How Do You Spend Money When Traveling?
The urge to save money is a defining characteristic of the budget traveler. Among travelers there is an endless dialog about cheap destinations, tricks to get a deal, and rumors of sales and specials that will shave a few more dollars off the next trip.
But is there ever a time when it is actually a good idea to spend money? If it will healthfully support the local economy you are visiting, or help accomplish some of the personal goals for your trip, then yes, spending, within reason, is a good thing.
Here are a few items and occasions I look for:
If it's available, a locally or regionally produced beer will certainly be part of the culture. Whether it's a finely crafted micro brew, or on par with the cheapest in my hometown, giving the local beer a chance is a great way to get a taste of a place. As an added bonus, I feel like I am supporting a local industry with every pint.
I am a huge fan of eating on the street. I know it can be hard on the stomach and I know that no one wants to see me stumbling down the sidewalk dripping a sloppy sandwich everywhere. Still, I can't help it. By eating food from sidewalk vendors you are supporting the local economy and promoting a more vibrant street culture. These vendors bring people onto the streets, in the open, and this gives a huge amount of life and character to a place. Street food just happens to be the cheapest way to eat as well. Plus, it's delicious.
Local tour operators
Once in Mexico and friend and I decided we wanted to go snorkeling. Instead of signing up with one of the slick and well advertised tour operators in town, we managed to find a co-operative of fisherman who gave tours in their free time. Spending the day with a local fisherman in his small boat turned what would have been a mundane experience (the snorkeling itself was nothing rave about) into a unique and exciting one.
To find these lesser known operations or individuals, I usually check fliers or ask around town. If I want to arrange something before I arrive, I start with the local tourism bureau or chamber of commerce. Not only is this a great way to have a more personal experience, but it is also a great way to add to part of the economy commonly overlook by tourism.
Craftsman and art collectives
If I am shopping for a souvenir I always look for the shop of a local craftsman. The products at these shops are often a bit more expensive, but offer a true representation of the place I am visiting. Plus, I get to meet some local artists and learn about their work. Often, I find browsing these shops more interesting than a museum visit or tour. Remember to look for things made from sustainable materials.
When I can't do it anywhere else
A great time to spend a little extra is when you find something you cannot do anywhere else. Wise Bread reader Jack asks himself if he could have the same experience at home:
When I can't, it doesn't really matter about how much it costs as it's often a once-in-a-lifetime experience. And if it looks like a memory in the making, well, splurge...
Good advice about spending, and about keeping perspective on your travels in general.
Even with all the money saving techniques in the world, we will still spend money when traveling. The real trick is to concentrate on how your money is spent so that it has the maximum benefit, not only for your budget, but for the communities that you visit.
How do you like to spend your money when traveling?