How to Pay for Travel, Part 3: Food

Friday, January 31


If you missed Part 1&2 on “How to pay for Travel” see {Part 1} and {Part 2}

Today we are talking about my favorite thing…FOOD! To me, food is culture! Not too many things excite me more than sampling local flavors! However, eating out can get expensive! Especially if you are in Europe…our poor dollar loses so much value to the Pound and Euro! And eating out adds up fast…a breakfast here, a lunch there, throw a snacky snack in, and dinner there…and soon just your food tab alone exceeds $100 for the day! Yikes! Kevin and I realized this pretty quickly and devised a few trips to help cut down the costs! 

**As a note, most of these tips work best in Europe or other more expensive countries (like Australia, NZ, Japan). Traveling in SE Asia, Africa and S. America is a lot easier with food, as meal costs are very cheap! But these tips work well wherever you are:) Enjoy! 

1)   Stay at a place that offers breakfast: You can find very affordable places that include breakfast with the lodging! This is a great way to factor in a meal so that you don’t have to go out for your morning munchies! We found this to be especially lovely in Ireland, where Bed and Breakfasts were the lodging of choice, and you received a very hearty breakfast, and sometimes items to take with you for lunch! Often, because the breakfasts were so big, we didn’t need a huge lunch, only some snacks! And…if you are anything like my sisters, you can even sneak a few pieces of bread into your purse to take with you the rest of the day:)

2)    Pick one meal to eat out: When in extremely high priced countries (such as France) Kevin and I decide to pick one meal to eat out. This allows you to savor the ambiance of local eateries and sample specific delicacies, but also doesn’t break your budget! Typically we choose to eat out for dinner, but depending on where we are it will swap. In Belgium, we knew we had to sample a Belgium waffle for breakfast! Eat the rest of your meals from grocery stores….
{my sweet parents below…eating out in Delft, Holland}

3)   Frequent grocery stores & Open Air Markets: I cannot stress this enough! Grocery store snacks will go a LONG way both in your budget and in your stomach. Our go-to snacks when traveling, which we find the perfect combination of both tasty and filling, is a loaf of bread, cheese and salami. (If you are gluten free like me, Europe is seriously legit at having g-free bread at grocery stores!)This trio is easy to store and take out when your hunger gets the better of you. Add in a few pieces of fruit, some dark chocolate for the sweet tooth, and some carrots, and you are ready to go! Open air markets are abundant all around the world, and picking up some lovely produce and fresh fruit is a perfect way to enjoy the ambiance of the markets, as well as save a few pennies! (fresh nectarines, peaches, apricots, and cherries are the most delicious summer fruits to pick up at markets!) In Paris, Kevin and I spent a romantic evening picnicking in front of the Eiffel tower with our delicious store & market bought food, and wine {when in France, right?}.  This to me was just as special as dropping $100 on a nice meal:) except you save AND the Eiffel tower is your view, hello!!!!
{our lil' french picnic above…and another shot of our janky "picnic basket" aka trash bag, below! ha}

4)   Prepare your own food: Every once in a while you might happen to stay in a place that has its own kitchen. USE IT! This past year my family rented a quaint multi-level home in Delft, Holland from AirBnB (which I will talk about more later!). It had a giant kitchen, and so my mom bought groceries for the week and we cooked different meals every day! Our family also stayed in a dormitory at an old Monastery in Belgium. We picked up groceries before we arrived, and that night my mom made a delicious dinner, and lovely breakfast each monring. This works especially well if you are cooking for a larger group of people! Eating out with 6+ people WILL be expensive, so consider making meals.

5)   Bring your own small packaged condiments from home: That’s right, I’m literally telling you to steal those crushed red pepper packets at the pizza parlor, and your salt and pepper packets off your airplane tray! Am I a red-neck yet? Haha! But, if you know you will be cooking while on vacation, pack a zip lock bag full of tiny packets of condiments you would get at restaurants Our go-to condiments include crushed red peppers, parmesan, and salt and pepper (but others could include ketchup, mustard, mayo, relish, etc). This money saving trip keeps you from having to buy a whole big bottle of any of these items, only to use them a few times! {and really, do you want to put a huge salt dispenser in your purse to take home?}

6)   Pack Snacks! I almost always pack snacks in my suitcase when I travel. Buying a bulk box of granola bars from Costco before your trip can do wonders! Snack items I can’t live without include: trailmix, gluten free/vegan granola or energy bars, dried fruit, rice cakes and inner peas (my favorite snack from Trader Joes). Often I’ll use ziplock bags to divide the trail mix, dried fruit and rice cakes into daily allotments, so that I only have to grab one zip lock bag instead of the whole big bag of granola, fruit or rice cakes! Prepping these items makes snacking a no-hassle job once on your adventure! Snacks also come in extra handy when the food in a particular country is doing a number on your stomach. I can think of times in both Kenya and in Nepal where I literally was not keeping anything in my system (if you know what I mean!), so eating some comfortable food for the body helped keep me going!

If you are all about food when you travel, never fear, I will have a future post on all the most delicious items to eat in each country!  However, I hope that this post just sheds some light on how to save money when it comes to food!

Bon Apetit!

Love Katie

23 comments :

  1. Beautiful pics and great tips! That's so wonderful that you all went together as a family to Holland.

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  2. I can be a picky eater and I also know what it is to get sick while traveling in places where the food might not always be the most clean, so I'm a big believer in packing snacks! My Mom says that she knows she can live on crackers and packets of coffee rather than get ill in some of the places she travel too. Of course, the good thing about SE Asia, like you said, is the cheap food! Some of my favorite meals at my favorite restaurants in Malaysia are less than $1! My family was in Paris in November though, and there they took the grocery store food strategy!

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  3. It would be easy to think that prepping your own food and frequenting a grocery store isn't savoring the culture to the fullest, but there's plenty of ambiance in a picnic at a point of interest, and a grocery store itself can be a cultural experience. Not to mention budgets benefit from these approaches. Great tips and well said!

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  4. i LOVE this series! So So good!! I am suchhhh a foodie. These are great tips!!!

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  5. Love these awesome tips! I did have giggle at your "poor dollar" remark as our South African Rand is currently trading at R11:15 to $1!! Poor poor poor poor poor poor poor poor Rand!! I have had to cancel my plans to travel to Borneo/Bali/Hong Kong because the travel costs have almost doubled in just under three months! Its a sad sad state of affairs when money gets in the way of travels!!! Have an awesome weekend.

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  6. Love this post! While we don't travel as much as I would like, this is pretty much how we eat when we do. Also, I love hearing there are some great GF bread options in Europe!

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  7. These are all wonderful tips! For extended trips, I also only eat out once a day. Even though getting a free breakfast at the hotel might be a good deal, in some cities, the breakfast is awesome (think Istanbul) - so don't miss out! In those cities, I bring oatmeal packets and ask for hot water from the hotel. Street food is also a great way to save money! Ask your taxi drivers what they recommend. They know all of the good local spots!
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  8. Loved reading this! And those pictures are amazing!!

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  9. i'm so glad that you're doing these series! breakfast offered is a HUGE deal to J, not only is it easy and convenient but it saves money! yes yes yes to all the options you listed above!

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  10. GREAT tips! :) Another thought to save money is to eat at open air markets - picking up supplies throughout the day! Grocery stores were great, but I found that I ended up saving a ton of money doing this- especially in places like France and some other European countries! And lets be honest- I loved the ambiance and the opportunity to pick up delicious (and VERY cheap) food items to snack on throughout the day! :) Thanks again for such great tips! :)
    :) Rebecca

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  11. Great tips! I think picnicking in some of those places makes for a better experience too. :)

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  12. Excellent tips Katie! Thanks for sharing them =)

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  13. I love these tips. I also think it's nice, if possible, to rent a place with a little kitchenette. Then you can eat in for much cheaper.

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  14. These are great tips!! Red neck...No way, resourceful...yes! Haha. And now I want a loaf of bread cheese and salami, preferably from Europe. :)

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  15. All great tips. I love market food and making my own when I get the chance... When you travel 24/7, you actually miss the kitchen sometimes. At least I do :)

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  16. thank you for all the great tips. I would also like to add something in this as if you are travelling then you should always hire a car for your enjoyment as you can get the cars on
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  17. These are wonderful tips and we use them all when we travel in the States, but I have to tell you... when we were in Italy, we ate out for nearly every single lunch and dinner. Haha! We did stay at places that provided breakfasts and sometimes we would do the picnic thing, but for the most part we ate out. To help with the costs, we would split meals sometimes. We budgeted for it, though so it was totally fine. The food was just SO good that we knew we would want to try it in every city!

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  18. I like this post. This kind of stuff fascinates me too.


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  19. YES! I love all of these tips! When in France, I frequented to markets and would absolutely love packing picnics. I love the small food stands in Paris as well... the delicious falafel wraps are my favorite!

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  20. YES! the eat out one is CRUCIAL!
    we learned that while traveling through ireland and scotland.
    we stayed in a flat for a few days (best decision ever!) and went to a local grocery to make dinners and lunches to carry around.
    i will DEFINITELY be doing that when my brother & i go back!

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  21. I always pack snacks too :)

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  22. Great tips! One thing to remember, especially when traveling in Europe, is that often the lunch menu at restaurants is cheaper than the dinner menu, to encourage lunch time guests. This means that if you only eat one meal a day out, lunch is usually the cheaper option, and is usually when you're out and about. We often choose to stay places where we can prepare our own food and eat a light dinner from the grocery store. If you feel like you're missing out in evening ambience, you can always go out for coffee in the evening :)

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