Farmers Markets: Admission is Usually Free
Visiting a farmers market can provide great relief to your travel budget.
Let's face it. We all find travel experiences we want to check off our wish lists. Just as a few economical meals can save the money needed for a budget travel dining splurge, visiting a farmers market will keep you entertained for a while during your stay without requiring huge sums of money.
Admission to most farmers markets is free. It costs nothing to wander the stalls and discover new foods.
Farmers Markets: You Can Assemble a Magnificent Budget Meal
When you travel, food is an important part of the overall experience in each destination. The cuisine of particular city or region will help you understand the culture and the people.
This fact is not lost on most travelers. Food-related excursions represent one of the fastest-growing segments of the travel industry. You can settle in at some trendy, pricey eatery and sample the local fare. But most budget travelers would rather pick out their own meals at an open-air food market.
Be sure to ask a lot of questions as you browse. Enjoy the farm-to-table (or in this case, farm-to-picnic basket) opportunities. Don't be afraid to ask for free samples as you assemble the meal. You'll find most exhibitors are more than ready to show off their products.
Farmers Markets: You Will Learn About the Region's Cuisine
At the Chattanooga Market (pictured here), you'll encounter certified organic fruits and vegetables during your browsing. The time of year will dictate exactly what's available. During my visit, local Easter Egg Radishes were available for $3 a bunch. A favorite in many southern dishes, it shouldn't come as a surprise that a market in Chattanooga would offer such a delicacy for public purchase.
Wander the stalls in Chattanooga and you'll find juicy peaches from neighboring Georgia, and vendors who sell fresh baked goods and jellies. When you visit the stalls in Paris, the delights that French chefs purchase for their gourmet restaurants will be available to you as well.
What a great way to learn about the cuisine of your destination without paying a hefty restaurant bill!
Farmers Markets: You Will Meet Interesting People
Speaking of rubbing elbows with the best chefs, a place to do that regularly would be Jean-Talon Market, in the Little Italy section of Montreal. This huge open-air market is a must-visit for the area's top chefs, who seek the best fresh local ingredients for their creations. Even if you're not meeting the chefs, you'll meet people who know the city and region. Many are friendly and helpful, so they'll patiently answer your questions about the best places to eat, sleep, or find scenic wonder as they slice off a few pieces of frommage blanc for your Montreal picnic.
Farmers Markets: You Will be Presented with Excellent Photographic Opportunities
Confession: not all farmers market stops in my travels were scheduled events. There are times when you'll stumble upon these opportunities.
In Menaggio on the shore of Lake Como in Italy, we encountered a summer market that provided plenty of photo ops. From candy displays to mounds of fresh tomatoes, these places will add color and texture to the collection of shots you bring home. Many of the vendors are also quite colorful -- dressed in local costumes and sporting wide smiles.
But don't count on chance encounters. Make word searches for "farmers market" or "open air market" a standard part of your trip planning. You'll frequently benefit far beyond whatever delicious foods you consume.