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10 tips to eat healthy while traveling on a budget

People often assume that if you want to eat cheap while traveling you are limited to convenient and unhealthy food options. But you really shouldn't have to sacrifice taste for the price. In fact, it's quite possible for you to eat healthily and save money at the same time.


Feb 06, 2023



Traveling definitely takes us out of our normal routine, so keeping healthy habits such as eating and exercising can become tricky. I have personally found some good ways to try and create a healthy routine while on the road which I think could be helpful to others. In a way that isn't restricting you from having fun and enjoying your time abroad. If you are traveling on a budget, don't worry: it's possible to eat healtly without needing to overspend your money. 

Check out my tips for eating healthy while traveling on a budget on the list below:

Best tips for eating healthy while traveling 

1. Stay in accommodations with an equipped kitchen

This is probably the most important tip. Not only can you take some time to make your own meals by being mindful of what ingredients you use but you can also experiment with local fruits and vegetables. 

Best types of housing for this purpose are hostels, private properties, farms and even NGOs. Did you know you can trade a little time of work for a free bed and kitchen? It's called work exchange and it's a kind of collaborative tourism that works really well for long stays.

If you don't want to do volunteer work in exchange for housing, you can also book hostels or properties through Airbnb or similar websites for renting rooms with a  kitchen. 

I personally recommend collective spaces to save money and experience a cultural exchange, especially during meal time. 

2. Local Markets

One of my favorite things no matter where I find myself is sourcing the local markets and getting fresh, healthy, and cheap produce. This is also the best way to experience the local culture through the buzz of the market. 

If for some reason there aren’t any markets or it is closed (more common) then the local grocery store is your next best option. Although it won’t be as cheap or as fresh it will for sure still be more budget-friendly than living from restaurant to restaurant.

3. Pack snacks

Nuts, fruit, dried fruit, dark chocolate, hummus, rice cakes. These are all great healthy snack options that you can buy in a grocery store/market and can carry with you on your adventures. 

You’ll thank yourself by having these on hand when the hangry-ness strikes. This also means you are less likely to grab something not so healthy on the side of the road out of convenience.

4. Re-usable water bottle

Buying an eco-friendly water bottle (as well as a coffee cup) will be friendlier to your wallet, as you don’t have to constantly buy water, and also to the environment because you will be throwing fewer plastic bottles on the trash. 

Traveling can be a lot on our bodies and staying hydrated is key especially when you are walking a lot or find yourself in hotter, humid climates. This is also helpful if you are drinking alcohol frequently — which again is part of a local experience. Beer in Belgium or a glass of wine in Italy is a whole different experience than having it back home so give yourself liberty.

5. Don’t get too restrictive

So although I always encourage a healthy lifestyle being non-restrictive also forms part of this. A big part of traveling is experiencing the local food and let’s be honest this is often not the healthiest. 

So eat the croissant in France, the Pastel de Nata in Portugal, or drink the Bambus in Croatia - because honestly when are you ever going to experience it again straight from the source? It is all about balance — everything in moderation as they say.

Let go of labeling something good or bad because feeling guilty over eating something is probably more detrimental to your health than the actual food is.

6. Local street food over fast food franchises

If you are going to get fast food, at least go local! Let’s be honest: eating hummus and carrots every day isn’t always going to be the reality so if you are getting fast food, stay clear of Mcdonald’s or Burger King. Get a fresh slice of street pizza if you are in Italy or an amazing Gyros in Greece. Street food over franchises because it will both be cheaper and way more delicious.

7. Park picnics

So although I personally LOVE eating out at a local restaurant it definitely isn’t sustainable for a budget traveler. If the weather is good, taking your own food/drinks to the park is a great alternative. Not only will you save money and probably eat healthier but you will also get some Vitamin D from the sun which is important to build your immune system!

Check out this article: Connecting nature and travel

8. Protein!

Whether choosing a snack or meal try and go for something that has a higher protein content — this along with fiber through vegetables and fruits, keeps you satiable for longer and also prevents sugary cravings. If you are plant-based this is especially important as being deficient in protein can also lead to fatigue and a lower immune system, which is the last thing you want while on the road.

Keep your plate colorful which veggies, protein, and complex carbohydrates.

9. Tupperware to take meals you’ve made with you

This is a tip I wish someone told me while traveling. Wasting food is less than ideal for the budget and for the planet so buying Tupperware is an investment really. Also, it means you can stock up and take all the local delights with you!

10. Meal Deals - UK

An extra tip for when you are traveling in the UK. Most grocery stores have something called Meal Deals. This is a great convenient option for lunch or dinner as you can get 1 drink, 1 main meal, and 1 snack of your choice for only 3 pounds (TESCO & Sainsbury) and 4 pounds (Co-Op). There are usually all sorts of options, from smoothies, and salads to plant-based.

Did you like these ideas? For eat healthy while traveling, subscribe to the Worldpackers Community and start saving your favorite volunteer positions!

Check out this position in Germany to prepare plant based meals and spread a healthy lifestyle!

If you want to know more about Worldpackers, you can read: What is a work exchange and how does it work? and Trveling with Worldpackers: your top questions answered.

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