. Travel and food: easy meals on a budget : Budget Travel Adventures

Travel and food: easy meals on a budget

beachside cafe and restaurant in AustraliaWhen you travel on a budget, saving money is a huge consideration in your vacation travel plans.  While many people look at budget airlines or cheap hotels for ways to save, many people may forget food – especially easy meals on a budget.

Saving money when traveling is easy to do as you can use basic tips from home.

Know how to use a microwave?  Do you have access to hot water?  Do you get a hotel breakfast each morning?  Whether you travel on a tour or go on a family vacation, meals can be light, filling, and easy to prepare without taking time away from activities.

If saving money and time while traveling on vacation sounds like a good idea, check out some road recipes when traveling and these tips for food on the road.

Travel tips for easy meals on a budget

Hotel breakfast for snacks and lunch– A hotel breakfast can be a very easy to way to pack snacks or plan a picnic lunch while you are on vacation.

Bring sandwich bags in your luggage and take them with you to breakfast.  Pack an extra apple or a banana for a snack.  Add a croissant or bread with some meat and cheese for a sandwich.  Don’t waste time in a crowded restaurant filled with tourists.

Markets and grocery stores – Food in the grocery store or market is much cheaper than food in restaurants.  Eating healthy is easy and cheap since you have many more choices.

Buy healthy snacks.  Get bread, meats, condiments, and jams for sandwiches.  These are simple steps for easy meals on a budget.  Bring water and avoid overpriced vending machines and cafes.

Microwave cooking – If your hotel or hostel has a microwave, make  heavier, heartier meals that are take no time at all.  Find foods at the store that are easy to microwave.  Reheat last night’s leftover dinner.  Be creative.  Microwaves can make quick, fast, and hearty meals on a budget.

Just add water – Many places may not have a breakfast available.  Pack oatmeal in your luggage or buy a packaged breakfast food that you enjoy.  Hot water from your sink or coffee maker will make for a hearty, healthy breakfast.

Tired of waters, beers, and coffees?  Bring small packets of your favorite juices and enjoy a fruit punch, Crystal Light, or Kool Aid for you and the kids.  Water can be used to make a lot of cheap, easy meals on a budget (remember how much Top Ramen you ate in college?).

Bring a lunch bag – A small, plastic insulated lunch bag is easy to carry in your luggage and can be used to keep foods cold or hot.  Take certain liquids or meals with you for the day, pack a bag of food, and get ice from your hotel or hostel.

Heat up food before you leave your hotel and keep it warm and ready to eat for lunch.  A lunch bag is also a great way to carry snacks as well.

Beware of local meal times and portion sizes – In Britain, a cooked breakfast of eggs, ham, and more might fill you up until lunch.  However, small breakfasts in Spain and France may not fill you up at all.  With Spain’s late lunches, you might be starving by noon when lunch isn’t until 2.

Knowing the meal times and portion sizes of meals can help you plan accordingly with cheap snacks.  That way you can skip the snack at the cafe or the overpriced vendor at the amusement park.

Upgrade your room – If you are traveling with a lot of people, pay more to get a kitchen or kitchenette in your room.  If you cook and prepare meals, you will save more money by dining in than you spent on an upgraded room with a kitchen.

Hostels have had this idea for years.  It’s a good idea for budget travelers to take advantage of this for easy meals on a budget.

Spend less money on food, have more time for fun

When you travel on a budget, finding a cheap flight or discount hotel isn’t the only way to save money on your vacation.  While food isn’t something people may think about, cheap and easy meals on a budget can be fulfilling, save you time and money, and allow you to enjoy more time to enjoy the sights and the things you want to do.

Fine dining and a 5 star restaurant can be a great way to travel (check out two years of meals for these travelers.).  However, good food, cheap deals, and easy meals can be a great way to bond with others as more time and less money spent allows you to enjoy the rest of your vacation.

See how you can eat at McDonalds when traveling to create unforgettable travel experiences!

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Filed Under: Budget TravelFamily TravelFood and drinkTravel Tips


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  1. Barb says:

    If you are traveling in the states those are all good ideas. But if you are going out of the country all-inclusives are the way to go. For a little more money you can get meals included as well as all drinks of any kind.

    • I have to disagree. Even when you travel overseas, you can still bring some food with you or even go to the local supermarket or grocery store to get food for your room. Also, you can take advantage of hotel breakfasts for lunches and snacks. You just have to plan a little more when you travel outside of the country. I’ve done a few of these when traveling overseas as well.

      It’s all a matter of preference. Some may choose the all-inclusive route and that is fine for people as well. However, for ways to save money on food, these are some good options.

    • We are a military family, and have been around the block a few times! We have done both the packaged deals, and the more self planned travels. I think it depends alot on where you are going. For example, Bejing China we did a package deal and I can’t imagine doing it any other way. Driver, guide, hotel, airfare, and all food was included. It was great! But now we are on the other side of the world in Germany, and this year self organized road trips will fill our summer. You can’t pack food when your flying, but the local grocery or open air markets are fantastic here! When we read the reviews of the apartments we want to stay at, I look to see if a grocery store is near. We usually eat breakfast in the hotel, pack snacks to take along all day, and then splurge on a nice heavy dinner. When I dont plan ahead, we have ended up dropping 50 euro on a family of 4 for lunch, and that really eats into my travel budget. These are great tips!! Thanks for sharing!!

      • I agree that it depends on where you are. There are lots of ways to get some great meals. I just wanted to get people to think outside the box and let them know you don’t always have to eat out or settle for a continental breakfast. Use meals as a way to connect with people and explore places. Traveling doesn’t have to be expensive when it comes to food so I hope people find unique and creative ways to enjoy a meal. Like you, splurging for a meal is fine – it just doesn’t have to be the only way to travel and eat.

        Thanks for sharing your stories Crystal. When traveling with a family, easy meals becomes even more important.

  2. It’s also a good idea to check with the locals where is a good place to eat. They will be able to point you to local eateries where you can get awesome tasting food with generous servings at a price that is friendly on the wallet. At the same time, you also get to experience a bit of their local cuisine, which can definitely make your travels more interesting and memorable.

  3. I prefer to travel with my backpack full of snacks, foods that could fulfill my stomach needs. Of course, it is important to explore a place where you dont actually need to spend too much money to enjoy. Enumerated above are highly recommended ideas to travel within a budget without starving ourselves.

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