How to eat like a backpacker

Published September 5th, 2012

From pastries in Paris to pizza in Rome and Peking duck in Singapore, a big part of the travelling experience is the food - no matter what you budget. You may be travelling on a backpacker’s budget but that doesn’t mean you’re destined to dine on McDonalds every night. You just have to be clever, sniff out the bargains and never turn down a buffet!


Here are a few useful tips we’ve picked up along the way for budget eating around the world.


Street Food in Beijing

Street Food in Beijing

Learn to love street food

When you’re a backpacker, street food is your best bet. Sure, on some nights you may crave a burrito when travelling through Thailand, but if you’re on a tight budget, the best and cheapest food you will find in a city will be the local cuisine sold on the street. Asia in particular is where street food really shines, with freshly cooked and authentic cuisine sold at shamefully low prices. But don’t be lured into a false sense of street food security, not all of it is good. Be wary of stalls with poor hygiene and follow the locals to find the best quality cuisine.


Go for a picnic

Why enjoy a baguette at a café in Paris when you can eat it in the park for half the price? Yes, as a backpacker you must tap into the power of the picnic, particularly at lunch time. When possible, join the local city lunch rush to nab a good daily special and opt for the thrifty takeaway option. Beats sitting inside a fast food joint any day.


Avoid the snacks

At home it’s all about satisfying the 3pm munchies but when backpacking, you can’t afford to snack. That croissant, sushi roll, coke and chocolate bar all add up and combined over a couple of days will no doubt put a dent in your budget. By all means treat yourself occasionally but try not to eat ALL OF THE PASTRIES in Paris. Big filling meals are much more cost effective.


Opt for the buffet

When backpacking, don’t ever turn down a buffet. The all-you-can-eat smorgasbord will not only fill you right up to the brim, but will be the best bang for your buck. Sure the quantity may compromise the quality, but for your budget’s sake it’s the best way to go.  Just think of it as, when in doubt - what would Homer Simpson do?




Lauren Burvill

Australian born but London based, I'm a sucker for big cities and small tropical islands. When travelling, I like eating like a local, dressing like a local, but staying in 5 star style. Have a travel story to share? Tweet me @laurenburvill.