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Saturday, October 21, 2017

How To Use Freebies To Stretch Your Travel Dollars

No matter where you go on vacation there are bound to be free things to see and do. These things are a great way to make your trip dollars go further and allow you to do even more.


As a fellow budget traveler, not only am I looking for fun and exciting stuff to do on my trips, I'm also looking for affordable ones. While I may want to cram as much in as possible, my bank account doesn't particularly allow it, so free things are an excellent way to pad out my schedule. If you know where to look, you can do the same.


Free museums
We just came back from San Diego, where Balboa Park is a huge resource for culture. We purchased an Explorer Pass for the museums there, because we knew we wanted to visit at least half of them. Several of these we're free anyway, but our pass gave them a piece of the profits as a donation when we visited, which we would have done anyway.

A lot of cities we've visited have had free museums, including large ones like London. Some only have certain free admission days, while others run on donations. Keep a couple bucks in your pocket to spare for those. I know it's technically not free this way, but two dollars is still way cheaper than $18+ that lots of museums charge to get in.


Parks
Got kids? This is a great way to give them a way to burn off excess energy and give you a bit of a break, but parks are awesome for adults too. Tons of large parks have more to see and do than just a playground. You might find a duck pond, sculpture garden, botanical garden, etc. Balboa Park is full of such things, plus wildlife, bocce ball courts and more.

Think ahead and get yourself a takeaway meal and enjoy it al fresco. You can't beat that, especially on beautiful days. Some hotels will loan you sports balls, bikes, or other ways to take advantage of the outdoor space. Don't be afraid to take them up on it.


Zoos
While most zoos cost an admission fee (some quite a hefty one), others are totally free. Check online to see what your destination zoo charges. 

If you have a zoo membership at home that participates in AZA, you might be able to use it elsewhere for free admission or at least a discount. Just don't forget your card. Same goes for children's museums and gardens. Some member benefits extend to travel.


Outdoor historical sites
We walk on vacation. A lot. So, I'm always looking for outdoor attractions and landmarks, like ruins, statues, historical walks and more. It's a fantastic way to learn more about the city and most of them are free. 

We went to Old Town San Diego and explored a cemetery that was discovered with radar equipment. We were able to read some of the stories of those people laid to rest there from old obituaries in the newspaper and from a history book (posted at the gravesites).


Street art
I love nothing more than an excellent mural or a street performer. You never know what you'll find around town, so keep your eyes peeled for cool stuff just waiting to be discovered. A lot of cities are partnering with local artists on beautification projects, so this is more and more common in downtown areas.

Think of how much money you can save by adding free things to your trip. You can do more and then put that extra money to a meal (or meals!) out to make it even more memorable. What are your favorite free things to do in a city?
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