So Much Room for Activities!
Episode #5 of the course A practical guide for budget travel by Damon Dominique, Joanna Franco, and Alyssa Perrott
Welcome back! Yesterday’s lesson had you drooling, and today’s will have you moving, grooving, and making the most of every day in your destination. We’re talking all things activities!
There are countless exciting, hilarious, and enriching activities that cost very little money. Many of our favorites, in fact, come completely free. Here are just a few.
This one is basic and the easiest of all! Put down the brochures you picked up at your hostel, and get outside to see what your destination has to offer. Parks and fountains and old staircases, oh my! Beaches and forests and former battlegrounds! Fields and boulevards and lakes! Street art, secret passages—it’s all free!
Think Outside the Box
Do you really need to pay a visit to Madame Tussauds in every city? Probably not (we’re sure Brad Pitt looks the same in all of them). Instead, why not find out where the closest botanical garden or observatory is? Entry for these is usually by donation only, and the tourist count will be minimal. Is there a community sports match being held during your stay? Any open-air concerts or cinemas? Free salsa classes at a Cuban restaurant? Board game bar charging $3/per player for a night of games? Look into seasonal events and council initiatives.
The through-line with this point is that you should focus on activities you can find only in the destination you’re in, rather than activities you can do despite it.
Take Advantage of Your Age
It used to be that you could only access mega discounts when you were technically considered a senior citizen. Finally, countries and companies came around and realized maybe, just maybe, we should be allowed to enjoy our lives before we’re linked up to a respirator. Most countries in Europe offer anyone under 26 discounted transportation tickets, as well as free or cheaper entry into major museums. Have a student ID or ISIC card? Flash that bad boy and watch those prices fall.
Forfeit the GPS to your senses and see where they take you. If you smell something delicious, go down whichever street it’s coming from. If you hear music, follow it. This is how we discovered an intimate (and free!) orchestral performance in a tiny Czech church, breathtaking deserted beaches in the north of France, charming hidden corners of Venice’s labyrinth …
Turn exercise into a fun travel activity. Make the most of a city’s bike sharing system, plan a jog to a look-out point, or take a free trial dance class—learn to flamenco dance in Spain or test out your Broadway jazz hands in NYC!
Pay Attention to Your Time Zone
An easy way to save money on activities is to stay on top of the weekly discounts, free days, and off-peak deals offered in your destination. The Louvre, for example, is free on the first Sunday of every month (the compromise here is crowds, so arrive early) and New York’s Museum of Modern Art is free after 4 pm on Fridays. You can even cut costs on activities in the splurge realm—like a trip to Disneyland, if you purchase a mid-week ticket.
Tourist, with a Twist
Just because you’re on a budget doesn’t mean you can’t invest in any fun tours or touristy clichés—you don’t have to “think like a local” all the time. For tourism with a twist, things like ghost or “dark history” tours or a mythology tour in Greece can be great fun, and they’re a way to learn about a city’s history with a unique touch. Being in the $20 range doesn’t hurt either! There are alternative museum tours (seriously, check these out), Airbnb activities/experiences, and delicious culinary immersion with Eat With.
If you’re interested in something traditionally expensive, like a ballet, opera, or musical, buy tickets with “obstructed” or “restricted” view. These are majorly discounted and usually only blocked by a thin pole that you can easily tilt your head around (if in doubt, search the specific theater on Google images, or use sites like aviewfrommyseat.com).
There you have it—even with limited cash to splash, there is so much room for activities!
Check back tomorrow to cover the nitty-gritty of staying healthy while travelling, as well as how to cope when sickness comes calling.
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