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- Posted:Monday, May 12, 2014
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10 ways backpackers can save money with food
Brooke Schoenman is the writer behind Brooke vs. the World, the blog of a world travel junky turned Australia expat with heaps of adventures in between. Her travels have taken her everywhere from Central Asia to Central America, and you can follow the journey on both Facebook and Twitter.
My personal definition of a backpacker is not someone who carries a backpack, but someone who just wants to save money to travel longer. That seems to be the trend, and I'm sure plenty of you can agree. You've probably even seen a backpacker do something, at one time or another, that was extremely shocking just to save a buck, am I right?
Well, I'm a backpacker, too, and I like to save money wherever and however possible, which brings us to this awesome list of tips you can do that involves food:
1. Cook for yourself... duh.
As long as you're not indulging in caviar or buying whole racks of ribs for cooking at the hostel, you will probably find you can create well-rounded cheap meals by shopping at the grocery stores and cooking for yourself. Yes, this is probably an obvious point (hence the “duh”), but is it something that can be stressed too much? I don't think so. Cooking for myself has saved me heaps of money while traveling since there's a big difference between cook-at-home pasta and hand-made pasta that's been stuffed with four different cheeses at the classy Italian joint around the corner. Ok, so you give up on the quality a bit, but still... you save money!
2. Choose a hostel with a free breakfast... and get up for it.
Hostel breakfasts generally aren't anything fancy. If you're lucky, you'll get your choice of cereals, toasts and instant coffee. Still, something is better than nothing, right?! It's even better if that something is actually eaten, so save yourself a bit of dough by getting your butt out of bed in the morning to enjoy it.
3. Make lunch your big meal out of the day.
If you can't fathom travel without eating out at new and interesting restaurants along the way, then why not make lunch your big meal out. Lunch specials tend to grace the menu in areas all over the world, so you can get your fill of local grub but with a smaller price tag.
4. Swing by markets and foodcourts near closing time.
When food-courts in shopping centers are about to close, they often discount the already made food to keep it from going to waste. Be sure to stop by towards the end of the day to see if you can't snag a cheap snack or dinner.
5. Save your leftovers... and actually use them.
If your hostel has a fridge, save your leftovers from your big lunch or dinner out. They tend to make for great late-night snacks or lunches for the next day. Just be sure that you actually use the leftovers instead of leaving them in the fridge to mold away and take up precious space. That just makes no one want to try to save leftovers.
6. Check for free food shelves in hostels.
Some hostels will gather all the non-perishable food items left behind in the kitchen and create a free food shelf. Always make sure to check for the free food shelf (or box) because there could be heaps of good stuff from olive oil and cereal to pasta and rice. It's the little bits that you don't have to buy that save you money. Oh, and be a dear and leave your un-packable, non-perishable food behind for the next person to enjoy.
7. Find other travelers to buy in bulk with.
Buying in bulk is usually always cheaper than buying all the ingredients to feed just one person. If there are other people in the hostel willing to work together, you should pool your resources and do a meal together whether that be cooking in or ordering take-away. Just think of family meal deal packages at restaurants and fast food joints: You get more food for less money per person.
8. Eat at places that are self serve.
Self-serve places would include food courts, cafeterias and fast food joints. I know. It's not the classiest choice, but guess what... when you don't have a waiter or waitress, you don't have to leave a tip!
9. Eat less.
If you're the type of person that always orders a bit extra, cutting back on your meal size can make a huge difference. Instead of getting the foot-long sub meal at Subway, for example, try cutting back to the 6 inch. Chances are this will be a sufficient amount of food, even if your body is trying to tell you otherwise.
10. Drink less.
Alcohol tends to be the problem for a large majority of backpackers when it comes to saving money. Not only is alcohol expensive in many countries of the world, but when you drink more, you also tend to eat more. Late nights call for late night stops at kebab shops, burger joints and whatever else might be open at that time of day.
What do you do to save money while backpacking? Do you have any other tips on how to cut back on food costs?