Pleasures of the gastronomic sort are certainly one of the reasons why everyone loves to travel, but not everyone can afford to eat at expensive restaurants when they’re in a foreign country. On the other hand, it seems cruel and inhuman to limit one’s diet to cheap ramen and bottled sodas when traveling in some of the world’s most exotic destinations. How, then, can a budget traveler strike the perfect balance between using their money wisely and experiencing all that cuisines from different cultures have to offer? By using common sense and keeping some of the following tips in mind, you too can enjoy the best eats that you have ever come across.
An important concept to remember is to not go to extremes. Try to plan out each day so that at least one meal consists of budget fare; that way, you can splurge a little bit on the other two meals. Breakfast is a meal that can easily be kept low-cost. Many hostels offer free breakfasts; take advantage of these buffets and eat enough to keep yourself full for the next few hours. Hostels that don’t provide this usually have cooking facilities of some sort; find a couple of other budget-minded travelers and make a meal together. It’s a great way to make friends and cut costs at the same time. Alternatively, look for the nearest supermarket and do some grocery shopping. A good supply of fresh fruit, some sandwiches, and cartons of yogurt can go a long way without costing a fortune.
That said, it would be a waste of a vacation if you never wandered outside and tried out some local food. When looking for suitable restaurants, don’t go to the ones listed in your guidebook unless you really have to. Head away from the major tourist-frequented areas, perhaps to the slightly poorer parts of town, and find the restaurants packed with tons of locals and few foreigners. These are the places that will offer you a truly authentic culinary experience. You can also explore the neighborhoods around colleges and universities, as these areas are often crawling with cheap buffets, cafeterias, and salad bars catering exclusively to the student population. If you do go to a more upscale restaurant, order wisely. Sometimes, ordering an appetizer and some side dishes may be cheaper than sticking to the entrees, and cost less as well. Regardless of where you choose to eat, you can please your palate while keeping your wallet happy as well.
Looking for your next culinary experience? Check out StudentUniverse’s travel guides for the lowdown on the best places to eat in the best cities around the world.