How To Save Money on Food While Traveling

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Some of us travel for the scenery and the experience while others just can’t wait to try the delicious local food.

Today I’ll talk about the five ways Mr. FAF and I save money on food while traveling.

When Mr. FAF and I went on our first trip as a couple on a student budget, we decided to cut costs by driving in his 1999 Toyota Corolla he had bought for $2,000.

We didn’t want to eat out to save money, so we also brought with us the following items:

1. Water & inexpensive snacks to eat on the way

–Bread and some inexpensive snacks (i.e. pudding, beef jerky)

–Bananas, mandarins, and apples

–Bottled water bought in bulk from the grocery store

Having something we actually liked to eat in the car made us less likely to make random purchases on the way or stop at a restaurant to satisfy our appetite.

You can also bring juice boxes for some flavor. But water worked well for us.

2. Instant noodles (ramen) and a rice cooker for lunch/dinner

— A rice cooker, 2 bowls, 2 plates, and 2 pairs of chopsticks

— Instant noodles & some pickle

— Dish soap and sponge to do the dishes afterwards

Being in a new place and not wanting to eat out too much, we cooked instant noodles in our motel room and ate together.

Although we felt bit poor for not being able to afford to eat out, we felt warm and fuzzy inside eating instant noodles together. Mr. FAF cooked the noodles and volunteered to do the dishes afterwards, which made me very happy.

3. Oatmeal, fruit cups, bagels, and canned soup

I now need to travel for work for at least 10 days every once in a while. When that happens, no fruit can last that long without being squashed in the suitcase, so I just buy the Dole fruit cups from Costco.

Oatmeal is also great since I can just ask the motel for a kettle to heat up the water.

I particularly like canned soup since it’s real food and is cheaper than eating at a restaurant. The downside is that it’s heavy and contains mostly of water, so it usually can’t fill me up. I usually need to add bread or bagels (which can last for more than a week in room temperature).

4. Food cooked from home

One time Mr. FAF and I did a 2-day road trip to a nearby city (3 hours driving).

I had done some research and knew that the motel we were going to stay at would provide a kitchenette with a mini-fridge, a kitchen sink, and a microwave. We decided to make some dishes at home and bring our rice cooker together with some rice on the trip.

We put the dishes in a cooler with some ice and started the road trip.

We made enough food for two days and saved the money for the local seafood at a reasonably priced restaurant ($23/each).

5. Check to see if the motel/hotel provides breakfast

Most of the motels we’ve stayed at provided a breakfast buffet. It’s by no means a delicacy, but at least we don’t have to pay extra for it, and it can fill us up. We always tried to eat as much as we could to have enough energy to walk around until noon.

Eating canned soup in the hotel


Writing this post brings back so many memories of Mr. FAF and me living on two poor students’ budget. It made me a bit emotional to think about the tough times we’ve gone through together.

As our financial situation has improved, we can now afford to eat at the local restaurants once or twice on a trip. But we still bring food from home.

At the end of the day, I was happy to share such moments with Mr. FAF. What really mattered to us back then was not eating at high-end restaurants, but the time we spent talking and laughing with each other on the trip.

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