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“Rent,” “IPO” and ‘Z-Boards” are all terms you’ll hear on a daily basis if you live in San Francisco. They’re a part of that cyclical monthly schedule where you dedicate a whole paycheck to rent, waiting for the next one and spending $35 on dinner because you totally deserve it.

At the turn of the new year I made a goal to pay off my credit card. I don’t know if it was because I wanted to feel like a San Francisco contrarian, but I was ready to accept not having anymore credit card debt. This feeling contradicts all natural instinct and desire to travel and see the world of course so when I walked into work and a fellow coworker asked me if I wanted to go to Thailand it was hard for my incessant need to fulfill my spontaneity to decline. Then there I was, $2000 deep with my passport in one hand and a 20-inch pink carry-on luggage in the other inundated in guilt because I was treating myself despite my soapbox-like goal setting proclamation I had made at the beginning of the year.

I spent 16 days in Laos and Thailand and as the days went on, fulfilling every urge to buy that raw cotton pillowcase and those coconut cakes, I stepped back, gained a little perspective and realized that, despite how many transactions I was making, I was fine.

To digest that a little bit more, I made some lists. So take a look at an average day in Thailand on vacation and in San Francisco living my life. Hopefully you won’t be surprised, but I hope it will help you take the plunge and go to Thailand.

Thailand – $30/day (outside of housing)

  • $2: Morning Caffeine – Thai Iced Tea
  • $3: Breakfast – Kao Soy Noodles
  • $3: Lunch – Pad See Ew and a Thai Iced Tea
  • $6: Hour-Long Foot Massage because we walked everywhere
  • $2: Snack – Thai Iced Tea (okay I know I became addicted to Thai iced tea)
  • $7: Dinner – Braised Pork Shoulder and Rice from the Cowboy Hat Lady
  • $1: Dessert – Mango Sticky Rice
  • $6: Shopping – Shorts and, you guessed it, a Thai Iced Tea

San Francisco – $24.50/day (outside of housing)

  • $5.50: Starbucks Caramel Macchiato
  • $14: Lunch
  • $2.50: Bus to Crunch Gym from work
  • $.50: Protein shake using ingredients from Trader Joe’s
  • $2: Salad using ingredients from Trader Joe’s

I know I could bare to work a little harder to meal prep and cook lunch but how else am I supposed to keep those little joys in my life? The point being that here at home I’m making an effort to be frugal, and in Thailand, I’m not second guessing myself one bit and averaging a similar day.

Did this make me rethink every dollar I spend and then stress out about the repercussions of my actions for days to come? Kind of. Then I closed my notebook and walked outside and remembered that I was in Thailand.

The biggest lesson I brought back from Southeast Asia was to consider your dollar…and also wear sunscreen. Just because not having savings, dining at Lord Stanley and binge drinking $10 Moscow Mules is in doesn’t mean you have to abide. Consider your dollar and focus that paper.

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