Travelling on a No Buy

This post is both to look at how I did with my March goals and to reflect on travelling within the parameters of my No Buy Year.

Goals Reflection:

Packing:

I ended up going with a backpack and a purse, which meant that I was able to fit in the estimated three days’ worth of clothing into my bag. Granted, I didn’t count the day of clothing for travel (I wore the same thing on each flight), but I needed the layers for some of my excursions anyhow. I was able to do laundry often enough that it wasn’t a problem, and it was still cool or rainy out that I would have been seen in a jacket and black leggings no matter what tops I was wearing. Getting through checking in and airport security, by the way, was an absolute breeze, so I’d be inclined to do this again for short trips.

Stuff versus Experiences:

The only “things” I bought were postcards, but I bought fewer this time around since I brought my gratitude journal with me (which I used to list my daily highlights instead of the postcards). Though I’d been in some stores throughout the trip (where else would I get classically tacky postcards?), I had very little inclination to browse for location-name shirts or books – especially when I thought about how many layers of shirt I’d have to wear on the flight home to fit it all into my backpack. I’m not entirely sure if I would have done the trip all that differently were I not on a No Buy, since much of it was spent on day trips and walkable outings, but it made it easier to not have half a day lost to the vortex of circling a store display to hunt for bargains. I also was able to pace myself a bit better throughout the trip, since I wasn’t trying to constantly do mental math to figure out how long we had left before the gift shop or other stores would close.

Staying on Budget:

I do my my monthly budget by pen and paper in my planner (which I didn’t bring with me), and I didn’t think to take a photo of it before leaving. Though that may sound like I’m gearing up for something negative, things actually turned out well. I ran through the numbers before setting out to write this, and the only section I was over budget on was for postcards, by $0.26 – everything else either fit into what I’d allotted to spend, or was added to my “for fun(d).” I did make sure that what I was setting out to do had a reasonable cost in the first place (museum entrance fee for $15CAD versus almost $70CAD for a suspension bridge crossing), and to not be swept up by promotions like, “buy 12 postcards for $5” when I only wanted 3 (which came out to around $2.50, but I’m fine without the other 9 postcards). I also was travelling during the off-season, which meant that there weren’t too many lines or a sense of urgency while going from place to place, which in turn meant that I could take my time to make more intentional decisions.

For the sake of not worrying about trying to account for preferred currencies of every reader, I figured I’d use percentages to make it easier to see how I did with my budgeting:

On maybe a less positive note, I noticed it was really easy for me to slip into the same treat-yo-self/guilt cycle for buying take-out/dine-in meals. One major factor was that I had lowkey forgotten that I had the $75 “for fun” money set aside, so each time I bought food while out on my own, I went for the cheapest options instead of what I necessarily wanted. For example, one of the slower days had about an hour of deliberation of how far to walk versus how much to spend versus should I just get delivery, which was made worse by my increasing hunger. The majority of the food for the trip was either home meals or split bills/someone covering for the group in turns, so this at least didn’t eat away (… ha ha) at too much of my time – but it’s indeed something to keep in mind for my next trip, whether that’s looking at restaurants in advance or choosing the number of meals out versus at home.

Reading:

I finished my physical book in one day, and finished three e-books during the month. The audio book didn’t pan out, but I was completely enthralled by what I loaned as e-books, so I’d say that balances out.

About the No Buy & Travel:

To begin, doing a No Buy while staying with friends and family would look different than if I were in a hotel/accommodations without a fridge and space to cook. Everyone I stayed with or spent time with had some knowledge of what I was up to, and my goals were respected, which made it easier (and was validating). There were a few small instances of needing to say no (to the general “is there anything you need while we’re out/on the way back?”), but for the most part, discussions took place in advance to figure out what I could borrow/share while I was packing and planning.

My level of flexibility for planning what to see/do was influenced more by travelling in reduced-but-not-gone pandemic measures than the No Buy Year, since experiences are a category I hadn’t limited. I did, however, spend less time combing through any souvenir shop that caught my fancy – especially once I had a postcard per person on my list – which gave me more time to see and do things (and not have my hands or bag full while doing so). In trying to be more mindful of what and how I’m consuming, I’m also more hesitant to pick up things for others – mugs, magnets, shirts, etc. – if it wasn’t something specifically requested. I’m sure my friends and family who have young kids are silently relieved there isn’t a new toy or stuffed animal entering their home.

I don’t believe that it’s fair to compare international/non-family trips to essentially going home, so I won’t look at how I did versus my last bit of travel in 2020. I can, however, think about past trips to family versus this trip, and recognise that I didn’t even go into a mall (let alone browse small shops) on this trip, at all. I didn’t have the room in my luggage for stuff (intentionally), there’s nothing on my wish-list (still/yet), and I didn’t put myself within reach of temptation through staying busy otherwise. Or, to consider things in a positive light, I got to do what I set out to do: take a proper break from work, see my family, hang out with friends, eat delicious food, lose myself in 5 different museums, and be in nature. The memories made and the photos taken will outlast my interest in a t-shirt that might get worn twice a year, even if I got it on discount.

March Goals

I will be travelling this month to visit with family and friends in another province, and this is my first major voyage since 2020, so it will be important to focus my goals on not falling into old spending habits from holidays past.

Packing

The benefit of staying with family and friends is that I can for sure do laundry and pack much lighter as a result (also free housing). Though I’ll be away about a week and a half, I want to limit myself to 3 days’ worth of clothing plus what I’m wearing on the plane – and my usual plane-friendly toiletries – to see if I can’t fit it all into my medium sized backpack. This will be helpful when navigating through security at the airports, as well as limiting how much stuff I can bring back. The last time I travelled, I did the opposite, where I left with one carry on suitcase that had almost everything in it, and then the larger checked bag was almost empty – with the intention of it being filled with goodies to bring home for myself and for family & friends. So, it’ll be interesting to see how I fare since I haven’t travelled in 2 years. Thankfully, the temperature will be a bit warmer there, so I won’t have bulky items taking up too much space.

Spending on Stuff versus Experiences

In the past, I would budget for about 1/4 of whatever I’m spending to be on stuff. Some of it would be souvenirs for myself (again, I was very “one for you, one for me”), which would include postcards (I use them as my travel diary for each day), clothing (both of the location’s name or of something specific to the region), books, and anything else specific to the area (honey from a monastery in Meteora, Greece? Sure, why not). Then there were also the souvenirs for others – I would generally focus on shirts, fridge magnets, post cards, and anything specific that was requested based on where I was going (I felt like a bootlegger coming back from Scotland). Now, I’m not about to turn stingy and refuse to get anything for anyone (capping it at postcards and requested items) – but I’m also not going to somewhere I haven’t been before, since I’m visiting family. Regarding experiences, I’m still keen on visiting at least one museum (if it’s safe), and I like to try the food of the region/stuff I can’t as easily have when I’m back home, so I have that to look forward to as well. I’m one to do my research about where I’m going and what to do while visiting somewhere (which I clarify only because I went on a group trip with someone who didn’t do any research at all before leaving, which is mind-boggling to me), but I’m being considerate of what my budget is and how I can still do what I want to do for fun without going all out.

Staying on Budget

I’ve given myself a “for fun” budget of $75 per month at the beginning of the year, or $900 for the full year. I haven’t fully finished my planning yet, but I can both see how that money can evaporate in a day or last me the whole second leg of the trip if I plan things out well enough. As mentioned above, I’m aiming for at least one museum and one lunch out. The museum I ultimately choose will be based both on price and content, and I know I’ll want to get myself 1-2 postcards of the exhibit. I brought up the for-fun money as budgeted for the year, as I don’t mind giving myself the flexibility to spend nothing in one month to build up $150 for the following month so I’m not actively withholding my ability to enjoy myself if the situation presents itself (not that I’d go ahead and spend all $900 in a day, but you get what I mean). If I under-spend, then small stuff like taking the bus versus walking somewhere can get added to the for fun/convenience budget versus come out of my travel budget (since I hope to do some travel this summer as well).

Other than Travel

I feel like I’ve reached a good stride for my No Buy that I can keep up what I’m doing on a long-term scale without it impeding my ability to enjoy spending my time with loved ones – as opposed to bargain hunting or other shopping with the people I’m there to visit. I’m stocked for groceries, I’m all good for body products, and there’s nothing major that I can predict at this time that would throw me off course. For reading, I want to have an e-book and audio book lined up for the flights, and I’ll be stopping by the library for some fun and lighthearted fiction (most of what I have here is non-fiction, and kind of heavy).

Next week I’ll be looking at the topic of selected luxuries as well as returning for the next instalment of my relationship to shopping. Thanks for reading!