Eating Well While Traveling on a Budget

Paris view

The day has finally arrived and tomorrow you leave for the vacation you’ve been planning for months.  Of course you have planned everything, including your budget.  You’ve accounted for plane tickets, hotel accommodation, and excursion costs, but did you allow proper food expenses?  And how are you going to eat healthy while staying on budget?

It can be very easy to underestimate how much you will actually spend on food and beverages while away from home, but there are ways to save a little extra in your bank account while keeping the dreaded vacation weight off.  If you dine out frequently, it is easier to put less nutritious food in your body more often than you would otherwise.  However, it is important to not miss out on trying traditional foods of that region. That is part of the fun of traveling, right?  There are plenty of ways to make sure that you eat healthy and not break your bank while you’re at it.  Plan ahead and consider these tips to eat healthy while traveling on a budget!


In Transit:

  • Pack some snacks! Plan ahead and bring a few nutritious items that are easy to pack such as fruit, almonds, or granola bars.  It might even prevent you from stopping at the local gas station for that pop and bag of chips you’ve been thinking about.  Your wallet and body will thank you.
  • Check out the cooler section. The cooler has nutritious options such as veggie snack packs, yogurt, and fruit cups, which are great grab-and-go choices that won’t cost much or add to your waist line and will keep you full until the next stop.



On Location:

  • Check if breakfast is included in your accommodation or offered at a low cost. If it is, take advantage.  A bonus is that there are usually foods specific to the region available as well as more classic but healthy options like fruit, yogurt, and cereal.
  • Depending where you are traveling to, you may not have access to a refrigerator. Having access to a refrigerator can be wonderful for your budget.  This allows you to purchase food from a grocery store and actually store extras.  Also, if you dine in a restaurant, you can save half of your meal for the next day.  This will not only stretch your budget a little farther but also controls portion sizes.  Ask your hotel if they can supply you with a room refrigerator.
  • Visit local grocery stores or produce stands. This will allow you to purchase nutritious foods at a lower price, saving you money from restaurant dining. If you have access to a kitchen while traveling, cook some of your meals. If you only have a refrigerator, stock up on sandwich ingredients and prepare some of you lunches. From personal experience, this is my favorite way to save money while traveling. You can eat some healthy meals and avoid continuous restaurant eating, since you can control whats going into your meal, enjoy the local produce,  and use healthy cooking/prep methods.

Although you may be on a budget, it does not mean that you can’t eat healthfully while traveling.  With a little planning, you can limit your food spending while eating delicious and healthy meals. Bon voyage!

Lisa Stollman, MA, RDN, CDE, CDN is the author of the ebook The Trim Traveler: How to Eat Healthy and Stay Fit While Traveling Abroad (Nirvana Press 2014) and The Teen Eating Manifesto (Nirvana Press 2012). She is a nationally-recognized Registered Dietitian Nutritionist with a specialty in teen and adult weight management and diabetes. Lisa received her B.S. in Food and Nutrition and her M.A. in Clinical Nutrition from New York University. She consults with clients in Huntington, New York and on the Upper East Side of Manhattan. Special thanks to the fabulous writing contributions of nutrition intern, Emily Pearson. To find out more about Lisa or to book an appointment, please visit here.

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