a glass of beer on a ledge

As if traveling isn’t costly enough – the flights, the hotel – add in breakfast, lunch and dinner and things really start to add up. But hey – you’ve gotta eat. If you’re looking to travel and eat on the cheap, but avoid the ever present McDonald’s and other fast food chains, these tips will help keep your body and wallet happy…

a plate of food with a spoonEthnic Food

Not only does it taste incredible, but Thai, Indian, Vietnamese, Chinese, Mexican and other celebrated ethnic cuisines are generally, very reasonably priced. This is especially true with lunch specials all over the world. You can find filling, delicious meals for under $10 – check the menu online or before you head in. And of course, for the healthy part – go veggies over noodles! 


Staying at an Air BnB can be great for many reasons, but one of the best is often having your own kitchen, allowing you to cook cheaply and healthily at home. Exploring foreign supermarkets is a blast in itself, and so is saving tons of money, while guaranteeing quality. 

Salad Bar

Whole Foods are big in America and abroad, and while they are not the cheapest form of grocery shopping, they do have a well priced hot food and salad bar. This is an excellent option for a quick, healthy and cheap meal on the go – with a focus on good ingredients. If there are none in your area, look for similar buffet style options.

a rooftop patio with orange furniture and a large building in the backgroundBig Breakfast

If your hotel comes with breakfast, make the most out of it! A top notch hotel breakfast can be amazing, and it’s (supposedly) the most important meal of the day, so go nuts. Fill up on all those good eggs, fruit, oatmeal options and when it comes to lunch you probably won’t be too hungry – saving you from having to spend much, or indulge in the delights of street pizza. 

Farmer’s Markets

Want to see what locals are really up to, while enjoying delicious, fresh meals, cheeses, fruits and vegetables? These can have a reputation for getting expensive, but with an abundance of free tasters and a freshness you can’t find anywhere else – farmers markets are a must do in any city. 

Drink In

Restaurants get away with murder when it comes to charging for alcoholic drinks. Buy a bottle of wine or liquor and make some drinks in your hotel room or Airbnb. This can turn into a lot of fun, and even if you do go out to a nice restaurant, you may only need the one cocktail, rather than a few.

a glass of pink liquidSister Restaurants

Quite often you’ll find a top restaurant or top chef has a sister restaurant in the same city. You’ll still get restaurant prices – but lower than the more famous, well-known location. So you can eat ‘cheaper’ whilst still enjoying quality (sometimes even better) food from the same named chef. For example: one of the best fine dining restaurants in Vancouver is Hawksworth, but the same chef has now opened Nightingale not far away, offering more affordable dishes, but still of high quality.

$9.99 A Month Cocktails

We recently highlighted “Hooch” an app offering a cocktail a day in 22 cities around the world and counting. If you are into discovering new bars and neighborhoods, while enjoying insanely cheap but quality drinks – this is worth a look. For $9.99 a month, you get a cocktail a day. That’s like… 30 cents per drink. Details here.

What’s your best tip for staying healthy or eating cheap while traveling?

Gilbert Ott

Gilbert Ott is an ever curious traveler and one of the world's leading travel experts. His adventures take him all over the globe, often spanning over 200,000 miles a year and his travel exploits are regularly...

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  1. On the subject of “drinking in”, extend that to ” dine in”. When in Europe, Canada, or the US, we always research where a food store is in relation to where we stay. Stocking up on mixers for drinks, fresh baguettes, meats and cheese not only provides a snack but occasionally a cheap dinner or two. When in Europe find a café or two to your liking, and frequent it. There are always inexpensive ways to eat out and people watch that way. As for hotel breakfasts, that is spot on. Hotels like the Bristol in Vienna, Dorchester Hotels in Italy & elsewhere, and The Grand in Amsterdam all have massive sumptuous buffets in the morning. Plus there is nothing like starting your day with a spot of the bubbly to wake up with!! This is where a great travel agency (ie., Viaggio) comes in, getting this comped. if you book with points, it will cost 40 euros extra per day, or more. Mickey D’s specials simply do n o t compare.

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