snacks in advance because there aren’t any stops along the way, at least for the trips we’ve done so far. Food from travel locations can be expensive so we rarely buy a full meal. (The only full meal we’ve done so far was during a ten hour layover in Iceland.) We tend to survive off snacks until we can get to our next grocery store. We also are always willing to spend some money on some good coffee while we are traveling. It makes the lack of sleep more bearable.
- Try Farmers’ Markets: Farmers’ markets are a great way to try out local cuisine and produce while also staying within your budget. The prices can be comparable or better to the grocery stores (unless you’re getting something really fancy). You can also find really high quality homemade goods that taste awesome. For example, not all of the baked goods at grocery stores are up to par with farmers’ market baked goods.