Sometimes it feels like just getting to your vacation destination is going to clean out your pocketbook. But there are fun ways to enjoy a variety of activities while on vacation without spending a fortune. Here are eight money saving ideas for having a good time while emerging yourself in the local culture virtually wherever you travel.
To really get to know a city, one needs to walk. You can drive through a neighborhood and get a sense of it, the size of the houses or the parks, for example. But you’ll miss much of what makes it both special and frustrating to those who call it home. Maybe it’s the joy of a well-lit park where kids play ball in the evening or the challenge of getting to the grocery store across a set of railroad tracks.
Walking gives you the chance to explore historic buildings and appreciate neighborhood art at your own pace. Both the landmarks and the overlooked buildings are equally important for understanding the ways locals interact with each other, the culture they live in, and the influence of climate on architecture and urban design. Every street and every square has a story that waits to be discovered.
People volunteer for a wide variety of reasons, but no matter how you look at it, volunteering is an exchange that can bring social benefits to the volunteer too. There’s no easier way for getting to know a community and become an “insider”, meet new people, make new friends and even learn the local language than volunteering. You can make a difference while having fun away from the daily routine and build memories and friendships that will last a lifetime. However, before you volunteer, make sure that by doing so, you are not causing more harm than good. When your free unskilled labor stays in the way of a local being paid for it, you are not helping.
There are so many exciting things to do in a park whether you travel alone, with your friends or family. For starters, one can never go wrong with a good old-fashioned picnic. Local flora and fauna watching is yet another way of getting to know your new environment and reconnect with nature in a different setting. Writing letters, filling in a journal, making a things-to-do list, reading, biking, playing a team game, doing yoga or fitness are just a few of the fun and free activities you can enjoy while traveling.
The Turia Gardens From Valencia – the largest urban gardens in Spain
Many places of worship host fine art works worth a visit, not to mention they have free entrance. Some of the most important cathedrals out there might charge you a small fee but even that can be avoided if you visit during the services.
Cemeteries used to be an integral part of community life and in some parts of the world they still are. Carriage ways, or even walking paths and benches at particularly peaceful spots, and a part of many cemetery designs. The way the locals bury their dead loved ones speaks volumes about the beliefs, traditions and values their community respect. There are also many cemeteries in the world that are more like open air museums, with beautiful statues which artistic value is undeniable.
The Monumental Cemetery from Milan – an outstanding open air museums
Nothing can give you a feel for the beauty and rhythm of the local community more than people watching. You can sit down and relax your tired feet while paying attention to your surroundings virtually anywhere – a bookstore, a park, a coffee shop. People watching not only is a great form of free entertainment, giving you a sense of how local people interact with the world and with each other, but a source of inspiration and creativity-waking.
One of the wonders of being in any big city is strolling around enjoying its window displays because it is the big cities that draw the best creative design talent. In smaller towns, the local crafts will stand out. From clothes to antiques, the shop windows can be a colorful eye candy. Nobody forces you to buy anything, unless you want to.
Markets everywhere in the world are a delight for the senses. A visit to a local market is certainly one of the best ways for getting acquainted with the local customs. Markets are ideal for local food tasting, but also pay special attention to the social interaction, the friendly chatter between the sellers and their customers while enjoying the colorful exhibits of fresh local products.
When you travel, lots of money can be spent on museum entries. But with a bit of research, you can find free art in any city you go. Check our the art galleries for classic and contemporary local art. Many temporary exhibitions are also free of charge and almost every museum has a certain day of the week or month when it waves the entrance fee.
Street art and street performers are the voice of their community. You can understand better the social issues, the pains and sorrows and the humor of the local people by contemplating this form of artistic expression.
Establishing conversations with the locals is a great way to expand your social circles. Most people are willing to help when they see you are interested in their culture and way of life and they will point you towards the best bars and beaches in town. When in Rome, do what the Romans do. Attend a local worship service, go to a sporting event, take part in local recreation, visit a fair or carnival, use public transportation, shop in the local stores, especially smaller shops, get off the beaten path. Inquiring at the tourist office if they have a program that helps travelers meet the local citizens is always a good idea. If you’re traveling abroad, learning the local language from the natives it’s always fun. Why? Because you’ll learn a lot more than words, you’ll learn the stories behind different expressions people use on a daily basis, about their culture and lifestyle, you’ll have more meaningful interactions and you’ll be more likely to develop lasting relationships and memories.
What free activities do you enjoy most while traveling?