“Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness, and many of our people need it sorely on these accounts. Broad, wholesome, charitable views of men and things cannot be acquired by vegetating in one little corner of the earth all one’s lifetime.”
– Mark Twain, The Innocents Abroad
How much does it cost to live overseas?
Growing up I was under the impression that traveling abroad cost a small fortune.
James Bond films made it look pricey and the annual high school trip to Europe was $2,000 for a 10 day excursion.
Unless you’re going to Sweden you probably won’t be spending a ton of money in a short amount of time.
When I went to Nicaragua I spent less than $1,200 for an entire month.
In Belize I stayed right on the ocean for $12 a night.
There a lot of places were you can live like a king for less than $2,000 a month.
How to save money
Budgeting while on the road is a topic that gets debated to death.
I’ve read message boards where guys argue that you need to have a Rolex and drive an Audi just to fit in with South American locals.
Other people advocate living in a tent when you travel.
There’s a huge difference between the two camps.
Personally, I would recommend living at, or just slightly below, the comfort level that you are used to at home.
If you don’t own a Rolex, drive an Audi, and live in a mansion back home, don’t think that you must have all these things in another country.
I hate staying in hostels.
They’re noisy, filled with drunk people, and not very private.
However, hotels are often very expensive.
Fortunately sites like Airbnb have all kinds of great options.
You can usually find a reasonably priced apartment or place to stay. Also, owners post all of their rules on the site. This helps you to avoid any confusion and can save you from staying at a place with weird and draconian rules.
Lastly, places on Airbnb come fully furnished. This saves you a lot of money and prevents any cumbersome trips to the furniture store.
When it comes to food you have a lot of options.
There are restaurants that serve full meals for $5 and there are places that charge $500 a plate.
How much you spend is up to you.
Personally, I like eating cheaply most of the time. But there are certain places, like the world famous Astrid & Gastón, that are worth at least one visit.
Use common sense when you’re picking places to eat. There are a lot of inexpensive, and wonderful, restaurants all around the world.
I briefly wrote about this yesterday, but you need to live within your means.
It’s easy to buy 10 million trinkets and do every single activity in town, but that’s going to cost a small fortune.
Like with restaurants, going out can be as expensive as you want to make it.
There are all kinds of exclusive bars with high cover charges.
And most of the locals don’t go to these.
If you’re going to go out, do a little research first. Look online and find out which places are actually popular.
In other countries the most expensive and exclusive places aren’t always the most popular.
Other travel tips
There are plenty of countries where taxis don’t have meters. Negotiate before getting in. This saves you from a super expensive bill.
Also avoid any deal that’s too good to be true. These are always scams and naive tourists constantly fall for them.
If you use common sense and are capable of following a budget, you should do alright when traveling.