Might as well go for a Soda - MoneySense

Might as well go for a Soda

Cutting food costs while traveling is easy. Just follow the locals.



So I’m back from two idyllic weeks in sunny Costa Rica, with a little money-saving tip for travelers.

If you’re the all-inclusive type, this won’t really apply to you. But for those of you who actually travel for a vacation, when it comes to eating you can lighten the toll on your hip pouch by doing as the locals do.

For the first seven days of my trip I stayed in a rented house featuring a full kitchen and plenty of culinary talent under one roof. As you can imagine, making our own meals cut down immensely on the food bill. (Except for the final night, when the local chef we hired was mistakenly paid twice. But that’s another story.)

I eventually found myself in the amazing town of Montezuma, and as the accommodations in my price range were bereft of en suite kitchens I was forced afield in search of sustenance. Tucked amongst the pizzerias and cafés were a couple of places known as Sodas, which feature simple Costa Rican food (which is delicious, I might add). Sodas are where the locals hang out. No alcohol is served and the menu consists mainly of meat, rice and beans, and empanadas.

The best part is, a meal at a Soda costs you about 20% less than the touristy places right next door. Plus, you’re far more likely to have a curious Costa Rican strike up a conversation with you as to why you’re not eating across the street with all the hippies.

So the next time you’re traveling, give the local haunts a shot. You’ll save money, absorb a little culture and maybe even make some new friends. How great is that?