Where to find food
Backpackers live on a budget and eating inexpensively is
sometimes difficult. Travelling to a different country where
the food is unrecognizable and the menu is equally
incomprehensible makes life a little more challenging. It was
in my sixth month of travelling when I stopped eating for
taste. Eating became purely a nutritional activity to stay alive.
When first walking the streets of a new city in a foreign
country, you have no idea of where the good places are.
Sometimes you end up walking blocks and blocks, looking for
a suitable place. When looking for a new place to eat, try to
look for the busy restaurants that are populated by locals. If
the locals eat there, it is more likely to be good food for the
price. Eateries populated with tourists tend to be more of the
tourist trap nature and are more expensive. Before eating at a
place, ask for the menu and check the prices yourself.
As always, just be cautious of the quality of the food you are
getting from any restaurant or vendor. You can always refuse
the meal or send it back. Sampling the local food is a great
idea; sampling the local bacteria is not.
The best places to eat are:
Localís homes: Sometime you meet a local and are invited for
a meal. Not only can you get a free authentic home cooked
meal for yourself, you get to share in their culture and
Supermarkets: Buy where the locals buy their food.
Sometimes you are making your best guess on what you are
buying since you canít read the local language. Most hostels
have cooking facilities and cooking for yourself saves you a
lot of money and gives you a social time with other
The larger the supermarket usually means cheaper the food
and larger the selection. It pays to shop around and do a price
comparison. If you stop at the local corner store, you can
expect to pay a little more for what you get. Another challenge
is trying to decipher what you are actually buying. Sometimes
the pictures donít represent what is in the carton.
University cafeteria: They cater to students who donít have t
much money and poor cooking skills. This is a great place to
go for an inexpensive hot meal. Most people think that the
universities are strictly for students. But I have never been
asked to produce a student card at the counter. They happily
take my money and I walk out with the food.
Hostel store: Sometimes the hostel has a small shop dedicated
to servicing those eating on a budget. The prices are
competitive, if not a little more expensive.
Vendors on the street: The street vendors donít have all that
extra expense of having a building where customers get the
luxury of sitting down and being served. This gets us the food
at a lower price. Try to pick a popular stall and, if you can,
watch how they make your meal. It is probably the best way to
do some quality control.
Fast food places: Check out the pizza, kebob, or falafel places
over your traditional western fast food giant chains. These
places are usual the staple diet for a lot of budget travellers. It
is usually clean, fast, tasty, and semi-healthy for you.
Restaurants: You pay more for the service and atmosphere,
but the food is usually better and selection greater. If you are
going to choose a restaurant, the best way to gauge how good
it is, take a look inside. If it if full of locals, itís probably a
good spot to dine.