Top 10 ways to save money on food while you travel

Pinterest image of Mel having street food in Vietnam with friends, having cocktails with a friend in Barcelona and holding an icecream in a cup up to the Berlin TV Tower with the text: "Top 10 ways to save money on food while travelling (even if you're a big foodie!)"

Top 10 ways to save money on food while you travel

We all want to save money when we go abroad and I find that food is often the biggest culprit for draining our travel budgets. So! I’ve combined my top 10 ways to save money on food while you travel that I swear by. Even if you’re a big foodie (like me!). 😉


1) Pack snacks for the plane

Packing snacks before you’ve even headed to the airport will save you at least £20 by the time you’ve wandered through duty free, had something to eat and loaded up on bottled water.

If you’re going on a long haul flight, you’ll usually receive a small meal within an hour of being on board but go shopping for snacks before you fly just incase you get peckish.

Think along the lines of fruit, nuts, crisps or even a sandwich for something more substantial. This can also apply whilst you’re exploring your new destination.

Airports don’t always have great vegan or vegetarian options either so it’s always good to have a back up snack if you have special dietary requirements.

I love taking these vegan protein bars by Graze and Deliciously Ella when I travel.

Woman pushing a supermarket trolley picking out food products off a shelf whilst holding her phone

2) Book self-catered accommodation

If you’re looking to save money on food while you travel, self-catered accommodation is the way to go! I especially love to go the self-catered route when I’m travelling solo.

When I visited Palma a couple of years ago I was already spending a lot of money on alcohol going out every night during my favourite travel blogger conference, Traverse. So I made the choice to go self-catered to ensure I wasn’t eating out every meal and blowing all my night out money!

Gotta choose your budgetary priorities friends…

I’ve also gone self-catered on group trips and not only did we save money by sharing accommodation, it worked out a lot cheaper to split the food shopping bill too.

Kitchenette in a wood cabin in Wales
Going self-catered whilst travelling in Wales

3) Eat where the locals eat

Try and avoid eating in tourist hot spots as there is usually a price surge for the privilege of eating somewhere conveniently located by a local landmark!

The best way to get to know the local food places is just ask. If you’re out and about, ask a local where is cheap to eat or ask staff at your hotel where their favourite places are.

This way you get a much more authentic local foodie experience without spending a small fortune at touristy places.

Mel from Footsteps on the Globe eating noodles at the Ben Thanh Food Market in Ho Chi Minh City in Vietnam wearing a red dress
Eating noodles at the Ben Thanh Food Market in Ho Chi Minh City

4) Refill your water bottle

You’re not allowed to take a full bottle of water through security at the airport but you can take an empty one and refill it at the other side so you’re not forced to pay for overpriced bottled water at the airport.

When you’re out and about at your destination you can also refill your bottle as you go along. Which is handy AND good for the environment!

I use one of these refillable sports water bottles as it’s lightweight, leak-proof and BPA-free, which is perfect for on the go!

I also use it at home to make sure I’m drinking enough water throughout the day. The bottles have handy time markings on them to show you how much water you should be drinking by which time.

If you’re unsure about the safety of the tap water in your destination you can always buy a bottle with a built-in filter to save you buying bottled water whilst you’re there.

Girl drinking from a reuseable water bottle whilst on a hike wearing a white t-shirt with a black backpack and sunglasses

5) Try to avoid alcohol

As I typed this I was cringing! As how can you go on holiday and not enjoy some cheeky cocktails whilst you’re there?!

Well friends, it’s the quickest way to rack up a big bill, as well as give you those late night drunken food cravings which will force you to chip into your budget further!

Alcohol can also be super expensive depending on where you’re travelling to (particularly Europe!).

In Amsterdam it was €13 (approx. £10) for a single vodka and pint of Guinness, which was steep compared to home. But then no one forced me to stay out all night after the first round so there was no surprise I went over budget in that case!

Have fun, but just be wary of getting carried away with the drink if you’re on a tight budget. Especially on nights out.

The exception to this rule is if it’s a girls’ weekender. In which case just forget it!

Scrap this tip and enjoy yourselves! You’ll likely be too hungover the next morning to have breakfast anyway so will save money on food by default! 😂

Mel and her friend Kate holding up cocktail in a darkened cocktail bar in Barcelona
Treating ourselves to pricey (but fabulous!) cocktails for Kate’s 30th birthday at the W Hotel in Barcelona

6) Eat on the go

It’s tempting to eat in restaurants whilst you’re out and about on holiday. But particularly if you’re on a city break, try getting a quick lunch or dinner on the go in between activities.

You can save money by grabbing food from street vendors or a sandwich from the local supermarket.

This was my favourite way to get food while travelling around Vietnam.

Street food eaten on a plastic stool on a pavement just seemed to taste better!

Mel from Footsteps on the Globe eating noodles on the streets of Hanoi in Vietnam with friends
Enjoying veggie noodles on the streets of Hanoi in Vietnam

7) Order sides instead of mains

I always find that restaurants give you really big portions anyway so why not get a couple of sides instead of a main?

That way you get a meal that you know you’re not going to waste because you’re too full and you’ll save some money.

Plus, this allows you to try more local food without having to just stick to one meal choice.

Waitress lifting bamboo containers with sui mai vegan pork dumpling in the bottom container

8) Share with a friend

If you don’t fancy any of the sides, why not share a meal with your travel buddy? You can split the cost as well as save yourself on the added calories – bonus!

But make sure you assess the portion sizes first, just in case the restaurant is stingy on them.

I always recommend choosing a selection of appetisers and sharing them with the table. It’s so much more fun to share in the “foodie” experience together!

Crispy combo with peanut satay sauce, vegan prawn toast, vegan chicken skewers and samosas

9) Don’t be tempted by the extras

Starters, desserts, sides and alcohol. Keep it simple. If you know you’re going to eat out for every meal try to stick to just having a main. The little extras really do add up!

Sorbet being held up against the TV tower in Berlin

10) Take advantage of special offers

2 for 1, buy one get one free, 10% off, lunch and dinner specials, whatever it may be, it’s all good!

Keep your eyes open for meal deals as you’re on your travels to save you some extra pennies.

Mel holding up a pretzel and beer sat at a wooden bar in Germany wearing sunglasses and a blue and white dress
Enjoying a beer and pretzel offer in Germany


I hope these top 10 ways to save money on food while you travel help you budget better for your next trip! If you have any other tips please share in the comments below. 😊

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