The biggest misconception about travel is that it’s a massive money drain. Intrepid travelers have been proving this notion wrong for millennia. While travel surely can cost a ton, it’s relatively easy to pull off on a budget. Hell, you can get paid to wander the globe if you play your cards right and take a few risks.
Since you have to eat — and since eating abroad is generally a joy — food is where many budgets get busted. To help you out, we’ve compiled a few pointers for keeping food costs manageable while you’re on the road.
Before we dive in, let’s lay out a few umbrella caveats:
- Know the exchange rate of the currency you’re dealing with. You have to memorize it and feel comfortable. If you don’t, you’re leaving yourself very open to getting ripped off.
- In the same vein, you really need to learn the metric system if you want to function outside of this country. Liters and grams are already on literally every food and drink item you buy in the United States. Learn it. Otherwise, you’re going to end up with woefully too little or way too much of something when you’re buying and, therefore, wasting money.
- Buy a phrase book and learn some basics. You’ll find that a lot of nouns are very universal, or, at least, very similar. Language is all about patterns after all. Case in point, Germanic and Slavic words for milk: milk, milch, moloko, mlekjo, mjölk. Romance language words for milk: leche, lait, leite, latte, lapte … and so on. Overall, learning a couple words for the things you want to find/ oreder is a good call. Our editor’s cousin once found a 100-Euro bill on her honeymoon, went to a fancy restaurant, and accidentally spent the whole amount on a raw mushroom assortment. Mushrooms are great, but it would have been nice to have a warm dish, too.
- Lastly, learn what the culture you’re visiting does well foodwise. Berlin is all about currywurst. But if you’re in almost any other major German city, you’ll rarely see it. Moscow is notorious for having (delicious) baked potato stands. Jakarta has vendors walking around with fried rice carts all hours of the day and night through neighborhoods. Point is, do a little research and keep your eyes (and nose) open for the dope food the locals are lining up for.
With that said, here are our tips for eating cheaply on the road.
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