A zero-dollar day on the town

As the prices of once affordable activities continue to skyrocket (yes, $18 movie tickets, I’m looking at you) the possibilities for a day out without burning a hole in your pocket seem to be increasingly uncommon.

But there still are some ways to focus on fun without spending a cent.

Here’s our guide to a no-spend day on the town. Pack a map, a hat and a spirit of adventure … just remember to forget your wallet!

1. Embrace the local
It’s time to look into the small local galleries and performances run by your community and council. Often overlooked, these can be a great source of free entertainment. Similarly, local comedy shows may be common and sitting with a (free) glass of water at the pub or a bar watching a free gig can be a great way to cap off the night.

2. Draw to explore
Whether you’re a natural born creative or not, bringing around a note or sketch book opens up plenty of potential fun on a day out. So, if this isn’t your go-to activity – perfect! You’re already trying something new, and that’s an adventure, right?

Sitting on a street corner to draw may not sound like the most exciting activity to most people, but once you begin noticing the detail around you, your perception of the surrounding spaces may change. It also gives you a purpose – or the ‘social permission’ – to be sitting around in seemingly random spaces.

3. Food … for free?
This will be one of the trickiest activities for the day. Of course, we do suggest the old Tupperware prepacked snack trick, especially if you’re prone to becoming ‘h-angry’, and we’ll let the cost of food prep outside of the day itself slide. Alternatively, for the more extroverted explorer, prepare to charm your way into sharing a stranger’s meal, or find a bakery, café or vendor offering free samples, then return several times in an array of second-grade disguises.

The more athletically inclined could try dumpster diving. Most chain supermarkets or bakeries throw away an enormous amount of totally edible and good quality food. If you’re willing to climb into a bin – or be lowered in by the ankles – and are prepared to run when busted, this could be the ultimate free meal for you.

4. No-spend sights to see
Sure, there are beautiful, unique and old buildings and spaces all around us, but how often do you actually notice them? Exploration of such sights could form the backbone of your adventure. Wander around marketplaces, go inside old arcades or churches that you would normally walk past, head into the alleyways, or just admire and observe the architecture and inhabitants. Set challenges such as finding the highest vantage point – take elevators, stairs and sneak around till you find the best view in town, then whip out the sketchbook and try your hand at capturing it. 

Good luck to all you free fun seekers. Let us know how your cashless adventure goes!

This article was inspired by Lonely Planet’s Everyday Adventures, available at all good bookstores or from Lonely Planet.

Have you ever had a zero-dollar day out? How did you go about it? Can you share your tips with our members?

Related articles:
Be a tourist in your own hometown
Ten first-time travel mistakes
Four ways to save on holiday

Written by Liv Gardiner

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