I was lucky enough to spend a few weeks in Spain over my fall break with a great friend of mine. It was here that I learned that having a solid “in-case-of-emergency” backup fund is really important.
Unlike my usual trips (in which I’ve gone without itinerary or anything booked, and hoped for the best), we booked all hotels, flights, and other expenses in advance.
We landed in Malaga, Spain and jumped on a bus to a place called Marbella, a beautiful beach town in which I was looking forward to unwinding and getting that ever-elusive tan I’d long lost with the early arrival of fall in Denmark.
The first few days in Spain were absolutely amazing. The place was breathtaking – beautiful sunny weather, sandy white beaches, and palm trees spanning the coast. We spent our days lounging around the beaches, and our nights at restaurants and bars with good food and fine wines. Life was good… maybe a little too good.
About two days before the end of our trip, we flat out ran out of money. A mishap with the hotel (costing us €70 on top of our bill), a cutting-it-too-close rush to the airport and thus having to pay an extra €60 for baggage check, and the realization that the hotel payment hadn’t yet been processed by credit card quickly turned our trip from a dream to a bit of a nightmare.
Scraping together any and all of the money we could find in our Savings, Chequings, and/or Credit accounts, we paid off the hotel bill – but just barely. Two days left in Spain with barely any cash, our trips to restaurants quickly turned to trips to the nearest convenience store for some trail mix to share… Two days of this may have put a damper on our vacation, but luckily having the sand and sun made it hard to really complain.
However, after bidding adieu to my friend at the airport (he was flying off Saturday, me Sunday), I headed for the €7 hostel I’d found online. Sure, it was a far cry from the nice hotels we’d been staying at, and bound to be the sketchiest sleep I’d ever have in my life, but as long as they had wifi I’d be down to just curl up in bed, relax, and not have to worry anymore about money.
I then realized that after the bus ride to the city centre I was now a few euros short for the hostel… Having already used up everything else I had, I had no choice but to try and ask someone on the street if they could maybe, possibly, help me out. Realizing no one spoke English very well (and not knowing a single word in Spanish myself), asking for help eventually turned into a desperate game of charades: pointing at the few euros I had, and showing my passport to prove I wasn’t just a homeless person. I finally (miraculously) managed to scrounge up the money for the hostel, and settled in for my last (and by far least luxurious) sleep in Spain.
So Spain was an experience to say the least. I got to experience some beautiful things, and for sure experienced some ugly things as well. I survived, I’m happy to say, and when I look back, I’ll be sure to remember the beauty.
Safe travels and take care,