Travel News

How to Eat Cheap When You Travel the World (Updated 2023)

A food seller in Asia serving tasty local food

Last Updated: 3/17/23 | March 17th, 2023

I love to eat.

In fact, eating is one of my favorite activities, and also one of my favorite aspects of traveling.

Food is such an integral part of so many cultures that to skip out on meals when you travel is to miss out on a part of that culture.

I’m always disappointed when I meet travelers who cook all their meals in a hostel kitchen.

Why come to Italy and not have pasta?

No sushi in Japan?

Avoiding steak in Argentina?

Skipping paella in Spain?

While you don’t need to eat every single dish when you visit a new country, it’s important to be as open as possible to their food culture.

Of course, many travelers have a valid concern when it comes to food. For one, eating out all the time is expensive. Imagine if you ate out every day — your food budget would be astronomical!

Additionally, many people have dietary concerns that prevent them from fully embracing new foods. And many travelers are vegan or vegetarian, as well, which might impact their options.

As a backpacker, people often assume that I, like other backpackers, cook all my meals.

However, I don’t actually cook very often when I’m on the road. While I love cooking at home, I hate poorly equipped hostel kitchens.

To make sure I can eat out without breaking the bank, I have had to learn how to balance eating 99% of my meals out while still finding a way to save money.

Yes, it takes a bit of clever thinking, but it definitely is possible. Here’s how to eat out on a budget while you travel the world:

1. Eat at Buffets

While they don’t always serve the best meals, buffets offer great value for your money, especially since they are all-you-can-eat. More often than not, you can fill up on one meal for the entire day. They are a good economical choice and give you the most food for your buck (while allowing you to sample a lot of different foods).

2. Visit Outdoor Street Vendors

Small stands that sell hot dogs, sausages, sandwiches, and similar foods great places to get a cheap and quick meal. While in Sweden, I lived off these types of vendors. While they are nothing fancy, they are tasty and cheap!

In Amsterdam, FEBO and their croquettes kept my stomach full. In Costa Rica, the empanada seller filled me up for a dollar and I bought local food from vendors at markets for mere pennies in Madagascar.

These quick and inexpensive meals won’t win any Michelin stars (though there are Michelin star food stalls in Singapore!) but, they…

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