We spend enough time in the forest to know that money doesn’t grow on trees. Whether going to school full-time, living on a limited income, working to pay the bills, or just generally finding ways to cut down on expenses, our thirst for adventure can still be quenched. Money may limit the amount of adventures we try or the distance we travel, but it doesn’t have to suppress our free spirits altogether. Here are some attainable tips for adventuring on a budget and making room for more time outdoors.
1. Choose affordable adventures
Explore Your Backyard
You don’t have to travel to the ends of the earth to find an epic adventure. Sure, Iceland and New Zealand look inviting, but the plane ticket’s price tag might make them seem about as attainable as a round-trip to Jupiter. Ask friends (and strangers) for tips, scour through location tags on Instagram, sign up for free tours, borrow guide books from the library, or just venture from home with a map or compass in hand.
Take Advantage of Free Venues
Instead of spending money on entrance fees or expenses, take your activities outdoors. Exchange climbing gyms for outdoor routes; swimming pools for lakes or rivers; and yoga studios for beaches and rooftop patios. Better yet, do all of these things with friends! Outside is free, save for potential camping costs or park fees. And you’ll budget for those anyway, right? So why not spend more time enjoying nature’s free wonders.
2. Cut down on travel expenses
If you’re the one with a car, why not invite someone along for the ride? If you’re the one looking for a ride, offer to pitch in for gas! Ride sharing can be an awesome source of endless laughs, interesting company, and, of course, budget cuts. Still can’t find a ride to that surf spot or mountain trail? It’s all about the people you know… and don’t know. Try joining a Facebook group (we have some for British Columbia), signing up for a local forum, posting ads online, or asking your connections for suggestions.
Ever wonder how some people are able to travel so much and don’t seem to break the bank? Other than budgeting smart, they might be using points or air miles to get to their destinations. Sign up for credit cards that feature rewards perks and accumulate points every time you spend. Whenever you use your credit card to book a trip, keep points from that trip for your next trip! And if a hotel or car rental wants to “give you food vouchers or coupons” to thank you for your business, ask for points instead! That’s right… gain points while you spend points!
3. Spend less on gear
Share, Borrow, Rent
It doesn’t hurt to ask! Adventure junkies are often happy to share their gear in exchange for baked goods, home-cooked meals, wine, etc. You could even trade for something you own that they don’t. If you are interested in renting, check out local outdoors clubs or university clubs. Renting doesn’t always save money in the long run, but it provides an advantage of letting you test out gear before investing in your own. If you are Canadian, Mountain Equipment Co-op has a great rental program. If you’re in the USA, REI offers rentals as well.
Swap and Second-Hand Shop
You don’t always need the best of the best, but sometimes you just might find a gem at a clothing swap, liquidation sale, or second-hand store. Sign up for email notifications from Craigslist or other classified databases. Buy used as much as you can, and practice your creative side by making DIY projects. All the brand new, expensive, fancy gear might look appealing but, if it is not in your budget right now, a garbage bag poncho is going to keep you (almost) as dry as a Gortex jacket.
4. Avoid buying expensive food
Prepare Meal Plans
Avoid those last-minute snack grabs. Bring what you would make at home, prepare your meals, and shop smart. Exchange luxury granola bars and opt for homemade trail mix instead and say no to pre-packaged freezer dried food.
Buy in Bulk
If it’s your thing, sign up for a club card at a big-box grocery chain. If not, support your local market by buying flats of locally-sourced items. Stock up your pantries so you don’t have to shop before every adventure.
5. Prioritize your spending
Watch the Dollar
Monitor the currency exchange. If the Canadian dollar is at an all-time low, maybe it’s time to hold off on a trip to the United States. But if you’re American, come visit your Northern neighbours!
For us, it’s the fancy coffees, dinner dates, popcorn at movies, and other impulses that cut into our wallets. Save that bottle of wine for when you reach the summit or get home from your awesome trip.
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