Financial Friday 10

Week 10 of travel has come and gone. Let’s break down some expenses.

Travel

On Tuesday/Wednesday, I took the night train from Θεσσαλονίκη (Thessaloniki) to Αθήνα (Athens): $30.96. It was a very crowded six hour ride. To make things worse, a family of 4 decided to only buy 2 tickets, and felt the need to put their two little kids in my seat. So every time someone new would get on to claim whatever seat I found open, the guy would point me to any open seat he could find. I ended up spending a good portion of the trip changing seats, because this asshole thought it would be a great idea to just take a seat he didn’t pay for. Needless to say, I didn’t get much sleep. I think I would have actually been better off if I’d bought a day train even though those cost almost twice as much.

Accommodation

Little Big House in Thessaloniki Friday to Monday. I can’t say enough good things about that place. See my Thessaloniki review post for details.

Zero on Tuesday, because of the aforementioned night train. I’m still trying to decide if it was worth it.

Wednesday and Thursday were at a really cheap hostel in Athens. Did I save a bunch of money? Yes. But there’s definitely something to be said for finding a slightly more expensive place in a good location. Always check where a hostel’s located before booking. It’s totally worth the extra time.

Food

I went out to eat with some friends I made at the hostel on Friday and Sunday. There we go with friends costing me money again (just kidding, they’re pretty cool).

On Wednesday, I went out drinking. This alcohol thing isn’t good for the budget. I should really stop that.

Other

Travel insurance: $3.07 per day.

On Saturday, I purchased a mobile data plan from GigSky: $20 for 1G. I haven’t used them for long, but so far, I would 100% recommend them if you’re based in the US. It’s so much easier to purchase a data plan online for whatever region of the world you’re in than going through the process of buying a local SIM. It’s probably a little more expensive this way, but the saved time and effort is totally worth it.

I did laundry on Monday: $4.33. That’s also the day the water came back. I’ve never appreciated running water as much as I did then.

Summary

Week 10 1st
Fri Sat Sun Mon Tue Wed Thu Total
Travel 0 0 0 0 30.96 0 0 30.96
Lodging 19.31 19.31 21.81 21.81 0 10.94 10.94 104.12
Food 21.27 1.48 13.6 5.81 3.71 14.09 5.44 65.4
Other 3.07 23.07 3.07 7.4 3.07 3.07 3.07 45.82
Total 43.65 43.86 38.48 35.02 37.74 28.1 19.45 246.3

So that looks decent. The month of March was also wrapped up this week so let’s take a look at that.

Mar 18
Week 5 Week 6 Week 7 Week 8 Week 9 Week 10 Total
Travel 0 0 0 17.62 0 0 17.62
Lodging 19.22 132.94 133.3 154.33 142.1 38.62 620.51
Food 7.32 39.87 56.75 101.97 56.47 22.75 285.13
Other 5.55 82.99 50.2 30.17 85.2 26.14 280.25
Total 32.09 255.8 240.25 304.09 283.77 87.51 1203.51

This is fantastic, and almost makes up for the month of February. If I can keep every month’s spending at about this level, I’ll be pretty happy.

See you all next week for another financial break-down.

Financial Friday 9

Week 9 has come and gone. Let’s see what I spent…

Travel

Zero. I remained in Θεσσαλονίκη (Thessaloniki).

Accommodation

There were some exchange rate fluctuations that account for different pricing, but the hostel stayed the same.

Food

On Friday, ‘the Syrian’ cooked for a few of us staying at the hostel. The free dinner was amazing, and very unexpected among travelers. We almost always go ‘Dutch’ (split expenses individually) on everything.

On Monday and Tuesday, I went to a few restaurants with friends. There we go with making friends being expensive again…sometimes. I spend a lot less when I hit up a take-out place.

Other

On Friday, I spent some money for verification on CouchSerfing: $60. Some of the places I’d like to go in the near future don’t have hostels, and the AirBnBs are more than my budget can handle. I expect I’ll make this back many-fold, but time will tell.

On Tuesday, I went to the Ροτόντα (Rotunda: a Roman temple turned Christian turned Muslim turned museum), and the Museum of Photography again: $1.24 and $2.47 respectively. I know I’ve already been, but it’s fun to watch friends experience it.

Summary

Week 9
Fri Sat Sun Mon Tue Wed Thu Total
Travel 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
Lodging 21.62 21.62 21.62 19.31 19.31 19.31 19.31 142.1
Food 6.18 6.16 3.58 17.06 19.16 3.34 0.99 56.47
Other 63.07 3.07 3.07 3.07 6.78 3.07 3.07 85.2
Total 90.87 30.85 28.27 39.44 45.25 25.72 23.37 283.77

So it looks like an average week. If the CouchSerfing ‘expense’ is taken out, it was a cheap week. Until next Friday….

Financial Friday 8

You all know the deal by now. Let’s break down my expenses.

Travel

On Saturday, a couple with a rental car took a few of us out to see the tallest mountain near Thessaloniki. I probably should have given them something for gas…. Oops. I guess I have their contact info, and can get them back eventually. I’m sure we’ll cross paths again at some point.

On Monday, I went to Σέρρες (Serres) by train, and came back on Wednesday. I saved 2 euro each way by booking the return trip at the same time as the one going out. Score! It ended up running me $8.80 each way. Check out the blog post about the trip if you’re curious, but to sum up, it was totally worth it.

Accommodation

Monday and Tuesday are a bit higher as AirBnB is typically more expensive when traveling solo. It was really nice to not have roommates for a couple nights though.

The rest is at the hostel in Θεσσαλονήκι (Thessaloniki). The variable prices are mostly due to currency fluctuations, and rounding. Bottom line: the larger the expense, the better rounding will work in your favor.

Food

Yeah so…this looks really bad over the weekend. I really got along with my roommates at the hostel, and we went out for food and drinks every day. Between a bunch of shared appetizers, main dishes, and wine…well, it adds up. The lesson here is don’t make friends if you want to be cheap…. The company was excellent though. I really miss those guys.

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The picture looks better than real life.

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Other

Travel insurance: $3.07 per day.

On Friday, I went to a nightclub with a local I met: $6.20. There was a lot of dancing involved. It was pretty fun, but this introvert can only take a few hours of that so I went home earlier than the rest of the gang.

On Saturday, I went to the Thessaloniki Modern Art Gallery: $2.48. It was interesting to see what people did with selfies…I mean, self portraits. I also think it’s the only museum where I saw locals. I guess they’re over the whole ancient ruins thing.

Oh yeah, I also went to the Ανακτοπικό Συγκρότημα Γαλερίου (Anaktoriko Sigkrontima Galeriou: basically, it’s the ruins of the old Roman palace built by Galerius) on Sunday. The cost was nothing! I guess they figure it’s no use as they can’t stop people from walking around the outside and looking in. The sidewalks above it are some of the busiest in the city so….

Summary

Week 8
Fri Sat Sun Mon Tue Wed Thu Total
Travel 0 0 0 8.81 0 8.81 0 17.62
Lodging 19.15 19.15 19.15 26.82 26.82 21.62 21.62 154.33
Food 20.46 26.78 14.26 12.4 9.22 16.37 2.48 101.97
Other 9.27 5.55 3.07 3.07 3.07 3.07 3.07 30.17
Total 48.88 51.48 36.48 51.1 39.11 49.87 27.17 304.09

So not the worst week ever, but I’ve certainly done a lot better while I’ve been in Greece. And I made some cool friends, and got out of the city for a bit so I’d say it was pretty good all things considered.

Financial Friday 7

Another week has come and gone. Let’s see how I did.

Travel

Zero. I stayed in Θεσσαλονική (Thessaloniki) all week, and walked anywhere I needed to go.

Accommodation

Same hostel; different exchange rate. The cheapest way so far remains booking directly with the hostel, and using my ‘no foreign transaction fee’ credit card. The larger the block of time booked, the better rounding works out for you in the exchange rate.

Food

I did a pretty good job stuffing myself with the free breakfast at the hostel in the morning, and grabbing something cheap from a take-away place in town for most of the week. On Monday and Tuesday, I went out to ‘fancy’ restaurants with people I met in the hostel so…budget sort of busted? The food was amazing though. I don’t think I’ll ever tire of the delightful treats here.

Other

Travel insurance: $3.07 per day.

I went to the Λευκός Πύργος (White Tower) on Friday: $2.46. It was OK, and would have been excellent if there had been plaques in English. Why the ‘symbol of Thessaloniki’ only has signs in Greek I will never know.

Saturday was laundry day: $3.69. Speaking of laundry, the socks I bought last week had their first trip through a washing machine. They’re already showing signs of wear. While disappointing, at least they were cheap so I consider it more of a learning experience than a waste of money.

On Tuesday, I gave in and tried the ‘pirate cruise’. While technically free, I bought an orange juice for the compulsory drink: $6.15. It was touristy, but so worth it; especially before the ‘captain’ jumped on the bow with his bell and pirate flag.

Also on Tuesday, the data SIM I ordered was shipped from the US to my hostel in Greece: $14.00. I should see it in a couple weeks. If all goes well, the cheaper data rates will make up for the cost of sending it 1/4 of the way around the world.

On Wednesday, I sent some money to the cell (mobile if you’re from the UK) carrier I’ve been using: $12.41. It seems the services I pre-paid don’t roll over to subsequent months so I tried to purchase a roll-over option via credit card. Since credit card transactions don’t get to the merchant until a couple days later, the roll-over purchase failed, but the transaction is still pending. Live and learn right? Fortunately, they give out freebees for logging into your account once a week. So in a few weeks, I’ll be back to everything I had before…until the next month rolls around….

Summary

Week 7
Fri Sat Sun Mon Tue Wed Thu Total
Travel 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
Lodging 18.9 18.9 18.9 19.15 19.15 19.15 19.15 133.3
Food 7.38 1.48 1.23 21.08 17.22 7.13 1.23 56.75
Other 5.53 6.76 3.07 3.07 13.22 15.48 3.07 50.2
Total 31.81 27.14 23.2 43.3 49.59 41.76 23.45 240.25

Even with the occasional set-backs, it’s still been the cheapest week yet! The financial story continues next Friday….

Financial Friday 6

All right, you guys know the drill by now so let’s go….

Travel

Zero. I stayed in Thessaloniki the whole time. Traveling slow is awesome.

Accommodation

So you’ll notice on the spreadsheet that there are different numbers despite staying at the same hostel for the same price (in euros). That’s the difference between the exchange rate I got from an ATM and what I got from my ‘no foreign transaction fee’ credit card. The difference becomes especially noticeable the larger the expense. In this case, I booked a week so…. There’s a travel hack for you.

Food

I’ve save so much money by getting up early enough for the free breakfast at the hostel. And bonus, it’s awesome! I’ve recently discovered fresh baked, wheat bread dipped in tahini and honey. OMG, where has this food been all my life?

I did go out to eat at a ‘fancy’ restaurant on Wednesday: $18.45. I mean…eating like a king for the price of a normal sit-down place at home is still winning in my book.

Other

Travel insurance: $3.07 per day.

On Saturday, I did laundry: $3.69. It would have been double that, but I went for the air-dry option. They give us balconies with contraptions to hang clothes from so of course I had to use it.

Similar to laundry, I bought 3 pairs of cheap socks from the local flea market on Saturday: $3.69. I got them because they’ll take up a lot less space in my backpack. I haven’t run them through the washing machine yet though so the jury’s still out on how well they’ll hold up to normal wear and tear. More on that in next week’s Financial Friday.

Also on Saturday, I bought a Greek grammar book…that’s in Greek: $4.92. Since Greek has 4 cases and I’m trying to learn the language, I figured a book would come in handy. So far, I’ve tried to read the commentary explaining the lessons once…and that’s been it. Hopefully, I’ll get come real use out of it eventually.

On Tuesday, I bought a SIM card from GigSky. They have deals with carriers all over the world for cell data. I’m hoping it works out so I won’t have to buy a local SIM in every country I visit. It would have cost me $9.99, but I had some Amazon credit from when I was back home. You guys can add that into the total cost if you like.

On Thursday, I found a Greek class I really like: $49.20. That’s half the cost of the 4 month course…and it’s a total steal. When I was looking at most language programs, they wanted about $400 for 6 weeks worth of lessons. Will I become fluent? Hell no. But I consider attempting to learn the language part of my cultural studies so it’s totally worth it to me.

Summary

Week 6
Fri Sat Sun Mon Tue Wed Thu Total
Travel 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
Lodging 19.22 19.22 18.9 18.9 18.9 18.9 18.9 132.94
Food 7.39 2.46 3.57 2.71 1.97 20.54 1.23 39.87
Other 3.07 15.37 3.07 3.07 3.07 3.07 52.27 82.99
Total 29.68 37.05 25.54 24.68 23.94 42.51 72.4 255.8

So this has been my cheapest week yet. Traveling slow pays off. And I really enjoy not being go-go-go all the time. Until next week….

Financial Friday 5

It’s official: I’ve been traveling for over a month! Plus, this week has been the friendliest to my wallet yet. Let’s break things down….

Transportation

On Sunday, I took a train to Μετέωρα (Meteora): $22.61. It was far cheaper and more enjoyable than the bus. Conclusion: trains are awesome.

I got to the train station via the Αθήνα (Athens) metro. I would never encourage people to do this but…. If someone was to not validate their ticket, there’s a high probability that no one would catch them. In the two times I took the metro, I didn’t see anyone checking passengers for validation, and there are a high number of locals that just don’t bother.

On Monday, I shared a taxi going up and down Meteora: $3.10 up, $2.17 down. These were well worth it as that was the day of the ‘blizzard’. You can check my blog post for details, and pictures.

On Tuesday, I caught a train to Θεσσαλονίκη (Thessaloniki): $30.27. This one was a bit more expensive as it wouldn’t let me book the direct path online for some reason. I suppose I could have bought my ticket at the counter, but then I would have had to talk to someone. Who wants to do that?

Accommodation

Friday night was at Athens Backpackers: $17.80.

Saturday was at Athens Studios: $16.55. The 6 person rooms actually filled up at Backpackers so I had to move. This is the downside of booking last-minute.

Sunday and Monday were at Meteora Central Hostel: $21.70/night. FYI, this hostel is nice, and the owners are awesome. I highly recommend it.

The rest of the week has been at Little Big House with the price of accommodation going up on the 1st: $17.29 and $19.22 in March. We’re in spring, and getting closer to high season!

Food

This is pretty boring…mostly gyros and pitas. There’s one blip on Wednesday when I went to a sit-down restaurant with a friend in the evening: $13.64. It was worth it; especially since I’m getting an awesome breakfast included in my stay at Little Big House.

Other

Travel insurance: $3.07/day.

I took free walking tours on Wednesday and Thursday when I tipped the guide 2 euro each time: $2.48 each. He was definitely worth it; particularly for his knowledge of art, music, and the financial crisis. His name is Γεώργιος (George); more on him in another blog post.

Summary

Week 5
Fri Sat Sun Mon Tue Wed Thu Total
Travel 0 0 22.61 5.27 30.27 0 0 58.15
Lodging 17.8 16.55 21.7 21.7 17.29 17.29 19.22 131.55
Food 12.53 10.18 8.19 8.31 6.45 13.64 7.32 66.62
Other 3.07 3.07 3.07 3.07 3.07 5.55 5.55 26.45
Total 33.4 29.8 55.57 38.35 57.08 36.48 32.09 282.77

Hello, best week so far! If they’d all been like this, I’d have been a happy camper.

As this week wraps up a month, I can show you how February looked as well. Remember my ‘weeks’ start on Friday, and this break-down only includes expenditures from the days in the stated month.

Feb 18
Week 1 Week 2 Week 3 Week 4 Week 5 Total
Travel 0 242.11 0 0 58.15 300.26
Lodging 30.44 233.47 127.84 123.7 112.33 627.78
Food 10.68 44.67 95.52 115.11 59.3 325.28
Other 19.57 91.27 325.21 125.98 20.9 582.93
Total 60.69 611.52 548.57 364.79 250.68 1836.25

This is a fair bit above my goal of $1,500/month. But considering it was the first month of travel, I’ll take it. I expect subsequent months to be far better.

I hope at least someone enjoyed this. The next financial post will be…on Friday; which surprises no one.