Guest post: Text and photos by Kelly Dennett


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Tacos in Mexico, tortellini in Rome, tapas in Spain, baguettes in Paris. Travelling for me has definitely become all about the food. After my accommodation and flights, food is always my biggest expense. Which doesn't necessarily mean it has to be a huge expense. If there is anything the past two years of travel has taught me- it's that you don't need to dine in the finest restaurants, nor break the bank in order to eat well abroad.




1. Cook:

It sounds obvious but cooking is the best way to ensure you eat alot for less. Select self-catering accommodation and ask where the nearest supermarkets and farmers markets are.

Take advantage of local grocers and markets for seasonal produce. My favorite recipes are the ones that don't involve a lot of actual cooking- get some burrito wraps and top with salad ingredients (spinach, avocado and tomato are my faves), or for a salad boil up some cous cous and add feta. Pasta keeps well if you want to pack it in your bag and you can throw vegetables in for a healthier meal.


2. Look for inclusives:

Second to the previous point, pick accommodation which serves breakfast. As much as I don't think of myself as a breakfast person, I'm always grateful for a bit of nosh when I wake up and at the very least, a coffee, in the morning. If you save so much as $5 per day on breakfast and tea or coffee, that's enough to buy a decent massage or facial at the end of a two week vacation! Take advantage of free fruit baskets – pack a piece in your day bag for later.


3.Have a picnic:

Some of my favorite places in the world happen to be parks- New York's Central Park, Madrid's Parque del Retiro, San Francisco's Golden Gate Park, to name but a few. Take advantage of great weather, give your feet a rest and plan yourself a picnic. You don't need a basket, or even a blanket. Visit your local market and grab some fresh bread, ham and cheese and some fresh fruit for dessert. Bliss.


4. Don't go hungry:

I don't know about you, but when I'm hungry all rationality goes out of my head. I need food. Now. A drop in blood sugar inevitably leads to bad decision making- "Yes, I'll have  two Big Macs and a McFlurry please. I'd like an Apple Pie while I wait too," and inevitably excess money being spent. Always have on hand some small snacks to keep your energy levels up and your crazy cravings at bay. (Plus, when you're travelling long distances, you never know when your next meal might be.) Stock up on crackers, nuts and fruit or even a small chocolate bar. 


5. Make lunch your biggest meal:

It's not always possible or practical to cook and heck, you're on vacation, why should you?

If I'm travelling alone I try and make lunch my biggest meal of the day if I'm eating out. Why? Lunch-time prices in restaurants tend to be a lot cheaper than the same food served six or seven hours later. The added bonus is that its less daunting to eat on your own at lunch time and you get to put your feet up for a much deserved sightseeing break.


6. Go for tapas:

When I was in Spain I saved a lot of money on food. Anytime I went for a simple drink I was given free tapas. Likewise, the beauty of tapas is that you can order more as you go along. Gauge the portion sizes and order accordingly. Full? Stop. No wasted meals. Tapas in Granada and Seville tend to go for anywhere between two euros and five euros a pop. Most of the time I found all I needed was two or three, my total bill totalling less than a main meal.

Go for tapas: When I was in Spain I saved a lot of money on food. Anytime I went for a simple drink I was given free tapas.


7. Veer off the main path:

Some of the best meals I've ever had have come from street vendors, markets and small restaurants with not so much as a sign saying "Comida aqui." Don't be afraid to check out smaller, local places. As a general rule, veer of the main street or piazza and check out the smaller alleys or streets. Take note if the place is full of locals- the food will be cheaper and the quantities larger. Be smart though. Not all "locals" are the same. Don't sacrifice your health if the place looks unsanitary.


8. Join a traveller's network:

Lonely Planet and Couchsurfing forums always have dozens of postings from solo travellers looking to meet others, or Couchsurfing in particular always hosts events and fiestas in most cities. Look out for these events, they're generally always centred around eating and drinking and you can be sure they're not eating at The Ivy. Best part is you can meet locals and other traveller's alike and share your best eats knowledge.


9. Go to a fiesta:

Pick up a local magazine or ask your hosts if there are any festivals, fiestas or galas on during your stay. You can be sure that events like this will always have delicious, cheap nosh (as well as great entertainment and cultural value), and sometimes free nibbles or drinks too.


10. Don't be miserable:

Looking back, you always remember the good stuff. You never remember how much the steak cost or how many rounds of drinks you could afford. At the end of the day, exploring a destination is just as much about sampling the culinary fare as it is about visiting the churches and memorials. Give yourself a break and splurge when you want to. In six months time you won't remember the damage to the budget you'll just remember how happy you felt when you had that first bite of pizza in Napoli, or smelled the steak cooking in Argentina. Go on, order it. Be happy.





                                                                                                                                       About the author:

   Kelly Dennett is a twenty-something solo female traveller from New Zealand  who is currently backpacking through Mexico and South America.  She blogs   about her travels at











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