We all know what it’s like when money is tighter than usual, but just because you’re counting pennies doesn’t mean you have to stop adventuring, you just have to get a little more creative. The past couple of weeks, Wolverine and I have been getting ready to move the first weekend in November. Those of you who have rented before know how this goes – deposit, first month’s rent, pet deposit, moving truck = so broke it isn’t even funny. We are on a strict budget until January, but we certainly don’t want to wait that long to get outside and explore again.
So, as we relish every last bit of Fall we can before our adventure tactics change to accommodate all those winter dangers, here are my top tips on how to adventure without spending a load of money.
1. Research free campsites.
Just because you live in an outdoorsy area doesn’t necessarily mean camping is always free. In fact, in Colorado, there are sites that charge upwards of $20 a night. That adds up really quickly, even on a simple weekend camping trip. BUT, never fear. This is the first and most important step to having an adventure on a budget lies in this. Those sites are much easier to find, sure, but if you do a little digging and ask friends for their favorite free spots, you can find a plethora of camping sites that won’t cost you a dime. Some might even be hidden gems in the perfect location with a beautiful view, and you might have missed them if you went for the tourist trap sites. Tap in a few quick google searches for free campsites around the area you want to get away to, and see what you find.
2.Find out when museums and national parks are having their “free” days.
One of the best parts about living in Colorado is that there are SO MANY national and state parks around to explore. Unfortunately, because of all the resources and effort it requires to preserve these parks and make sure they remain in their natural, beautiful condition, these parks often charge a daily fee. But they also often do a “free” day once a month or so. Be warned if you’re looking for a solitary adventure, this probably isn’t your best tip to follow because the days where the fees are waived tend to be some of the busiest at the parks, but if you don’t mind sharing the view with several hundred other people, then save yourself a few bucks and go on the free day. Even crowded, I promise the hikes will still be worth it.
3. Take a different route.
Maybe you always ride your bike down the same path every weekend. It’s pretty, sure, but doesn’t it get a little boring? If you’re looking for a really simple adventure, something that doesn’t require equipment or the use of gas in your car to get to a destination, hop on your bike and pick a new trail to explore. You might just find your new favorite tree to read under or climb up and read in. You could discover a hidden creek that makes just the right amount of relaxing flowing water sounds or spot a rock that is begging for you to crawl up on and sunbathe like a lizard. So often we get distracted by the need to go on really big adventures that we forget how many little beautiful adventures are right in our backyard. And taking the time to uncover the wonderful things that are already close to us helps us enjoy our world and lives just a little bit more.
4. Hayrides/Pumpkin Patches/Apple Orchards
Tis the season! So many of these are free to roam around, and even if you don’t buy that perfect pumpkin, or pick a bag of apples to make your grandma’s homemade applesauce with, it’s still a good, cheap way to get out and about and enjoy that crisp fall air. As an added bonus, oftentimes picking your own bag of apples at the orchard will be much cheaper than buying apples in bulk at the grocery store. So if you’re planning a lot of apple-based dishes this Fall, splurging a little on an orchard trip now might just save you some bucks on groceries for the next few weeks.
5. Take your hammock to a park for a day.
Chances are there are tons of open space parks around you if you just look for them. Sometimes the heart of a good adventure is just getting out for an afternoon and relaxing. What better way to feel like you’re in the wilderness even as rollerblades zoom by and dogs on leashes race their owners on the sidewalk than to string up a hammock in the middle of that one really good smattering of trees at your nearest open space park and escape into another world with that book you’ve been meaning to finish already? That’s what I thought.
See? There’s tons of ways to have an adventure without spending a fortune. So yeah, maybe you have to reschedule that trip to the Moab because otherwise you’d be behind on your electric bill, but there’s no reason that adventure-thirsting part of you has to suffer just because responsibility has to come first this month, or next. What are your favorite cheap ways to get out there and adventure? How do you still have new experiences on a budget? Have you ever tried any of these tactics? Tell me about your favorite hidden campsite!