Frugal Eats While Wandering (Traveling).

For me, one of the best things about “wandering” or “traveling,” is the opportunity to eat so many incredibly diverse and delicious foods!  I have found that food brings people together, no matter where you are!  Some of my most memorable meals have been in some completely unexpected hole-in-the-wall eateries!  Don’t be afraid to step outside your comfort zone and try something new.  A little bit of “culinary-courage” will certainly make for some satisfied tastebuds and some great stories!  Don’t get me wrong, there is nothing wrong with going to a 5-star restaurant and spending a small fortune, if that’s what you enjoy.  But there are always less expensive alternatives to the multi-star, multi-$$$$ bistros found in the travel-guides, no matter where you wander!

All travelers know that food can quickly become a significant portion of your travel budget, unless you are careful.  You can eat very well on a limited budget and have an incredible experience at the same time!

Below are a few of my tips for saving money on food while wandering / traveling!

– Bring your own Water-Bottle.
I don’t like paying for water no matter where I am!  For me, something that is absolutely essential to daily life, like water, should not be expensive or difficult to obtain.  Unfortunately, since only a few mega-companies control the global sale and production of bottled water, they also control the price of it!  If you doubt what I say, take a little test.  Go into a gas station store or mini-mart and check the price of bottled water.  I bet you will find that the price of a gallon of water, is almost as expensive as a gallon of gasoline!  How about a movie theater, the price of bottled-water there is certainly more expensive than a gallon of gasoline!  That just seems so wrong to me!  So what’s the solution?  Simple, carry your own empty water-bottle and fill up from public water sources.  When I travel I carry a variety of water filters / water purifiers.  There are numerous UV water purifiers available that easily fit into your pocket or attach to the water-bottle itself!  SteriPen and Camelbak are just a few of the companies that make small UV water purifiers, great for the world wanderer / traveler.  The UV water purifier will kill enough of the bacteria and viruses to make the water safe to drink.  Often when we think we are hungry, we are really just thirsty.  Keeping yourself well hydrated will probably save you money too by you not spending as much money on food!

– Buy Food Where the Locals Shop.
Think about where you shop for food in your normal, daily life.  When you are at home, you probably shop at the same local markets most of the time.  Why, because eating-out all the time can be expensive!  When you travel do the same thing, try to shop at markets where the locals shop.
Even fast-food can be expensive too!  A meal at most fast-food restaurants in the USA can easily cost 6 to 7 dollars.  For me, what you get in the form of quality and quantity at most fast-food joints for a 6 or 7 dollar meal is way too expensive.  Don’t be afraid to go to local farmers markets or supermarkets, no matter where you are.  You can easily find healthy, fresh foods for just a few dollars per meal!

– Try Street-Eats.   
I love food-trucks and street vendors!  They are very popular in many parts of the world and are usually less expensive than local restaurants.  The best Thai-curry I ever had was from a street vendor in Bangkok and cost just a few dollars.  A good sign is when the street vendor serves lots of locals!  Just like you know the places close to home that offer a great meal for a great price, the locals in the foreign country you are visiting know the same thing!  Even if you don’t speak the local language don’t be afraid, most vendors have pictures of the dishes they offer.

– Bring Small Snacks with you, as you Wander.
When I Wander, whether on foot or in a vehicle, I usually carry small snacks with me.  I find that I don’t need 3 big meals everyday.  Usually a nutrition bar or small bag of almonds is enough to hold me over until my next meal.  Ziploc-type bags are great!  Take them with you and use them to bring a snack with you as you wander!

– Check the Web for Local Food Blogs / Expat Blogs Overseas.
Check the internet for local food blogs, you will be surprised how many you will find!  There is great information about local farmers markets and local restaurants for every city I have visited.  When overseas, it’s easy to find Expat-Blogs written in your native language with information about the local food scene!

– Try Making Lunch Your Main Meal.
Most restaurants offer a less expensive noon-time meal compared to the evening meal.  Check prices at local restaurants as you wander and see if you can save money making lunch your main meal of the day!

– Venture off the Beaten-Path.
Don’t be afraid to venture away from the main tourist districts in search for lower priced restaurants.  Restaurants in the high-traffic tourist areas tend to be more expensive!  Locals tend to avoid the tourist areas when they are in search of good cheap eats, so you will probably find a more authentic food-scene in the areas where locals frequent!

– Try to Find a Hotel / Motel with a kitchenette.
Try to stay somewhere that has a small kitchenette.  This way you can easily shop at the local markets and then prepare meals on the cheap!

– Ask Locals for Advice.
Don’t be afraid to ask a local where to eat.  9 out of 10 times you will get great information!  This tip goes for all sorts of information, not just where to eat!  I have found most people want to be helpful to foreign travelers!  Knowledge is power, seek out local knowledge!

Only a few blocks away from where I am staying in Bradenton, Florida is an awesome little Taco-Truck!  Today for lunch, I’m practicing what I preach, 2 delicious chicken tacos for only $3.50!