15 Rules To Live By If You Want To Eat And Drink For Cheap While Traveling

15 Rules To Live By If You Want To Eat And Drink For Cheap While Traveling

You know what’s great about traveling? Getting to try incredible food and drinks from all around the world. You know what’s not so great? Having to pay for it all.


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Unless you have an endless budget or are traveling somewhere with a low cost of living, you’ve got to reign it in. And these tips will help you do just that. Because no one should have to say no to a taste of sea urchin in Japan or a bottle of Champagne in France — but if you return home to a terrifying credit card bill, chances are your next trip will be put on hold.

Here are some tried and true rules for eating and drinking for cheap — without having to sacrifice all the glorious foods you need to try while traveling.


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In other words: you can have your cake and eat it too.

1.

Pack your own airport food.

2.

Stick to the “one meal out per day” rule.


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Food is a big part of travel, and to skip eating out entirely is just sad. But if you’re dining out for breakfast, lunch, and dinner, you might end up blowing your budget. Eating just one big meal out a day will help keep your wallet fat without depriving your taste buds.

3.

And when you can, eat out for lunch instead of dinner.


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In many places you can find better priced (and often larger) meals at midday than you can in the evening. Because of this, eating your big meal out at lunch might save you a couple bucks and will provide a nice midday break between morning and afternoon tourist stops.

4.

Rather than buying drinks at bars or restaurants, pre-game like a college freshman.


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In many places — the US included — you can buy an entree for the cost of a cocktail. Take a cue from the college kids and mix up a simple drink or sip a beer before you head out. You’ll have just as much fun, and won’t have to pony up for a watered-down $10 vodka soda or a $15 glass of wine.

5.

Then, when you get the dessert menu…bail.


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I’m not saying you should deprive yourself of something sweet; just ignore the $9 mousse, pay the check, and walk to the nearest convenience store where you can buy a bar of chocolate for $1.

6.

Stock up on breakfast fixings at the grocery store.


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Breakfast is an easy meal to go light on. Most people don’t need a full cooked meal, and when you’re traveling, chances are you’re eager to get out and explore anyway. Buy a bag of apples, some yogurt, and granola, and fuel up (for less).

7.

Opt for street food over sit-down restaurants.


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The moment you sit down at a table the prices go up, and depending on what country you’re in, you may have to tip. Why mess with fancy restaurants when you can find delicious — and often more authentic — food at a street vendor or counter-service spot? Grab and go is almost always cheaper, and there’s something oddly romantic about scarfing a falafel sandwich on a curb while shooing away pigeons.

8.

Get off the tourist circuit, then look for bars and restaurants with happy hours — or free bar snacks.

10.

If you’re staying somewhere with a kitchen, cook in.

11.

Keep your eye out — or actively scout — events with free food and booze.


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An event with free food and drink isn’t just something you find on college campuses. No matter where you go in the world, there will be gallery openings, public events, and neighborhood street parties with free food and drinks. The trick is not being afraid to dive in when you see an opportunity.

12.

When you head out for the day, pack your own snacks.


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You may feel like a middle-aged, over-prepared mom, but packing snacks can be a huge money saver when you’re traveling. God forbid hanger strikes and you have to grab something inside an art museum or movie theater, where the cost of convenience is sky high. Take a cue from the pros and bust out a baggie of pretzels, an apple, or some dried fruit. You’ll feel like a modern-day hero.

13.

And when you find freebies, stock up.


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You may not be hungry in the moment, but consider your dwindling budget and stock up. Tuck away an extra banana or a muffin for later — you won’t regret it.

14.

Bring a reusable bottle so you don’t have to waste money (and plastic) buying bottled water.

15.

Link up with family, friends, and friends of friends.


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Sometimes the best part about traveling is getting away from family and friends — but when you’re broke and hungry, you’ll get over it. When you make time to meet up with a distant aunt for lunch or the friend of your college roommate for drinks, not only will you have a great catch up, but they might even offer to pay — you did travel all this way, after all. Better yet, they may offer up a free place to stay.

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