Budget Travel - Eat Out without Busting Out on Vacation

You can find good food to suit your travel budget as long as you are open to doing things slightly out of your normal routine. Also you often need to do a little research before diving into the first cafe or restaurant that you see. Drinks and snacks can be the biggest cost, and are not always available in smaller resorts. A travel kettle will pay for itself in no time - take sachets of coffee, tea and sugar and buy milk and biscuits locally.

If you are in a budget hotel, guest house or hostel, breakfast may be included in your package. Make sure you check out the meals, do not be put off by other guests. Plain simple food is fine if it is served properly, a freshly baked roll with jam and coffee or tea will cost you nothing. That same meal in a cafe overlooking a piazza would cost up to half your daily food budget!

Budget Travel breakfast could be in a local basic cafe - if it is full of hungry workers then you are likely to find a good value meal. And remember to eat what the locals eat. If you order an imported drink the cost could be three times the local equivalent. This is also a chance to meet people and get tips on the best place for lunch.

If you are still ready to experiment at lunch, again look for cafes without a 'tourist' image. The basic budget travel rule when dining in a city is to avoid the restaurants overlooking a major attraction. Not only are these the most expensive, they charge extra for sitting on the terrace and the waiters can be very fierce in demanding tips. One street away you can stumble on a small cafe with the menu chalked up on a board, and local people eating there. It may offer just a few dishes but they are freshly cooked and good value.

Or you can choose the easy option for budget eating and save time by using one of the international chains - or a local fast food outlet. Many cities offer takeaway pizza and bakes, sold by the piece or weight, teamed with a quick coffee or cola to prepare you for an afternoon of new experiences. Third option really applies if you have a vehicle - stock up with bread, cheese or cold meat and drinks, and stop at a beauty spot where you can dine al fresco. You should always buy plenty of bottled water when you see a supermarket - the cost difference buying water in small bottles can be more than five times the price!

Making yourself known to other guests, the receptionist and locals, is another way to find the best way to eat within your travel budget. Most people are proud to share the best points of their city and will happily direct you to a favourite restaurant.

When you want to enjoy a really top restaurant meal, the low cost option is to eat lunch. The best deals are on offer as most customers want to eat in the evening. The same rules apply when choosing the place. If there is a waiter outside to entice customers in, it is probably a tourist trap. If the menu is painted up permanently and offers 100 dishes, they come from the freezer. Usually the set menu or table d’hote is best for budget travel: this is sometimes served up till 8pm so look out for it. The chef puts the best food on the set menu and there is no shame in choosing it. The same rule applies to drink. House wine, often in a carafe, is the best value and they sell lots of it so it will be fresh. Local produce rules again - an imported spirit will be triple the cost of the local tipple, so why not try that instead?

Finally, coffee in a smart restaurant is an expensive item. If you settle your bill, take a post prandial stroll and keep your eyes open you should find a friendly bar where you can get a drink, local color and usually music thrown in. You are on vacation, budget travel does not stop you enjoying it.