Traveling abroad is one of the most amazing things you can do in life. You get to witness how other people live their lives, what they eat, how they speak. There's really nothing like it. One of my favorite things about traveling is trying local foods, new foods, & getting out of my usual routine. The thing to consider is that you're already paying a huge chunk of change for your plane ticket. The question therein is: how do you eat cheap & on a budget while traveling abroad? Don't worry I've got your back with plenty of tips to lead you on the right track. Here's to eating well & eating cheap!

Related reading: How To Use Google Flights to Find Cheap Flights 

Mercat de la Boqueria - Barcelona, Spain

eat on a budget

Do your research

If you have some sort of Internet access look online to see what food is out there. You can check out Yelp, browse reviews, & search for affordable options in your area. There's no way that you could possibly know all the restaurants & cafes yourself, so to do a little bit of research & narrow it down. Be sure to consider the pricing, portion size, & distance from your current location.

Understand tipping

Tipping practices vary per country. Some don't require or expect tips at all. Some include tips into your check. Make sure you learn & understand how it works. Over time, you'll save a pretty penny if you know the tipping culture.

tipping abroad

Go to a grocery store

Heading to local grocery stores is one of my favorite things about traveling. I will never forget Albert Heijn, a Dutch supermarket. You have no idea how many times I went into that store to buy delicious juice, cheese croissants, & lentil avocado salad. Their prices were cheap & made for the perfect picnic. Grocery stores & markets are the way to go because you get to grab something to-go or make, cook, & assemble your own meals. You can also buy coffee or tea bags to save you from picking up one every morning.

Pack your lunch

You're out & about all day exploring the city & its many wonders. Save some cash by bringing lunch with you. It's just like the old days in elementary school; packing your lunch will keep your cost down. The fun challenge is finding a lovely place to eat your lunch. Picnics are everything when traveling abroad! I'll never forget the quaint garden lunch at a picnic table in Copenhagen or the lovely lakeside picnic in Amsterdam. Those packed picnic lunches were some of my favorite memories from traveling abroad.

lunch abroad

Eat before you're super hungry

I admit I made this mistake many times. Learn from my mistakes. In order to save money while you're traveling the world, eat before you're super hungry. If you're about to faint from hunger you'll likely visit the first place you see regardless of its price. That doesn't really help if you're on a budget. Be sure to get some food before you're starving.

Have a snack on hand

This kind of goes hand in hand with the above tip. Always always always have a snack with you. Keep it in your purse, your backpack, your fanny pack or pocket if you have to. If you have a snack with you you won't immediately be tempted to lunge at the first sight of food. A banana, cup of cereal, or mixed nuts ought to do the trick.

open seating

Ask a local 

Engage with the locals & inquire about their favorite restaurant, cafe, or underrated eatery. Ask about budget-friendly options in the neighborhood. Locals know a hell of a lot more about the city than you do. Take their advice & run with it. You have no idea how many times asking a local about something totally enhanced my overall experience.

Eat at the hotel

If you're at a hotel, motel, hostel, Airbnb that includes a meal, take advantage of it. In Paris, my mom, sister, & I ate breakfast every day at the hostel. That saved us about €10 per person per day. You can buy souvenirs, macarons, museum tickets, or what have you with that money. The more cash you save by eating on a budget when you travel abroad leaves more room for other options.

hotel sink

Use a kitchen

Does your hotel or Airbnb have a kitchen? Take advantage of it. Cook your meals at home. We all know this is one of the best ways to eat on a budget in general. As a broke college student, I took pride in being able to scrummage up food with whatever I had in the house. You can obviously supplement that by going to the grocery store.

Refill your water bottle

In some countries, you have to pay for water at the restaurant or they may not give you any at all. I remember sitting down for lunch in Denmark & specifically asking for tap water only to find out that they charged for it. Lesson learned. Buy a water bottle & refill it. You'll save a lot of money on water alone.

Drink outside

Europe is pretty chill about drinking outside or in public. Stop by the store & pick up a bottle of wine, some beer, even juices rather than buying them at a restaurant at a markup. I spent €6 on a beer at a restaurant. Then I got wise & bought an even larger beer at the market for about €2. Do a little research on the laws about drinking in public in your country.

Go to the Market

I always like to visit the farmer's market wherever I may roam. Whether I unintentionally happen upon one in Milan, Italy or perhaps a very purposeful promenade through Mercat de la Boqueria in Barcelona, Spain. Markets & farmer's markets tend to have almost a wholesale price for produce, veggies, & other goodies. Plus, they're as fresh as can be.

Were these tips on how to eat a budget while traveling abroad of any use? Any tips I left out? :]

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