How To

Day Trips: The New Cheap Vacation

When most of us think about taking a “vacation,” we imagine a week or two in a far-off place. This is a lovely picture, but it is not necessarily realistic. A long, leisurely vacation is something that many of us just do not have the time or money to do, even if we have the desire.

Because of these factors, more and more people are using day trips as a way to take a break without making major adjustments to their wallets and calendars.

Getting away for only a day means you can have that great escape without saving and planning for months, and you can still get home in time to tuck the kids into bed. With a day trip you don’t have to worry about the extra costs that are the hallmark of most long vacations, as you don’t need a hotel and flight, transportation costs are minimal, and you don’t need to budget for a week’s worth of meals.

You may be saying to yourself, “One day is such a short amount of time! How can I possibly fit a worthwhile vacation into that time frame?”

The fact is, even taking only a day is better than taking none at all. Sometimes a day is all it takes to recharge your batteries and release some tension. No matter where you live, there are always fun and affordable activities that you can complete in a day or less, and you just have to get out there and find them! Consider these ideas:

Put The Shoe on the Other Foot

It is easy to take for granted the people, places and things we see on a daily basis, but just because we become familiar with our surroundings, that does not mean they don’t have anything interesting to offer. How many times have you driven by that museum, restaurant or park on your way to work and thought, “That looks interesting, I should go there sometime.” Do you recognize the main attractions in your city or town only through tourism advertisements and testimonials from visiting family and friends?

If so, why not act like a tourist in your own city or town? Sling that camera around your neck, throw that guidebook into your fanny-pack and get out there and see the sights. Pretend that you are someone who is visiting for the first time and only has 24 hours to enjoy it. What should you do?

Many tourist attractions have little or no admission fees. Take the time to wander around a popular museum or art gallery, or the visit historic sites that have put your city or town on the map and into guidebooks. Ride around from a different perspective by hopping on a tourist bus or boat, or by renting a bike for a few hours (or borrow a friend’s!). Take a walk through your local historic neighborhoods or graveyards and have a knowledgeable guide serenade you with facts. You never know — you might learn something new (or meet a cute German exchange student).

Go ‘Au Natural’

If you want to make your vacation more adventurous, consider taking a walk on the wild side through a nature or wilderness day trip.

Research parks, islands, and trails that are within a short distance of your home and then take off. Take a hike on some trails while completing a scavenger hunt or geocaching challenge, explore some waterfalls, visit a nature reserve, or do some rock-climbing.

If you enjoy nature, but are more of a junkie for dopamine than adrenaline, you can always set up a picnic in a field or park and relax with some books, magazines, or board games. Grab some binoculars and go bird-watching or leaf-peeping.

Visit a local farm and pick some apples or berries. Slap on some cross-country skis or snow-shoes and explore some trails or lakes. The best part is that most outdoor activities cost next to nothing. There is nothing like a day of fresh air to relieve the tensions of your workday world.

Expand Your Mind

Many of us have an interest in particular subjects that we want to learn more about, but just do not have the time (or the money to shell out for another college diploma or degree) to invest. Taking a day trip based around the idea of learning is a great way to finally get a grasp on these interests.

Explore a university or college in your area and see if they offer any audit courses (i.e. lectures that you can sit in and listen to for free) in subjects you are curious about. Drop into an introductory yoga or meditation class, or visit a cooking demonstration at a grocery store (both are often offered for free to first-timers).

Sit in on a workshop or author’s reading at your local library or bookstore, or spend some time actually searching the library’s resources for topics that interest you. Track down some genealogical records or details of the original inhabitants of your town or neighborhood in local archives. Imagine how great it will feel to fill those empty cabinets in your brain with fun new skills or facts.

The important thing to remember is that a vacation does not have to be long to be beneficial. Even taking little breaks from everyday life can help restore your mental and physical well-being, and most importantly, not break the bank.

Need to get away from it all, but are strapped for money and time? Take a day trip!

Kim is a writer and aspiring communications professional living in Nova Scotia. You can read about her adventures and work on her blog, Gathers No Moss or follow her musings on Twitter @KimHumes. She loves chocolate almost as much as she loves writing (and that’s saying something). Kim blogs via Contently.com.