Traveling the world comes with a steep price tag. To curb your spending, you always make sure to explore your options and find ways to save. You may wait for airfare promos, book a budget hotel accommodation, buy an all-inclusive travel package, and visit free attractions. But if there’s one thing you simply can’t scrimp on, that would be great food.
For some, food is just fuel. If you only eat to get through the day, you may be okay with hotel free breakfasts, fast-food, and supermarket produce.
But for others, food is the experience itself. Food tells a lot of stories about a foreign land’s culture and traditions. If you’re a foodie, visiting a place with a booming culinary scene, settling for less isn’t on your agenda. You want the best version, but you also want a bang for your buck.
So if you’re planning to travel abroad and save money while getting the best food the destination has to offer, check out our 7 tips.
1. Fill up in a buffet
Buffets don’t always serve the best meals but they offer great value for your money. They’re all-you-can-eat, so you can have it for brunch and feel full for the entire day. They’re also the best choice if you’re looking for a variety.
Look for hostels or hotels that include breakfast buffet options. You can also search for a good local buffet where you’ll get spoiled with a wide array of traditional, authentic, local food. No need to decide whether to visit a ramen place or go to a sushi bar for lunch — you can have both of them, along with other Japanese fares in one sitting under one roof when you go to a Japanese buffet.
2. Visit the marketplace
Markets are often located in the heart of the city. They may be noisy, busy, and stinky sometimes but you’re sure to get cheap, fresh, and authentic finds. Aside from fresh produce and dry goods, you can also find no-frills sit-down eateries that use only the freshest ingredients from local suppliers.
For instance, if you’re visiting Cork, hailed as Ireland’s foodie capital, visit The English Market. The market sells a plethora of high-quality fresh produce, meat, seafood, cheese, bread, cakes, and confectioneries. This is where fine restaurants get their supplies. It’s also home to a wide array of passionate and friendly traders.
3. Local snacks for quick and cheap grub
Skip your go-to fast-food chain and try to discover local snacks that are equally filling. For a cheap and quick meal that’s enough to stave off hunger, opt for food stalls in the malls and the streets. Try the samosa of India, empanada in Costa Rica, the takoyaki in Japan, the turon in the Philippines, and the Gamja Hotdog in South Korea.
4. A stroll is best paired with street food
Oftentimes, the best food is found, not inside a fancy restaurant, but in a shabby food stall in the streets.
The streets are lined with tiny food stalls where food is cooked openly on the street. They’re usually cheap, filling, and authentic. You can just grab a plate, sit down in a small plastic chair, and enjoy your meal, with other customers. Other street food options are also skewered, wrapped in paper, or served in a disposable cup, so you can conveniently eat them while walking.
Street food is a great way to experience the local cuisine and immerse yourself in the culture of your chosen destination.
5. When in doubt, go for local
Buying local food isn’t just a gastronomic experience that pleases the senses. It’s also an economical way to travel. Since the ingredients used in making the local fares are easily accessible and cheap, the prices are significantly lower than international cuisines.
6. Skip the tourist traps
Restaurants located just a few steps from popular attractions are most likely to be tourist traps a.k.a overpriced yet low-quality food intended to lure unsuspecting, hungry tourists. They make up for their bland food by offering IG-worthy interiors, access to the best view, and other frills.
The rule of thumb when you’re unsure where to dine is to follow the crowd. Look for the stalls with long queues of locals. They’re most likely to be a hit. These authentic restaurants aren’t usually located near the tourist spot.
7. Have the best meal of the day during lunchtime
If you’re visiting an expensive country, like a European country, you may go for lunch specials where items on the dinner menu are offered at a big discount. Don’t wait for the sundown to have the “best meal of the day”. Get an amazing afternoon meal in a fine restaurant for a fraction of the cost you’d pay for the same meal in the evening. Buffet rates also tend to be cheaper for lunch packages.