Top 5 Ways to Eat for Cheap

Posted on 15. Aug, 2010 by in Europe Travel, Travel Tips

There are many ways to bring down the costs of a trip, other than lowering the number of stars of your hotel (and miss out on  luxurious hot water and clean sheets). One of these ways is to plan the meals more effectively, although it has nothing to do with a  concrete schedule. Here are a few tips on that:

Don’t automatically book breakfast at the hotel

Sure, it’s always easier to simply go downstairs and eat a continental buffet. But really, is it worth $10? $20? Hotel breakfasts are always expensive and somewhat disappointing (individually boxed cereals and room-temperature milk, anyone?). Why not dare to go out there and try what the locals eat. It can anything from the authentic English breakfast or a sweet pastry in Spain.

Photo by *Maaike*

Request a mini fridge and visit the nearest grocery store

Some hotels are willing to provide a mini-fridge if you request one. That way, you can easily store items such as fresh veggies or cooked meats and pack a lunch. You can even bring these items back home sometimes, if you don’t live too far away. You can also store fruits, muffins and juice and have breakfast in bed! In the event that you can’t get a mini fridge, you can still buy many things at the grocery store for the afternoon snack. Bananas and granola bars are easy to carry around, nutritious and fulfilling.

Avoid the touristy areas

Of course, candlelit dinners near the Eiffel Tower will be slightly more expensive than the equivalent in the 8e Arrondissement, for example. Plus, chances are that you’ll get a better experience in honest places that do not rely on cheesy tourists to run their business and actually care about the customer experience. Take my word on that (keyword: food poisoning). Or if you are in London, avoid anything that displays “Aberdeen Steak” in red neon lights.

Spot “Bring Your Own Wine” places

You can do it in your home city, why not when travelling? If you plan on having a drink or two during dinner, why not buy your favourite bottle at the nearest convenience store and choose a BYOW restaurant and celebrate the fact that you just saved a bunch of money. Spend it on desert!

take away, ways to eat cheaper

Photo by dennoir

If you have the opportunity, opt for take-away

Many restaurants have a take away menu and offer appreciable discounts, especially for lunch. One of the best souvenirs I have from my visit to Rome is the yummy pancetta sandwich I ate at the piazza facing the Pantheon. It’s a great opportunity to do some people-watching, take in the lively atmosphere, notice the details. And no, it doesn’t have to be Chinese food.

Do you have tips to eat for cheap on the road? What’s the cheapest meal you’ve had?


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10 Responses to “Top 5 Ways to Eat for Cheap”

  1. Steve

    18. Aug, 2010

    Very good points. I saved some money on my recent trip to Costa Rica. For lunch I bought a small yogurt container that had some granola in it from the grocery store. It was hardly any money and filled me up just nice. Plus, I would check to see what location you’re restaurant is at since it might cost you more. The restaurant that has a great view of the ocean or national landmark might cost you more than other places that don’t have that view.

    Reply to this comment
    • Marie

      18. Aug, 2010

      My point exactly!
      People tend to overestimate what actually is essential in the food part of the trip, either on quantity or quality. If you’re on a budget, you gotta stick to it, and that dinner by the ocean can wait ’til you’re retired and, let’s put it that way, more resourceful.

      Thanks for the comment.

      Reply to this comment
  2. Ele

    27. Apr, 2012

    I once did request a mini fridge but when we got one they told us it’s for purchases in the hotel shop only, one cannot store food bought elsewhere. DUH. And yeah, they can check that!

    Reply to this comment
  3. Sofie

    02. Nov, 2012

    ‘Buy your own Wine’ places? Never heard of them!
    Maybe because I don’t drink wine:)

    Reply to this comment


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