At home, my Santoku is used most, but there's no way I'm bringing that with me on my travels. In the event I don't find cooking utensils at respective hostels sanitary, I will opt to use a knife and a cork cutting board. But what type of knife should I bring? A serrated knife? my paring knife? Or should I get a utility knife? I plan on cooking entire meals for myself instead of going out to eat (to save money), and I definitely won't be cooking anything fancy.

I do have a multi tool, but I'd rather not let that touch food as it's been used on all sorts of things and there's always the chance i rust my multi tool.

  • 3
    One recommendation for a good "cheap" knife would be any of the options at Ikea. If you live near one, or will be passing one on your travels, you can get a knife that is much superior to anything found at the other big box stores for the same price. ikea.com/us/en/search/?query=knife Aug 19, 2013 at 19:31

6 Answers 6


Don't take anything that costs much:

  • You may have it taken away from you by border controls. In some parts of the world being able to confiscate nice things is a perk of the job. You want to enter (or leave) the country, you part with the knife. It could also be illegal to bring in knives over a certain size
  • Hostels are famous for being rife with theft. Having some nice folding knife just begs for someone to take it
  • Traveling is hard on equipment
  • It doesn't really matter anyway: who cares about the knife, anything will do. Ingredients and technique are what matters

If I were you I'd get a cheap, short cooking knife from some hardware store. Also make sure it looks like a cooking knife, you don't want anything that could be mistaken for a weapon! If you lose it, or it gets stolen, or broken, or you give it to someone who needs it more than you do then you just buy another cheap knife at a market somewhere. If you have an expensive piece of equipment it's just another worry.


I would take an inexpensive paring knife. For traveling I would want something small and lightweight, and cheap enough that I don't care if I manage to lose it or break it. It should be fine for working with small fruits, vegetables and meats.


There are some very good utility knives out there. I think my ones are mostly made by Victorinox, but the brand isn't critical. Each knife costs the equivalent of about $5 US, and lasts in good sharp condition for about 2 years. These are the knives I use all the time, as I'm usually too lazy to bring out (and then clean) my proper "katana" knife.

Basically, any cook worth his salt will be able to drop pretenses and cook in field conditions as easily as at home.


Opinel folding knife:


Cheap, good quality, and it folds so you won't slice yourself while rooting around in your suitcase.


Depends how serious you're trying to be about cooking, and how you're traveling. If you don't want to deal with packing a large, sharp knife, you're pretty much stuck with a paring knife and slightly limited cooking.

But if you want to be able to do anything you like, just find a cheap knife (or knife set) in the size/style you want. For example, I bought this three-piece set (I think, they look right) maybe 8 years ago and I still have them. They're not the sharpest in the world, and I do have to hone them now and then, but I can still cut a ripe tomato with the chef's knife. I know there's a lot of expensive fancy knives out there, but there are also ridiculously cheap ones that'll do all right for you at home, let alone traveling.


In some stores you can find knives advertised as being for picnics. They're generally small-ish (paring knife up to ~5" santoku), with a sheath of some sort (generally friction). They generally sell for less than $15.

They're not that high of quality ... I had one that I used for years but as it wasn't full tang, and it was packed in the bottom of a bag, it got crushed and half the plastic handle snapped off ... of course, I think I spent $8 on it.

They're often made of stainless steel, so they clean up well, but might not hold that great of an edge. The sheaths generally are built so they can be rinsed out or go through a dishwasher (lots of holes on the sides).

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