Eating Well on a Budget: Tips for Saving on Food While Traveling

Saving on Food While Traveling

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Food costs while traveling can drain your budget fast. But, with smart choices, you can enjoy good meals and save money. We’re here to give you tips on how to eat well without spending too much. This way, you can make the most of your travel budget and still savor great flavors.

Choose Accommodations with Complimentary Breakfast or Dining Credits

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One smart way to cut food costs while traveling is to stay where you get free breakfast or meal credits. Lots of places, from hotels to hostels to rentals, know giving a meal helps guests save and get going in the morning.

About nine big hotel brands give out free breakfast, such as Best Western, Choice Hotels, and Wyndham. Pick these spots to eat well without spending extra.

Best Western usually has quick items like yogurt and pastries for breakfast. Choice Hotels, featuring Comfort Inn and Quality Inn, serve up bigger breakfasts with eggs, sausage, waffles, and more. At Drury Hotels, including Drury Inn & Suites, enjoy a free morning meal, each one offering different foods.

Places like Embassy Suites from Hilton and Hampton have cooked meals or buffet options for breakfast. Reserve directly on the World of Hyatt site to get free breakfast at Hyatt Place. IHG hotels like Holiday Inn and Staybridge Suites have free breakfast for adults and free meals for kids at some spots.

Marriott and its brands, such as Element and Residence Inn, also offer complimentary breakfasts. Look for Country Inn & Suites under Radisson for simple breakfast classics free of charge. Wyndham’s spots like Baymont have breakfast options that range from full buffets to individual items.

Picking a place with free breakfast not only saves money but also kicks off your day right. It means you can eat before you go out, getting your adventure off to a great start.

Embrace Buffets for Value

Looking to save money on food during your travels? Buffets are a great way to get your money’s worth. They offer unlimited food, so you can eat enough for the whole day.

Many places to stay, like hotels and resorts, have breakfast buffets. These buffets have lots to choose from, such as hot and cold dishes, fruits, and drinks. Although the food might not be super fancy, there’s so much of it that you’ll leave satisfied without hurting your wallet.

Eating at a buffet for breakfast means you might not need another big meal later. This is great if you’re trying to save money. You can use the cash you save on other fun things during your trip.

At the buffet, try to pick the healthier and filling foods. While it’s tempting to try everything, being smart about your choices will save money and keep you healthy. Explore different tastes but remember not to waste or eat too much.

Buffets are a top pick for those who want to dine out on a budget while traveling. For one price, you get to enjoy a variety of food. But, always choose carefully. Check that the buffet keeps things clean and safe.

Benefits of Embracing Buffets while Traveling Considerations when Opting for Buffets
  • Great value for your money
  • Opportunity to sample a variety of dishes
  • All-you-can-eat options
  • Potentially sustain you for the entire day
  • Cost-effective choice for budget travel meals
  • Be selective and avoid wasting food
  • Choose healthier, filling options
  • Mindful eating to avoid overindulgence
  • Consider hygiene and safety practices

In conclusion, buffets are a smart choice for budget-conscious travelers. They let you eat as much as you want at a fixed price. Just be smart about what you eat, and enjoy the variety. This way, you get more from your meal without overspending.

Try Local Vendors and Street Food

Finding food deals while traveling? Local vendors and street food stalls are top picks. They serve up tasty, budget-friendly meals. You can try everything from sandwiches to authentic dishes for much less than at a restaurant.

But it’s not just about the food. You also get a peek into the culture. Meet the people who make the food and enjoy it in lively spots or on quiet streets.

Here are some tips for a great street food experience. First, pick places that are clean. Watch how they make the food. And go for the busy spots. This means the food is likely fresh and safe to eat.

Ready to explore the street food scene? Let your senses guide you. You’ll enjoy great food, save money, and make lasting memories.

Why Try Street Food?

  • Authentic local flavors at a fraction of the cost of a restaurant meal
  • Immersive cultural experience
  • Wide variety of options to suit different preferences
  • Budget-friendly and value for money

Considerations When Eating Street Food

  • Choose vendors with good hygiene practices
  • Observe how the food is prepared
  • Opt for stalls with a crowd to ensure freshness
  • Be aware of any food allergies or dietary restrictions

Consider Fast Food for Quick and Affordable Meals

When you’re traveling, fast food might not sound like the most thrilling option. But, it’s handy and easy on the wallet as you move from place to place. Most fast food joints have menus that are priced right and meal bundles that save you cash. This comes in really handy if you’re short on time or in a spot without many dining choices. By squeezing in a fast food stop, you can have a fast, cost-effective meal without blowing your budget.

Fast food serves up many different kinds of food to suit all types of people. If you’re in the mood for classics like burgers or healthier bites like salads, they’ve got you covered. You can even find tastes from around the world. These options are made to be speedy, letting you quickly fill up and get back to your adventures.

In the mix with fast food, it’s nice to also check out local places for a real taste of where you are. While it’s easy and doesn’t cost much, enjoying what the area is known for food-wise is special. Getting to try the local meal scene adds to the experience of the place you’re visiting.

Using fast food wisely in your eating plan when traveling helps you save time and money. Still, you get to dive into the food scene of the place you’re exploring.

Benefits of Fast Food While Traveling:

  • Convenient and time-saving option
  • Offers a variety of menu choices
  • Budget-friendly with value menus and meal deals
  • Accessible in many locations, especially in cities and along highways
  • Can provide a familiar taste for travelers who may be seeking comfort food

Opt for Local Cuisine

When you’re traveling, choosing local food is a smart and tasty choice. It helps you dive into the culture, history, and unique flavors of your destination. You get to learn about the area’s environment and the natural resources it has.

You can find these flavors at street markets, local restaurants, or spots loved by the locals. This way, you’re in for a delight.

Picking local dishes can also help your budget. They are often more wallet-friendly than global dishes. And they usually use ingredients that are good for you.

Moreover, you support the area’s economy by eating in places that are locally owned. This boosts job creation, especially in spots where many tourists go.

Trying local meals is a chance to experience something new. You get to taste dishes and learn about food customs that are unique to the place. This is what makes your journey even more memorable.

So, the next time you travel, remember to try the local food. It helps you save money, backs the local economy, and enriches your travel experience.

Benefits Description
Insight into culture and history Trying local cuisine offers insight into a destination’s culture and history, helping travelers further understand the region they are visiting.
Excitement and exploration Local cuisine adds excitement to the travel experience by allowing individuals to explore new flavors, textures, and dishes unique to the destination.
Supporting the local economy Supporting local economy and community by dining at locally-owned restaurants stimulates the region’s economy and creates jobs, particularly in tourist-driven areas.
Environmental awareness Exploring local cuisine provides a way to learn about a region’s environment, as food often reflects the natural resources and climate of the area.
Health benefits Local cuisine is often based on fresh, healthy ingredients that can benefit one’s health and overall well-being.
Cultural immersion Trying local cuisine provides an opportunity to create new memories and experiences while immersing oneself in the customs and traditions of the destination.

Take Advantage of Lunch Specials

One great way to save on meals during your travels is with lunch specials. In Europe, many restaurants drop their prices for lunch. This means you can eat well for less. You won’t have to give up on great food while keeping your wallet happy.

These special lunch menus are cheaper than the regular dinner options. You may not have as many choices, but the money you save is worth it. It’s a chance to enjoy food unique to the place you’re visiting, all while sticking to a budget.

Lunchtime is perfect for trying out new places in a city. Look for spots with good lunch deals ahead of time. This not only saves money but also lets you find places away from the crowds. These local eateries often offer more authentic and budget-friendly meals.

Some tips for getting the most out of lunch specials include:

  • Checking online for restaurant deals.
  • Asking locals about their favorite spots.
  • Planning your day to match with lunchtime specials.
  • Sharing dishes to save even more and taste more variety.

Remember, you can cut food costs without losing out on good food. Smart choices like lunch specials let you enjoy tasty meals for less.

City M&IE per-diem rate (2023)
San Francisco $79
Elko, Nevada (standard rate for most rural areas and small cities) $59

Skip the Drinks and Stick to Water

When you eat out on your travels, drinks can make things pretty pricey. Sodas, smoothies, and fancy coffees bump up your bill fast. Choosing water over these can really cut costs. Water is often free or much cheaper than these other drinks.

It’s smart to bring a water bottle you can fill up on the go. You can refill it at water fountains or when restaurants let you fill up yourself. This choice not only saves you money but does good for the planet by making less plastic waste.

budget travel meals

Cook Your Own Meals

If your place has a kitchen, think about cooking. It’s great if you’ll be there a while. You can choose what goes into your food and save by buying local. Plus, you’ll enjoy exploring markets and making local dishes.

Tammie K. had a smart plan for her beach trip. She ate out once and cooked the rest of the time. This mix saved her cash and offered lots of tasty options.

Meal Planning Tips

Planning your meals in advance is key. Here are tips to make things smoother:

  • Make a grocery list: Use Scrambler Collen R.’s tip. Make your list on the way to your spot. Then, you can get all you need in one trip.
  • Pack labeled bags: Copy Scrambler Monica S. and pack meal ingredients in labeled bags. It saves time when you cook.
  • Use similar ingredients: Using the same ingredients in different meals saves money. Plus, it offers variety.
  • Don’t forget culinary essentials: Always bring staples like oil and spices. Put them in reusable containers for easy access.

Cooking lets you taste local dishes without overspending. It also brings you together with your group. You share the joy and work of making meals.

Recipes for Vacation Rentals
Grilled Island Chicken
Light and Garlicky Penne with Plum Tomatoes
Crispy Vegetable Tacos
Grilled Quicki Souvlaki Sandwich
Lime-Butter Sole with Grape Tomatoes

The Scramble recipes are ideal for vacation. They are simple, need just a few ingredients, and fit well in a budget.

For more ideas, look at e-cookbooks. “A Week of Meals Ready in 20-Minutes or Less” and “10 Meals in 15 Minutes or Less” are good. They offer quick, budget-friendly recipes for travelers.

So, try cooking on your trip. It’s good for the wallet and makes the experience rich. Be your own chef and enjoy eating on a budget.

Pack Picnics and Enjoy Outdoor Meals

Packing picnics is a great way to save money while traveling. It’s not just about the savings. It lets you enjoy delicious meals and the scenery around you. Follow these tips to enjoy outdoor dining without breaking the bank.

Visit Local Food Markets

In Europe, local markets are full of fresh foods. You can buy produce, meats, and cheeses at a lower cost than restaurants. Shopping at these markets supports local sellers and lets you dive into the food scene of the area.

Picnic Basket Options

There are many types of picnic baskets to choose from. You could go with a classic option or pick a foldable one to save space. Travelers might prefer insulated backpacks. They keep food fresh and have room for utensils. If you’re having a big picnic, consider a cooler on wheels. And for a luxurious touch, gourmet picnic hampers come with everything you need, including quality cutlery.

Picnic Food Suggestions

When selecting food for your picnic, go with dishes that don’t need heating up. Here are some easy and tasty ideas:

  • Thai Chicken Wraps
  • Chickpea, Spinach, Onion, and Red Pepper Pita Wraps With Yogurt Sauce
  • Sausage, Sweet Potato, Kale, and Hummus Wrap
  • Basil Lime Chicken & Peach Kale Salad
  • The “Everyday” Kale Salad With Homemade Dressing
  • Greek Salad
  • Veggie Pesto Pasta Salad With Chickpeas
  • Bento Box Lunch Ideas
  • 7 No-Cook Lunch Box Recipes
  • The Ultimate Mediterranean Bowl
  • No-Reheat Thai Tofu, Zucchini, and Carrot Bowls
  • Mexican Turkey and Bean Quinoa Bowl

Don’t forget to pack some sweet treats like muffins or mini honey cakes too. For a quick option, there are savory muffins that need just 5 ingredients and 20 minutes to bake. Or, try flour-free mini honey cakes. They take only 12 minutes in the oven. Serve treats in a muffin tin for easy, on-the-go eating.

Taking picnics to heart can lead to both saving money and wonderful memories. So, fill your picnic basket with delights. Then, pick a serene spot and enjoy the tastes of your trip.

Take Advantage of Tourism Cards and Mobile Apps

While traveling, saving on food is key. Tourism cards and mobile apps are great for this. They provide discounts and special offers at local restaurants. This is perfect for enjoying meals without spending too much.

Let’s dive into how these tools help cut down on dining costs:

1. Enjoy Discounts at Local Restaurants

In many cities, you can get tourism cards. These offer 15-25% or even 50% off at certain restaurants for lunch specials. You can buy these cards or find them included with other travel services. They let you enjoy great food across the city at lower prices.

2. Access Exclusive Promotions and Coupons

Travel apps often have special coupons and deals for restaurants nearby. They introduce you to local favorites at discount rates. All you need to do is show the app or use a code to save on your meal.

3. Combine Dining Offers with Other Benefits

These cards and apps might also offer savings on transport or activities. This way, you save money not just on dining but on various parts of your trip. It’s a smart way to stretch your travel budget.

Here’s a quick look at how these cards and apps can benefit you:

City Dining Discount Additional Benefits
San Francisco Up to 25% off at select restaurants Discounted public transportation
Elko, Nevada 50% off lunch specials Discounted museum entrance fees

As shown, saving on food during travels is very doable. With the right tourism cards and apps for your destination, you can taste local dishes without breaking the bank.

frugal dining tips

To make your money go further, be on the lookout for discounts and special deals. Before you travel, check if your destination has tourism cards or apps. These can make a big difference in saving money on food and making your trip more enjoyable.


Follow these budget travel meals tips to eat well without spending too much. You can enjoy tasty food while saving money on your journey. Just pick budget-friendly meals and use smart tricks to make your travel budget last longer.

Try to stay where breakfast is free and sample local food from vendors. This will be easy on your budget and fun for your taste buds. Mix cheap eats with local food spots for a memorable food adventure on a budget.

When you save food, you save money and help the planet. Food waste is costly and bad for the environment. But, by being mindful of what you buy and eat, you do your part to cut down on waste. Every bite saved not only saves you money. It also makes a difference for our Earth. Enjoy your meals responsibly!

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