Culinary Adventures on a Dime: A Foodie Guide for Student Travelers

Published 9:28 pm Monday, June 12, 2023

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Trying new cuisine and discovering different eating habits are the fastest way to immerse yourself in another culture. So, once you order assignment online and prepare for the trip, give enough thought to what and where you’ll eat during it. That goes both for foodies and not!

When you’re a student, though, you might not be able to spend hundreds of dollars on dining out or going on food tours. But that doesn’t mean you should abandon the idea of eating well on a trip! All you have to do is follow the six tips below to go on your culinary adventure despite the tight budget.

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Eat Where Locals Do

This is the tip you should live by whether you travel on a dime or not. Tourist-oriented restaurants don’t really have the incentive to foster a loyal clientele: tourists will leave the town anyway. The ones for locals, though, have to keep up the good work to stay in business.

Here are four ways to find the places frequented by locals:

  • Go out of the touristic areas and watch which establishments are bustling with people during the typical lunch or dinner hours.
  • Ask your local host, friend, or acquaintance where they like to eat when they go out.
  • If you check out review websites, focus on the reviews written in the local language.
  • Just approach someone on the street and ask them for recommendations!

Steer Away from Tourist Areas

Let’s reiterate: if you want to eat well without spending a fortune, never – ever – go to a restaurant in a tourist area. This includes the old towns, establishments next to popular sights, tourist-busy streets, etc.

If you can’t tell whether a restaurant caters primarily to tourists, here are the two tell-tale signs that you’ll pay more for a meal there than in a local restaurant:

  1. Menus are dubbed in foreign languages, including English.
  2. The staff speaks English.

On top of being pricier, such restaurants also tend to offer watered-down versions of traditional meals. In most cases, the same meals in restaurants for locals are more delicious – and the portions are bigger, too.

Seek Out Markets

If you want to combine trying new cuisine with immersing yourself in the local culture, a market is a perfect place to do both. And as a bonus, your money will be supporting local producers instead of multinational fast-food chains!

While some markets can be open for business all week long, others take place once a week. So, make sure you do your research before the trip. As for the type of food you can find in a market, most likely, you’ll have plenty of ready-to-go meals to choose from.

Try Street Food

Street food is another gateway to the unfiltered, prepared-by-locals-for-locals cuisine. Plus, it proliferates in many corners of the world, so you’ll find a cart or a booth in most destinations. And, of course, street food is way more affordable than dining in!

That said, in some countries, you need to be brave to try street food. It can upset your stomach with unusual ways of cooking or spices. This depends on your destination – trying street food in Italy is a far cry from doing the same in India! So, do it at your own discretion.

Go to a Chic Restaurant for Dessert

If you’re a foodie dreaming of getting into a Michelin restaurant, you might believe that you can’t afford it. After all, you usually have to reserve months in advance, and the bill can go to hundreds and even thousands of dollars!

Don’t give up on this dream just yet: there is a way to get into high-end restaurants without a reservation made months in advance. Go to one outside of the typical lunch and dinner hours – and there’s a good chance they’ll be able to find you a table. And to keep your bill low, opt for a dessert instead of a full-fledged meal!

Ask for Takeaway

In some countries, takeaway can cost you less than eating on the spot. That’s the case in some restaurants in France, for example – they have two different menus depending on whether you dine in or not.

If the restaurant offers takeaway, make sure you don’t get the short end of the stick by dining in. And if the prices are easier on the pocket for takeaway-ers, why not grab that meal outside? You can go on a picnic in a park!

two persons holding food

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In Conclusion

There’s only one piece of advice it’s appropriate to finish this list with: don’t be afraid to take a leap of faith. Yes, some dishes may look yucky or have fear-inducing descriptions – simply because they’re unusual. That doesn’t mean they can’t be outstandingly delicious!