These are rough financial times for everyone (well, maybe not Bill Gates), but that doesn’t mean you have to cut out all vacations, all fun, all treats. It just means you have to get a little more creative.
If you’re a person who always makes an adventure out of a place and really looks for things to do, this will be rather easy. If you’re a person that never really finds much to do, this might be a little difficult but you’ll learn a lot by the time it’s all over.
1) Make a budget. Know how much you have available to spend on your adventure or your evening of fun. The budget will give you an idea if you can do a road trip, fly somewhere or whether you need to try and stay local. Just because you don’t have much doesn’t mean you can’t do a road trip – you just need to think more frugally. And staying local doesn’t necessarily mean it will be really cheap.
2) Write a list of places you’d like to go. Natural sites (state parks, local parks, hiking trails, bike trails, lakes, etc), museums (including kids museums if you have kids or are like me just a kid at heart), town tours, tours of local establishments, wineries or distilleries, car manufacturing plants, local sights, buildings with fantastic architecture, college campuses, etc are all places you might want to check out. On the list, write down if there is an admission fee to go and about how much it would cost to go (gas, bus, etc). If you’re in NYC, know that many of the museums there are free – they only ask admission as a donation not a set cost. Other cities do the same. Put an order on the places so that you go where you really want to first, but don’t forget to mix it up. Don’t only go places you have to pay for and don’t only go to free places. Both are great but if you really want to go to a museum that’s pretty cheap, don’t not go because it costs a few dollars.
3) Pick your method of transportation. Of course if you already have a car and several friends want to go as well, your cost goes down – split the cost among all of you (or if you are riding with a friend). No car or don’t want to drive? Greyhound and Amtrak are their own adventures! If it’s nearby, take your bike or walk. Not that close or that far? Take public transit – city buses and subways are efficient and pretty cheap. Great way to move around. If you don’t have a car and can’t use any of these methods, rent a car and try to find others to go with you. Split the cost of the car and the gas with friends. Weekends are often cheaper than week days so pay attention to these prices.
4) Decide whether you’ll be able to carry your own meals where you visit. Taking your own food will keep you from overspending because it’s cheaper than buying food on site most places. If you’re going out in nature, be a good conservationist and take all your trash with you. Take a water bottle where ever you go – it’ll keep you hydrated! If you have a reusable bottle that is best to keep costs down and to help the environment. Some places will let you refill your bottle for really cheap or for free.
5) Stick to the plan. If you have $100 to spend total, don’t go over that unless it’s a true emergency. Keep your travel and admission and food under that cost.
6) Have fun and send us pictures!
HarriMac enjoys a well lived life with a large serving of soul. Her special feature, Welcome to Soulville, appears every Thursday.