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Eat on the cheap while traveling

By Sharyn Alden, Contributing writer
Published On: Apr 10 2012 02:36:03 PM CDT
Updated On: Jul 22 2013 07:59:24 AM CDT
outdoor restaurant

Keeping food costs low can be one of the most important ways to keep your travel budget under control. Eating cheap doesn't mean you have to settle for fast food, but you do need to make smart choices while traveling.

Save on your food budget and still enjoy your trip with these handy tips.

Eat A Big Breakfast

If you're staying at a hotel, check if the amenities for which you will be paying include breakfast. If your hotel offers free continental or American breakfast, take advantage of it and eat heartily. If you're not staying at a hotel, do some research and look for restaurants that offer big breakfasts, as they are usually cheaper than a big lunch or dinner. Eating a good breakfast will not just give you the energy you need for a busy day, it will help tide you over until lunch.

Let's Do Lunch

If you decide to splurge on a meal at an expensive restaurant, lunch is the best time to do so. Many upscale restaurants offer the same food choices at lunch as they do at dinner, but you'll pay much lower prices. You may even be able to cut corners further by ordering takeout instead of dining in.

Drink Water With Your Meals

Water's not only good for you, it can also save you some money. Sodas, coffees and teas can add a small fortune on top of the cost of your meal. So skip the soda and drink the free water offered with your meal.

Go Grocery Shopping

Eating every meal in a restaurant is probably something you wouldn't dream of doing at home, so why do you change your thinking while traveling? It might be due to lack of cooking facilities, but if you're staying in a hotel room with a kitchen, you can make your own meals just the way you like them without spending too much money.

Plus, shopping at local supermarkets can be fun, and you might be able to find some prepared food and salads in the deli, if the store has one, and come up with healthy and delicious meals.

Do (Eat) As The Locals Do

If you ask someone where the best places are to eat, you might be find yourself in a pricey restaurant. Talk to the locals and ask where they like to eat. Ask about their favorite small neighborhood restaurants, as they can be casual places that serve good quality food for low cost. Also, try various ethic neighborhoods as they offer a chance to meet interesting people and usually have lower prices as well. And many ethnic restaurants have their menu posted on their window. You not only get a look at their food selection, but their prices, too.

Stock Up

Before you leave on a road trip, fill a cooler with homemade sandwiches, bottles of water or soda, chips, granola bars, trail mix and fresh fruit purchased at your local supermarket. Not only will you save money, but you'll also be making fewer stops along the way, and ultimately, make better time on your trip.

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