Five Cheap Ways to Experience Local Food While Traveling


When traveling, sampling the cuisine is a great way to immerse yourself in the local culture. After all, who wants to take a trip to somewhere new and eat the same old food that you eat back home? However, dining out for every meal while on vacation can be costly. Here are five easy ways to save money on food when traveling.

Get Out!

The easiest way to ditch the high price tags for restaurant fare is to get off the beaten path. Leave the tourist traps and popular areas where the restaurants cater their menus (and prices) to travelers. Find an area with fewer crowds: explore a neighborhood that the tour buses don’t stop at, and head to the hole in the wall restaurants. This way, you get to eat as the locals eat and pay as the locals pay. Little excursions like this will also give you the opportunity to see sights and meet people that you wouldn’t have otherwise!

Have Dinner for Lunch

Is there a restaurant that you just HAVE to try on your trip? Some specialty that a particular place cooks that you’ve read about and have dreamed of eating for the past six months? Make your reservation for lunch instead of dinner! Many restaurants have a lunch menu with the same items that the dinner patrons get, but at a reduced price. Popular restaurants are also less crowded during lunch hours, so you’ll be able to enjoy a leisurely meal without waiting too long for a table.


Get Acquainted with Street Food

No, not food from the street: even the most budget-conscious of foodie travelers need to draw the line somewhere, five-second rule or not! Street food – from street vendors or food trucks – is an excellent way to experience local cuisine without breaking the bank. Yes, you’ll probably have to eat standing up or take your food with you for an impromptu picnic, but few other food options beat the convenience and price of street food.

Explore the Local Food Markets

Like the idea of tasting local food from small vendors rather than restaurants? Check if there are any farmers markets in the area. Though open markets and food fairs often have fresh produce, there are usually a few meal vendors selling their wares. Local food vendors are also usually passionate about their product and will be happy to answer any questions you might have about the food or local culture!

Take Advantage of Discount Cards, Coupons, and Daily Deal Sites

Look into visitor or discount cards for the area. There are often – especially for large cities – cards that you can purchase that give you discounts on everything from boat tours to theme park tickets. These cards may also include restaurant discounts. At the airport or the official visitor’s bureau for most major travel destinations, you can find free guidebooks that include useful maps and coupons for many local establishments.

Another way to find restaurant deals is to look up the daily coupon sites for your travel destination. LivingSocial ( and Groupon ( often has 50% (or more) deals that you can purchase for local restaurants. If you are visiting for an extended vacation, you may want to buy the Entertainment Book ( for that area, which offers coupons for many local restaurants and attractions, as well as discounts for car rentals and other travel-related services.