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Tips On Eating “almost” Free On The Road

By Expert Author: Steve Robinson

After thoroughly researching cheap fares by checking out cheap travel deals including cheap airplane tickets, discount hotel rooms, cheap auto rentals, discount travel packages, and cheap vacation packages, you might want to figure out how to save a lot of money on food while traveling.

If you know where to look, free gourmet meals, complimentary appetizers, and snacks on the house are all often possible.

The following are suggestions on how to find free and heavily discounted food on the road from Smarter Travel:

• Look for a nonprofit, pay-what-you-want, and ultra-low-cost restaurants by entering one of those adjectives in a search engine along with your destination. They tend to be more prevalent in large cities such as New York or Paris vs. small towns.

The Panera Bread Foundation operates five pay-what-you-want cafes across the U.S. Salt Lake City is home to One World Café which is one of the oldest pay-want-you-want restaurants. JBJ Soul Kitchen is a nonprofit restaurant in Red Bank, New Jersey.

• Use a website called Poorsquare to find food freebies or low cost meals in exchange for checking in on Foursquare. At Poorsquare you enter your location, the type of offers you are looking for and whether you are with friends. It then provides a list of freebies and discounts in your area that are yours after you check in. This service is currently available in 85 U.S. cities, plus London.

• Attend a food festival and enjoy free samples and plenty of cheap food. Such festivals tend to focus on seasonal cuisine, local wines and restaurants. Some festivals charge admission but the entrance price is often minimal and usually can be avoided if you are willing to spend a few hours helping out as a volunteer.

• Check out group deal sites such as Groupon and Living Social where savings of up to 90 percent can be had with limited time coupons. Before departing for your destination sign up for group deal sites where you will be going so you can review what is available.

• “Happy Hours” at restaurants and bars often offer free food with the purchase of what is frequently a discounted drink or two in the afternoon. Philadelphia, Los Angeles, and London are just a few of many cities that offer very cheap specials for happy hour patrons.

• Be open to signing up to participate in a cooking show and enjoy free gourmet food prepared by star chefs. Casting website Onset Productions lists opportunities to participate in food studio audiences in Los Angeles, New York, and other cities. Another approach is to help judge reality show contestants after taste testing their cuisine. Shows such as Food Network’s 24Hour Restaurant Battle in Brooklyn and The Next Food Network Star provides free tastings of cuisine prepared by competing chefs.

• By participating in local events and activities such as cookbook signings, church activities, art gallery openings, film screenings, and open houses, you can often find complimentary appetizers or meals. Websites such as TimeOut and Meetup help browsers find events and activities at their destinations.

• Leverage your free breakfast at your hotel by taking a piece of fruit or muffin to enjoy later in the day. At hotels that have a concierge floor, ask for a free room upgrade to that level where free continental breakfast and afternoon snacks are often offered.

• Join meet-ups and events that include free dinner parties for travelers. Couchsurfing is a travel social networking site that provides listings for such get-togethers where you can eat for free. An added benefit is that it is a great way to meet locals and make friends. NewGusto is a free website that arranges dinners for travelers. Some gatherings are free while others require a modest payment to reimburse your host’s food expenses.

• Food blogs are often a great way to find very cheap restaurants and free foodie tours. Some of the more popular sites are Paris by Mouth, The Skint (New York City), GrubGirl (San Francisco), Good Cheap Eats, and Dine Out Cheap.
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