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Traveling for Work? Here’s How to Eat on a Budget (But Still Have Great Food!)

When traveling for business, you likely have a per diem, or dollar amount you are allowed to spend on food each day and expense back to your company. You’re responsible for anything you spend over that amount so it’s always ideal to stay within it. Use these tips for eating on a budget:

Eat before you depart

Airport restaurants can be expensive and can easily eat up (pun intended) most of your per diem. Have a filling meal before you leave so you don’t have to eat at the airport or scramble to find something right when you arrive.

Do your research

When you’re in an unfamiliar location, in between meetings or conference sessions is definitely not the time to be researching places to eat. Convenience is key! Spend some time before you arrive to familiarize yourself with the area and map out quick, affordable places to eat. It will go a long way and you’ll feel less rushed or stressed.

Pack wisely

Consider packing just a few food items with you. We suggest a water bottle (buying bottled waters can get expensive) and some small snacks. Saving a few dollars here and there on these items throughout the day will add up, allowing you to put more towards a great lunch or dinner.

Make the most of hotel or conference amenities

Does your hotel offer free breakfast, coffee or a mid-afternoon snack? Does the conference you’re attending include lunch? Be sure to look into this before you arrive and take advantage of what’s available to you.

Shop when you arrive

If you’re going to be staying somewhere for an extended period of time, consider going shopping at the grocery store or local market. Even if you’re only in town for a few days, picking up quick breakfast items (like protein bars or yogurt) can save you a lot of money. This is an even better option if your hotel room is equipped with a small kitchen or mini refrigerator.

Watch where you eat

Touristy areas can often be more expensive. Find a non-touristy area to avoid that premium. Non-chains can also be fun to try, and sometimes less expensive. If you can find any restaurants by a college or university campus, give them a shot! These local restaurants know that those attending school are likely on a budget and oftentimes, their pricing reflects that. When in doubt, ask the hotel staff for their budget-friendly recommendations.

Consider when you eat your most expensive meal

Maybe you’ve done your research and have found an awesome, more high-end spot that you can’t wait to try in your destination city. Great! Having a “splurge” meal can make business travel much more enjoyable. However, it can be expensive to eat at a nice restaurant at dinner. Oftentimes, you can get the same great food and level of service at lunch. If your schedule allows, opt for a more high-end lunch and a more casual dinner.

How do you eat on a budget when you travel for work? Share with us below!

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