Be creative with how you spend your money abroad

View from atop the Museo dell’Opera del Duomo in Siena on Friday, June 5.

Katherine Sproles

I’ve coined a new term: “money shock.” It’s like culture shock but more specifically the feeling you get when you see your bank account slowly drain the more time you spend abroad.

I didn’t realize until I got here how expensive it would be to constantly eat dinner out or travel on free weekends. If you’re looking to travel abroad, I’ve found some ways to help keep some euros in your pocket.

• At night, starting around 7-8 p.m., there are these amazing things called “aperitivo bars” where you buy a drink and get to eat as much as you want at a buffet-style bar. The drinks usually costs around 8 to 10 euros. The buffet has tons of options and the food ranges from pasta to sandwiches and appetizers. To get the most for your money buy two drinks and eat as much as you can. You will still end up paying way less for a full meal with drinks than you would at any nighttime restaurant. Not only are these bars a cheap choice, but the nighttime crowd and socialization is a great way to really immerse yourself in the culture.

• Share some meals. Italian menus are set up for multiple course meals but ordering a traditional four-course feast every night is going to break your bank. So cozy up to your new friends and share a couple of dishes. You get to try everything but pay only half the tab.

• Instead of eating dinner out every night, take a trip to the local market or grocery store. Not only are the markets and grocery stores cooler than any American version, but the produce is fresher, tastier and cheaper. The other night I got fresh fruit, cheese, snack bars, and a bottle of wine for only 9 euros.

• Be friendly. You will be surprised what a simple “Buonasera” can get you. Italians are especially nice people and the nicer you are to them the more willing they are to strike a deal. For instance, our professor was giving us a city tour when he passed the restaurant he ate at the night before. The owner came out to greet him and told us that if we came back and mentioned our professor he would give us free limoncello, free champagne and 10 percent off our meal. In Florence, another professor made friends with a deli owner and whenever we went to the deli they gave us tons of free food and snacks.

• Learn how to barter well. In outdoor markets or family owned shops it’s common to barter the price. Shaving even a few euros off each purchase adds up to….well…more money for shopping.