Traveling on a budget is a hot topic. Understandably so. At least in the United States, there’s a lingering misconception that travel must cost a ton of money and thus, vacations are reserved only for the rich (or, at least, those who are well off). Totally a lie, right?
We all know travel is possible on less money, and besides, it’s smart to stay within a budget. No one likes a bank account with $0.00 inside it. Yikes. If you search the internet, you can find millions of blog posts on how to save every penny, and a lot of the advice is awesome and worth considering.
Buuut aren’t we all guilty of spending *cough* way more *cough* money than we should, especially on travel experiences? Of course! For example, I blew my budget in Montreal. Big time.
Granted, I’m, uh, not really in a position to spend extra cash. The cost of living in New Jersey isn’t cheap. Actually it’s sky high. I blame my close proximity to New York City, and the fact that I’m on a direct train line into Penn Station, but I digress. Complaining about the Garden State will have to wait for another day.
So why would I ever do such a financially silly thing? Brace yourselves, wayfarers! I’m about to offer some controversial advice, haha. Why did I break the budget in Montreal? What was I willing to splurge on? A five star hotel and fine French dining? Nah.
“Are you serious?” you might be thinking.
Yes, I’m very serious. Ever since I was a little girl, I’ve loved going to hockey games, which is funny seeing how I can’t stand most sports. But hockey steals my heart every single time. Forget baseball. Pucks and ice rule.
Plus my dad and I went to tons of hockey games every year, so the sport reminds me of simpler times, haha.
Furthermore, hockey is fast paced. You need mad skills on ice skates. It’s exciting. Guh, I can’t get enough of hockey! If I was rich (I’m not), I’d have season tickets to the Philadelphia Flyers.
On my food tour, I met another solo female traveler, and she asked me if I wanted to go to the Montreal Canadiens game the next night. (As a side note: it’s really not hard meeting other travelers if you’re worried about it!). I said I’d think about it, because the price? Wasn’t something I had budgeted for. $95 US dollars.
In my hostel room, I quietly mulled over the possibilities. I could relax tomorrow, eat some crepes, take some pictures, tweet some wanderlusty messages to make my friends jealous, and go to bed. Or I could be at a game. In freakin’ Montreal.
Guess what won?
Upon arrival, the stadium’s mad energy consumed me. Locals are serious about their hockey. Talk about way more buzz than I ever experienced at any hockey game in Philadelphia. Music, crowds, cheerleaders, colorful red signs, it was so easy for me to get swept into the enjoyable chaos, and forget about the hefty price tag.
To make it even better, our seats were only a few rows away from the “Blues” located at the very top of the arena. The top rows are wild. And fun.
So, at the end of the day, although my bank account was $95 poorer, I discovered I didn’t regret my purchase one bit.
I actually reflected on the financial dent as we took a cab to a nearby restaurant. What would I have done otherwise? Slept in my hostel? Ate a crepe and fiddled on my Instagram account? Would I have a story worth fondly remembering on those dreary New Jersey March days when I needed a memory to make me smile? Heck, nah!
Now what about you and your trip? Should you break your own travel budget? Honestly, it’s a personal decision, and I’m not advocating pissing through your money (sorry, but there’s no other way to say it).
For me, sucker punching your bank account depends on two different things.
1. You have enough to pay your bills.
I’m not insane. Don’t spend money you need to pay for your rent, bills, groceries, etc. Travel isn’t worth homelessness and a destroyed credit score. Be smart and real. I always pay my credit bills in full, so I honestly don’t advocate making purchases if you have important financial obligation. And for goodness sake, do not go into debt for a travel purchase.
However, if you have enough cash in the bank to cover your necessities, and only need to sacrifice Starbucks for a month to enjoy an incredible night tour of Paris, then go for it! Spend the money! When will you be back again? And aren’t those memories worth way more than your billionth chai latte?
Be reasonable, but don’t be cheap either.
2. The opportunity outweighs the price tag.
At the end of the day, only you can make the call whether or not a tour, meal, or hotel is worth the heavy cost. As travelers, we all have different interests and passions, so I can’t tell you if you should spend your hard earned cash on a product or tour.
For me, hockey has a personal price tag and Montreal is hockey heaven. Ultimately, the game had a much deeper value than the cost of the ticket.
Tell me about a time when you spent waaaaay more money than you intended to. In addition, do you think a strict travel budget is always a good thing? Share your thoughts in the comments.