Sometimes it’s nice to do something different without spending a fortune. Bookmark this page for the next time you’re feeling a little uninspired and but don’t want to pay too much for your entertainment.
1. Get near some water
If you live in Australia, you probably live within 50km of the coastline1. And if you don’t, there’s a good chance you live near another type of water source – a river, dam, lake or even the local pool.
Research shows that being in blue space (near a body of water) is great for your overall wellbeing. The smells and sounds can be a calming influence on your mind, while the body and immune system will benefit from being amongst nature2.
2. Save by shopping in the local markets
You may be surprised about the number of markets held throughout the week that cater to different interests and needs. And you might pick up some bargains. For example, perhaps you’d like to check out the local farmer’s produce, pick up some art, or clothing from a designer who’s just starting out.
The easiest way to find the local markets in your area (or an area you’d like to visit) is to do an online search, then pop those dates in your diary so you know when they’re coming up. Most markets are held close to public transport and usually have reasonably priced food.
3. Go to the movies
Many cinemas have one day in the week that’s cheaper than the rest (usually a Tuesday, costing between $10-12). If you have a concession card, or are a member of a health fund or association, you may get even better deals.
Visit the website of your local cinema to find the best options, and since the snacks at cinemas can cost an arm and a leg, bring some from home.
4. Get walking
You may be across the range of walks available in national and state parks, but there’s likely to be some in and around the area you live too. Sydney and Melbourne have free walking tours, and many local councilsoffer self-guided walks (meaning you can download and follow directions to see and learn about different sites in your area). For example, the inner west of Sydney has a guided street art walk.
Simply search for self-guided walks in your local area. And if you’re interested in joining a group, get involved in the free walking groups run by the heart foundation.
5. Discover your local community events
If you haven’t already, visit your local council’s website. They often list a raft of family friendly and interesting events that are happening in your area – usually all summarised in a calendar, to download and have at hand. And if your council’s events aren’t to your liking, you can also search for events happening in surrounding council areas or an area you’d like to visit.
6. Check out the local library
While we’re on the topic of things the local council offers, it can be a good idea to become a member of your local library (if you’re not already). And if you’re rolling your eyes at this thought, but it’s been a while since you’ve visited one, here’s why they’re good:
- most have regular events and movie nights, often with some great speakers
- some hold free courses – like writer’s workshops
- there’s usually free Wi-Fi, so you can search the net to your heart’s content without worrying about how much data you’re using
- there’s access to the local and international paper and magazines to read at your leisure
- if you have young children or grandchildren, there are usually free activities held there one or two days a week, as well as child friendly play areas
- and that's not to mention all the books.
To find out more about what events your local library has, look them up online, or just pop in and ask.
7. Visit a museum or art gallery
Research the galleries and museums in your local area. Sometimes, unless there’s a special exhibition, entry can be free, so all you’ll need to pay is the cost to get there. If you’re a member of a health fund or association, you could get other discounts too.
But, if you don’t live near a gallery or museum, don’t fret. Many of world’s best galleries have virtual online tours
For example, you could visit the virtual free sites website which lists a range of gallery options, but is just one link of many. Simply search online for virtual gallery tour and you’ll see loads of different virtual tours, some with access to guided talks, and some that are interactive which can be a fun activity to do with kids.
8. Get into some online learning
While we’re on the topic of going online there are lots of other things you can do too. Like:
- signing up to free online courses like highbrow
- getting inspired by interesting people in the ted talks series
- or searching for free online study in a topic that interests you.
9. Have a picnic
For the days you just want to get outside in the nice weather, it can be easy to forget the humble picnic. Pack some food, coffee, your book and go to the local park to sit under a tree. You may be surprised at just how relaxing it is.
10. Go to a meditation class
It’s not for everyone, but if you’re interested in the health benefits that come with meditation3, you might want to try a free class. Just search online for free meditation classes in your area – some require a donation to come along, but only what you’re willing to give.
The A-Z of things to do
If none of these suggestions are up your alley, and you’re still stuck for something to do, it could be because there are too many options on the table.
Try limiting your thinking a bit. One way to do this is to use the alphabet rule. That is, on day one, do something that starts with A (like an art gallery), then, the next time you’re looking for something to do, do something that starts with b (bike riding?) and so on, until you get all the way to Z(oo).