How To Eat Healthy on a Tight Budget While Traveling

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Written by: Lindsay Sibson

Pizza, pasta, cannolis, Italian wines… traveling in Italy is a foodie’s paradise! I have been backpacking throughout Europe over the past year and one of the best (yet most challenging) benefits of travel is all of the different foods to taste.

Prior to my days of traveling and living a nomadic lifestyle, I would do my best to eat healthfully… which included a lot of vegetables, fresh juices, fruit, nuts and lean meats. I was working full-time and had the budget to purchase what I wanted, when I wanted and where I wanted. However, NOW I am in almost the exact opposite situation!

With my days of shopping at Whole Foods and cooking my own meals far behind me, I have mostly been at the whim of what the people who host me eat OR what my small travel budget affords me to purchase. Therefore, I’ve learned to be even MORE creative in regards to eating and living as healthy as I can (with an occasional scoop of gelato on the side).

Here are some tips and tricks I’ve learned and used during my past 13 months of traveling, that YOU can use on your next adventure.

1. Reusable Water Bottle: This is a MUST. I drink as much water as I can! I generally drink tap water wherever I go (given the locals drink it). This cuts down on having to purchase bottled water and is also environmentally friendly.

2. Local Markets: Whenever possible, I head to the local outdoor fruit and vegetable market. I am able to buy local goods at ridiculously cheap prices. BUY LOCAL when you can. Markets are usually very lively and an experience in and of themselves!

3. Food As Fuel: I know I will have plenty of opportunities to eat awesome meals with new friends. Therefore, when I am by myself, I tend to eat the same stuff over and over and over again. It keeps my meals cheap and healthy. For example, I will have a piece of fruit for breakfast with some nuts and then a mixed salad with tons of veggies for lunch. During the day I am usually exploring and walking around cities and I know I can find these ingredients cheaply in the market.

4. Be Prepared: I travel light but always try to have something stashed away in my bag should I become hungry while exploring a new city. Carry a simple and small snack with you to avoid having to stop at a random store or restaurant where prices can be uber expensive. Nuts, oranges and carrots tend to travel well!

5. Eat When Hungry: Sounds super simple, right? HA! A lot easier said than done sometimes. I’ve learned to listen to my gut and only eat when hungry. If I’ve had a larger meal earlier in the day and I’m not hungry hours later… I simply wait to eat more. Same goes for eating breakfast – I’m usually not hungry in the morning. I drink some water (with lemon if I can) and then eat when I become hungry! I eat when I want and when I feel is right for ME – not some schedule dictated by someone else.

6. Look For Deals: I despise the “Tourist Menu” – which usually consists of overpriced meals with low quality food. This can happen in ANY town! Do a quick Google search for deals, coupons, or offers for the healthy places you like to eat – this simple action can save you a TON of money when eating out.

7. Make A Friend: Food portions can be out of control when you explore new eateries. Split a healthy dish with a friend or split the costs at a market – instant savings!

8. Ask A Local: This is a great way to connect with a new city and find out “insider information.” I usually ask someone working in a store or café for their recommendations on a great and cheap place to eat.

9. SAMPLES: You can’t get any cheaper than FREE. Many local markets I’ve been to offer samples of various fruits, vegetables, cheeses, etc… If you are not interested in buying more, just say “THANK YOU – that was great!” and keep moving.

Eating healthy and cheaply while traveling is definitely possible. However, I also feel it is important to experience a new city’s local and authentic cuisine. Therefore… it is all about BALANCE! Pay attention and ENJOY your food when eating it.

Chew deliberately. Taste the different flavors. If you eat a hearty meal for lunch (pasta, pizza), then take a long walk after and eat a light dinner (salad, grilled chicken).

Do you have a tip or trick for eating healthy and cheaply while traveling? I would love to learn from you – comment below! Happy travels!

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Lindsay Sibson

Lindsay Sibson

Lindsay Sibson turned her lifelong dream of traveling the world into a reality when she first stepped on a plan in April of 2014. With the simple intention of learning more about this beautiful world, she stepped away from corporate America to explore an alternative lifestyle of long term international travel, volunteering, blogging and pursuing a blissfully happy and fulfilling way of life.

Lindsay documents her journey in hopes of empowering others to find their passion, reignite their spark and freshen their outlook on life. Connect with her on her website and follow her travels on Instagram (

Through her blog, Lindsay documents her journey in hopes of empowering others to find their passion, reignite their spark and freshen their outlook on life.
Lindsay Sibson

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