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9 Free (Or Cheap) Ways To Have More Fun Traveling

Budget travel doesn't have to be boring and saving money while you travel doesn't have to suck! Click through for 9 free or cheap travel ideas you can use in any destination!
 I’m always looking for cheap travel tips and ways to do it better, faster, cheaper. You too, right?

And while I’ve got the ‘getting there cheaply’ and ‘sleeping + eating cheaply’ stuff down, finding cheap stuff to do? That’s been a bit of a learning curve. But after years of paying $15 for museums the bored me and booking $70 day trips I could have done on my own with a map and a bike, I’ve gotten smart (and creative).

9 Ways to Have More Fun Traveling

1. Check out a local grocery store

Peanut butter mochi! Seaweed-flavored Doritos! Sweetcorn ice cream! Grocery shopping has never been this fun. I could happily spend hours pawing through the shelves of a local (non-big box) grocery store.

If you’re feeling really adventurous, buy up $15 of unidentifiable, is-this-a-dairy-product-or-meat-product stuff and then sit in the park and nibble on all of it.

2. Attend a service at a local church*

I’m Agnostic but I really enjoy attending church services in the city where I’m staying – they’re a fantastic way to learn more about the culture and meet people. If you were raised going to church, they’re also a great way to connect with home when you’re feeling homesick.

I have incredibly fond memories of attending Christmas Eve services in Taiwan + New Zealand and a Sunday service in (very devout) Suva, Fiji.*

Of course, be respectful. Don’t attend orthodox churches if you’re not orthodox and make sure you’re dressed appropriately. If you’re not sure what to wear, dress the way the local women are dressing and make sure you’ve covered all the same parts of your body.

3. Visit a cemetery

It’s fascinating to see which names were common two or three hundred years ago – Dorcas? Kesiah? Sometimes gravestones of local notables include mini-bios and (surprisingly graphic) details of their death. Cemeteries in other cultures can also be beautifully, fascinatingly different than what we’ve grown up with.

The cemetery in La Paz, Bolivia is colorful vault stacked on top of colorful vault. Cemeteries in Taiwan are tiled family vaults that are swept, cleaned, and decorated during Ghost Month.

(Even though these cemeteries are extremely photogenic, it’s probably best to refrain from taking photos. I mean, I’d be less than thrilled if strangers were taking photos of my Grandpa’s grave because it was sooooo fascinating and colorful.)

4. Ask the locals if you can join their pickup game

Playing soccer, rugby or basketball with some of the locals (especially if they’re kids) is a shortcut to great memories and new friends.

If no one’s playing, you can always bring or buy a ball of your own and try to play forlornly by yourself while making puppydog eyes at passersby. You’ll probably have a whole team of soccer-playing friends within 20 minutes!

5. Dine with a local

Finding those hidden gem, holes-in-the-wall can be surprisingly hard when you’re traveling (because if it’s on Tripadvisor or in Lonely Planet, it’s no longer a hidden gem) and eating alone every night can be a bummer. Eat dinner with a local!

They’ll be able to recommend a great place to dine and give you all sorts of other great insights. Check out Invite For A Bite, Eat With A Local, or submit 100 words to the Network of Nice.

6. Use public transportation

Sure, taxis are easier and more air conditioned, but they’re also expensive and isolating. Brave the bus/metro/train! You’ll save money, see more of the city and the people who live there, and if you’re lucky, you’ll encounter some amazing buskers.

7. Rent bikes

Most large cities in America and Europe now offer bike sharing programs (here in MSP we love Nice Ride). For a few bucks, you can see the city at a leisurely pace, stop whenever and wherever you want, and get some fresh air and exercise. Just google ‘bike sharing [name of city]’.

8. Check out local events

Sure, Mardi Gras is awesome, but what about the Alligator Festival? Or the world’s longest garage sale? Or a fish house parade? Small towns host tons of hilarious, frequently free events that are just as much fun as the tourist-soaked, hotels-booked-months-in-advance stuff a few towns over.

9. Google ‘free’ (city name)

Oddly obviously? Yes. Something I’ve never done for my own city? Also yes. When I searched ‘free Minneapolis’ I found free tours of three breweries, a tour of the state capitol, Lego world, and several museums and art galleries I’d never heard of.

Have a google of your destination city before you go and schedule some free things in between your guided tours and day trips.

What free/cheap things do you like to do when you travel?  Share ’em in the comments!

P.S. 11 tips that helped me travel for 10 months on $5,000 + all my Cheapskate travel guides!

Photos by Toa Heftiba and Milos Simic on Unsplash

Web Time Wasters

 

Lyrics NSFW.How was your week, friends? I saw The Grand Budapest Hotel (which was amazing) and cut 8 inches off of my hair. What do you think?

But enough about my lob. Links for you! 

I’ve got space for three more people in April’s Network of Nice. Can you hook someone up? Do you need a hookup?

A reminder that some years we coast and some years we do the work.

If you’re an addict in recovery, what is your life like without drugs?

I will relinquish all else to ride that buzz to oblivion. Even if it began as a timid glass of chardonnay on a ponce’s yacht, it would end with me necking the bottle, swimming to shore and sprinting to Bethnal Green in search of a crack house. I look to drugs and booze to fill up a hole in me; unchecked, the call of the wild is too strong. I still survey streets for signs of the subterranean escapes that used to provide my sanctuary. I still eye the shuffling subclass of junkies and dealers, invisibly gliding between doorways through the gutters. I see that dereliction can survive in opulence; the abundantly wealthy with destitution in their stare.I loooove hearing about international tourists’ impression of America! 10 tips written for Japanese travelers coming to America.

Is this cute? Ridiculous? Both?

Things to eat/cook/bake: spiced cauliflower ‘couscous’, houseplant cupcakes.

How did we decide that 1,200 calories is the magic number for diets?

What I do know is that 1200 is the general number of calories health professionals say women cannot drop below without suffering negative health consequences.
Interesting, isn’t it? 1200 calories. The line between health and what they call “starvation mode”. 1200 calories. The dangerous tightrope that many women are trying to walk, because they think this is how thinness is achieved.Well, this is adorable: young people swapping clothes with their grandparents.

I think these would go with everything.

Nope.

Is ‘norm core’ really A Thing? Ugh.

Just another pretty thing that’s too expensive for me.

Cute. The Everyday Awards.

Fascinating. Tales of a female sex addict.

When I left New Zealand after a year and a half, my going-away party was America-themed. We danced to Bon Jovi, Bruce Springsteen, Bob Dylan and ate baby carrots with ranch dressing, chili, and brownies and wore costumes like Colonel Sanders, Michael Jackson, Janis Joplin, and a Hooter’s Girl. Here’s how non-Americans throw “American Parties.” 

Truth. You can occasionally run away from your problems.
My yearning to get away came from a deep place, born of wanderlust and wonder and “what if?”, but also frustration, exasperation, and the heavy weight of stagnancy. I wanted to start over. I wanted distance from painful relationships and suffocating family connections and a culture where I didn’t feel welcome. I wanted to pull up the anchor of my life (that I’d never wanted to drop in the first place) and set sail for something new. Put simply, one of my biggest problems was that I needed to run away.

Love this: fashion inspiration from film’s underdogs – Little Edie, Dawn Weiner, Maude of ‘Harold and Maude’ (one of my favorite movies!)

Last but not least!  I’m starting a monthly video series, tentatively titled ‘Cats & Questions’ – I’ll answer your questions about life/travel/business and then show you my cat in an outfit. Yes, really. If you’ve got any, send your questions to sarah (at) yesandyes (dot) org!

Some Yes and Yes posts you might have missed: True Story: I’m Tiny, Mini Travel Guide: Korea, How To Stop Comparing Yourself To Others.

Hope you had a lovely weekend!

Web Time Wasters

How was your New Year’s Eve and weekend, friends?  I party-hopped around the Twin Cities and attempted to impress people with raspberry champagne jello shots.  This weekend my dude and I crossed ‘sleep in a fishhouse’ of my New Things list by crashing is a swanky mini-house on the ice with North Country Guide Service.

Anyway!  Links!

I’ve got heaps of space in January’s Network of Nice.  What can we help you with?  Want to make new friends? Need advice about travel/school/etc? Anything that’s not Google-able is fair game!


I’m going to Alaska in February (!) to watch the Iditarod and I splashed out on a pair of these after hearing raaaave reviews from multiple friends.  I’ll let you know how they hold up!
This house tour of a tiny beach house is adorable!Well, isn’t this clever? A vending machine for art lovers on a budget Alex and I saw machines like this during our trip to Vegas!

This is haunting and interesting – short interviews with eight different people, of different ages, about their biggest regret.
But I find it horrible now that wherever I live, one set of grandparents will always be hopelessly distant. Expense, distance, and the awfulness of air travel sometimes making the journey seem impossible.

Let’s add this word to our lives + vocabularies.

I love the neckline on this dress.

As someone who travels every year to escape Minnesota’s six months of winter, I love the Danish concept of hygge and I’ve actively trying to incorporate it more into my life.
“you can hygge by curling up on the sofa with a good book” — and as an adjective by converting it to “hyggeligt” (HYU-gah-lee). It generally has a social component, but there are wide-ranging interpretations across Denmark, allowing it to describe anything from a person or a building to an abstract ambience or sentiment. And for Danes who travel or move to America, the lack of a clear English translation can feel linguistically limiting.

FUNNY.

Listen to all the best songs of 2013 (according to Pitchfork) in one big playlist.

This would have been perfect for my NYE’s outfit!

Are you an idea-holic? Here’s how to harness all that energy and actually doooooo stuff.

Fascinating! A travel photo journal from North Korea. It looks totally different than what I was imagining!

I think one of the last forms of ‘acceptable’ bias is shaming southerners and people from rural backgrounds. This post made me grit my teeth. Based on the comments, I wasn’t the only one.

Hottest women who are also absolute geniuses! Hedy Lamar invented and patented a method of radio wave transmission that would aid in the guidance of radio-guided torpedoes?!

I’m going to see this in April and I’ll probably die of joy.

This is sad, interesting, helpful. How To Survive A Christmas With Your Hoarding Mother.

Do not go shopping with her. If you’re anything like me, you can’t say no to your mother wanting to buy you a wind-up music box of Snoopy and Woodstock doing some jaunty Christmas dancing because of the special place in your heart they hold from happier, cleaner times. On the surface, this seems like a totally okay thing: the hoarder gets the excitement of buying something, but the thing doesn’t add to the clutter, because you’ll be whisking it away to another state in a few days. Ha ha, says the universe, because what happens is, she asks to keep it. And now you and that darling music box have become part of the problem.

I loved this list of 101 resolutions you can actually keep.

If one of your resolutions this year is to engage in more ethical fashion choices, you should read this.

Some Yes and Yes posts you might have missed: The Fun of Failure, How To Help A Friend, True Story: I was a phone sex worker.

Hope you had a lovely weekend and NYE, guys!

Web Time Wasters

 

How was your week, guys? I celebrated Thanksgiving at my sister’s house and spent most of the time asking my new niece if she was a ‘tiny buddy’ and then smelling her neck.  And then happily giving her back when she cried.  This weekend, I’m hosting a brunch in which I will introduce my friends to the wonder that is bannock.Also!  A Network of Nice update!  A reader pointed out that she often misses out on all the awesome hookups offered (free life coaching! free web design! free copywriting!) because she doesn’t visit Yes and Yes till later in the day. From here on out, I’ll be sending out the Network of Nice via the newsletter in addition to posting it on the blog.  And! That will be the same edition of the newsletter that includes discount codes from Yes and Yes sponsors.  You can sign up for the newsletter here.

Onward. Links. 

I, like everyone else, need the occasional reminder to stay present in my life.  This is a good reminder.

If you’re looking for a cool, mellow, obscure dinner party music, may I recommend Rokia Traore?  I saw her earlier this week at The Cedar and she was lovely.

So sweet!  NYC city hall weddings.  Would you get married at city hall?  I’m not sure I would but I would DEFINITELY elope.

I love the story behind this perfume.

These photos will make you double take.

Lovely photos of dogs and their people.

Biodegradable tableware that looks like vegetables?  Into it.

Such a cute sweater!  AND IT’S FLEECE LINED.

A podcast about living the life you want to live.

Have you read A Man’s Search For Meaning? It was written by Dr. Frankl, a psychiatrist and a concentration camp prisoner during WWII.  It includes quotes like this:

We who lived in concentration camps can remember the men who walked through huts, comforting others, giving away their last piece of bread. They may have been few in number, but they offer sufficient proof that everything can be taken from a man but one thing: the last of the human freedoms – to choose one’s attitude in any given set of circumstances, to choose one’s own way.

Gorgeous, haunting photos.

Yes. Let’s talk about cheese.

I need a bangle that says this.

I like this analogy.  The rules for writing are the same for making a mixtape or djing.

Got a fireplace mantel?  Here’s one metric ton of inspiration.

This box of postcards would be a great gift.

A reminder for the overachievers among us.  Productivity does not equal self-worth. (Whaaaaat?!)
If you tell yourself that your life is crazy and you don’t have time for XYZ, you’re effectively handing over control of your life to unseen, uncaring forces outside yourself. Once you convince yourself that you have no time and can only react, it’s not a huge leap to start feeling helpless. And you can’t kick ass at anything when you’ve been conquered! Don’t forget that you always have the ability to set boundaries and make time for your priorities. Armed with that, you really can accomplish whatever you want.
This quote is one of the truest things I’ve read in ages.

I love this idea for dividing a room!

A few Yes and Yes posts you might have missed: True Story: I have Synaesthesia, How do you stay optimistic?, I’m an oxymoron, so are you (and that’s okay).

Hope you had a great weekend!

Web Time Wasters

How was your week, guys?  I did a Clever Session with Ms. Brandy A. Brown, drank cranberry moonshine and re-watched The Royal Tenenbaums with a good friend, coffeed/happy houred/lunched a lot, and impressed a bunch of friends by making tiny pumpkin pies WITH BAILEYS WHIPPED CREAM.

Also!  I’m putting together November’s Network of Nice.  Do you need advice/travel guidance/new friends? Or do you want to fill in your portfolio by offering some pro-bono work?  Email me at sarah (at) yesandyes (dot) org with 100 words about what you need/can offer!

Now. Links. 

Awesome! 10 secret passage bookshelves.

Head’s up travelers!  Here are 10 startups that are making travel more affordable.

I love all the work I do, but I had a particularly great time writing these funny, slightly snarky product descriptions for a line of high-end toddler clothes.

Yes!  Things that won’t complete you.

Month in Europe
I’ve still never been to Europe. I’m convinced one summer on the Mediterranean coast will instill a sense of worldliness and slight world-weariness combined with a vaster wisdom than I can acquire being around buildings that aren’t that old (ahem, West Coast/earthquakes). And while travel is great for expanding the horizons, jetting around, learning about other cultures, and feeling the overall largeness/insignificance of things, it will not in and of itself make you any different inside. You’re still you, no matter the time zone (family motto).

I love this tank top sooooooo much.

And wouldn’t this sweater be pretty for Christmas?

Such a gorgeous room!  Not too feminine – I love the chandelier and the pile of logs.

How to be genuinely happy for your friends who have their stuff together (when you don’t) 

Your value as a person does not come from the clothing you wear, the restaurants where you eat, the college you attended, or the job you have. Your worth has never come from those things and it never will. What you offer as a human being cannot be quantified or commodified (even if people would have you believe differently). And while it’s the nature of life to have ups and downs, your worth is not like the stock market: a low value-per-share isn’t an indication of your worth to the world. And guess what? It’s easier to be genuinely happy for your friends when you realize this.

Things to eat/drink/bake: fig whisky sour recipe, pumpkin butter s’mores, kale stem pesto, pear pizza with fried sage.

Have we already discussed this super cute sweater?

I have earrings like these and get compliments on them all the time.

If you live in a cold climate (like me) you should know about this style formula:
tights + knee socks + boots + slip + dress + sweater + scarf + jacket + hat + mittens.  You can rock this in sub-zero weather!

This is, quite possibly, the cutest photo album ever.

I am completely in love with The Art of Getting Started.

Fascinating!  Why have young people in Japan stopped having sex?

“It’s too troublesome,” says Kishino, when I ask why he’s not interested in having a girlfriend. “I don’t earn a huge salary to go on dates and I don’t want the responsibility of a woman hoping it might lead to marriage.” Japan’s media, which has a name for every social kink, refers to men like Kishino as “herbivores” or soshoku danshi (literally, “grass-eating men”). Kishino says he doesn’t mind the label because it’s become so commonplace. He defines it as “a heterosexual man for whom relationships and sex are unimportant”.I try really hard not to waste anything that’s consumable.  This book is on my must-read list.

You’ve seen Sad Etsy Boyfriends, right?  So funny!

A good reminder about the reality of big life changes. (They’re probably going to suck at first.)

Some Yes and Yes posts you might have missed: True Story: I lost my sister to domestic violence, Are you satisfied?, In which we admit we’re ambitious.

I hope you had a lovely weekend!

Web Time Wasters

How was your week, guys? I went to another Book Club // Dinner Club (we read this and I brought this) and I lunched with my BFF and explored lovely Northfield, MN. Lovely!

Links!  For you!

I’ve got five openings for September’s Network of Nice.  What do you need help with?

Ohhhh, I absolutely engage in this verbal tic.

A fascinating, long read (written by a Minnesotan) about what it’s like to attend Princeton.

My first semester at Princeton, I had four roommates, who resembled no one I’d ever known: A foppish piano prodigy with a moustache, who dreamed of writing Broadway musical comedies and spent his free hours in robe and slippers, smoking Benson & Hedges Menthol 100s and hunching, vulturelike, over his piano, plinking out show tunes about doe-eyed ingénues who’d been seduced and ruined by caddish millionaires.Wouldn’t this be the perfect dress for fall?  With these boots?

In other ‘Famous Minnesotan’ news: an examination of why Mitch Hedberg’s short, weird jokes were so funny.

This non-animal pet is soooo much cooler than those robot dogs.

I looooved this house tour! (mostly because it mirrors my own spare-ish, overly organized aesthetic)

There’s a lot of buzz that Gumroad is going to kill Paypal.  Have you tried it?  What do you think?

Best nail polish ever?

Oh, but this is thought-provoking and a little terrifying.  How do you define yourself if it’s not through your work or hobbies? (GAHHHH I HAVE NO IDEA.)

Driving ambition might just be a way of staving off the vacuum, rather than a sign of bottomless greed for more when you have enough. An unquenchable passion for work might be a panic-stricken way of concealing the fear of a lack of passion for life itself. If you are what you do, what are you when you stop doing it and you still are?A reminder that analog is still good and useful and important.

These wood and leather iphone wallet/cases are goooorgeous!

This dress would be so, so versatile.12 quotes from comedians about work.

So sweet!  11 untranslatable words from other cultures.

Sooooo helpful!  101 fashion tips and tricks every girl should know.

When things are going really well for me, I frequently think “Who am I to have everything I want?” As such, I appreciated this post on how to deal with ‘The Crack of Doom’

I love these etched apothecary bottles that you can fill with ‘acidic wit’ and ‘creative juices.’

Some Yes and Yes posts you might have missed: Mini Travel Guide: Iran, True Story: I’m a Supermodel, How do you stay optimistic?

Hope you had a great week, friends!