By: Katy Harrison

When planning your travel budget, food costs are perhaps the most difficult and frustrating to anticipate.  In most hotel rooms, you don’t have a stove or a refrigerator, so leftovers are worthless and you don’t have the mechanisms to make your own breakfast or lunch.  Most of us look forward to eating out at local restaurants, but paying for three meals a day while you’re travelling quickly busts any budget.

When planning your next trip, consider these simple pointers to keep your food budget to a minimum while still enjoying plenty of local fare. First, look for a hotel room that comes with a refrigerator.  If you want to stay somewhere specific, ask if they can provide a refrigerator; if asked, many hotels will provide a refrigerator free of charge if they don’t come standard with rooms. Visit local fruit stands and farmers markets to fill your room with snacks to satisfy small cravings, and to avoid spending more on lower-quality foods when you’re hungry.

Next, find a website whose reviews you trust to determine what restaurants you will visit.  When you’re disappointed with a meal, you’re much more likely to leave hungry and to need to eat again later, shelling out even more money for snacks.

Finally, keep an eye out for small food stands. Certainly, some will disappoint, but on the whole, the lack of storage at food stands makes it more necessary to provide fresh food that is as locally sourced as possible. Additionally, the lack of variety on a menu lends itself to better versions of the meals offered, and if you find one you really like, there’s no shame in eating it multiple times to save a few bucks and enjoy good local eats.