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Saving Money on Food Costs While Traveling

January 16, 2018

Food can be one of the greatest draw cards of travel but it can also be one of the largest expenses you will face on your next holiday. A single meal at a fancy restaurant can sometimes cost more than your nightly accommodation rate.

Should you find yourself traveling with children, your expenses will be even greater. Although food costs will of course be inevitable, there are easy ways to reduce your costs so as to cut down on your overall travel expenses. Follow these helpful tips to save money where your mouth is concerned.


Self-Catering Accommodation

One of the best ways to save money on food costs is to choose accommodation which offers kitchen facilities. Many apartment rentals and even hotels offer rooms which can have a kitchenette or full kitchen.

With the introduction of Airbnb, finding accommodation with kitchens has become all that easier of a task. Even hostels usually offer communal kitchens where you can cook your own meals.

By self catering, you not only save a lot of money by not eating out, but you also save a lot of time. You will often find yourself experiencing long wait times for your meals especially when dining at busy restaurants. Best of all is you never have to add a gratuity when cooking for yourself.


Visit the Local Grocery Store

When booking your accommodation, try to select an option which has close proximity to a grocery store or food market. This works extremely well when you find yourself having kitchen facilities as you can cook just about any meal you desire.

Even if you have a traditional hotel room with no way to cook, visiting the grocery store is a great way to stock up on snacks and beverages at a far less price than you would find at attractions or cafes. You will be able to find a wide variety of items that don’t require refrigeration such as fruits and vegetables or you may be able to make use of your hotel’s mini drinks fridge for small items.


Free Breakfast

Choose accommodation which offers free breakfast. This will not only get your day off to a great start but you can make this your largest meal of the day to get you through your travel adventures. You may even be able to grab a few items from a breakfast buffet for the road such as fruits or bread items.

Certain tiers of hotel loyalty programs entitle you to free breakfasts so it is worthwhile looking into. Of course a B&B is always a good option for free breakfast.



Lounges are a great way to score some great free food. Not only do hotels offer quality lounges, but you will also find lounges with a variety of food options at the airport. By booking a hotel room with lounge access, you not only usually get a fancier room, but also can take advantage of the lounge’s several free meals and snacks throughout the day.

Airport lounges can be accessed through a membership program or by achieving certain status with an airline. They not only offer superior comfort while you await your flight, but also always have plenty of food and refreshments on hand.

Avoiding Restaurants

Restaurants may be a simple and stress free way to eat while traveling, but the stress may hit you later on when you receive your credit card statement as restaurants can get quite expensive. When you eat out, you not only pay a premium for you food, but many times you also have to pay service charges and gratuities.

These extra charges can sometimes be 30%+ more on top of what the cost of your food was. By cooking for yourself or visiting street vendors, you can greatly reduce your food costs while still enjoying the local cuisine.

Avoid Paying for Water

You will be surprised at how much water can set you back while traveling. A simple bottle of water purchased at an attraction can cost as much as a small meal. Avoid paying for water by packing a water bottle you can fill up at fountains or your hotel.

If you find yourself traveling internationally and are concerned about drinking tap water, inquire as to whether your hotel offers free bottled water. If not, it is a great idea to purchase a large case of bottled water from the local grocery store where you can get dozens of bottles for the same price you’d pay for a couple bottles at attractions.


Ask the Locals

Chatting to locals is a great way to find out not only where economical places are to eat, but also which ones offer the best tasting meals. Usually the most expensive restaurants are places along famous tourist routes. Locals will know where to head to get away from the usual tourist hotspots which will save you money and long wait times.

Avoid Alcohol

Drinking alcohol is a sure fire way to rack up large expenses while eating out. A simple bottle of wine or a few cocktails can set you back more than the price of a quality meal. In addition you may find yourself not paying attention to the restaurant bill you are racking up.

Another factor to consider is that if you drink while on holidays, your travel insurance claim might be denied.

Travel insurance can prove to be very beneficial should you become ill while traveling abroad. Food preparation standards can vary from country to country and this may make you more susceptible to illnesses caused by food consumption.