You’ve done the months of saving — scrounging every penny, scabbing your flatties leftovers, selling your body on the streets — and now you’ve made it. You’re overseas, with a healthy bank balance and a desire to cut loose and live like a royal after all you’ve been through to get here. But will it last? The following is an all too true look at the stages of spending you’ll go through while you travel.
You know that your money ain’t gonna last forever but in the beginning, there’s too much excitement to believe it. Surrounded by new cultures, people and culinary adventures, you want to experience it all, and rightly so. No home cooking for you, it’s time to eat out at a different restaurant every night. The money spent each day seems like a tiny a blip in your bank account so you might as well ignore it and get down to the business of expanding your cultural knowledge, and your stomach.
After a few weeks of carrying on like this, you finally bite the bullet and check your bank balance. “What the fuck!?! I can’t have spent this much, this money still has to last me another two months!!” Blaming the idiots you met when you first arrived for picking stupidly expensive restaurants, you turn to your new comrades at the hostel you just arrived at. Suggesting you go somewhere cheap, the gang heads out to a local spot someone’s been to before but when you arrive, €15 mains! “What is this bullshit! Well everyone else is happy to pay for it so I’m not gonna miss out!” The FOMO is real and a little thing like money isn’t going to stop you from enjoying the trip of a lifetime!
This is where shit is getting serious, you’re edging closer and closer to your overdraft and the six weeks left on your trip are looming over you like an impeachment over Trump. You’ve started to adapt to having no money, learning to cook a few cheap meals but its not going well. “Well I only ate rice yesterday so yea sure, I’ll come along to the ćevapi restaurant, I’ve earned it!” Of course alcohol is a big component in this too, not even including the price of your drinks. Any traveler who can walk past a kebab stand on the way home from the clubs without buying anything has more restraint than the court order my ex has against me. We’re all human, everyone needs that mysterious meat drowned in sauce to sober us up.
Sitting alone in a barren hostel, eating corn flakes leftover from breakfast with a fork, you contemplate where it all went so wrong. “If only I hadn’t been such an idiot at the start… If I could start over again I could do it so much better. Younger me was such an idiot.” Everything feels desperate. There wasn’t even any milk for your cornflakes so they’re dry apart from your tears falling steadily into the bowl. Going over and over past decisions, you reign yourself to a destitute fate, homeless on the streets of Bosnia, forever hungry.
Tapping into the overdraft, getting a new credit card, borrowing some money from the bank of Mum and Dad, selling your camera — there’s pretty much always someway to get that invaluable bank boost to see you through to the end of your trip. Although it’s just a fraction of what you started out with, it feels like a fortune as you now know how to use it. You’ve learned to cook some basic meals and know how to find the markets where the locals buy their food. You’re now getting the best of both worlds, living cheap but still experiencing the exotic fares and blending into the new cultures. Being a traveler as well seasoned as your stir fry, you can look down at the noob tourists sitting in the restaurants with a sense of smug satisfaction, safe in the knowledge that you have now mastered the budget traveler diet.
While this whole process may seem like a headache that could be easily avoided by proper budgeting and planning, it is an integral part of the traveler adventure. The highs are high and the lows are low, providing valuable learning experiences that will send you home a better and more rounded human – which is kind of the point of traveling! However if you do need a brief siesta from dietary decisions, Stoke’s got you covered at the festivals with an on site chef saving you time and money.
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