The following is a guest post from Marissa at Thirty Six Months about saving, learning to invest, and paying off her student loans.
I am a traveler by nature. I crave the thrill of the unknown and am planning to take a 5 month sabbatical to wander through South America to discover things that I haven’t even thought of yet. Travelling, however, is not a cheap hobby. In fact it is most likely my most expensive indulgence. Most people travel and don’t pay attention to the cheap options that are in front of them when they are abroad, and end up spending twice as much as they really need to .
Back in 2010 I wandered around Europe and Asia for a few months and being on a limited budget, I quickly learned that living large wasn’t an option if I wanted to see all the places on my list. One of the best tips that I learned after arriving in each city was to orient myself and locate a grocery store/supermarket. This was always my top priority.
The grocery store cut my food budget in 1/4. There were many benefits to this. Since most hotels/hostels provide fridges I would shop for however many days I was staying in the city. For example eating out for dinner in Greece would be $20 at least. For that same $20 I could get breakfast, snacks and sometimes lunch for a 2-3 days. I would buy:
- Alfredo sauce (very very cheap in Italy)
- Salad greens
- Nutella (Don’t judge)
- Wine (Also very cheap in Italy)
I would do my best to experience the city and try to eat where the locals did. This was great for 2 reasons:
1) The food was a lot cheaper at those restaurants, than the places catering to tourists.
2)I got to experience a more intimate side of each cultural. A side that can only be shared with the locals and adjusting to their standards of living.
I can’t begin to describe the rewards. Not only did this save me money but it also gave me a chance to acquaint myself with the locals and ask them questions about where the hidden gems in their cities are. For example, a restaurant owner is Florence showed me where to find the best view in the city. A view that only locals knew about. It was breathtaking. This was only possible because I sat down in his restaurant and talked to him for a while over lunch. A little courtesy and politeness go a long way in any country.
I can’t speak for anyone else, but the reason why I travel is to get to know the world around me; to experience the different cultures and immerse myself in the traditions. Why people go to Egypt and look for McDonalds is way beyond me, I mean you can go there at home.