Frugal Travel and Entertainment
It is time for another installment of my very own Frugal Friday! I am enjoying looking at ways in which we spend frivolous money and ways that are really frugal and cheap! Now don't get me wrong, there are times when I spend money like it's going out of style. BUT, there are also times where I want to be frugal! And today we are going to talk about entertainment and how to be frugal as we strive to entertain ourselves. So today I give a list of free or cheap ways to spend a day of fun without breaking the bank!
A day that was quite costly
Entertainment and days of fun can rack up quite a price tag. It happens really quick. A few years back I received a call from a friend asking me to spend the day with her. I was quick to answer affirmatively. However, I advised her that due to an unforeseen bill that I was low on cash and didn't want to spend a lot of money that day. "NO problem she told me, just want to go to the National Harbor and I'll drive." Off we went. My friend was true to her word. She drove and paid for the gas and the parking garage fee.....my funds quickly dwindled and diminished right before my eyes! You see......she wanted to go to a circus! I don't remember the exact price of the ticket that I paid but I looked online and the price of that ticket...same circus and same exact location for this year and that ticket would cost between $85 and $119. For the sake of argument I will say $85....even though we of course had great seats and probably would have paid more than the base price).
I purchased nothing at the circus....but it was well past lunch. We went to lunch. I looked up the menu for that place and I will say that there was NO WAY that I got out of there for less than $20...and that is if I just bought a sandwich! I was now at an estimate of $105 for a day that I didn't want to spend money.
We walked around and through some stores. No problem. I bought nothing. But then my friend, the same one that had promised to keep costs low decided that we had to ride the Capital Wheel.....we had to conquer her fear of heights. "Please Maryfran" Add on $15 plus tax...and let me say that was the most expensive Ferris wheel I've been on! Total cost for day to this point $120.
We drove home. But the hemorrhage of money was not done yet. "Dessert, we need something sweet" my friend declared. SO we stopped for dessert.....another $10.
The total for the day was over $130 dollars. And I know that I could have said no at any point...but you do sometimes get swept into the moment and then struggle with stopping the train wreck from happening. But that was a lesson that I was still learning at that point! Luckily I DID have the money. I had to pull it out of my savings account, so it wasn't like I went into debt. But what if I didn't have that money? What kind of entertainment could I have chosen!
Frugal Entertainment: Go for a Hike
Going for a hike is almost always absolutely free! It will cost you nothing but the gas to get to a trailhead (if there are none within walking distance). Sure you may ante up a few dollars for an entrance to a park if you chose to go to an area that has an entrance fee, but there are MANY places that are free! We recently went on a recent hike. It is 18 miles away. My car gets about 33-35 mpg. I used one gallon of gas. Estimate cost $3.00! That is a frugal day and it is GREAT fun and was FREE!! Look online to find local trails. I use All trails quite a bit! Hiking is great for the body, the mind and the spirit.
Frugal Entertainment: Explore
We will occasionally find an abandoned building to explore. It is something that gets us outside. It allows our minds to actively imagine and think. It is history at our fingertips and it is a history that due to being abandoned is slowly decaying back into the ground! It costs nothing except the gas you need for your car to get there! We have explored a few abandoned places all within 15-30 miles of where we live......Estimate cost $3! I will put out the disclaimer to explore abandoned places at your own risk due to dangers and trespassing!
Frugal Entertainment: Ride a Bike
Go ride your bike! If you own a bike, it will cost you absolutely nothing and give you time outside. You will see amazing things that you would otherwise not be able to encounter. The wind in your face is freeing. If you are wiling to ante up a few dollars for the gas to get there, you can take you bike to any number of trails! I use the app Trail forks to find neat trails to ride!
Frugal Entertainment: Geocaching
A few years ago I picked up a hobby called Geocaching. It is where you go onto a website and chase down 'caches'. The caches are hidden and you will be given the GPS coordinates. You simply traverse to the coordinates and find the secret little hide. When you find the hide, you put your user name on the logbook/log paper that is inside the cache and revel in the victory of the hunt! Some of these are TRICKY to find. The GPS will only get you close......where they put it is the fun part! It really is simply a scavenger hunt. There are no great rewards other than a smiley on your map when you find one! YOu can have a basic membership and find some for free at Geocaching.com. I have spent full days out searching for geocaches. It costs me a little bit of gas for my car and it opens my eyes to new places. I have found parks and monuments that I was not aware of. I have had people ask about the safety and I have never felt at all risky about going to a geocache. They are all posted and can go for weeks without anyone visiting a cache, so to worry about someone 'laying in wait' for you to arrive, is not a valid concern as they could be waiting for weeks and months! I still enjoy doing this and we frequently go out and grab a few geocaches when we need something to do! Cheap entertainment! IN the picture below check out the wee little cache that I was hunting for and obviously found!
Frugal Entertainment: A local Zoo
We invest yearly in our local zoo and preserve. A season/yearly pass is $60 for each person at our local zoo. Sure, it is an outlay of money, but don't you want to go to the zoo every once in a while anyway? A single day ticket at our zoo is $20. We opt for the season pass. First of all it helps the zoo in their efforts but it also offers us a place to go where we can walk. It is an easy walk on graded paths and the one that we go to is heavily shaded. We can enjoy the animals and a variety of programs. I believe we have stopped in at least 6 times this year....that reduces the cost of our visits down to $10 a piece. That sounds like a good deal to me! Quite frugal!
Frequently, I will research locally or in places that we will be traveling to looking for various museums to visit. I do it primarily because I love to learn. Museums are a great way for me to expand my knowledge. Sometimes, I will find a musuem that I want to visit and decide that the entrance fee is well worth it. On a recent weekend trip to Harrisburg I did just that. We spent money to go through the National Civil War Museum and the Fort Hunter Mansion. It was well worth it and I don't begrudge a penny of that money! However, many times when I am looking, I will find museums that are free! Just the other week we went to the Catoctin Furnace Museum. It was totally free. Sure it was small, but it was well done and absolutely free! Time and time again I have found the most absolutely fantastic FREE museums! I went to quite a fee Free museums during a trip to Philadelphia a few years ago! Do your research! There are tons of museums that are free or practically free!
Having fun and living your life to the fullest does not have to mean that you are spending a ton of money! Sure, I have spent my share of money on outings and days of entertainment but having fun does not have to cost you money! Sure, I had fun during that day at the National Harbor that I talked about at the beginning of this post but I have had just as much fun hiking to a vista or overlook. I have been just as enamored with an abandoned building and I have been tickled pink to tour a museum. Swimming in a stream in the woods while out on a bike ride is good cheap fun. Look around you...the world is filled with frugal entertainment. You just have to open your eyes to see the opportunity!
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