5 Tips for Food Travel On A Budget


We love to travel. We love to eat. And we know we’re not alone. According to the World Tourism Organization, over 88% of travelers consider gastronomy a defining element of a destination. And over a third of tourist spending is devoted to food. When you consider that most of us eat 3 meals a day while traveling, food travel on a budget becomes a challenge. Luckily, we’ve got a lot of experience and some top tips to share that can make food travel on a budget as easy as…well, I have to say it, pie!

Here are our top 5 tips for food travel on a budget in any part of the world.


Standing in line for ice cream in Cuba.


5. Look For The Lines.

Locals who love food have their favorite spots and most of the time they go there often. This can lead to lines of diners waiting for a spot at one of the best deals in town. We once “discovered” a well-known steakhouse in Paris by walking down side streets and looking at restaurants. One had a huge line outside while the others, not so much. We got in line and it actually moved pretty quickly. Once inside we were treated to a green salad, 2 servings of ribeye steak with a delicious “secret sauce,” and unlimited frites for about 27 Euros. If you’d like wine and dessert each are around are 5 Euros. We may not have known that Le Relais de l’Entrecote was perfect for food travel on a budget, but the line outside told us that the many others did.

Chestnuts in Istanbul, Turkey
Chestnuts in Istanbul, Turkey


4. Street Food for Every Taste.

Some travelers worry that street food is unsafe. Under certain conditions, of course, it can be. But if you can see the preparation and cooking you can tell for yourself. If not, just keep walking to the next street vendor.  If you’re not an adventurous eater, there are still plenty of street eats for you. Hot roasted chestnuts cooked over a charcoal-filled barrel, sweet corn fresh off the grill, crunchy roasted nuts or crusty bread, there’s plenty of low-risk food to try. From pierogis to potstickers you can get a taste of local culture just about everywhere. Look to see which vendors have plenty of customers and you’re likely to find yummy bites that are safe as well as satisfying for food travel on a budget.


Singapore Food Court
Singapore Food Court


3. Ethnic Areas, Food Fests, and Malls.

Look for the ethnic areas if you’re in a larger city for great value bites. Argyle Street in Chicago is tops for Vietnamese while Devon Ave is the undisputed king of Indian eats and Paris has its diverse Latin Quarter with everything from fondue to gyros in a pita. There are also plenty of ethnic and holiday feasts where great food is abundant and prices are reasonable. We love the Oktoberfest and Christmas markets all over Germany. Remember too that shopping and value dining go together. Check out the local shopping malls for food courts with surprisingly delicious and affordable tastes. But, opt for the local options rather than chains. Also, you can find specialized food halls such as the Hawkers centers in Singapore. They specialize in amazing and cheap local cuisines, perfect for food travel on a budget.


Night Market in Beijing Street Food Food Travelist
Night Market in Beijing


2. Markets and Mobile Food.

Sometimes the best way to get a great meal is to pick one up on the way to somewhere else. Visit local markets and mobile food vendors for tasty treats that are easy on the wallet. Check out Grand Central Market in Los Angeles, La Boqueria in Barcelona, St. Lawrence Market in Toronto, Chandni Chowk in Dehli, Donghuamen Night Market in Beijing, and many others. Markets let you experience a slice of the destination. Food truck rallies and food cart pods offer a variety of value tastes in one spot. Robust food truck gatherings are found all over the U.S. in places like Wisconsin, Tampa, Scottsdale and more.  Amazing food trucks are outside the U.S. too in places from Amsterdam, Berlin, London’s famous Eat St. and now even in Hong Kong.



1. Shop For The Deals & Coupons!

The best way to ensure food travel on a budget is to plan in advance. Some countries offer fixed price menus, midday specials, happy hour discounts and other great deals. Search before you go to see what is available in the destination you’re visiting. Coupons, promos, and discounts are available from many online sources as well. If you’re a savvy shopper, you can find fun surprises like discounts on French restaurants in Sydney. You can find some of the best restaurant deals at Groupon. By planning in advance you can even add a high-end restaurant to your food travel on a budget.

Those are just a few of our tips for having a tasty trip that’s full of fun, flavor, and value. Please let us know about your own best ideas for food travel on a budget. Bon Voyage and Bon Appétit!

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10 thoughts on “5 Tips for Food Travel On A Budget

  1. It can be hard to find good, affordable food when traveling. These are good tips. I see my city in the photos. 🙂 You can get good, cheap food from a food cart.

  2. These are great tips. I always take my husband and 2 kids with me. It can be expensive to feed the whole family while eating out.

  3. I try to plan out my meals and budget when I travel. Groupon is definitely a great resource for finding deals.

  4. The food always seems to be the most pricey part of our trips too. This is really good to know now, thanks for sharing!

  5. Look for the lines! I love this tip! Never thought about, but it is so tru!

  6. We usually look for deals as often as possible when traveling. I always book hotels that include breakfast during our stay. With a family, this saves us quite a bit of money. Sometimes, if we know the portions are big, we split entrees too.

  7. Mobile trucks are our fave on trips. Frugal, yet super delicious! Love trying ethnic foods as well. Great tips. Thanks for sharing!

  8. I love food markets because they are an attraction as well as a great place to get food! I’ve been to Grand Central Market and St. Lawrence Market and both are must-sees with tons of amazing and cheap food options.

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