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Try Out This Grocery Store Challenge While You're Abroad

Posted by Emily Cummings on 6/3/17, 4:34 PM

ILP ChinaIt sounds weird but it’s crazy fun. All you need is a bit of money, a foreign country and a grocery store. Oh, and these tips. 

When you travel, you have to do a grocery store challenge. It’s something I try to do in every country I visit because it’s so fun and random and changes in every country. And I think it works better when you have at least one other person, which makes it ideal for all our ILP volunteers.

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Alright, onto the how you play:

  • What’s A Grocery Store Challenge?
  • What Are The Rules?
  • Any Other Tips? 

What’s A Grocery Store Challenge? 

Basically you run into a random grocery store and see how much you can buy for a set amount of money.  I’ve done this for a cheap lunch or just a way to spend the last few Indonesian Rupiah I had in my bag before leaving Bali (I don’t know about you, but I’d rather bring home cookies rather than random coins I can’t spend at home). 

ILP Mexico

What Are The Rules?

It depends on how you want to play. Like I said, it’s fun to take the last few coins and bills you have and just spend them all at the nearest 7-11 or market before you leave the country.

Or it’s way fun to do this after teaching class one day just to mix things up. When I was in China, a friend and I did a grocery store challenge and bought all sorts of funny treats to eat before a movie night on the weekend. The options are endless.  

First, Set A Time Limit 

I do like to make a time limit just to make it a little more exciting. You can take 15 minutes or 5, that’s really up to you. If it’s a bigger store, I’d “allow” more time but hey, do what you want.  Everyone has 5 minutes (or whatever time) to run around and spent alllll their money before the time is up!

Make Your Spending Limit 

I also like to set a money limit for each person to spend (if I’m not “playing” by myself). How much depends on what I’m shopping for and where I am in the world.

Around Asia, I aim for about $1-2 for snacks, and $3-4 for lunch (yep, Asia’s that cheap!) but in Europe I try to be in the $2-4 snack range and around $4-7 for lunch. Everyone has 5 minutes to run around and spend alllll their money.

And Enjoy!

Then, spread out a huge blanket in the park or bring your spoils back to the apartment to have a picnic.

ILP Thailand

Any Other Tips? 

You can adjust this however you want, which is what makes it so great. Tight on time? Only spend 3 minutes shopping before your bus leaves for the beach. Want to have a full on picnic? Assign people to buy drinks, or fruit, bread, or cookies with their money so you get a more well-rounded meal. Don’t have $2 per person? Put all the money together and see what you can buy as a group. 

This works for the fruit stand on the corner in Mexico, or one of the hundred 7-11’s in Thailand, the charming markets you see in Europe, or the mega superstores in China.

It’s something you can do in every country, any day of the week and make it fit your schedule or itinerary. It’s just fun to run around and see what you can buy and eat some cool foreign food when you are finished.  Pick out some treats you've never tried before so it's all a surprise.

ILP Adventure

Need other travel tips or ideas on how to fill your time when you are living abroad? Read a few posts on ILP’s blog. We have posts on life abroad and favorite travel destinations, and other ways to save money. Helpful, right?

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Hi! We are ILP, a non-profit org that has service abroad opportunities for college-age volunteers. We share our tips for making the most of your time traveling and living abroad.

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