With soaring gas prices and a crashing economy, “staycations” are a new reality (and addition to the lexicon). A “staycation” is a vacation minus the vacating part.
How can a restless vagabonder feel adventurous when chained between the cubicle and soaring expenses without a trip in sight? There are plenty of ways to find culture and excitement in your hometown without spending much money.
- Bring the adventure to you. Even if you can’t afford to explore a new continent this summer, you can still welcome travelers from abroad into your home. Couchsurfing and Hospitality Club are two ways to show visitors around (and make some great contacts when you want to pay them a visit!)
- Be tourist for a day in your own town. Haven’t visited the local museum since grade school? Mosey on down for a visit. Most museums have at least one free day a month.
- Be a shutterfly. Take photos of your home town from the perspective of a visitor. Go to the top of the tallest building in your town and admire the view. If you take some especially good shots, you can always enlarge and frame them for gifts.
- Offer your home to a student in a summer exchange program.
- Go on a walking history tour of your city- many are offered free or for donations by local historical societies. You’ll probably discover things you never knew about the place where you walk everyday.
- Season passes are your friend. Get a season pass to the local state park, water park, zoo, or amusement park. These passes are usually a good deal if you plan on going more than two or three times a season. Many also allow you free guest passes.
- Farmer’s markets are a great source of not only fresh food, but also free entertainment. These community gathering places generally have musicians and other artists playing for tips, as well as cheap and tasty meals. Many cities also have free music in the park events during the summer. Check your local free newspaper for listings.
- Check out the local country flavor that you would relish in a foreign land. Join in the watermelon seed spitting contest at the county fair, cheer for the local minor league baseball team, and make a splash at the community pool.
- Google for coupons or discount codes for your purchases or travel plans. Sometimes companies have online coupons for tours and activities that you need only print out to save big. Also, check out City Pass and look into getting an Entertainment Book.
- Do something nice for others. Volunteer at a senior center and you are sure to meet all sorts of people with fascinating stories to tell.
- Go to the library. In addition to books, most libraries have free DVDs, CDs, and other multimedia items free for the borrowing. Many also host free community events, including speakers and music.
- Join a Meetup.com group. With groups doing everything from taking trips to checking out new restaurants to planning extensive backpacking sojourns, Meetup has a group for every traveler to connect with like-minded souls.
- Immerse yourself in nature. Borrow native wildflower and fauna guides from the library and go explore what your neighborhood has to offer. Many parks and wildlife refuges offer free naturalist-led walks. Once you learn all about your local area, give back and become a volunteer. Whether you are leading walks, building trails, picking up trash, or helping out as a campground host, local parks are always in need of volunteers.
NewsWeek has an article with some helpful links when planning your “staycation”. What tips do you have to share with readers?