While planning a travel budget, most people commonly think that transportation and accommodation will comprise most of the expenses. However, when travelling, travellers love to snack and try out expensive restaurants for the “authentic local experience.” After checking receipts later on, they realize that they actually spent most of their money on food.
Despite what fancy restaurants might tell you, dining at an expensive place won’t necessarily provide an authentic travel experience. In fact, a lot of travellers say that the best way to acquire an authentic local experience and even save money is to think like a local. This means eating the food that locals usually eat, and it’s highly doubtful that they eat in expensive restaurants every day. To help you save on food expenses, try out the following tips the next time you go on a trip.
Ideally, you should stay at places that have their own kitchen, so that you can cook your own meals. After all, buying ingredients is cheaper than paying for food in a cafe or restaurant. Moreover, you can use the ingredients to prepare multiple meals that can last for days.
Upon checking in, explore the neighbourhood and visit nearby stores. Go to the local market as well to check popular local ingredients. Afterwards, make a mental list of dishes you can make. Another thing you can try is a grocery store delivery service. If you’re too tired from walking or exploring all day, this is a convenient way for you to get your groceries as well as have more time to rest at your temporary home.
Some people prefer to eat snacks, but they’re often not very filling. This inevitably results in buying more snacks, and these expenses pile up over time. That’s why it better to eat hearty meals—specifically breakfast or lunch—to keep your energy levels up and prevent yourself from snacking.
When booking accommodation, try to find one that offers free meals for breakfast or lunch. If the extra charges are not too expensive or it’s really part of a promotional package, then go for it. It can help you save time and effort each day and help you focus on other aspects of your trip.
Some restaurants offer meal deals as well. If you’re travelling with a group, look for establishments that offer group meals at a discounted price. Some shops and bakeries offer discounts at the end of the day, too. They sell easily perishable items like packaged meals and pastries to make room for fresh products the next day. Keep a lookout for such stores to get yourself a sweet deal.
As part of your travel preparations, acquaint yourself with the local delicacies. Learn where to buy them and know their price range, so you can properly allocate a budget for them. Moreover, try to avoid eating food that you can already buy at home, such as popular fast-food chains or popular snacks. Spend your money on foods you can find only in the area to get the most out of your food budget.
Another thing you need to look for are the popular or common foods and ingredients available in the area. They’re likely in abundance and are thus most likely to be more affordable. You can buy them as snacks during your travels, or use them as ingredients for when you cook meals for yourself.
Never underestimate the usefulness and convenience of having a water bottle with you wherever you go. While travelling, you’ll likely be walking and exploring attractions all day, so you need to ensure that you’re hydrated. This especially applies to areas where drinkable water is not readily available.
Save some extra money by removing or reducing the need to buy bottles of water from convenience stores or roadside kiosks. With good luck, some establishments may even allow you to refill your water container for free. This is also better for the environment.
Tourist attractions can also become tourist traps. Establishments in the surrounding area often have food prices significantly marked up compared to other locations—even if they’re serving the same food. It’s a good idea to bring some snacks or pack a lunch, so you have something to eat while visiting these attractions.
Another thing you can do to avoid exorbitant food prices is to explore outside the conventional tourist checklist. Visit other neighbourhoods, check less-travelled destinations, and eat at small yet reputable establishments. You might discover some local gems to keep coming back to later.
When in doubt, talk to the local residents. After all, there’s nobody else who could know the area as well as the locals when it comes to affordable meals, local delicacies, and less-known destinations. It’s ideal if you can speak in the same language to make communication easier. If not, you can always use language apps or a map to help find your way.
Strike a conversation with hotel staff, grocery store owners, fellow diners, and drivers, too. You can also try to talk to fellow travellers who might have been to the area before. Aside from learning which places to visit, you might also learn more about the local culture as well. Best of all, you might even make a new friend.
Overall, travelling costs a lot of money but that doesn’t mean that you can’t do it on a budget. Local foods tell much of the culture and story of a place, and they’re not necessarily expensive. Do your research, talk to the locals, and allot a strict budget for more expensive restaurants. All of these will undoubtedly contribute to a better, well-rounded travelling experience.