When you’re balling on a budget and are working towards financial independence, you don’t really have the financial resources to take lavish or long vacations. Those of us who are bargain hunters spend countless hours scouring Groupon and Frontier for discounts and inexpensive alternatives. With Memorial Day Weekend being the coming out party for summer, we don’t want to be the one sitting around with nothing to do.
Just because you are trying to make smart financial choices doesn’t mean you have to spend quality time with your couch. If you’re in a new place, it’s a chance to explore. If you’ve just graduated, maybe you have a small budget to splurge on a mini adventure. Maybe you’re with some friends and can pool money together for group experiences. Money shouldn’t prevent you from having a good time or creating your own adventures. Take this list of suggestions and run with it—go explore!
Spend time in nature.
Every state has parks, and the country itself is home to 59 national parks protected by the federal government. Some of these are extremely well known, like Yosemite and the Grand Canyon. Others that might be more manageable for you to travel to include the Florida Everglades and the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, which are located in areas that are easier to travel to than others in the West. If you live in the Northeast, consider the Adirondacks in New York or Frances Slocum State Park in Pennsylvania, located in a county named as the best for outdoor adventures in Pennsylvania. These trips can cost as little or as much as you want—that’s the best part! If you’re not a parks kind of girl, a day trip to the beach counts just the same as these green paradises. Fix your budget, find some spots, and hit on the road.
Buy your drinks in pitchers and food in appetizers.
Memorial Day Weekend can be time for fun and games with friends or family. Drinks are flowing, food plates seem to regenerate themselves and sleep may never come. If you’re traveling somewhere with friends or even just spending a night out, try to find drinks that you can split with multiple people. If sangria is calling you, see if one or two people will buy a pitcher with you. Instead of spending $8 on a glass, you can buy a pitcher for $15. If three people split it, you’re really only spending $5 per person. The same can be said for food, too. If you and a group of friends are more interested in socializing than eating, order several plates of appetizers that everyone can share and split.
Go to a baseball game.
Baseball is the quintessential sport for Memorial Day. Whether you live in a city with a Major League Baseball team or you live far from the a metropolitan area, there are games available to you. For example, if you live in New England, check out one of the minor league teams near you instead of spending hundreds on Red Sox tickets, travel and stadium food/drinks. Consider a trip to Cape Cod and watch arguably the best development league in the country. Wherever you live, look into the team closest to you. The team might not have the most recognizable names, but it’s all about the experience. Baseball is the American sport and Memorial Day is the American holiday, so grab your family or friends and sunblock, and head to the diamond!
If Memorial Day is an especially American holiday, what better way to honor it and those who have given the ultimate sacrifice than by giving your time? Your township or local parks and recreation department’s newsletter might have information on ways you can give back. Maybe it’s volunteering to set up the Memorial Day Parade in your town. Maybe the local Veterans of Foreign Wars or Salvation Army is collecting gently used clothing for homeless vets. You can combine your spring cleaning efforts with donating to those efforts. If your church is organizing an outing to spend time with patients at the local VA hospital or clinic, join them. Find a way to say thank you to our service men and women through your own service.
Plan a potluck picnic or dinner.
Get together with friends or neighbors by hosting a potluck at home or a small park. If you’re still getting to know people in your complex, school or work, invite them. It might be a step outside of your comfort zone, but that’s the point. Someone needs to make the first move and others might be just as nervous or uncomfortable making those moves, too. By planning a fun event like this one, you’re only spending money on the dish you’re making, building friendships with those around you, and–bonus–potentially keeping some of the leftovers.
Visit a local or lesser known museum.
We can live in a place so long without ever knowing its history. For large iconic cities, you’re more likely to know about the big picture history at least, but if you are in a smaller town, it’s not always that obvious. That being said, most, big city or not, probably don’t know the ins and outs of their town’s history. How did the town get its name? Who founded it and why? There’s no better way to feel like you’re a part of a community that to be able to share in its history. Visiting a local museum is the best way to do this. Admission is usually not expensive and you learn a lot. Maybe you’ll leave understanding why people had streets named after them, how the city or town has changed in the last five or ten years, or why a certain statue has significance.