I’m not sure where collecting coins all started… but I remember that my mom and dad always had this glass water jug at our house… you know the ones that you’d flip upside down on the water cooler, then you push a button and the water comes out? Yeah, before the plastic ones, apparently they were made of glass. This thing was HEAVY. Anyway, all spare change went into this glass thing and my brother and I would spend so much time counting the change, stacking the coins into little piles and then putting it back into the glass. I always wonder what would have happened if that thing got filled up- but it never did. Sometimes we’d get to take quarters out for the ice cream man, or to get gum at the grocery store.
Ever since I started traveling I always had a coin jar that stored my spare change until my next adventure. It never amounted to too much, maybe $100 or so over the course of a few years (I mean, who uses cash that much anymore?). Its never enough to send me anywhere, so what I decided to do with it was use whatever I had saved for an “extravagant” purchase or experience when I was abroad. In China it was a beautiful hand-painted Chinese Fan. In Thailand it was a 10 course tasting menu at a restaurant with my best friend. In Africa it was a tanzanite necklace and a scenic flight over the Okavango Delta. In Peru it was a gorgeous hand-woven blanket. In Italy a stunning leather purse. My personal favorite was in Porto I spent $125 on a 1/2 bottle of some of the most incredible Port I have ever tasted in my life.
Back in the day you used to be able to bring your jar of change to the bank, they’d dump it in one of those little machines, shake the change around for a bit and voila! They’d tell you how much was in there. I used to stand at the counter wondering how much it would be, almost on my tip toes trying to see before they told me… it was kinda fun, like a kid watching their cotton candy get created at the fair. Well, they’ve stopped allowing you to do that and now, to turn in change you have to actually roll your own coins in those little paper sleeves. It takes a little bit of the fun out of it… but as I’m on my Spring Break I had a bit of time to do it. I’m still a bit more than two months shy of leaving for my trip, but I have about $75 so far. I doubt I’ll get much more- like I said, who uses cash anymore? As I was digging through the coins though, I had slipped some folded up $1 bills in there too, so that was a fun surprise to see- and even one $5. Any thoughts on what I should buy or do in Italy, Egypt, Greece or the Balkan Peninsula?
I love this little tradition, and I love telling people that I literally save my all my pennies for travel- cause I really do. And those pennies have turned into some really cool treasures and memories.