If you’ve ever shoved your entire life into a bag and embarked on a one-way-ticket, backpacker-type journey, you’ll know the feeling of trying to wring every last penny/euro/dollar out of your credit card, your parents, and eventually – your parents’ credit cards. But immersing yourself in the culture of the countries you visit doesn’t have to be the straw that breaks the travelers back; with a little internet savvy and preplanning, there’s a treasure trove of things on offer in most major cities around the world that don’t cost a thing!
Walk This Way
The best way by far to get to know a new city is a walking tour. Sandemans, the largest and arguably most famous walking tour company provide free tours in most major cities in Europe. Their principle is simple, tip your guide if you can afford it and enjoyed yourself. There’s no pressure to tip, but as this is the guides’ only remuneration for their time you end up with an exceptional tour. You’ll be privy to an insider’s knowledge, and learn interesting stories about places you’d otherwise walk by without a second glance.
Happy (Free) Days!
Before you pay on-the-door prices for major attractions like museums, galleries, and attractions, have a look at their respective websites. Many have free days like the Picasso Museum in Barcelona, which offers patrons complimentary entry on the first Sunday of every month and from 3:00 pm every Sunday. Even better than this, some galleries and museums offer free cultural activities for those smart enough to jump on the web and do their research. The National Portrait Gallery in Scotland offers a free Scottish-themed concert every second Thursday evening in Spring and Summer, and free art classes and lectures during the week. Also, many historical attractions like the world-famous Edinburgh Castle offer guided tours at no extra charge to paying patrons. Ask on purchasing tickets for attractions of this kind if there are any complimentary tours or talks on offer, as advertising for these bonuses is usually kept to a minimum.
Meet and Greet
Making friends in a new town can be daunting, not to mention challenging. Bars and pubs can be enjoyable at first, but who can afford to save for their next trip and go out every night? A website dedicated to bringing people together is a fabulous resource and should be a traveler’s first port of call when looking to make new friends in a foreign city; from photography appreciation groups, to weekly Sunday football sessions, to language groups, to yoga and meditation workshops.
Air is free – and until the governments of the world find a way to charge us for it go for a walk and experience something natural and beautiful. Botanical gardens such as the Jarden des Plantes in Paris are a delight to laze about on a sunny summer’s day and entry to gardens of this type is predominantly free. Parks, mountains, river trails, hill walks, and bush walks can be only minutes from the city center and best of all, you’re getting some exercise! Take a pen and paper and do some drawing, write a story, continue your journal, take some photographs and enjoy the feeling of getting something for no more than the effort it took to walk there.
Someone once said the best things in life are free, and that someone was me. Get your thinking cap on and jump on the internet before reaching your destination. With a little planning, you can not only save yourself some serious cash, but you might just happen upon an experience, not every traveler gets the pleasure of.