If any of you kept up with the blog that I wrote from DC last semester, then you know that I am more frugal than Scrooge McDuck. (name that children's television show) Accordingly, when the prospect of traveling through Europe was brought to my attention I had mixed emotions that caused a bit of an existential crisis...yes it was that intense.
My internal dialogue:
Fun me: What a great opportunity! How fun!
Cheap me: Ya...That's gonna cost money...so no.
Fun me: You have been working and saving to do something like this for years! It's what life is about!
Cheap me: Pssssht. Life is about pinching pennies and eating Great Value yogurt (name that Walmart generic brand).
Eventually, my battling alter egos reached a conclusion. I would travel, o yes I would travel, but it would be the cheapest travels taken since ancient humans crossed the land bridge. ( I'm not sure if that was cheap, or how you would even qualify that in this context, but in my mind it was the cheapest trip ever)
I have now completed one such trip and I would like to share some cheap travel tips!
1) This is perhaps the most important tip. NEVER speak the words "this is a once in a lifetime trip"!!!! Believing that you will only go to Paris (for example) once will cause you to panic, desperately want to see and eat everything (because you'll never be back). Undoubtably, in your french panic, you will spend an ungodly amount of money. Instead, have faith in your future salary earning self and think, "You know what? I will be back, so I don't need to spend all of my money eating gold gilded crepes or bungee jumping off of the Eiffel Tower today, I can always save that for Paris round two."
2) Remember, nicknacks are overrated! In fifteen years you probably wont even remember the shot glass or magnet that you bought for 7 euros. Instead, you'll look back at the free pictures, so save yourself the money. One great tip that I learned from an uncle is to hit up a grocery store and pick up a package of cookies (or whatever) that are the local favorite. They are always cheap, and you can share them with friends and family when you return to the states!
3) Travel to places where the exchange rate is in you favor! I recently went to Budapest, Hungary where 237 Hungarian Forints is equal to 1 American dollar... I could feed myself dinner on 80 cents American... That's my kind of country!
4) Don't fear the street food! Street food is sooooo cheap! Plus, the locals like street food so it's usually authentic and always delicious. Plus you get to eat it outside! Plus it's sooooo cheap! Did I say that already???
5) This is also important... Avoid traveling with full grown men who require 5 large meals a day, their insatiable hunger will undoubtably wreck your budget. Yes I'm talking about you Bush Benjamin (name that boyfriend).