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Posted by on Sep 2, 2013 in AFaS, Australia, Oceania

Budget Extremes: Meet the Noodle Girls


I always say I love to budget. But I wouldn’t call myslf cheap. I spend where I want for some luxuries and skimp on other things I see as unnecessary or a rip-off. I always eat fairly well while trying to find a discount and limit activities according to what I can afford. But what about when budgeting goes too far?

I sat outside the Mall in Brisbane waiting for my couchsurfing host, Jordan, to pick me up. In the car, he informed me he had 8 other backpackers staying at his house; His backpacker family. I was intrigued. I’d never surfed with multiple surfers before. There were 2 Swedish girls, 2 German girls, 2 German boys, and 2 American girls.

Australian currency

I arrived at dinner time and I was looking forward to the chicken Parmesan Jordan said he was cooking for us if we put in $5. I gladly handed over my $5; Home-cooked meal? Yes Please. But the 4 other girls all said no; they’d just eat their noodles. As the days went by, their noodle consumption became obvious. All they were eating were noodles. For lunch, for dinner, every day, every meal.

So I inquired; Why torture yourselves like that? Money was the answer.

Yes, I understand Australia is an expensive country to travel to and not known for its cuisine, and that noodles are cheap; 3 Packages for $1 AUS. But noodles have no nutritional value and only act as a filler. How could you submit your body to such cruelty all for the sake of saving a buck? Where should you draw the line between your budget and your health?

Like I said, I want to stay on budget, I want to save money where I can, but depriving my body of food isn’t how I am willing to do it. And after you go home, 20lbs heavier and depressed, how will you look back at your experience? Eating noodles every meal, never going out and enjoying what the destination has to offer because you didn’t want to pay for it? What are the positive outcomes of such actions?

The only benefit I can see is stretching your budget. That is it.

You didn’t enjoy your experience in any way. No food, no activities, and sitting at home all day because you haven’t given your body enough nutrition to provide energy to do anything. Doing nothing in the house all day because you don’t want to pay the $2.50 AUS bus ride into the city centre. Where is the value in that?

Here’s the thing. I’m living in this house with the Noodle Girls and we went to buy food. They bought noodles, butter, milk, and flour. I bought grapes, peaches, capsicums, teriyaki sauce, tofu, bread, turkey breast, and milk. We both bought enough food for 5 days. Our bills had a difference of $10 AUS, with me paying the higher amount. My sanity and my health are intact with minimal damage to my budget. Eating healthy and enjoying your Australia experience doesn’t mean you need to limit yourself so dearly.

Just because you can stretch your budget to six months by consuming nothing but noodles and partaking in no monetary activities, is it worth the time?

Why pay to be in a country you aren’t enjoying?

I’m not talking about spending frivolously because I don’t do that either. But some things I see as stubbornness more than necessity. Determination to sacrifice everything to stay on budget. There are many activities and foods you can enjoy in Australia without killing your budget. Yes, you’ll spend more than your eating-noodles-staying-home budget currently provides, but not enough to make you broke.

Brisbane Australia-1

Couchsurfing is a great first step towards saving money. Eating Fruits and Vegetables from markets also save money while providing your body with the nutrients it needs. Participating in free activities the city has to offer; swimming in the Lagoon, Walking the Streets, Window Shopping, Picnic in a Park, Free concerts, Free Walking Tour, City Botanic Gardens. All for the cost of the bus ticket.

It was a very eye opening experience to live with the Noodle girls for 4 days. Watching them starve and stay home while I ate my fill on fresh fruits and wandered Brisbane. Yes my food cost me slightly more, yes I paid for my bus ticket to/from the city every day, and yes I LOVE Brisbane. I truly don’t believe I’ve had to “pay” for this experience either. With the slightest increase to your budget your lifestyle and experience increase exponentially while your budget stays minimal. That increase is worth it to me. And I can still proudly call myself a budget backpacker.

So is it worth it? Would you be a Noodle Eater?


  1. Ohmygod, this is RIDICULOUS!!! I know people often like to cook their own meals to save money and will eat the same thing for a few days, but they’ll buy things like pasta at the supermarket and then veggies at the local market. But ONLY NOODLES for EVERY MEAL?!? That’s insane.

    I love my food, so I rarely cook, unless I’m compensating for an overspend, in which case I’ll usually buy stuff to make sandwiches for breakfast and lunch, maybe some yoghurt or fruit too, but I’d never deprive myself of food when I travel, even in a not-so-cheap country like Australia, or my home country, the UK. Food is such an important part of a country’s culture, and I can’t imagine not experiencing it, let alone not having the energy to experience anything else!

  2. I stumble up on your blog and the Indomie Goreng pict attracted me to read your post. hehehe…

    Anyway, I’m agree with you. Sometimes we need to become superstrict for money we spend on food. There are many things that we can do other than always eating noodles. Well, Since it always served with a big portion of food, I like to sharing-meal with my partner when I visited Australia back then.

    It reminds me about my friend’s friend who could walk so far and waste so much time just to find a tap water! I know bottle water is kinda pricey, but..seriously?? it doesn’t worth your time when you travel, especially in short period!

  3. Ok, this shocked me. I ate a lot of noodles in college–because, well, I was poor as a rat. Now, when Travelling, I do still eat noodles but because it’s a cuisine in that country, like pad Thai, udon, okonomiyaki, etc…. But I don’t buy noodles from the dollarama, anymore. :))

    It’s 4 packs of noodles for CAD1, so we are way cheaper than Australia. Lol….