The food bill. You have to eat. And, when you’re traveling, you don’t really have a lot of time to make your own food. Most of the time, that sort of thing is impossible. So, you’re doomed to overspending, right? Not really. If you want to save money on your travel meals, here’s what you need to know.
How To Get Free Breakfast
One of the most underutilized ways to save money is to just eat at the hotel you happen to be staying at. No, not at the restaurant or bar downstairs. Eat in the designated dining area or lobby where the free breakfast is.
Most hotels and motels offer free breakfast these days. At one time, this was considered a perk. But, competition being what it is, it’s become more of a necessity than a luxury for hotel chains. If your hotel doesn’t offer this sort of thing, get yourself booked into one that does. You can easily save yourself between $10 and $20 per day just on a big breakfast.
Eat Big or Go Home
Speaking of free breakfast, if you’re the type that likes a big breakfast, load up on the free food before you start your day. You’re already paying for the hotel room and accommodations. Food is part of that. So, load up. That way, you can skip lunch and eat a big dinner. You’re only paying for one meal that way.
And, if you eat at the right restaurants, you can probably squeeze two meals out of one. Ethnic restaurants, like authentic Chinese, Indian, Korean, and Thai often sell large plated meals. And, combined with the sides, you can usually get two meals out of one. Just order a big meal and you’re set.
If you’re the super-hungry type, pack snacks for your trip. Nuts, trail mix, and anything that’s high protein or high fat and protein will work. Protein is very satiating and will keep you full for hours. So will fat. That’s why things like nuts and jerky make such excellent travel snacks.
Get The Special
If you’re eating out at local places, ask about specials. For example, let’s say you decide to go out for lunch. Ask for the special, and order lots of it. If you want a simple meal hack, here it is. Eat a huge breakfast, get the lunch special, and order more than you can possibly eat. Then, save the rest for dinner.
First of all, almost all restaurants have a lunch menu that’s a bit cheaper than the dinner menu. And, if you’re saving money by buying the special, you’re paying even less.
Don’t Be A Tourist
Most people who travel end up in tourist traps. Don’t be one of those people. Eat before you leave for a museum or before you go out for a walk in the more touristy areas. You don’t want to be stuck paying inflated prices for things like hot dogs and hamburgers.
Where Not To Eat
While you should absolutely take advantage of the free meals a hotel offers, you should not be eating in the hotel restaurant. It’s way too expensive. Hotels know this, and they offer internal restaurants so that you don’t have to leave. But, you pay for the convenience.
Pay For Everything On A Credit Card
Most of the time, if you’re using something like the chase ink plus credit card, you will get rewards or points that go towards your frequent flier miles or some other rewards system. Always use your card, and you’ll always be saving money - even if it’s not directly.
If you have a cash back rewards card, then the savings are obvious. You’ll be getting cash back at the end of the month or billing cycle.
Eat Near Colleges And Universities
Guess who else is trying to save money? College students. And, businesses that set up shops near universities often offer specials to the locals because they have to cater to people who don’t have a lot of money to spend. So, you’ll find some of the best deals in town in areas near colleges.
Check Out Happy Hour
Even if you’re not a drinker, you can save money by eating early or going to happy hour. The low-priced drinks are obvious wins, but many bars and restaurants also discount their appetizers during happy hour. Fill up on them, and you won’t have to eat much for the main course to be satisfied.
Melissa Bull is having the time of her life travelling the world! Currently in Europe, she enjoys meeting other travelers and spending time with locals alike. She writes about her experiences and shares tips and tricks on long-term travel through her writing.