I have extremely extravagant tastes. I recognize this about myself. It's a running joke in my family that my father raised me that way in order to ensure that I wouldn't end up with just any old guy... and that it came back to bite him in the butt.
I know I am extremely lucky to have never gone without. But it's left me with a rather difficult time when it comes to budgeting. I get my heart set on certain things and never really pay attention to the price.
Matt is the exact opposite when it comes to a budget. Regardless of sharing my same luck, he's always very conscious of money, especially when we travel. Which was/is incredibly important when we're essentially running on whatever two college students can save up.
This also has to be the time that I inform you... I get really difficult to deal with when I get too hungry. This poses a bit of a problem because a lot of the places we visit don't have places to eat out. Even when they do it's hard to find a place that is both affordable and fits my specifications and Matt's (mostly mine).
This is where packed lunches come super in handy.
For places like Stonehenge and Kew (that post is coming soon!) we brought packed lunches and it saved us tons! It also allows you to eat whenever and wherever you want. It saves you the time you would spend trying to find, and agree, on a place to eat. It also saves you cash. This is very important, it also saves you cash.
Also, for those of us traveling out of the country and staying in a hotel, that hotel most likely will have a mini-fridge! Just find a local market and buy whatever you'll need for lunches there. It's still a lot cheaper than restaurants and cafe's. Even if the hotel doesn't have a fridge, buying lunch and dinner from markets and grocery stores still saves you money.
When it came to the end of my stay, I had found something online that I wanted to do for a special night out (I really can't remember what it was and it's not entirely important). I asked Matt if we could do it and he simply said, "We can't afford it." When I asked why we couldn't, he told me we'd spent too much on our other trips. I realized then that every time he'd asked me if we could find a different, cheaper place to eat, and I had (very spoiled- brat like) stamped my foot and said no, I was depriving both of us of another experience. And I felt (and still feel) horrible.
So, this is really more of a life lesson than it is a travel lesson but, it still applies. Always be aware of your financial situation and realize that if you continually opt for instant gratification you're going to miss out on bigger things in the long run. That's not cynical thinking, that's the long and short of it.
And while packed lunches won't solve all our money woes, they are a great first step :)
(plus you guarantee chocolate!)