Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Tips for Eating on the Cheap While Traveling - Thrifty Thursdays

Good food doesn't have to be expensive, nor do you have to settle for fast food while traveling. I firmly believe that food is a MAJOR part of the travel experience, so I'd never expect you to skimp on quality. You can save a substantial amount on your food budget and still have a great time by keeping these handy tips in mind.

If you have additional tips for eating on the cheap, I'd love to hear about them, please post them to the comments section at the end of this post!
  • If you're going to splurge at an expensive restaurant, lunch is a good time to do so. You can often get the same famous food at a significantly lower cost. Since most health experts agree that eating the largest meal of the day in the afternoon is a good idea, you'll be doing more than your pocketbook a favor.
  • Many hotels (especially in countries other than the US) and all B& B's include breakfast as part of the room price. Take full advantage of this and fill up so you won't have to buy food until lunch (or depending on your personal metabolism, dinner).
  • Eat where the locals do. Casual restaurants with a large local clientele are like to be high quality and low cost.
  • Eat in ethnic neighborhoods (this tip works in the US or abroad). You can get some first class feasts for very little money in ethnic neighborhoods. Using my hometown of Los Angeles as an example, travel to Korea Town, China Town, Little Tokyo, Thai Town, or in nearby Orange County, Little Saigon, for incredible food at coffee shop prices. Do I detect an Asian theme here? Don't worry, there are Mexican neighborhoods all over the City of Angels serving dirt-cheap but delicious authentic South-of-the-Border cuisine. There are also plenty of Ethiopian, Cuban, Indian, Argentinean, Armenian, and Moroccan eateries along with just about every other ethnic group under the sun. That's one of the things about living in or visiting a large city that's so wonderful. Take advantage of the ethnic neighborhoods in whatever cities you visit for great food at bargain prices.
  • Carry snacks and drinks. Having some snacks like granola bars, trail mix or even fresh fruit along can help save a lot over buying them from street vendors and convenience stores.
  • If you're traveling by car, stock up on bottled water and other drinks at the supermarket or discount store. A six-pack here will often cost the equivalent or even less than the price of a single bottle from a convenience store or street vendor.
  • These days you can't carry a bottle of water onto a plane because of "security" concerns. But you can carry an empty bottle that you can fill from the water fountain once you clear security.
  • Drink water with meals. Even without alcohol, soft drinks, coffees and teas can add a substantial amount to your check (especially in countries other than the US). Drink free water with the meal (as long as you're in a country that it's safe to do so). Buy soft drinks at markets instead.
  • Carrying along an immersion heater is great for making coffee, tea or instant hot chocolate in your hotel room. It can also heat instant soup or boil water for other purposes. This inexpensive travel accessory is sold at anywhere travel goods are sold.
  • Have picnics! You can save a bundle by having impromptu picnics. Whether they be a late night snack in your hotel room or a full romantic meal against a spectacular backdrop like the Grand Canyon or the Eiffel Tower, picnics are a boon to the budget conscious traveler.
  • Make a portable picnic pack -- it's light and takes up hardy any space. This way you can take advantage of local delicacies from the markets, bakeries and wine shops, without paying restaurant prices. Click here for how-to instructions for making a portable picnic pack to stash in your suitcase, backpack, or vehicle.

Thrifty Thursdays is a blog event created by my fried Amanda Formaro from Amanda's Cookin' blog. I've agreed to participate, so look for a frugal themed post here each Thursday. In addition to reading my posts, be sure to visit Amanda's blog (after Thursday) for a round-up of all the thrifty home and cooking tips and recipes that came in this week from folks around the blogosphere. Visit anytime to learn how to participate too.

6 comments:

Amanda said...

So many great tips Cheri! The tip on drinking water with your meal with significantly drop your tab. I've been amazed at how much a restaurant can charge for a glass of soda, let alone a beer or cocktail!

When I lived in Vegas I used to venture to the Mexican neighborhood for authentic carne asada from their Mexican deli :)

Cheri Sicard said...

It's worse outside of the US. In Japan or Europe ordering a soft drink at a restaurant can easily add 4 or 5 dollars to your tab.

Carrie said...

Great ideas!! We don't eat our very much anymore....the budget is just too tight.

Cheri Sicard said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Cheri Sicard said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Cheri Sicard said...

We've cut down on eating out lately too. As I'm trying to lose weight, it's doing double duty. But picnics are a great way to get out inexpensively.

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