Mo money mo problems? I think not. Each year, I have to learn how to be a little bit more adult: in large part, this means becoming increasingly aware of all things to do with that scary word budget. Traveling is amazing, but tricky. In my experience, no matter how much you plan, it’s always a gamble about how much money you’ll come back with at the end of the trip. Unforeseeable complications, forgotten expenses, and just plain stupid behaviour all add up!
So, let’s forget about all that and talk about what you can control. What’s worth spending money on? Should you splurge for the nicer hotel and eat like peasants, or dine like a king and suck it up about the bedbugs? This will be the first of a two-part blog post. First, here’s a list of three things I recommend you forget about spending all your $$$$$ on.
DO NOT SPEND ALL YOUR MONEY ON…
1. Bottles of sand.
Okay, I don’t literally mean bottles of sand in every case (they mostly just apply to those going South). Figuratively speaking though, all cities have something like it. A good example is those little Eiffel Tower keychains you can buy in Paris; they’re a bottle of sand equivalent. More to the point, bottles of sand are the chintzy little souvenirs that you come back with for your friends. It’s an, “Oops I totally forgot I said I’d bring her back something!” gift, or the “Well, they just went to Cuba and didn’t get me anything…” souvenir, or even the “I have a big crush on him/her but don’t want to overdo it!!!” memorabilia. Here’s the thing: even if you said you’d get your friend something and completely forgot, or want to show someone that you’re thinking about them without going too overboard, the fact remains that everyone hates receiving those little bottles of sand. And it’s definitely not a surefire way to your crush’s heart.
What are they gonna do with it? Just let it sit in a drawer for the obligatory 12 months before throwing it out? How many times have you been over to someone’s house and seen a collection of all the crappy little guilt gifts given to them over the years by their “kind-of sort-of” friends? When it comes down to it, they’re taking up room in your suitcase and using up valuable tip money. Here’s a better idea: send some postcards! Everyone loves receiving mail, I don’t care who you are! It’s personal, special, and there’s no weird pressure that you need to reciprocate in some way. So, there’s my first tip. Stay away from the cheap and unoriginal!
2. The accommodation.
Unless you have a lot of money to blow, you’re on a honeymoon, or you’re one of those anal people that can’t sleep unless they’ve seen the sheets washed and starched with their own eyes, opt for the cheaper hotel (or hostel!). Let’s be realistic: the only thing you’re really doing is sleeping there. I’m not recommending that you stay in a dive; it’s nice to be able to come back somewhere clean after a long day, after all. However, consider foregoing the thousand-thread-count sheets in favour of a nice dinner, or luxurious massage, or more expensive keepsake to remind you of your trip once you’re home. It lasts longer, and the best part of a trip hardly ever involves sleep quality.
UGHHH. The bane of my existence! I don’t like to generalize, but this is a fact: tourist is synonymous with target. It doesn’t matter how well you think your high school French is holding up – the driver knows, you know, everyone knows you’re not from around here.* Your five tequila shots + not knowing the area to begin with = a surefire way to get riiiiipped off. Best case scenario, you get in a screaming match with the driver after clueing in to the expensive city-tour you just took to get back to your hotel. Worst case scenario, you’re out 50 bucks with nothing to show for it.
If you’re in a city that requires you to take a cab, chances are they have a good public transportation system. I know, I know. I hate buses and subways and metros as much as the next person. But seriously – it takes about a five minute glance at a subway map to figure out the basics; after that you’ll be laughing. Even better, you’ll be able to keep your $50 that would have otherwise been donated to that lucky cab driver.
*I’m using French as an example, but this is true of all countries!
See the second instalment of this post here.
Gifs from here.