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Eating and drinking in grand style will shrink your travel budget and leave you less money to do other things. Fortunately, there are lots of little ways you can save on food when you’re travelling.

If your hotel doesn’t include breakfast in the price of the room, think outside the box and save money by venturing outside to a corner cafe rather paying the price of a hotel breakfast buffer.

For example, in Paris, join the local crowd and have coffee, juice and a croissant. Or in Madrid, try a churros con (with) chocolate. In the U.S., there are plenty  of small breakfast places where you can get a great bacon, eggs and coffee breakfast for only a few bucks.

Another great way to stretch your travel budget is to enjoy a picnic for lunch or dinner. You can pick up cheeses and meats and breads at local grocery stores and specialty shops. Grab a bottle of local wine. Eat in your room or in a local park with a great view.

Avoid touristy restaurants. If you see a restaurant on the main street that has menus in several languages, it’s going to cost you more. Find a mom and pop place down a side street or go with a recommendation from a local such as your friendly B&B host. Look for “prix fixe” menus or daily specials for great meals at good prices.

One of my most memorable meals was a little restaurant my host sent me to in Assisi. I had trouble finding it (no sign) and there were only three or four tables, but the owner was the cook and his wife was the waitress. Neither spoke English and she had to get a dictionary to help me order, but the food was terrific, and the bill was surprisingly small.

Find the open-air markets in town and eat there. Cafeterias in department stores can also be a good place to find food cheap.

Eat foods that are in season: that’s what the locals do. Today’s fresh specials will cost you less and be healthier. Another way to save like the locals do is to eat and drink what is special in that country. Drink beer in Brussels and Prague, save the wine for Paris.

Remember that in many countries in the world, the tip is included. In those counties, if you leave anything, you should only leave small change. If you’re tipping 15 to 20 per cent, you’re tipping way too much and adding that to the price of your trip.

Don’t feel pressed to order too much for dinner. For example, just having a “primi” (pasta dish), but no “secondi” (main dish) in Italy, may be plenty for you to eat. Add a salad, and you’ll save money over a three course meal. Ask for tap water instead of bottled water in counties where the water is safe.

If you just try a few of our tips, you can eat well and still stretch your travel budget to go farther.

| Sid Kaplan

travel food budget

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