Save your money for touristy things!

7 Easy Ways to Save on Food While Traveling

by Savannah Horton


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1. Do Your Research

A few quick entries into your search engine can aid immensely with saving money during travel, both abroad and domestic. Particularly Yelp, Urbanspoon, TripAdvisor, Zagat, and LocalEats allow users to list restaurants and eateries within a specific price range. Applications like these not only display customer reviews, but also suggest popular local restaurants and their prices. Planning ahead will allow you to find the best food for the best prices. Researching local restaurants also saves time while traveling, so you can eliminate concern over where to eat.

2. Think About Where You Are Staying

Hotels make it difficult to save money on food. Though many include continental breakfasts, most hotel meals are not included and are often pricey. Additionally, with the lack of kitchen amenities, hotels are not particularly conducive to home cooking. With the rise of Airbnb, renting apartments or homes across the globe has become almost effortless and quite affordable. With the addition of a refrigerator, stove, oven, or microwave, your cooking possibilities proliferate. Instead of paying for three restaurant meals a day, find a place with a suitable kitchen and cook one to two meals at home. Meals such as breakfast are quick and easy to make, even with just a microwave or stove top. Storing inexpensive staples like oatmeal, yogurt, or cereal saves a considerable amount of money. Especially while traveling abroad, grocery store prices are significantly lower than those of restaurants, particularly when currency exchange is set against you.

3. Limit Your Meals Out


Just because you are on vacation does not mean that you must dine out every chance you get. As stated above, it is quite easy to cook meals if you are renting an apartment or house. Spending less money on restaurants will allow you to spend more on places you would like to see while traveling. Of course, dining out is a pleasurable experience, but limiting and celebrating these occasions will make them even more memorable.

4. Pack Smart

Depending on your mode of travel, your packing space and what you can pack are limited. If your trip is a car ride away, bringing a cooler or an extra bag with snacks is easy and beneficial. Handfuls of snacks and small prepped meals fit easily and can be stored in compact spaces. If you are traveling by plane, space is restricted, but there is still ample room to pack snacks. Foods like granola bars, crackers, and small fruits are easy to store and do not need refrigeration. Bringing your own snacks to the airport and your destination city help save cash, as you avoid purchasing the expensive food offered in tourist locations. Fortunately, home brought snacks are often healthier as well.

5. Avoid Chains

Some chains are known to be cheap, yet when it comes to cafes, think carefully before purchasing. Big names like Starbucks charge high prices for their drinks, so if you want to save on your daily coffee, think about bringing your own packets of quick brew or finding smaller cafes with lower prices. Though purchases like coffee and tea seem small, they can add up quick. Hot water is almost always available, even at hotels, so providing your own tea bags or coffee grounds is a quick way to save cash.

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6. Share Meals

Depending on your appetite and the restaurant's plate size, think twice before ordering too many meals. Often, portion sizes are large enough for at least two people, and sharing meals not only eliminates food waste, but also extra spending. Additionally, purchasing a few appetizers rather than full meals allows for greater variety in your meal and lower prices. Ask your waiter or waitress about the plate sizes before ordering. This may not be for everyone, but for those who enjoy small, frequent meals, sharing is helpful.

7. Choose Your Food Wisely

Especially when traveling, ensure that you are eating healthy foods to keep you going throughout the day. Macronutrients like protein and complex carbohydrates keep you full longer and provide your body with the energy it needs. Instead of purchasing copious amounts of processed snacks, choose natural foods and beverages that will hold off hunger and keep you feeling energetic. Although healthy foods are often seen as more expensive, they can often be found at reasonable prices and you will need less of them to keep you satisfied.


Take the Next Step:

  • Search your destination for restaurants, grocers and other places that could provide inexpensive meals.
  • Visit the TDS library for more ways to save on food when traveling.
  • Join those who 'live better...for less' - Subscribe to The Dollar Stretcher newsletter, a weekly look at how to stretch both your day and your dollar! Subscribers get a copy of our ebook Little Luxuries: 130 Ways to Live Better...For Less for FREE!
  • Is debt preventing you from traveling to your preferred destinations? The Dollar Stretcher can help you get to those places you'd rather go. Start taking the steps to get out of debt today and work toward the vacation destinations of your dreams.

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