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Tasty Ways to Save Money on Food When You Travel

Cutting back on your food expenses is easier than you think

Man using a fork as he stabs a green piece of pasta on a low table

If you’re like me, the amount of money you spend on food when travelling is easily one of your biggest trip expenses. There’s nothing wrong with indulging in a nice meal, but how much you spend on food can quickly get out of hand. Here are five ways to save money on food without sacrificing any of the taste.

Get familiar with the local grocery store

One of the first things I do when I arrive at a destination is to look for the closest grocery store. I stock up on snacks and drinks since it’s much cheaper than buying them at convenience stores on the go. Remember, grocery stores also sell local snacks and foods that aren’t available back home, so don’t be afraid to try out a few.

Produce market display in front of a cute foreign store 

Cost-saving tip: Check out what prepared meals are available since it’s much more affordable than going out to restaurants for breakfast, lunch and dinner.

Seek out street food where the locals eat

Canadians may only think of hot dogs and sausages as street food, but once you head overseas, it’s a whole new world. I remember pad Thai costing me just $1 in Thailand, while a donair kebab was $3 in Berlin. Of course, some travellers wonder how sanitary these street vendors are. My general rule is that if there’s a lineup of locals, then I consider it vetted.

Someone holding up two paper cones filled with fries and colourful mini forks sticking out on top 

Cost-saving tip: Get chatting with residents and ask for suggestions on where to savour cheap eats. Also, explore local markets, where street food is reasonably priced.

Cook some meals to save on dining out

If you have access to a kitchen while you’re travelling, take advantage of it and exercise your culinary skills. Make enough at each meal so you have some leftovers and you won’t need to cook as often. The money you save on eating out can be allocated to other travel expenses, like attraction tickets and shopping.

wooden cutting board with knife, half an avocado, jalapeno, tomatoes, eggs, mushrooms, spinach, green onions and arugala 

Cost-saving tip: Look for the bulk bins in the grocery store or at the central market, so you can buy small amounts of ingredients (and snacks!) while staying within budget.

Book a hotel that includes free breakfast

This is an easy way to save money on food when you travel. It likely won’t be anything fancy, but a free continental breakfast is a good way to start the day. That being said, it’s important to determine if that breakfast is actually free. Avoid booking a hotel that costs you $50 more a night compared to another hotel just because it includes “free” breakfast.

two fresh buttery croissants on a white plate 

Cost-saving tip: With some hotels, the breakfast rate is extra, so make sure you double-check what you’re getting for the price offered before confirming. And when booking a room, remember that if you’re a CAA Member, you can benefit from hotel discounts across the globe.

Steer clear of tourist-trap restaurants

We’ve all been there: it’s been a long day of exploring, and we trek into the first restaurant in a touristy area only to be disappointed by the food and prices. I’ve found that restaurants a few blocks away from major attractions tend to have tastier and cheaper food. Now, I won’t eat at a place unless I’ve seen the menu and read reviews online to figure out whether it is worth spending my money on.

Four stacks of pizza boxes are shown 

Cost-saving tip: Be sure to ask your hotel or Airbnb host for recommendations. Also, consider only eating out at lunch, when the menu prices tend to be lower compared to dinner.

Become a smart budget traveller

Make these small financial changes to get one step closer to your next vacation and learn how to keep a cap on phone expenses with these four tips that’ll help you avoid paying crazy data charges while globe-trotting.

And as always, take CAA Travel Insurance along to keep you and your loved ones protected from any unexpected emergencies.

Image credit: Pixabay and Unsplash