photo by Giuseppe Milo // cc
Sometimes when I’m traveling through an expensive country I get into the nasty habit of compulsively checking my bank balance.
And then checking the exchange rate.
And then thinking “You know what? I’ll just make some spaghetti for dinner. Again.”
And while it is important to stick to a budget, it’s pretty unlikely that you’ll be in Rome/Amsterdam/Sydney again in the foreseeable future. Here are a few things that you might want to splash out on.
1. A good traditional meal
Currasco in Brazil. Whitebait in New Zealand. A crayfish party in Sweden. Maybe they’re not super cheap (or they’re certainly more expensive than street vendor food) but you won’t find a more delicious version of these once you’re stateside and a real, traditional meal is a memory and experience on to itself.
2. One or two nights of decent lodging
Fact about me: after 15 years and 32 countries worth of travel, I’ve only ever had two cryfest breakdowns. They were both directly related to me being tired, hungry, dirty and then finding myself in cold, dirty, unwelcoming lodgings. That business will break a person, you guys.
If you’re traveling for months at a time, grubby hotels and hostel dorms rooms will begin to make you hate life. At least once a month, splash out on a room someplace clean and pretty. Someplace that provides towels, reliable hot water, and wifi. You will emerge transformed. I promise.
3. A local sim card and pay-as-you-go plan
This doesn’t really count as a ‘splurge’ since a local sim card usually costs less than $5 and pay-as-you-go plans cost about $20. A lot of travelers are too intimidated to buy a local sim card, so they either stop using their phones or pay one million dollars to text internationally. Don’t. In most countries, you can buy sim cards at any corner store and then you can text all your friends back home about how you went to a club under a bridge in Stockholm.
4. One or two experiences you can only have there
You can go shopping and drinking and dancing anywhere. But what about going to an elephant sanctuary? Or swimming with wild dolphins? Or seeing the salt flats of Bolivia? These experiences are usually pretty expensive (because they’re awesome and everyone wants to do them) but they’re also once-in-a-lifetime happenings. Suck it up and pay. You will be so, so glad you did.
5. A unique-to-that-country, locally made souvenir
I occasionally get all bad-attitude-y about souvenirs. “But what does it doooooo? And where am I going to put it?” And then I get home and realize I have one thing (one!) to commemorate six weeks spent in Europe. I’ve found the best souvenirs are the ones you really, truly can’t get anywhere else. Maybe that’s a Brazilan blow dart gun, a cannibal fork from Fiji, or super weird Japanese stationary. Buy something you love and that you can’t find at Pier 1.
How do you splash out when you’re traveling? Do you ever get overly budget-minded and miss out on awesome stuff?