When we travel, we tend to give our diet — and our budget — a little extra leeway. We want to experience the best a destination has to offer, and we don’t want to have to do so by counting calories, carbs, or pennies. The reality, though, is that if we aren’t careful, eating well when we travel can erode our budget in a major way. However, with a little planning and a healthy dose of creativity, you can enjoy the best of the delicious local delicacies wherever your travels take you, and still leave with a few bucks in your wallet!
Eating well on the road means thinking outside the box; don’t limit yourself to the hotel restaurant or the overpriced tourist-trap restaurants. You won’t have the best culinary experience, and you’ll probably pay more than the meal is truly worth.
We know fast food is readily available across the world, and so are supermarkets and convenience outlets. But when you are visiting somewhere new, you want to embrace the flavor of a region. It’s about finding those hidden gems: the street food, markets, corner cafés off the beaten path. Browse the Internet before you travel and learn what the locals are excited about, and check the local magazines and newspapers for information about any upcoming festivals or coupons for local restaurants.
There are plenty of ways to enjoy amazing and unique eats across the globe, and you can do so at an exceptional value. Fine dining on a budget doesn’t have to be an oxymoron, and amazing food doesn’t need to be synonymous with expensive restaurants. Try the hottest new restaurants through early-bird specials and happy hour menus. Dine out for lunch instead of dinner, pack snacks and drinks, and don’t be afraid to venture out and explore. You never know what you’ll find, and what delicious memories you’ll create!
If you’re planning your next trip, or you are just looking for ways to become a more efficient traveler, check out our guide on how to eat like a king for cheap when you are on the road.
Do Your Research
John “Johnny Jet” DiScala, travel expert and founder of JohnnyJet.com, says if you are fortunate enough to visit cities during their restaurant week, you can eat at some of their best restaurants for cheap. You can also look in the local paper or search for coupons for local restaurants. If your travel dates are flexible, research when these weeks may occur. You may want to visit Maine, for example, during their Lobster Festival, or Austin during their Food and Wine Festival, in order to try the best of their restaurant offerings for a sweet deal. You can also try sites like Groupon, Living Social, ScoutMob, Yelp, etc. Just read the fine print carefully and don’t wait to the last week to use your coupon
Try That Fancy Restaurant for Lunch Rather Than Dinner
If there’s a high-end restaurant you really want to try, DiScala recommends you try it for lunch rather than dinner. Chances are you’ll enjoy the same excellent service and revered food at lunch, but you’ll save cash. Another idea is to enjoy just an appetizer or drink so you have the dining experience without the full expense. Take some time before you visit to check out the social media presence of these restaurants you are considering, as you may find coupons, lunch specials, early bird deals, happy hours, and more.
Aly Walansky is a special contributor to The Daily Meal.