You make many friends on the road. They’re travelers you’ve met along the way, and locals you’ve befriended. You enjoy wonderful times together.
That is, until they ask you for money.
Lending money to friends is tricky business regardless of whether you are traveling, and can get in the way of an otherwise lovely friendship.
And on the road it’s even more complicated.
Here are some of the problems with lending money to people while you travel, and questions you should ask before opening your wallet:
Cultural and Language Differences
Be they travelers from other countries, or locals of a country you’re visiting, everybody has different ingrained ideas about money and finance. Thus it’s easy for the “terms” of a loan to be misinterpreted – and further mangled with language barriers. Is everybody on the same page?
Friendships come and go quickly on the road, largely due to the logistics of travel itself. Could somebody be asking you for money knowing you’ll be on your way soon with the hopes of dodging you until then?
Lending money to friends immediately highlights financial disparities between parties, which can make things awkward. This economic rift is even more pronounced when you are in a developing country living a western currency lifestyle. Will lending money to a local friend create bigger barriers?
If you lend money to somebody and word gets around, you may now be seen as a source of cash. This makes you a bigger target for not only fickle friendships and loan requests, but also theft. Will you be seen as a source of cash?
I’ve known very smart savvy travelers get scammed out of their money by fellow travelers with polished routines designed to part you with your cash. It all starts with a loan request.
Here’s a more detailed post about lending to and borrowing from friends that gives both parties some good questions to ask:
Bah Humbug! Okay, Go Ahead…
This post makes me seem like a Scrooge. Please allow me to back-peddle a bit now that I’ve got all the icky stuff out of the way:
If your travel budget allows you to help a friend in need and you won’t starve without the money (and you won’t be upset if they don’t repay you), then you are a commendably generous person….and a good friend indeed.