Living a credit~free life is liberating but also challenging. In North America, most people live their every day life with at least one credit card in their wallet. For a long time, so did I. It’s been many years since I have given up the credit life. Has it been challenging? I would be lying if I said no. I have become frugal and disciplined in recent years.
There are many advantages and disadvantages of living and traveling with no credit.
One big advantage is you learn to spend only what you have and what you can afford. I do not live above my means. And there is not much impulse shopping!
Another advantage is learning to budget your money. I have become a master at budgeting, and also a little obsessed with Excel spreadsheets. I am very proud of my ability to budget as well as I do!
Many people are surprised that you can travel with no credit card. Europe and China are very willing to take cash as payments for hotels. Airline websites will take debit card payments. Bus and train tickets can be purchased this way too. It’s all about researching and finding the right websites.
Of course there are disadvantages. A huge disadvantage is not being able to get air mile rewards and bonus points. Many travellers I know have talked about the perks they receive from air lines ~ seat upgrades, even free flights. It’s not possible without a credit card, at least I have not discovered any yet.
Another disadvantage is in North America and traveling. Hotels want credit card information to reserve a room. Car rental companies won’t even consider renting a car without a credit card. While I understand the reasoning, I think it’s unfair to the people who travel on a cash~only basis.
Living and traveling in Europe and China has been quite simple as almost every place willingly takes cash for payment ~ including hotels. I am unaware if there are debt problems here in China as there are in North America, but it has been very nice living in a country that is so accepting of cash.
It has been over six months since I arrived and I am still learning new things each day when I am out. These are some things that may surprise you about China:
Pedestrians have no rights. Seriously we have no rights. We walk whenever there is a break in traffic. Cars do not slow down for you. Sometimes it feels like you are risking your life by crossing 8 lanes of traffic. I have become very good at maneuvering my way across the roads.
Public transportation. It’s a very different experience here. At small stops, a lot of the time the bus simply slows down enough for you to jump on and then takes off before the door is closed. You need to be quick! It is very cheap to take the bus ~ only 1 rmb (about 20 cents Canadian). They pack on the people ~ like a sardine can. People push, they sometimes are aggressive with their pushing. You learn to push back. I also have learned when the best non crowded times are to get on a bus!!
Stray dogs. This is a very sad part of the area I live in. Many people within the gated area have dogs as pets. But outside of this area, there are a lot of stray dogs. They look frightened and sad, but it is still better to keep away from them. There have been many times I have seen parents make their child run away from them. Its sad.
Snow removal. This city amazes me with the snow removal!! They waste no time getting out the snow ploughs and shovels to clear the snow. And the amount of people who are doing the shoveling is astonishing. Men and women of all ages. Once the snow stops falling, they get out their brooms and start sweeping the snow off the roads. It really is awesome to see how they do it. They do not, however, use any salt. Its very slippery some days!!
Shopping centres. If anyone has a noise sensitivity, you need to be aware of the noise. And this isn’t from the shoppers. The different stores have people standing there, with microphones, yelling about their sales. They talk over one another. I know this now and so plan my shopping on days when I know I can handle the amount of noise I will encounter. And in the supermarkets, they have people offering free samples and they are very pushy!! I know to say BU now (no) and walk away.
These are just a few examples of surprising things I have encountered. It still amazes me that some of these things happen!!
To continue with my personal tips on being in northeast China,
6. Shopping centres ~ they have specialized shopping centres everywhere! Furniture centres, clothing, shoes ~ it’s fascinating. And there is even one for tea!!! There are lots of general ones that have everything but sometimes its fun to go to the specialized ones!
7. Squatting ~ okay this is one that surprised me. I had no idea about the squatting “toilets”. I cannot get used to that. But whats been more eye opening are the parents letting their children go to the bathroom anywhere. Parking lots, on the grass…anywhere. They squat and they go. Be prepared.
8. Bathroom etiquette ~ more on this. Carry tissue, and hand sanitizer. There is rarely toilet paper. Never hot water. Rarely soap. And rarely paper towels to dry your hands. It is very disconcerting. So again be prepared! Starbucks, KFC and Pizza Hut are exceptions to this.
9. Restaurants ~ when you go to a restaurant here, they bring you a menu and stand there until you order. It does no good to ask for a few minutes. They wait. Its stressful!! On the plus side, the bigger restaurants will usually have English menus. So if you know what you want when you go in, it is a good thing.
10. Public transportation ~ most buses I have been on are crowded, loud and people are pushy. More pushy than I ever experienced in Canada. It does not matter if you are “first” in line. They will push you out of the way. I have learned to push back. They don’t care if you do ~ it is just the way they all are! They expect it I think!
Stay tuned for more tips and observations!!
When I moved to Europe in 2014, I knew that I would not be the same size as I was in Canada. The women in the Czech Republic are tall, slim and have skinny legs and small feet. I am none of those. I have always been a plus size woman and had accepted that in Canada. In Europe, I felt even bigger because the sizes are so different. My size 10 feet became size 42.
So I am now in China, and had to shop this week for winter attire. They do not even carry women’s shoes or boots in my size. Good thing I like black hiking style boots for winters!! And winter coats – well in Canada I’m extra large – here I’m 3xL. Yeah thanks for the confidence booster China.
On the plus side this week – my students guessed my age as 33 – hahaha thanks guys!!
Living in foreign countries is already challenging – it became more challenging this week!!
Well, I had been warned that the cold weather comes quickly here – and they weren’t kidding!! Thank goodness for hoodies and warm pants!!
Winter is my favourite season so I look forward to experiencing winters here in northern China. In January there is an ice festival in Harbin, which is not far from here. I am excited to go!!
My challenge now is to find a suitable winter coat and boots – I am having to get men’s boots since Chinese women don’t have giant feet – one sales lady looked horrified when she saw my foot size. Aw well, its just another challenge to overcome in this very interesting country I am in!!
Remember to smile every day 🙂