One of the biggest hits to any travel budget, especially while abroad, is going to be food. Aside from transportation, accommodations, and attractions, meals while you’re touring the world, can (excuse the pun) eat away at your travel funds. If you are looking to travel internationally, you don’t have to resolve to just be bankrupt by way of baguettes. In fact, there are quick tricks to filling up your stomach without emptying your bank account.

Here are some simple ways to save on food while abroad that will leave some extra wiggle room in your budget:

Visit Local Markets for Fresh Produce

travel food budget-market stall prices

While traveling abroad, you are bound to encounter local food markets. Not only can you score great fresh fruits, vegetables and other foods, but also you can eat for a fraction of the price of supermarket food. Local markets present a great way to get a cheap breakfast, snack, or lunch and also have meaningful local interactions with vendors in the process.

Book Accommodations with Kitchens

Eating out for every meal while abroad will quickly blow your trip budget and most likely your waistline too. If you are looking to save on food while traveling internationally, you’ll need to cook some of your meals during your trip. You can book apartments or stay in hostels with kitchens so that you can cook even while you travel. By preparing a few meals throughout your trip, you’ll save a great chunk of change.

Load Up on Free Breakfasts

travel food budget-hotel breakfast buffet

If your accommodations include breakfast and you’re hitting snooze in the morning, you are essentially throwing away money. Even if you aren’t much of a breakfast person but your hotel offers it with your room rate, you should take advantage of the offer to save on food. By loading up on a large (and free) breakfast you’ll end up saving money by being full enough to last through the rest of the day without caving in to costly snacks.

Resist the Tourist Traps and Main Squares for Meals Out

It might seem quite idyllic to park yourself at a café on a main square while abroad for dinner but your pocketbook will feel the pain of that decision. Eating out for a few meals while abroad is bound to happen. After all, food is such an essential part of travel and getting to know a new culture. However, if you feast in main squares or those establishments advertising their tourist menu, you’ll most likely be disappointed in the quality of food and the price tag. Seek out local recommendations for where to spend your money out when you do want to eat at a restaurant. Get off the main drag and you will almost always save a pretty penny.

 Make Lunch Your Main Meal of the Day

travel food budget-big lunch

No matter where you travel, the lunch menu is almost always much cheaper than the dinner menu. If you want to save some cash while eating out abroad, make lunch your main meal of the day. Lunch specials are often on the table and prices for the same dish at noon can be half what they are at 7 p.m.

Reuse Your Water Bottle

When traveling abroad, or anywhere for that matter, you should buy just one water bottle for your trip. If you toss each bottle you buy, you can quickly end up tossing away upwards of $5 here and there. If you are traveling for several weeks, this can add up to some serious cash. Rather than buying water bottles with every meal, refill the one you do have. If tap water is safe to drink, you can fill up every morning at your hotel and appreciate your savings throughout the day.

Are you thrifty when it comes to food and traveling internationally? Share your secrets for saving moola on chow when you travel in the comments below.

6 Responses

  1. Charlene

    Since doggy bags are almost unheard of take your own container to restaurant for left overs later or the next day.


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About The Author

Suzy Guese is a travel writer from Denver, Colorado. She caught the travel bug after taking her very first flight at just three months old—she was headed for Disney World—and has been a total travel junkie ever since. From family car trips across North America to stints abroad in Europe, Suzy travels the globe with her redheaded temperament in search of sarcasm, stories, and travel tips to share with anyone willing to listen. She blogs about her travels at