Sunday, August 1, 2010

Europe: Stuff you should know (part deux)


Is very expensive in Europe (well, not as bad now that the Euro and pound is cheaper). Either way, if you are going to stay in a place for more than a month, I would seriously recommend bringing a mini rice cooker. You can probably get one for $20.00 CAD or so at any store that sells appliances. I think all of them come with a non-stick pot so it is easy to clean. My rice cooker helped me pass many a cold winter Parisian evening at low cost. Not only can it cook rice, other functions include: boiling water; cooking congee, noodles, soups; reheating leftovers; make cakes/custards/other desserts; act as a humidifier/heater, etc. The only thing I've not been able to do is deep fry but it's not a big problem. You can probably save a good 10 euros or 4 pounds each meal by eating at home during the week and then splurging the savings on a good meal on the weekend.

Also bring some utensils and condiments. Yes, you can easily buy them in Europe but when it is readily available and free from home, would you not rather save the money to spend elsewhere? Even if you do not bring anything else, at least bring a swiss army knife. Great in many situations.

No matter in what condition your body is in, I recommend that you bring vitamins. It's hard to get all of your daily nutrition when you are traveling in an unfamiliar country on a budget. The best would be to bring a multi-vitamin that contains at least vit A, B, C, D, E as well as calcium, zinc and magnesium. These will keep you happy, healthy and energetic.

Bring a couple of cup noodles or instant noodles to tide you over while you get settled in and get to know the city. Having something to eat within 3 minutes will seem like heaven when you are jet-lagged, nothing is unpacked and it is 2 in the morning.

Make a budget for yourself, especially for your meals when you are on the go. The cost of food and accommodation will be the biggest costs of your trip. I would recommend eating bakery goods during the day and then saving the money for a sit-down dinner. Carry some dried fruits or juice with you to keep up your energy and prevent you from getting too hungry.

If you can stomach it, ask for a jug of water (i.e. tap water) when waiters ask if you would like a bottle of water. The jug will be free while the price of that bottle could have bought you an appetizer.

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