Buying Food at the Market and Other Daily Savings Tips for Travelers

travel packing tips
You’ve got to eat while traveling and most tourists will tell you that the best part of the whole trip is experiencing the food while in foreign places. If you are a fussy eater or have special dietary needs, you can still be accommodated while traveling, just plan ahead.

What better way to immerse yourself in the local culture than by visiting the local markets. Not only will you get to see and try the local cuisine, but you’ll probably save a lot of money. Eating in restaurants, especially those geared towards the tourist trade, can get very expensive. Try buying your food fresh from the markets and preparing it yourself. Or buy already prepared food from the market vendor.

In Bangkok you can visit the floating markets and buy anything from fresh fruit and vegetables, to ready prepared noodle soup. In Jerusalem the outdoor market or ‘shuk’ not only sells fruits and vegetables, but meat, poultry, fish, bread, nuts, cheese, spices and so on. As in most markets, you have to bargain at a shuk to get a good deal as prices vary markedly. African markets sell souvenirs as well as food.

Bargaining is welcomed at most markets, especially for keepsakes. Knowing how to bargain will save any traveler money. Here are a few points to follow when attempting to bargain for an item:

  1. Always be polite and enjoy the experience
  2. Ask for the price and then halve it. Start your bargaining at that number.
  3. If the price is too high, walk away. You’ll be surprised how quickly the price comes down when you are disinterested!
  4. Work out how much you are paying for in your own currency. Don’t haggle over a couple of cents. Remember this is how the market vendors make a living.
  5. Don’t pay more than your think the item is worth.
  6. You can also barter in some places. Brand name items (jeans, hats, shoes) are sought after items in some countries so barter with what you can afford to part with.

Other tips for saving money on a daily basis include:

  1. Avoid tourist-type restaurants. Find out where the locals eat and you’ll usually find authentic (better) cuisine at a lower price.
  2. Take note of what the farmers in the area eat. It’ll be cheap and healthy.
  3. Always pack snacks and fruit when going on a day trip. You’ll save money when you don’t have to buy from the tourist stops and street vendors along the way.
  4. Pack a picnic and go exploring. Use produce from the local market. You’ll save a bundle and eat well.
  5. Shop where the locals shop, not where the tourists go.
  6. Book into hotels that have breakfast as part of the package.
  7. Avoid airport food as it is usually expensive and not particularly healthy.
  8. Always ask if there are any discount offers available. If you don’t ask you won’t know and you won’t save.
  9. Walk when you can. It’s cheaper and a good healthy alternative, as well as giving you the opportunity to immerse yourself in the culture of the country you are in.
  10. Avoid Laundromats. Wash your own clothes in the bathroom sink if you are able.
  11. Look for free entertainment.