What will be the cost of food on my trip? This is perhaps the most asked question in the blog comment boxes in these 16 years.
The only 100% sure answer is: we spend what we can. (And the lucky ones who have money left over – or those naturally controlled people – spend what want.)
There is no single standard
Each traveler has his own budget. The notion of what is ‘cheap’ or ‘expensive’ is personal and non-transferable: it varies from pocket to pocket.
You gastronomic habits they also have a great influence on spending on travel food. Each person has a different pattern of consumption, either in the choice of location (tidy restaurant, simple restaurant, snack bar), or in the choice of what to eat and drink. In the same restaurant, someone who orders a pasta dish and a soft drink can pay a third of those who order a high fillet and good wine.
This personal pattern also changes with the exchange. The same person can make a point of eating big shrimp every day in Maceió, but be content with pizza and sandwich during a whole tour around Europe.
The fact is that everyone adapts. Whoever commits an extravagance in one day (both intentional and unexpected), spends the next two or three days saving to balance the budget. Normal. Everyone goes through this.
A practical example
Gnocchetti with sauce, 13 euros
Let’s go to a case study.
The photos in this post are from a dinner in Polignano al Mare, in Puglia, considered a cheap region in Italy (compared to Milan or Venice, for example).
Pizza ‘del folle’, 8 euros
The restaurant, however, is in a prime location, the main square in the old city (and was chosen because of that). Prices were a tico higher than the city average (we knew that, because restaurants have menus with exposed prices). Could you find a more affordable place? Of course! But the intention was to have dinner overlooking the square.
Bill, 51 euros
We ordered two dishes: an individual but large pizza (8 euros) and a gnocchetti with sauce (13 euros). In exchange for the day I write this post (1 euro = R $ 6.50), the pizza came out R $ 52, and the gnocchi, R $ 85. We took a bottle of Puglia chardonnay wine, to try it (22 euros, or R $ 143) and sparkling water (2 euros, or R $ 13). The restaurant charged the ‘coperto’ (cover charge) for two people (6 euros, R $ 39). Total, with service, 51 euros (R $ 331).
(The dessert was two cones in a gelateria, at 2.50 euros each, or R $ 32 each.)
Expensive or cheap? It will depend on your budget and your gastronomic habits. In the same box of comments, reactions will appear ranging from “you are crazy, I never spent 330 reais on a dinner!” even “ha, in São Paulo it is more expensive!”.
It is more useful to understand how you could reduce the bill (and how it could be even higher).
It’s cheap! See how we escaped paying more
If, instead of a pizza and gnocchi, we had ordered a meat dish (around 15 euros) and gnocchi, the bill would increase by 7 euros and go to 58 euros (R $ 377).
If, in addition, we had asked for a ticket to share, like a raw ham with melon (8 euros), the bill would go to 66 euros (R $ 429).
If we still shared a tiramisu (5 euros), it would reach 71 euros (R $ 461).
And if, in place of that 20 euros intermediate wine, we had ordered a superior wine, in the range of 40 euros, the bill would jump to 91 euros (R $ 591).
Finally, if we had ordered a high fillet or fresh fish (instead of the 15 euro steak), the game would cost 15 or 20 euros more. We could reach 110 euros (R $ 715). More than double!
In other words: 51 euros (R $ 330) was an affordable dinner!
It’s expensive! See how we could have saved
If the chosen wine was the house wine (10 euros), the 51 euros bill would drop to 39 euros (R $ 253).
If we had just shared the pizza (the waiter would have looked ugly, but could not refuse to serve), the bill would have dropped to 26 euros, with water and cover charge (R $ 169).
(It would not be possible to divide the pasta. In restaurants in Italy the pasta is ‘primo piatto’, the portion is small. You can divide it when you also order a ‘secondo’, of meat, and then everyone at the table eats pasta and meat By the way, it’s a great strategy in Italy.)
If we didn’t ask for water, the bill would drop to 24 euros (R $ 156). Less than half!
If we had ordered to go (from sporto), we would pay only 8 euros for the pizza and drink wine or beer bought in supermarkets (4 to 6 euros). Total, 14 euros (R $ 91).
Those same 14 euros would be enough for two pasta dishes, maybe even with two glasses of house wine, in a simple restaurant outside the tourist area that does not charge ‘coperto’.
In other words: 51 euros (R $ 330) was an expensive dinner!
Conclusion: everyone adapts!
Did you understand why there is no exact answer to the question of how much your travel expenses will be?
Because we end up spending what we can. (Anyone who spends “what can and cannot be” on food is because they can at least afford to go into debt.)
That’s why it’s best to learn how to save on food, to make your budget pay off whenever necessary.
For this we have a specific post: 8 tips to save on food on the go. Take a peek!