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Six Tips For Eating Well When Backpacking

Travel blogger with rucksack

Travelling for a long period of time is exhausting. Lugging a rucksack from place to place, on every mode of transport you can imagine and then eventually hitching up at a hostel where there's zero food to chow down on. It's so easy to end up snacking on convenience food and getting takeaways, but really, if you're on a multi-month, multi-country trip, that is NOT the way to be saving money. Eating well on the road is easy, cheap and healthy with just a bit of preparation. Here's how I managed it on my trip from Malaysia to New Zealand:

1) Think about storage

Travelling rucksack, cool bag and satchel

Everywhere you stay will have a fridge for you to store your food, but there is nothing more frustrating than buying food one day then realising you have a six hour bus journey where your lovely leftovers will wilt and go off in the sun. When I loaded my stuff onto the bus every day in New Zealand, I had my rucksack, day bag and a cool bag*. Surprising? Not when you see a load of other people with them too, loaded up with some sandwich bags and an ice pack - my food was always safely transported and never wasted!

2) Keep some store cupboard basics with you

Ginger puree, garlic puree, olive oil spray, salt and pepper

The five things I always had in my mini larder were oil, salt, pepper, and ginger and garlic pastes. I could always get some chicken and vegetables and make sure they actually had some flavour, which stopped me from just buying pizza or other convenience meals that had more taste. I'm not eating bland food, no matter how much of a budget I'm on.

3) Invest in a decent water bottle

Swell water bottle

You wouldn't believe the amount of money you can waste on constantly buying water on the road. Or even worse, ending up travelling for hours on end with no water at all. I bloody love a S'well bottle* for transporting coffee in the mornings and cold water throughout the day. Fill it up whenever you have the opportunity because you don't know when you might be able to again!

4) Cook together

Hostels are such a great way of meeting people when travelling solo, and you can keep costs down by sharing meals. Split the cost at the supermarket and make a big, delicious meal to share, with little to no wastage AND you get help with the washing up.

5) Make a shopping list

Shopping list and Nature Valley bars

When you get to a supermarket you don't want to be doing a 'big shop', but if you're hungry and it's the first time you've seen somewhere other than a 7/11 in two weeks, you might go a bit wild in the aisles. So think properly about what you need, what will transport well, and what will last. Nature Valley Honey & Oat bars were my favourite mid-afternoon snack on the go, and because they're individually wrapped, they last for ages. Don't bulk buy fruit though! It goes off so quickly, so pick it up as you go, or buy it in the evenings to load up on for breakfast before you head out.

6) Prep lunch in your hostel

Every morning, before leaving the hostel, I prepped sandwiches for the upcoming journey and put them in sandwich bags in my cool bag. I've managed to put a cheese, ham and crisp sandwich together on a moving bus before, using my driving license as a knife for spreading butter. It wasn't ideal.

Food when you're on the go is a necessity but often ends up being a massive inconvenience. Like most aspects of long-term travel, preparation is key to being fluster-free and keeping h-anger at bay!

What I'm wearing

Travel blogger with rucksack
Vest top - Weekday (old) / Denim cut offs - Beyond Retro / Satchel - vintage / Reebok trainers - Urban Outfitters* / cool bag - Amara* / S'well bottle (seen earlier) - Amara*
Some items were gifted to me but all words and opinions are my own


  1. Such awesome tips eating on the road can get super expensive if you're not organised

  2. Oh my gosh, the driving licence sandwich story had me howling!

  3. Fantastic tips :) From my hiking and travel adventures I'd suggest investing in the plastic fork/spoon/knife (it's not really a knife - an edge for spreading - so no driving licences harmed in future!) You can get it at most hiking shops :)

  4. That's a great shout! Much better than a driving license!

  5. Make do and mend, right?!

  6. Or you just eat the same food solidly for weeks. Yuck.

  7. We did that the first time we were in Australia due to lack of cash; for ten weeks of toast, cheese and tomato sandwiches and pasta/rice with tomato sauce and vegetables. It was utterly miserable and was one of the reasons that we wanted to go back and do it 'properly' where we could actually eat something different and not worry about the cost of treats (it became a running joke the first time we were there that Nick would constantly promise me ice cream tomorrow)!


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As of 20th November 2014, any products marked with an asterisk (*) have been provided as a sample for unbiased review