Budget flights and hotels can make traveling cheaper, but a vacation can still be an expensive break from daily life. You can find plenty of cheap (or free) things to do while traveling. Here’s how:
First, research the destination before you leave home. This includes searching for free activities on the internet, asking family and friends for recommendations, and searching social media by location.
Websites such as Yelp, Meetup and Eventbrite can list affordable upcoming events such as academic lectures, social activities, bar crawls, gallery shows and live music.
When you arrive at your destination, or on the way to your hotel, ask taxi drivers, servers and other service workers for their ideas on the best and cheapest things to do in their city. Ask the hotel concierge for a list of things to do for free and for discounted tickets to popular attractions. Your Airbnb host may have ideas of little-known and cheap places to visit, as well.
Your credit card may also have a concierge service. Call the card issuer—the phone number should be on the back of the credit card—and see if anyone can help you find discounted tickets to events.
Another place to look is in the local newspaper, especially weekly publications. They should have calendars of events, including art shows, live music, festivals and sporting events. Also check Groupon or LivingSocial for deals on local activities, such as brewery tours, theater productions, boat excursions and restaurants.
Many outdoor activities are free and can give travelers a chance to stretch their legs and see more than the inside of museums while breathing some fresh air. Public gardens, self-guided walking tours and hiking in national parks are all free or very cheap ways to explore during a trip to a new locale. If you’re not sure how to get started, be sure to check out FreeTour.com, which will help you find a free walking tour in more than 100 countries. The tour guides work for free, so be generous with a tip if you can.
Some museums and theaters sell discounted tickets on weekdays, so check with them to see if a free or discounted showing is available during your visit.
If you’re looking for free souvenirs from a city you’re visiting, start with local nature areas and take home a seashell from the beach or a pine cone from the forest. In urban areas, free matchbooks from bars and hotels, or pens, can make good mementos.