Budgeting for China

Budgeting for China

In a couple of days I head to China for a business trip. I hope I will get to do some sightseeing (and I am sure I will) but I am going primarily for business. The great thing is that they are picking up most of the tab. My airfare (reimbursed) and hotel are covered and I will receive a small stipend that I will probably use for food.

I am certainly looking forward to the opportunity. I have never been to China or East Asia for that matter. The closest I have gotten is Australia. And this isn’t the first time I have traveled abroad. I have been to over 20 countries in North and South America, Europe, the Middle East, and Australia, but for whatever reason I am confounded on how to budget for this trip.

I have done a bunch of research trying to figure out ballpark figures for food, entertainment, sightseeing, etc, but finding the right amount of cash to bring with me still confounds me.

One of the reasons I might have this issue is because my research online revealed that China is still primarily a cash culture. The world of the credit card certainly has appeared in lots of China, but transactions like buying gifts or even food are typically done in cash. That isn’t a big deal because I certainly have some money to carry me over.

Another aspect of this is that when we arrive in China our plane tickets will be reimbursed in cash. So instead of a check or credit like most places apparently I am going to be handed a wad of Chinese Yuan. Again, not necessarily a big deal, but I don’t want to be carrying around thousands of Chinese Yuan, even though I am working. I am not really worried about security or the like. China is a very safe country, safer than the U.S.

But because I want to use this money to replenish my reserve savings when i get home I don’t really want to spend any of it, which adds to my dilemma.

Finally, budgeting for any international adventure is hard for me because, even though i am there for work, I want to experience all the China has to offer. We are specifically going to Beijing so I want to see the Great Wall of China, the Forbidden City, the Ming Tombs, the Hutongs, and more. Of course China is much less expensive than the U.S. so sightseeing or food won’t be expensive, but when I go on a trip I like to do it up and I probably overdue it to some extent.

Some of you reading this blog post might be thinking do you have a point? And honestly I am not sure what that point is. I am writing this in my living room and thinking out loud about the trip. I know that, in general, I will “lose” money on this trip because the visa I purchased won’t be reimbursed, toiletries won’t be reimbursed, etc. So I am not making any money.

This blog has also forced me to reconsider my priorities in life, like getting out of debt, saving for the future in a much more concerted way, etc. Therefore, I don’t just want to go to China and blow $2000 and say yippee.

I guess I will just start with this…I will try not to go over $500 for the trip (two weeks in China). That is the stipend we are receiving and i will try to live on that, but i am not going to flagellate myself if I go a hundred dollars over.

If nothing else, at least financially, I will have a much better picture of how to budget for future trips to China (if I can go) because I certainly don’t want this to be the last opportunity I have to see one of the world’s oldest and greatest civilizations.

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