If you’re on a long backpacking trip then naturally eating 3 times a day will take its toll on your bank balance. My initial solution to this was simply not to eat 3 times a day, but excessive weight loss and pain-inducing hunger soon lets me know that’s not a sustainable solution! It was time to think of some more effective (and less rudimentary) solutions to save money on food.…
1) Ignore the advertisements. I would go as far to say the day a restaurant gets advertised is the day that it stops being a local eatery and is now going to be frequented by hordes of backpackers – queue price hikes, portion shrinkage and general reduction in quality and price. So as a rule, don’t eat where the media suggests!
2) Supermarkets. If you’re traveling in North America, Europe, Australia, Japan etc then supermarkets are a gift from God. It’s expensive to eat out every day in these countries so get yourself down to the local supermarket (preferably at the end of the day when stuff is getting reduced) and stock up for breakfast/lunch the next day. You can pick up bread rolls, meat, cheese, milk for a fraction of the price of a local restaurant.
3) Leave your western cravings for the west! Of course there are days when you can’t stomach that curry for breakfast and now and again we all need to indulge in a foot long from Subway (meatball marinara please). As long as you remember that these are special occasions and not a daily occurrence you’ll be fine! When I meet people who are spending upwards of $50 per day on their trip they are invariably eating cheese burgers and pizzas every night – keep it local and it will keep it cheap) And besides, you can eat cheeseburgers to your heart’s content when you get home, how many other opportunities are you going to get to eat deep-fried scorpion,
4) Hit up the local markets. These places are guaranteed to be stocking endless amounts of delicious local food and they very rarely charge you a foreigner price. Most likely you’ll have to point, smile, play charades and still have no idea what you’re ordering but it’s an experience in itself – Sure, you might have to sit on a splintered wooden bench and eat with your hands but that’s all part of the fun =) and for a fraction of the price too.
5) Don’t be averse to becoming a (temporary) veggie! Red meat is delicious. End of story. True, but you’ll see as you travel around the world meat is expensive, and also generally pretty poor quality so if you have the mental strength to turn your back on the meat world every now and again then your food will be cheaper, better quality and less likely to have you hugging the toilet bowl for a couple of days *especially true in India!
Ok guys, I hope that helps keep some of those precious notes intact in your wallet. Travelling is one constant expense (mind you, it’s worth every penny) so it’s important to cut corners when we can – hopefully this will cut a few for you!