posted by Guest blogger - Matt Kepnes | 0 Comments
Matt Kepnes of Nomadicmatt.com gives us 10 tips to help us save money on food when on the road. To keep up to date with Matt make sure to follow him on Twitter, like his page on Facebook and check out the posts on his blog.
Everyone’s got to eat. We need food to live. Outside of finding a room to stay in each night, eating is going to be your biggest and most consistent expense on the road. Thus, it’s important to find plenty of ways to cut down your food budget without missing the local cuisine we travelled so far to gorge on.
Here are my tips on saving on food while enjoying the local cuisine…
1. Try the buffets
While they aren’t going to be award winning, buffets offer great value for your money, especially since they are all-you-can-eat. Buffets typically cost around $15 USD and make for an economical choice when you really want to eat a lot.
2. Get food from outdoor vendors
Vendors that sell hot dogs, sausages, sandwiches, and the like are great places to get a cheap and quick meal. While in Germany, currywursts kept me full. In Amsterdam, FEBO and their croquettes kept my stomach full. In Costa Rica, the empanada seller filled me up for a dollar. These vendors also give you a window into a country’s quick eats as these places tend to be where locals go when they need food on the run.
3. Eat on the street
In the majority of developing countries around the world, the streets are lined with little food stalls. Many places have a “street food” culture. You grab a plate, sit down in a little plastic chair, and enjoy a delicious meal prepared quickly right in front of you. Street food is some of the best food in the world and will give you a much better look at local cuisine than some fancy restaurant will.
4. Eat out during lunch
Many restaurants, especially in Europe, offer lunch specials where items are up to 40% cheaper than on the dinner menu. When I do tend to visit restaurants, I do so during lunch because lunch specials and plates of the day offer so much more value. It’s the best of both worlds. Skip the dinners, go for the lunches!
5. Put down the soda
At $2 dollars a pop (or more), two or three a day can really add up over the course of a long-term trip.
6. Drink from the tap
Buying a bottle of water is not only wasteful, it’s also economically foolish. Assuming each bottle is about $1 USD and you buy 3 a day, over the course of a month you will spend $90 USD! That’s a lot of money spent on water. Carry a refillable bottle of water with you instead and just use the tap water.
7. Avoid fancy restaurants
I know this might seem obvious, but there’s more to this point than simply saving some money. If I want expensive French food, I can get that at home. What I really want in the food I eat overseas is the food people eat in their daily lives. I want the local market, the corner store, and the hidden bakery. By shunning fancy restaurants and sticking to the markets and tiny shops, you’ll not only save money but also get a much better sense of what the locals eat.
8. Skip the snacks
A gelato here, a gelato there. A candy bar. An ice cream. It all adds up. We don’t think of snacking as having a big impact on our budget but buying snacks a few times a day will slowly add up and throw your budget out of whack. It's not something many travelers think of but snacking really does add up over the long term. Avoid snacks and stick to big, filling meals instead. Your budget and waistline will thank you!
9. Cook your own food
Cooking is the number one way to keep your travel costs down. Plus, supermarkets are also great places to go to see what the local people eat. If you really want to know what goes into the local food, visit a market or supermarket. It’s truly an amazing experience. Plus, buying your own ingredients will work out much cheaper. You don’t always have to eat out every meal. You aren’t going to miss out on local food because you cooked food a couple of times.
10. Visit a market and go for a picnic
Another good self-cook method is to picnic. This is something I do a lot for lunch. I usually head to a local food market, pick up a bunch of food, and go make a picnic in the park. Not only am I saving money (sandwiches aren’t expensive!), but it also affords me a chance to watch the locals scurry about their daily lives.
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