Monopoly Money: Foreign Currency & A Traveling Life

Budgeting for trips is a skill that is sharpened and honed the more one travels, one that is universally used whether traveling in the United States, Europe, or Asia, but learning the value of currency is a specific understanding based on the destination one visits.

Just when I start to understand a country’s currency, being able to quickly convert the prices to dollars, to what I understand, I usually move to the next country and play with “monopoly money” all over again.

Monopoly Money  [muh-nop-uh-lee] (noun):  play money used in the board game Monopoly.  Also refers to money not really being worth anything, or at least not being used as if it is worth anything.

Post purchase, I realized I bought a $2 USD banana, and the convenient and quick Arlanda Express cost about the same as my flight to Europe.

Shrug. Sigh.  Commence justification talk.  “This is Europe. And I am still trading in Monopoly Money.”

So often, you set your budget, and then arrive in a country, only to struggle with converting the currency back to your reference point, back to what makes sense in your mind.  It’s interesting to realize that money has no meaning in and of itself, and the value of the money comes from external sources, from what one has been taught.

While in Scandinavia, I really began to think about this concept of “monopoly money” in relation to my personal life.  How often do I place meaning on events, situations, experiences, interpreting them incorrectly or placing a value on them that is inaccurate?  Why is it that this is “good” and that “bad”?  And if these pants fit me today, then I am ok, and if this guy calls me tomorrow, than I am beautiful?  Why do I let extraneous forces; forces that are inanimate, volatile, or unrelated to who I am determine my worth?

Someone once said, “We don’t see the world as it is, but as we are.”  What if that which I am struggling with in my life right now is not a challenge because it is, but it is challenge because of the way that I see it?  Maybe the problem starts with my eyes and not with my experience.

Maybe my currency converting skills need an adjustment, and my reference points need to shift.

I came to the understanding a few days ago, when thoughts of missing Europe and goodbyes played incessantly  in my mind.  I had begun to make up stories, questioning experiences, future telling, living everywhere but the present, and then I realized that by doing this, not only was I missing out on the moments of now, I was diluting the beauty of the past, while simultaneously clouding the future.  I had a little chat with myself to clear things up.

It’s about gratitude.

I can continue to miss what is not in my life right now, or I can be thankful for what is, and be thankful for what has been (as clichéd as that is).  There was no need for the pity party that was tempting a get-together, and considering all the cool stuff in my life, it’s a little insulting for me to be even toying with these thoughts.  By seeing life through a lens colored with gratefulness, it places a different meaning on what is being experienced and what has been experienced.

I gain nothing except anxiety by making up stories, and if I am to make up stories, I might as well make up the positive ones, the ones that benefit my life, and my spirit, the ones that are filled with thankfulness.  I don’t have time for dissatisfaction in my life , not when I have so much to be thankful for.   So, dealing with currency or areas in our personal lives where we struggle, the meaning that we place will determine our experience, being always left with the choice of how to respond, in thankfulness or with a tinge of want.

Too many to list, but here are a few of the I’m Thankful fors:

My Family

My Job & Friends


All the travels

And a place to call home:)

About the Author Kara

Curious. Bubbly. Creative. Curating a life I don't need an escape from and inspiring you to do the same.

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