Greetings everyone and welcome back to Broke Today, Rich Tomorrow for a brand new post! I know, I know, it’s been a minute. I have been gone for way longer than expected, but I am glad to say I’m ready to jump back into it.
If you’ve been following my Instagram, you would know that my partner and I have recently gone on a two week trip to Japan. It was amazing! We had delicious food, explored amazing sights and even met a few quirky people. We also got lost plenty of times, but it was an adventure nonetheless! If you have an upcoming trip in mind, I defiantly recommend giving Japan a go. It is one of the best countries in Asia.
In saying that, this trip has taught me quite a few new things about money, which of course I wanted to share with you. However, as with any honest post, I thought I’d start with a bit of a background story first.
At the beginning of this year, we actually wanted to go on this trip in April. April is the best month to see Japan as the weather is great, it is off-season so things are so much cheaper and it is also cherry blossom time.
Being the responsible accounting student, I crunched the numbers and figured out that there was practically no way on Earth we could’ve saved enough money to afford the trip by April. Upon that realization, I did what any responsible adult would do: curled up in a little ball and cried.
Now, in hindsight, this does seem a little bit like an overreaction, but the thing you must understand is how much the trip meant to us. We had a very rough year last year, financially, emotionally, physically – you name it. The year 2016 was filled with exhaustion, tears, living paycheque to paycheque and fearing the unknown.
By the beginning of 2017, things were starting to improve however. We both stable jobs that paid the bills and allowed us to save a little on the side and the past struggles had made us stronger as a couple. I had hoped that a trip away would allow us a bit of breathing room and give us something to erase the last year of hell we’d been through. For me, being able to afford to go traveling symbolized that the struggle was finally over.
Of course, that didn’t happen and I was very sad. I could tell my partner was too. After two weeks of pondering, I decided to put my foot down and concluded that we were going anyway, because God did we need it. The only thing is that we had to wait… just another 6 months!
I remember how excited (and honestly, a little scared) I felt when we bought our plane tickets. Sure, we were going at the end of November and I hoped to God that we would’ve saved up enough money by then, but we were going! Yes, the struggle would continue on for a little longer, but for the first time I finally felt like we were getting a hang of things financially.
Note: I ended up parting ways with my old job back in March due to illness, so thank God we didn’t end up going in April!
Now, that’s enough about me.
Without further ado, here are the most important things traveling has taught me about money:
- You really don’t need to buy that much stuff for your trip
I like to plan for everything, which automatically translates in I like to over pack. A lot. Turns out, you only need about 5 good t-shirts and 2 pairs of jeans for traveling. You really don’t need to be spending on any of that fancy traveling gear. If you desperately need something when you get to your destination, just buy it there!
- Traveling really isn’t as expensive as other people think
In saying that, I do acknowledge that traveling is indeed a luxury and that I am very privileged to be able to indulge in it. Depending on your traveling style, going overseas does not have to be expensive. Whenever we got somewhere pricey, like Tokyo or Paris, we book budget accommodation, catch public transport everywhere and have dinner from the local supermarket. It doesn’t have to cost an arm and a leg if you plan accordingly.
- It is very hard to save for a trip
Why? Because let’s be real, everyday life is boring. Routine is boring, which makes it much easier for us to want to spend instead of save. I am just as guilty of this as anyone. I’d much rather get a coffee on the way than make one at home, I would much rather watch a movie at the cinema than on the couch and yes, I would much rather get takeaway! Who has time for dishes?
However, in the grand scheme of things, it is important that you remember what you are saving for: an amazing trip! So yes, buy your Starbucks and enjoy every last sip, but don’t forget to top up that travel fund too!
- It is cheaper to travel in two
And safer. Plus you have someone who can share your tears when you catch the wrong train for the 4th time in a row (true story: Osaka is terrible for trying to figure out navigation!). But in all seriousness, booking decent hotel rooms and sharing meals is much cheaper if you go in pairs. If you can, get a travel buddy. If not, why not go on a travel tour? It will save you some serious dollars!
- The little things do add up
It is really easy to spend on mindless things, like a snack here and a little souvenir there. Often we forget that just because something is cheap, it doesn’t mean we can afford to buy dozens. Sometimes it is better to opt for the expensive option that will last longer, such as buying a full course meal instead of doing 3 trips to the supermarket.
- Have a contingency plan
Always buy travel insurance. Let me repeat: always buy travel insurance!
We had a pretty big scare on our last trip. My partner had severe food poisoning while we were there. He was throwing up left and right and then ended up with a very high fever. Now, we are incredibly lucky that both our moms are doctors and that they knew what to do, but boy did we almost end up going to the hospital. In that moment, I was so glad we were covered by our travel insurance.
In our case, nothing too severe happened and we were able to pull through with some over-the-counter medicine. However, things could’ve been much worse. When it comes to your health and safety, don’t gamble. Get yourself travel insurance before you go, as you never know what could happen.
If I had to pick the most important thing traveling has taught me about money so far, it would definitely be that traveling is not as expensive as other people think it is. But again, when it comes to money, you never really stop learning.
What is one thing traveling has taught you about money?
Let me know in the comments below!
Being broke is temporary. Being rich is a journey.