Travel Budget & the Budget Busters

If you know me then you know that I’m a tad bit obsessive when it comes to research and planning. I will spreadsheet something damn near to death. That’s just the way my little brain works. I need information laid out in a clear, concise format that allows me to dissect it in many ways to ensure that I fully understand it, all of it. The other thing I do

is Google, Google then re-Google. I’m old school. Unlike that commercial, I don’t believe that just because something is on the Internet that it must be true. I’m the exact opposite. I need to verify what I find. Because of that, I often end up with way more information than I need. But I just file it away for when I do need it.

When it came time to plan this adventure, I did more Googling and spreadsheeting than you could ever imagine. My favorite subject –BUDGETING! This was important to me for obvious reasons. Despite the fact that everything I read added 10-15% to the budget for “Scams, Robberies and Mishaps,” I ignored it all. I just knew that my “I’m a Girl Scout, always prepared” mentality had made sure that I wouldn’t be susceptible to any of these things. I was dead wrong!

Things that have impacted my budget range from minor to not so minor.

— Inadvertently ordering 7€ (~$9.02) WATER. I sat down at a café and was feeling pretty satisfied with myself for having stuck to my daily budget. I’d even managed to leave a little room to splurge on dinner. Then I get the check and there’s a 7€ charge for water. This is a pretty small budget buster, but do this three or four times a day and watch it add up.

— Buying the wrong train pass. I’ve done this twice. By either buying not enough days or buying more access than you need, you can pretty easily waste 30€ (~$38) over the course of 2 weeks.

— Unexpected weather. I’m a Girl Scout. I’d prepared for everything, right? WRONG. I’d been checking Paris’ weather for about 5 weeks prior to my departure date. The temps had been exactly where they were expected to be for this time of year (high 60s to low 70s). All of a sudden I arrive and so does full-fledged summer! In speaking with a couple of Parisians they said that the summer had been pretty cool and kind of cloudy. That all changed about three weeks ago. It’s been high 70s and low 80s since I arrived. I packed for Fall. I only had three short sleeved shirts and no shorts. So this unanticipated weather sent me off in search of cooler clothing. I managed to keep shopping to a minimum by catching a couple of sales. I got five new tops for around 55€ (~$71). SIDENOTE: The weather also required that I take the train more than I’d anticipated. It was my only option if I didn’t want to show up a hot sweaty mess everyplace I went. Another expense.

— Purchasing Linen. I’m a weirdo about a lot of things. I’ve discovered that linen are amongst those things. When I got to my flat towels and sheets had been provided. They were probably perfectly fine but I didn’t like them (I don’t know how people wash their stuff). So off to the store I went. Almost everything costs more here. A single towel, and a small one at that — a “serviette” — ran me 18,50€ (~$24). And sheets, which are sold EITHER flat or fitted, not a set, pillowcases also sold separately, run about 28€ each. Because I’m functionally illiterate in French, I ended up buying a duvet cover because I thought it was a sheet set. 44€. I also got a set of pillow shams. 8€. Total unexpected cost: 71€ (~$91).

— One reason I insisted on having a flat as opposed to staying in a hotel is because I wanted a kitchen so that I could save money by cooking and eating at home instead of eating out every day. On one of my first days here I was running though the grocery store grabbing things I could keep at the house to snack on when I was in a hurry or when it was late but my body still thought it was early evening. Well, I grabbed the cheap, quick meal of choice for millions of people around the globe: a cup of noodles. Well, my friends, that cup of noodles set me back TWO EUROS!!! I didn’t realize it until I’d gotten to the register but then thought I’d misunderstood the reading on the register. Nope. 2€ (~$2.58). For those of you reading in the States, you know I could’ve bought 750 packets of Ramen Noodles for $2.58!! Ok, maybe not quite that many but with a few coupons I could get close!!

— Le coup de grâce! I’ve done a LOT of walking since I’ve been here. As such, my beautiful neon green Nikes have taken a beating. So I decided to wash them. Bad idea. VERY bad idea. My fancy schmancy European washer/dryer combo shrunk them two sizes. And now the shoes are so warped that they have a permanent arch. So off to Champs-Élysées to replace them. Add 117€ (~$151) to the budget. Also, I washed my shoe pod that tracks my running. $19.99. But since my knee is already half shot from all the stairs in the subway, I’ll wait to replace that.

Also, I’m flying to Switzerland. I didn’t want to be bothered with a 6+ hour train ride and the fare was cheap so I figured why not just fly? Well, the reason is that my luggage was already overweight (but thanks to a first class ticket I didn’t have to pay for it) and now it’s even more overweight with all of my brand new stuff. So now I’m trying to figure out what’s cheaper: a) paying luggage fees: b) shipping stuff home; or c) just giving things away.

We’re only three weeks in, folks. If I keep this up, you may see me on Hey, if a guy can ask for money for potato salad, I should be able to get three or four coins to tell travel tales and post pictures, right?

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