I’ve recently taken to examining my spending a lot more closely than normal. I’ve got some big(ger) travel plans in my head and I’m ready to have some money in my bank account so I can actually get traveling!
Because of that, I’m trying extra hard to value experiences over things that cost money. Because even if you’re living with a near-zero bank account or you’re just trying to save up for something big, as long as you have a little bit of downtime, an experience is something you can absolutely make happen. I’d even deem creating experiences for yourself critical when money worries are on your mind – the break from the grind of working and worrying can be a real game changer.
Before we get started on these free things to do this weekend, a few notes: this lists assumes you have access to a phone, tablet, or computer and the internet. This also assumes, unlike many lists I’ve read, that you don’t have oodles of extra materials sitting around at home. (Seriously, a ‘free’ list that includes ‘make an elaborate craft with $100 worth of supplies you have sitting around at home’ or ‘create a five-course meal’ is BS in my book!).
Onward! 10+ free things to do this weekend:
Chase the horizon. An easy way to kick-start a mini-adventure: pick a spot in the distance and try to get there! If you’re in the city, find somewhere high up you can get to for free. Start from a tall office building and choose a new park or interesting landmark. If you’re somewhere without tall buildings, try a decent hill or mountain (or even Google Maps in a pinch!).
Spend a few hours writing, reading, and/or people-watching in your local library. I’m extremely fortunate to live just a five-minute walk away from Indianapolis’ Central Library which is not only massive and gorgeous, but full of amazing amenities that can keep you occupied for hours on end. Everyone also seems to forget that library cards are free and now even entitle you to free ebook downloads if you don’t feel like lugging around a physical book!
Download and dive into podcasts. Whether you download them onto your phone and head out into the world or just curl up under the covers, podcasts are the perfect way to be entertained or even learn something new. Check out The Atlantic’s list of 2015’s best podcasts or, if you’re looking for something strictly travel-related. I’ve given a couple of examples of awesome travel podcasts in this post.
Visit a local Instameet. The IGers group is super active and have tons of meetups. If you don’t know, an Instameet is basically a group of photographers meeting up at a cool spot, taking some pictures, and sharing them (with appropriate #hashtags, of course!). Most major – and even some not-so-major – cities have a group that puts on activities once a month or so.
Volunteer your time. You could be entirely selfless in your volunteering or you might even get something awesome in return (like how my husband and I volunteered to help at a winter food + beer event where we got free admission in return for a few hours of help!). To find volunteer options in your area, try Volunteer Match or contact local charitable organizations.
Organize a self-guided tour. I’ll talk a little bit more about this next week, but organizing a self-guided tour is a great way to get to know your town or city a whole lot better. Start by choosing a theme (for example, a historical neighborhood or up-and-coming restaurants or 20th-century architecture). Then, do some research, pick your locations, map out a route, and take your tour! Bonus points for showing it off to friends or family!
Search for an interesting recipe using ingredients you already have. I’m personally a fan of Supercook, which lets you list the ingredients you’ve got and then matches them to recipes in the site’s database. The more ingredients you add, the more options you get.
Go on a street art hunt. Pick a new place in town to visit and make a point to find and photograph at least 3-4 examples of street art or graffiti. There’s nothing better than a graffiti hunt to get you wandering down unexplored side streets, camera in hand. Trust me, that’s not nearly as sketchy as I just made it sound.
Find a local trade school and take a free class. I’ve mentioned before that Indianapolis has a wonderful trade school and many other cities have a similar model (ie. you trade something for entrance into classes). Find one nearby and sign up for a class that piques your interest – likely a traded skill, a story, or a baked good will be more than enough to gain entrance!
Complete the picture an hour challenge. Kerri from Crumbs in the Bed is the master of this challenge and I love the idea, which is exactly as simple as it sounds: take one picture for each hour you’re awake (7 AM, 8 AM or 7:25 AM, 8:25 AM; etc). Whether you post it on your blog, Instagram, or Facebook is up to you, but the simple act of taking stock of your day is pretty rewarding.
Seriously, try Geocaching. Check out that post laying out the details of what exactly geocaching is – I think a lot of people are surprised that it’s not just a kid activity. Whether you seek out hidden caches in warmer summer months or with a giant thermos of something warm in the winter, geocaching is great fun!
Host a potluck movie night. Grab a few friends and invite everyone to whip up a snack (or even a main dish) and come over for a movie night. Free movie options include: inviting everyone to bring one or two DVDs to vote on, grabbing someone’s Netflix account, or even finding one of the many (bad) free movies available on YouTube.
Sign up for a free version of Skillshare and take a class. While full access to Skillshare requires a paid account, the site does have a number of free classes on offer. I prefer Skillshare to other sites because there’s an across-the-board level of quality that many sites don’t match. Best of all, as soon as you sign up for an account, Skillshare lets you choose your interests so you can see classes tailored to your specific wants.
What free activities can you add to this list? I’m always looking for an exciting new experience!