Cheap Travel

Eating for Free

If you eat you stay alive. So working out how to feed yourself when you’re traveling on half a shoestring ought to be something of a priority.

What money you do manage to get should be invested in eating well. Don’t short-change yourself when it comes to eating good, healthy food. Not only will a happy stomach keep your spirits up in the most dismal circumstances but it will keep you strong and alert. If you skimp on nutrition then you can end up sick and that makes things a whole load more complicated.

If you’re vegetarian you might find it easier to compromise for a while – especially if you’re invited to eat as hosts in many countries just won’t understand why you would refuse to eat meat.  If this is still a moral no-go zone then at least stock up on nuts to guarantee your system some dense calories.

The cheapest food you can buy will often be at the big supermarkets. Here you can buy whole wheat bread, tins of tuna, cheese and apples. Throw in a cucumber and a tomato and you have all the nutrition you need for a day on the road.

Local markets can often be incredibly cheap too with all the fruit on its last legs. Wait around until when the market closes and you can pick up some good stuff from the floor. But never eat anything that’s burst open, rotted or has insect holes inside it unless you want to get worms and amoebas.

Many big supermarkets have skips around the back where perfectly good food is thrown away. Known in the US as dumpster-diving this can be an excellent way to eat for free.

If you’re bold enough you can always ask at the bakers what they do with yesterday’s bread. They may be happy to let you walk off with some slightly stale loaves.

Along the same lines many restaurants have plenty of food left over in the kitchen and won’t begrudge you a plate. It wouldn’t hurt to offer your services as a dishwasher for an hour though.

If you’re in rural areas then there’s nothing wrong with helping yourself to a few pieces of fruit from an orchard. The farmer may not see it that way but even in the Talmud the rabbis decided to pluck a bit of fruit if hungry on the road.

You can hang around some cafes with a cup of tea and dive on the remains left by other people. This can’t be recommended for obvious health reasons but in extremis…

There are many organizations that dedicate themselves to feeding people. Many major cities will have a branch of the Hare Krishnas. Go along, sing the name of God and you’ll soon have a hot meal. Again, it’s nice to offer to help out if you can. Otherwise, ask those who live on the street where the Christians give out food – ten to one there’ll be a soup line somewhere.

Yonah Adelman