Cheap Eats: Keep Travel Costs Down By Eating on a Budget

One of the biggest costs in life is food- if you sit and work out how much you spend each month, you’ll notice it’s a surprisingly significant portion of your budget. The same applies when you go traveling, and when you’re planning out how much it’s all going to cost food does have to come into consideration. Chances are there will be a couple of great establishments you have your eye on when you’ve settled on a destination, but your whole trip certainly doesn’t have to haute cuisine. You can eat very well and still enjoy yourself by trying the following:

Try Out The Street Food

Exploring the markets is one of the best things to do if you’re visiting a new destination. You get to experience the culture, find great deals on unique items to buy and best of all can taste the incredible street food. Experienced local vendors prepare this, and you can get a tasty meal for a fraction of what you’d pay in a restaurant. In Vietnam, you’d get dishes like Banh Mi, a delicious baguette style sandwich with meat and vegetables. In Belgium, you could try a tasty Belgian waffle with all the trimmings, and in India, you will probably stumble upon dishes like Aloo Tikki, a spiced potato dish. Even if you’re just staying on home soil in the US, there’s plenty of street foods to try when you’re on your travels. From falafel to burgers to grilled cheese, they might not be the healthiest choice but delicious and cheap too. You can always hit the gym once you’re home from your travels!

Eat in Inexpensive Chain Restaurants

You don’t have to eat in really fancy, high-end restaurants to be served great food. Chain restaurants have excellent service and food but without breaking the bank; plus the portions are far more generous than you’d get at a fine dining establishment. You get to sit down and eat as a couple or a family and still get that restaurant experience but without blowing your budget. Forget Mcdonalds and KFC, you can still eat cheaply somewhere like a chain steakhouse, Nandos or a Sizzler and have a proper sit-down meal. You can see on this Sizzler menu for example that most dishes are between $10-$15 with most kids meals being under $6 so perfect if you don’t want to spend too much. And plus, chain restaurants are just about everywhere making dining at one very convenient.

Visit Grocery Stores

If you’re going to be traveling for a few weeks or more, you need to eat very cheaply unless you have a huge budget. While you can always treat yourself to the occasional meal out, the majority of the time you could buy food from grocery stores. It might not always be the most exciting but it’s inexpensive, and you can stay relatively healthy too. Whip up a tasty picnic and hike or bike somewhere exotic, then spend the afternoon enjoying eating it. If you’re going backpacking, essentials like dried fruit and cereal bars will be light to carry and provide you with some much-needed energy. You don’t have to over-complicate it with food. Grab a yogurt for breakfast, take a couple of sandwiches and a piece of fruit out with you for lunch and a fresh pasta salad with a rotisserie chicken for dinner. That way you’re ready to go and will save yourself a fortune over the space of your travels.


  1. Barrie

    I always search for coupons for restaurants before we leave and plan our eating around that. When we were in Vegas, I purchased eating cards online that saved us a lot of money!

  2. ellen beck

    We dont get to take any long trips but with day trips this works as well. I have found packing a lunch works . Even packing or taking along something to drink saves so much money. You dont have to stop or use vending machines.

  3. Shawna

    Great post! We have been being more and more frugal when it come to how much money we spend when traveling. I love the eating street food tip! One thing we have been doing, is requesting a microwave and refrigerator in our hotel room so we can eat microwave meals like oatmeal, frozen dinners etc. and also heat up leftovers from restaurants we’ve ate at that day or the night before to help save money. That way, we have more money for taking trips! 🙂

  4. Starla

    So many great tips. I have always loved trying street food. Such a fun and delicious experience each time, lol!

  5. Jessica W

    Thanks for these great tips! I’m looking forward to using them to keep costs down on road trips this summer.

  6. Donna N.

    When I was younger , we hardly ever ate out when we traveled. My parents owned a camper so we usually stocked it with groceries before we left.

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