Things to Do on a Budget Vacation


Experience fine dining (lite)

Whether it’s the seafood in Boston, the Creole cooking in New Orleans, or the fine dining in New York, you want to experience a city’s culinary specialties. But fancy restaurants can get pricey. Instead of blowing your budget, do some shopping at a grocery store, and prepare some simple, filling, and yummy meals wherever you’re staying.

If you’re at a friend’s house or a youth hostel with a shared kitchen, this can be easy and fun. You can even try your hand at crafting a local recipe with economical local ingredients you’ve purchased at a nearby store or farmer’s market. (Sampling some of the area’s local beers or wines can be fun while cooking.)

When you’ve eaten the bulk of your meal before leaving, go out for happy hour (you can find discounted drink prices) and order a few exquisite appetizers or small plate to share, or go out for desert. Be on the lookout for lunch specials around town too, and remember, a lot of the best food can be found at the hole-in-the-wall establishments frequented by locals. Talk to some people around town to get some good recommendations.

Take a walk

There are many fun things to do in every city, and it’s easy to feel like you should spend your daytime vacation hours eating, drinking, and paying for activities like tours. However, sometimes the best way to get the feel for a place is just by strolling around its different neighborhoods. Do a little research online, ask locals about their favorite areas, and find out how to take public transportation to the more far-flung destinations. It’s easy to rest your feet by stopping for a coffee or beer in little cafe or bar. Remember to look into the parks; many urban areas have beautiful, green spaces. Some of them have free public events, concerts, and art installations to scope out during the day as well.

Events and nightlife on the cheap

All it takes is a little online searching to realize it’s not hard to find free things to do. Many cities have frequent free concerts in public spaces, museums, and venues. Many museums have free days (get there early if the lines tend to be long.) Colorful local events like parades and music festivals are often free and open to the public, so make sure you’re aware of the goings-on during your travel time. Don’t forget to ask locals about bars with good drinking deals because many local watering holes may have weekly specials on off nights.

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