Budgeting Meals for Trips

I am about to embark on a vacation after my final examination of my undergraduate career. I’m extremely excited, and while I want to enjoy myself, the reality is that money is tight (due to the unemployed student factor). So therefore strict budgeting must be enforced in order to strike a balance.

Cloud Gate, Chicago
Cloud Gate, Chicago

We are definitely planning to eat out for most (if not all) our meals, and it can quickly add up. As budgeting for a trip depends on a variety of factors, I will focus on general tips I use myself. 

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The Peak, Hong Kong

1) How much are you willing to spend per meal? For me, three meals a day and snacks to supplement throughout the day are a must. However, not all these meals have to be equal. While it is definitely important to try the local cuisine, I’d say a meal or two a day can be a cheap pick-up as to save both time and money.

2) Look up menus beforehand. As many restaurants have online menus, you can estimate the amount you’ll spend at places you know you want to pay a visit. You can also use these menus to forecast how much money you’ll be spending in that city in order to have a more realistic budget.

3) Pack a water bottle and snacks. That $1 (or $3+) bottle of water may seem like a good choice when you’re thirsty, but buying a bottle every day adds up. Get a reusable bottle and some hardy snacks that can be packed in your day bag to help you fuel up between meals. This will also help eliminate the urge to order a ton of food at your next meal.

4) Sharing meals. This may not work for everyone, but for my friends and I, variety and quality is more important than quantity. So when we travel, we can share a meal and eat enough to be satiated, which will also prevent us from getting sluggish after a full meal. As we are often tempted by snacks and street food as we are walking to the next destination, this allows us to make room for those impromptu meals.

Remember: overestimating is better than underestimating, especially in areas that primarily accept cash. Have a great trip!

Horseshoe Falls, Niagara Falls
Horseshoe Falls, Niagara Falls
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