I took my first trip overseas when I was one. Since then I’ve been to over 30 countries, most during my two year around the world trip with my parents and brother.
I’d like to say I already knew about the value of money prior to traveling.
My parents have a “no entitlement” approach to giving my brother and I money. Obviously when I was younger they’d hand it to me when needed for things like school trips and the likes.
I’m talking about more materialistic things that we could survive without like toys, electronics… but even for clothes, starting when I was 13, I had to pay for it myself. (They would pay for clothes I needed, but as a pre-teen/early teenager you know, we wanted more clothes than necessary… that I had to pay for.)
Of course they provided opportunities for me to earn the money. The key was I had to earn it.
From that experience with the addition of long term traveling as a teenager, I can say I started to really understand the value of money.
Here’s how it’s possible to learn about the value of money through traveling:
1. What you can or can’t buy (budgeting)
Whether it’s souvenirs or other items you want to bring back from a country you’ve visited, it costs money. And if you want to take a certain tour or pick the cities and countries you want to visit, factored in with how you’ll travel (car, boat, plane), it all involves money.
Traveling teaches you how to budget because in order to do all the things you want, it is possible but you just have to figure out your budget. Especially with long term traveling, if you don’t have a budget, you can end up spending too much in one city and not have a sufficient amount for other cities you want to visit.
2. Types of accommodations
Everyone has preferences. For me, I’d pick to stay at a Four Seasons versus a hostel. That’s just my preference.
And during my travels, I did get to stay in a few of both. It wouldn’t be practical to stay in luxury hotels the entire time of traveling. Reason being the location of the property, getting different experiences out of each stay and obviously pricing.
We made to sure to get a balance of each type of accommodation. And when I was aware of how much we were paying for each type of accommodation, I realized that “if I pay this amount, this is what I get”.
The same concept goes for restaurants, tours, first class versus economy class on planes among others. Like when we took an over 30 hour bus ride from Lima, Peru to Guayaquil, Ecuador. We paid a little extra to have a seat on the first level where there were just eight chairs, private bathroom and quieter setting.
Meanwhile, I saw the difference our little extra paid did when we took a 20 hour bus ride from Montevideo, Uruguay to Florianopolis, Brazil. We paid for the regular class where there were several more people and all sharing one bathroom.
3. Helping others
Traveling broadens your mind because you see more things than you normally would if you just stayed at home. One thing I noticed in every single city I went to were homeless people and people who were obviously poorer than the majority of the population.
I visited a small town outside of Guayaquil, Ecuador where I met the director of a school that is funded by business owners in the U.S. Before visiting the school, he showed me the old school that was where students went to previously. There was no electricity and plumbing. It was basically a one room building with a roof and dirt floors.
Then we drove to the new school which has electricity, plumbing, two floors, windows that you can open and close… a far cry from the old building. Because of this bigger school, more kids of the community who previously did not attend school, could attend school. The only reason this was possible was with money.
4. World currencies
It’s also nice to be acquainted with currencies other than the U.S. dollar when traveling. You can learn how much one of your dollars can be used in another country’s currency. (And also notice that most other countries’ currencies are way more colorful!)
As a kid, you don’t really think about money other than a way to buy something you want. But it’s through traveling that you realize the value of money. That’s how I learned.