How to save on food and drink whilst travelling - and image of bottles of water and a pair of sunglasses laid out on a hotel bed

How to Save on Food and Drink Whilst Travelling

How to save on food and drink whilst travelling - and image of bottles of water and a pair of sunglasses laid out on a hotel bed

How to Save on Food & Drink Whilst Travelling

I make no secret of the fact that, as a family, we love to travel.  Travel can be expensive, particularly when your children are no longer really children and it costs the same amount as an adult for tickets, accommodation and food.  Therefore, it is important that we find other ways to cut the cost.

To enable us to travel as much as we do, we have to budget - even when we are on holiday.  We set ourselves a budget of €100 per day to cover food and drink for all four of us.  That’s €25 each for breakfast, lunch, dinner, drinks and snacks.  Here’s how tips on how we do it:

Take a flask

Yes, we take a flask on holiday.  We have a 0.5 litre stainless steel one that gets packed in our hold luggage.  Being stainless steel means it can survive the trip.

Along with this we either take those 3 in 1 coffee sachets.  These contain coffee, milk and sugar, so there’s no need to carry extras around with you.  A couple of reuseable plastic cups and spoons completes our drinks pack.

We fill the flask in the morning and head down to the beach. After a swim in the sea it’s time for a coffee. 

I would estimate that this saves us at least €5 a time compared to buying coffee from the beach bar or local coffee shop.

We do still stop for coffee whilst on holiday but by using our flask, we can just cut down the number of times we pay.

Buy soft drinks from the local Supermarkets

Another easy way to save money and this applies to both home and abroad.  A little bit of preparation and we can plan our drinks for the day.  This means we can buy most of them from the supermarket at supermarket prices rather than paying café or kiosk prices.

I remember on my first visit to Rome, around 25 years ago, I was desperate for a drink.  At the time we were at the Colosseum.  I went to the kiosk that was strategically placed there and bought a regular can of coca cola for the equivalent price of £5.  I dread to think how much it would be nowadays.

Buy Water in bulk

You can find yourself spending quite a bit on water if you are going to buy it from kiosks or cafes.  On arrival in our destination, we buy four small bottles of water – the types with the sports tops – and these stay with us throughout our holiday.  We are then able to buy the larger bottles in multipacks from a local supermarket and refill the bottles each day. 

Eat your mail meal at lunchtime

If we fancy eating out at a restaurant we do so at lunchtime.  Most restaurants offer a lunch menu.  In Spain, it is a Menu Del Dia (see photo of the menu below, the main course and desert from this menu - unfortunately, I forgot to take a photo of the starter before I had eaten it!).  These are really good value for money, cost around €10 per person AND usually include a drink too – which is a choice of wine, beer or a soft drink.

An image of a menu del dia menu in a Barcelona restauarant   Main course of a menu del dia in spain   An image of Crema Catalan

Skip the Main Course

In Venice we came across a lovely Italian restaurant.  The portions were very generous, so we ordered a pasta starter – I had the Spaghetti Bolognese – followed by a dessert.  This worked out much cheaper than having the main course.  They even provided free grissini and bread.  There was plenty to eat – I have two permanently hungry teenagers and even they were full.  In fact, it was so good we returned the following night too!


I love picnics and even when I’m abroad we like to picnic.  In fact, it is sometimes easier on holiday as the weather is far more reliable.

We visit the local supermarket and purchase all the lovely meats, cheeses, breads, fruits and take this with us.  We have eaten on the beach, in the parks and even in our hotel room.

Make your own Breakfast Buffet

If we can afford it, we like to try and pay for bed and breakfast in hotels.  Sometimes we just can’t justify the cost, so again, we buy our breakfast from the local supermarket.  We buy UHT milk, cereal, croissants, pain au chocolate – anything we fancy which will fill us up ready for the day’s action.

Use the local food markets

There are some amazing food markets.  We love the fruit market in Barcelona, near Las Ramblas.  You can get amazing fruit pots and fruit smoothies.  For some reason, my boys devour the fruit abroad but at home, they just don’t really want it.  Actually, I know the reason why – it just seems to taste so much better.

Check out the takeaways

If you don’t want to pay restaurant prices, but you still want to go out to eat, don’t turn your nose up at the local takeaways.  In Rome we came across a Lasagne takeaway (see pic below of the lasagne I had).  Think McDonalds but with different lasagnes rather than burgers.  It was amazing – someone should bring this to the UK.  I am sure it would be a hit.

An image of a lasagne which was purchased from a takeaway lasagne shop in rome, Italy

Combine an experience with food

Sometimes you can combine food with an experience.  For example, whilst in Rotterdam we took a lunchtime trip on the Pancake Boat.  All you can eat pancakes (both sweet and savoury) whilst the boat sailed down the river and back.

How do you save money on food when travelling?

Share your hints and tips on how you save money on food and drink whilst travelling in the comments below.

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