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Eating Abroad: 7 Tips for The Thrifty Traveler

Tempting as it may be to indulge in your hotel’s buffet, this choice, while convenient, is one of the easiest ways to wreak havoc on your food budget.


Locals Know Best


1.) Avoid eating in restaurants located near tourist traps, as they often end up pandering to the less than discerning palates (and wallets) of more affluent travelers. Locals stray from these “popular” destinations for a reason: not only do these establishments often dilute the true flavors of local cuisine, the prices are often much more expensive than side street eateries you would find, say, even a couple blocks away.


2.) In this same vein, ask a local student rather than your resident concierge or host for restaurant recommendations, as students are often more attuned to local food trends in addition to the restraints of a tighter budget. As such, taking the effort to ask the right person can uncover some cheap yet delicious options one may have initially overlooked in the convenience.


Go Straight to the Source


3.) Not every meal has to be eaten at a restaurant. In fact, there is much to be gained- or more accurately, saved — in the art of self-catering. Beyond the obvious benefit of sheer thrift, visiting the market for supplies can prove to be in itself a memorable experience. Take Barcelona’s La Boqueria or Tokyo’s famous Tsukiji Fish Market, where visitors can gawp at the frenetic atmosphere of local trade whilst simultaneously partaking in the freshest of produce.


Get More Bang for Your Buck


4) Stay aware of where and when you can save your money. Many restaurants all over the world offer deals/discounts during certain times, including lunch time versus dinner or during the week as opposed to the weekend. Wait until closing time, and there’s a good chance that you will be able to buy goods at your local bakery or store at a considerable discount. Another great way to save is to take advantage of Happy Hour, a custom alive and well in many countries around the world.


5) If you foresee the restraints of a food budget becoming a significant issue in your travels, a potential solution might lie in simply picking a destination where your money will stretch further. By visiting countries with lower costs of living and currency exchange rates favorable to you, you may find yourself blessed by the ability to afford large amounts of food for a just fraction of what it would cost elsewhere. Take, for example, countries like Nepal, where a full three course meal can sell for the equivalent of six US dollars.


6) Lastly, there’s nothing as cheap and as arguably authentic as the food provided by local street vendors. Though some travelers may initially balk at the possible threat of food poisoning, one can mitigate certain risk factors by ensuring that a) the vendor is cooking to order and b) storing ingredients separately.


Get Connected


7) One way you can satisfy both appetite and budget is to take an extra moment to research what it is you may want to eat via the resources available to you. Look up local apps, food blogs, even instagram hashtags — you’ll find that reviews and pictures of cheap and trendy eateries are generally available pretty much everywhere you go. Dining apps like Yelp, Foursquare, and Urbanspoon are similarly gaining traction all over the world, with handy filters available so that travelers can readily gauge distance, ratings, and most importantly, price.