Cafés and restaurants costs more than taking your own food when traveling.
Money can drain away in no time when you’re away from home, especially when it comes to feeding yourself. Even a cafe or takeout food bar can swallow up your spending money if you’re not careful. But there’s a simple solution: provide your own food instead. Here are some tips for eating well and cheaply while out and about, whether you’re going around town or the world.
Take your own food
The cheapest way to eat while away from home is to prepare your own food. You’ll need a variety for a balanced diet, preferably including proteins, vitamins, and fiber, and some airtight bags or boxes for storage. Nuts and dried fruits make handy travel snacks, being nutritious, durable, and light. Cooked rice, pasta, or noodles with vegetables will also last well in a sealed container and can be heated up on a camping stove or in a hostel microwave. Sliced bread will complement all sorts of foods, such as hard-boiled eggs, individual cheese portions, and salads. Add in a few snack packs and bars for energy boosts, and a fork or spoon.
Take drink accessories
If you’re going away for more than a couple of days, invest in an insulated flask and fill it with a hot drink. Pack extra tea, coffee, cocoa, or soup sachets and replenish your hot water supply in your overnight accommodation or at a cafe. A plastic bottle of cold tap water is advisable, too.
Dine in style
You don’t have to sit at a restaurant table to eat in style. Find a pleasant view with a comfortable place to sit—a tree stump in the park might serve nicely. Fresh air and natural surroundings make a great setting for a meal. If the weather’s cold or wet, just head for a covered area, such as a shopping mall, and seek out the warmest, driest seat.
Plan your hot meals
If you’re staying away overnight or longer, make arrangements for a low-cost hot meal. A hostel will provide cooking facilities and a campsite, or open ground accommodates a portable gas stove. If you have a friend or relative in the area, call in for a chat. They’ll be glad to offer you the use of their kitchen. However, if you’re stuck for cooking facilities, go ahead with that tempting cafe meal rather than go without hot food all day. But check the prices and deals before you buy; there could be a high-value dish available that will keep you going all day.
Make the most of cafe facilities
Everyone needs some creature comforts from time to time, and a cuppa or snack in a cafe won’t bust your budget. Sit back and make the most of the facilities. Ask for a jug of hot water to refill your cup or flask. If you can’t eat all your food, ask for a doggy bag for the leftovers. Use the internet and restroom facilities, warm yourself through and dry out any wet clothing before you leave.
If you’re staying in a hostel or other shared accommodation, offer some food swaps with fellow travelers. This way, you’ll get a richer plateful and maybe some new friends as well.
However tight your travel budget, you can always eat well with a little planning. Just think “money” before “menu,” and you’ll be fine.