(Check out today’s guest post from Lisa over at Do You Speak Cilantro?! Having cooked her way around the world via cruise ship, she has some excellent advice on how to eat well and on a budget!)
When planning a trip I usually assume that airfare and accommodation is going to take up the biggest chunk of my budget and right underneath that is food.
For the passionate traveler, who is also a foodie, the meal is the most important part. Going to different destinations puts us in touch with a variety of people and cultures. So, what better way to experience the diversity, geography, even history of a country through one single bite?
Here are five tips that could help you save some cash as well as open your options to what is good to eat.
1. Plan… somewhat.
It’s a good idea to estimate how much you are going to spend on food each day. This figure will vary depending on personal preferences. How much are you willing to spend per meal? Does skipping a meal not bother you if it means eating well later? If staying in a hostel, will you cook most of your meals?
Some hostels offer some type of complimentary breakfast and with bed and breakfast type accommodations you have one less meal to worry about.
Before embarking on your trip it’s a good idea to make a list of restaurants you may want to visit. This will help you establish your total food cost, while also helping you to keep your dining options open.
2. If you must splurge make it count
In a foodie’s world there are certain restaurants that are worth making a pilgrimage. It’s hard to visit Napa Valley without wanting to stop at a Thomas Keller restaurant. However, if dropping three hundred dollars for a meal isn’t your thing, don’t worry.
A recent trend among many well-known chefs is opening smaller restaurants that have a more laid back and casual vibe with prices to match.
Michelin star chefs in France have opened “gastro bistros“. The popularity of tapas has flourished because let’s face it, who doesn’t love eating a variety of small dishes for a reasonable price? Again, this does require a bit of research, but if you’re out to have that religious like food moment, then it’s worth it.
3. Look for street vendors
Great food is not limited to white linen dining or a brick and mortar location. Mobile food units are popular and are no longer a last resort for when you’re hungry.
For under ten bucks you can have a satisfying meal and maybe even a story to tell the folks back home. It’s not a new concept, but the creativity of chefs and food lovers has redefined the idea of “fast food”.
Food carts are a way for travelers to not only save money, but get to know the city or town they’re in. Of course, precautions should be taken in certain areas of the world where food service and health regulations are a bit lax.
For those with food allergies it may be best to stay away from street vendors if you aren’t sure or comfortable with how the food is being prepared.
No matter where you are in the world you are bound to run into street food. Whether it’s roasted chestnuts and fried seahorse in Beijing or schnitzel sandwiches in Portland, Oregon, there is always something interesting to discover.
4. Offer your services.
For the culinary traveler, cities are a smorgasbord full of good eating. This may not always be the case in smaller towns or villages and you may have to get creative when it comes to finding a meal.
I recommend this only to individuals who are flexible or looking for an experience that may put you outside of your comfort zone, if only for a bit.
WWOOFing is one way you can get a taste of food culture in different areas of the world, free of charge. Of course, there is farm work involved, but if you have an open mind and an empty stomach, the possibilities are endless.
5. The locals know best!
If spontaneity is more your thing and maybe you want to just “live in the moment” then wait until you arrive and ask around! Asking locals where to find reasonably priced meals and their opinion on certain restaurants is one of the best ways to find cheap eats.
So, with a little exploration outside of the typical tourist traps most would be surprised at how many dining options are around even in the most restaurant barren locations. Eating well while traveling doesn’t have to be an afterthought nor should it ever be.
About the Author
Lisa is a nomadic cook, foodie, blogger of Do You Speak Cilantro? and culture seeker. Currently she is working for a six star luxury cruise line and will complete her childhood goal of visiting every continent on earth before the age of 30. When Lisa is not port hopping and working in the galley, she spends her time planning her move abroad to Australia, culinary world domination, and inspiring others to travel.