Eating Like Royalty While Traveling on a Budget

Seattleite is pleased to welcome Vincent Stokes as a guest contributor. He is an avid world traveler and outdoor enthusiast.

Traveling is all about the experience. For many people, food is on the very top of that list. But if you are traveling somewhere new on a budget, this is where things can get tricky. If it’s first time to this destination, you might have no idea what you’re getting into with that tasty and chic food cart across the street. Not only might it taste bad, it could be downright dangerous. Nobody wants to have their dream vacation ruined by getting sick! 


Online reviews can be useful, but you may not always feel like you can trust them fully. Alternatively, you can try talking to people to see what they would recommend as the top local eateries. After all, when in Rome do what the Romans do, right? However, this can be difficult if you don’t speak the language. Plus, how do you decide when to spring a little extra for a nice meal in a strange land?

Our guide covers all those questions and more to help you get the most out of your trip while on a budget. Whether you’re on a top notch Taiwan tour or backpacking across Europe, these tips will help you get the best culinary experience without breaking the bank.

1. Stay in and Cook for Yourself

VS2For some, the whole point of taking a vacation is to avoid cooking and experience the local fare in fancy restaurants. However, if you’re traveling on a budget that might not be a luxury you can afford. This doesn’t mean you have to sacrifice on taste or quality, though. Local food markets can be an excellent way to experience the food culture of wherever you’re staying while saving money for other things you have scheduled in your itinerary. They usually offer a wide variety of unique and unusual fruits and vegetables that you may not have even heard of. In addition, food markets often have exotic game that’ll be a real treat for meat lovers.

Cooking one or two of your own meals does require a little extra planning and packing. Don’t worry—you don’t need to lug a microwave. A cheap lightweight electric grill is portable and has the ability to do almost any of the cooking you’ll do. Be sure to make sure the self-catering doesn’t occupy your time to the point that it distracts you from truly immersing yourself into your new surroundings.

Going out on a picnic is the perfect way to blend food and sightseeing!

2. Know When to Splurge

VS3At the same time, you shouldn’t be so strict with your budget that you don’t allow yourself to experience some of the finer things in food your new country has to offer. Remember, if you follow our first point of advice, you are already saving quite a bit by buying your own meat and produce to cook for yourself. As we stated earlier, this still allows you the ability to experience new foods you wouldn’t ordinarily be able to in your home country.

However, if you only eat food you’ve made yourself even if it’s made with local ingredients, you’ll be denying yourself the richness of local cuisine. What you eat is important, but it’s only half the story. Preparation and technique are what turns food into the pure culinary delight that we all know and love. It’s for this reason that splurging is a must! Just make sure you don’t overdo it.

3. Have What They’re Having! 


If you want to know where the fantastic eats are in you new country, it requires a little finesse. The typical rookie mistake for people just starting out in budget travel is to rely on travel books. You should beware. By the time these books get published the information they contain is usually outdated. Instead, focus on language books or online language resources. Learn basic phrases that can assist you in conversing with locals about local dining options.

Another helpful tip is to seek out college areas. They are filled with students who will likely have at least some basic English skills. Most are happy to practice their English skills by helping you. With extra time and preparation, you won’t need more than this guide to travel on a budget and experience great food.

Read more of Vincent’s articles and connect with him on Twitter.