If you’re travelling on a strict budget, food can often be the least of your worries, but fear not, it is possible to travel AND feed yourself without breaking the bank. It may involve a bit of creativity and planning, but here are some food hacks to keep in mind if you’re looking to chow down and keep it cheap:
Travelling smart starts with packing smart, and if you can pack with your stomach in mind you’ll be one step ahead of your hunger.
Bring an empty water bottle with you to the airport – Pack it in your carry-on and fill it before your flight. You can use it during your trip as well to save the cost of buying bottled water and fill it up as you go instead.
Pack snacks – If there’s a cheap snack from home that you love then by all means pack it. It’ll be cheaper than the trial and error or trying to find tasty snacks on your travels.
Bring a sponge in a Ziploc bag – This makes a great ice pack and is ideal to help you store or transport perishables while you’re away.
Use these tips and resources to find the cheapest meals whilst traveling:
Farmers Markets – Often the freshest and cheapest place to find fresh fruits, veggies and baked goods to hoard in your room for later.
Street food – It’s often the tastiest and cheapest way to get a local meal, especially for lunch.
Lunch Specials – They’re often found at restaurants that focus on dinner, and they’re a great way to get a cheaper hearty meal.
Happy Hour – Along with the drink specials there are often specials on appetizers as well, and if you eat enough of them it definitely qualifies as a meal.
Use your mini fridge or cooler – Leftovers are precious, bring whatever you don’t finish back to the hotel with you and you’ll be so thankful when you have that late night snack waiting for you.
If you’ve got a kettle or coffee maker in your hotel room, pretty much anything involving hot water is fair game.
You can use hot water and some added ingredients to make a kick ass ramen, boil your way to a cheap breakfast with some instant oatmeal, or even skip your trips to the café by making your own tea or instant coffee in your room as well.
Some intense travel hackers suggest placing food items in your kettle itself, but we say play it safe (and clean!) and stick to a mug or bowl instead.
This takes some serious bravery, but in theory you can prop your iron upside down and utilize it as a grill, or press down on food items to cook them that way as well. All of this requires tin foil and steady hands, but theoretically you can make anything from a grilled cheese sandwich to bacon and eggs with your hotel room’s iron.
A microwave in a hotel room is a godsend, and if you are lucky enough to have one, USE IT! A microwave may not be your food prep method of choice at home, but when you’re travelling it can provide you with countless cheap cooked meals; eggs, pasta, potatoes, soup, chicken, you name it.
Maximize that Continental breakfast
Eat it, period – One of the biggest hotel errors travellers make is failing to clarify if there is an included breakfast where they’re staying. Some people don’t find out about the breakfast until they’re checking out, or don’t roll out of bed in time to eat it. You’ve technically already paid for it, so not eating it is nothing but a waste of money.
Brunch – If you’re not in a rush in the morning, why not turn that included breakfast into an included brunch? Eat a little bit later than usual and load up on all of the delicious foods that you can, and you’ll stay full for longer and cut a whole meal out of the equation.
Fill up – Even if you’re an early breakfast eater, make sure you make the most of that included meal and fill up before you start your day. So many people will ditch the continental breakfast for a local café or restaurant, but if you’re looking to save money, giving up that free meal is a no-no. You’ll have lots of chances throughout the day to eat more locally, so don’t turn your nose up at the hotel brekky.
Snacks to go? – Many hotels are strict about removing items from the breakfast area, but if they aren’t where you’re staying why not take a banana for the road? Some hotels even have an area with complimentary items like fruit, coffee and water in the lobby, so definitely make sure you take advantage of those free snacks for later as well.
Remember, every little snack, water and meal adds up. Go forth young grasshopper and food budget the heck out of your next trip!