3 Free Things to Do Anywhere You Travel

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You don’t have to spend a lot of money on entertainment when you travel. Consider these three things to do anywhere you travel.

3 Free Things to Do Anywhere You Travel - You don't have to spend a lot of money on entertainment when you travel. Consider these three things to do anywhere you travel.

As I’ve researched our trips to England and France these last few months, I’ve been pleasantly surprised to find out that children are often absolutely FREE at select museums and attractions. Be still, my-mother-of-many-children-heart.

Since ours is very much a budget trip, we will be taking advantage of the free London and Paris attractions and making those our focus. But, even outside those cities, we plan to do a lot of great things without spending a dime.

In fact, there are some things that you can do for free, pretty much no matter where you go. Check these out:

Take a walk.

Walking gives you a perspective on life that you don’t get when you’re in the car. You notice details, smell odors, and experience life in a different way — whether you’re at home or on vacation.

In college, my friend Sarah and I walked everywhere in Bordeaux in order to save money. It was a great way to keep in shape after all that chocolate we ate, too.

Years ago when we traveled throughout the south of France, FishPapa and I would park the car and walk from one end of a little village to another. It was cheap entertainment and great exercise. Later in Honduras, walking was the only real choice in the little suburb we stayed in.

You can guess what we plan to do in Europe — yep, take lots of walks with the kids. We know that they will see things from a different angle than if we were speeding by in a car.

3 Free Things to Do Anywhere You Travel - You don't have to spend a lot of money on entertainment when you travel. Consider these three things to do anywhere you travel.

photo source: Delphine Durieux, used with permission

Window shop.

Shopping in another city or another country opens your eyes to what life — and prices — are like. They also offer an interesting form of entertainment.

My French sister, Delphine, took this photo on her recent vacation to Chicago from Paris. This shelf of Jell-O at Chicago’s Treasure Island is large by Californian standards. Since it’s not a regular item in the French diet, imagine a visitor’s surprise.

Take your kids browsing in a grocery store or toy shop. You will learn a lot about a culture by the stuff they buy. My kids have been looking at European stores online and been stunned at prices. It will be really fun to see what real grocery shopping is like.

3 Free Things to Do Anywhere You Travel - You don't have to spend a lot of money on entertainment when you travel. Consider these three things to do anywhere you travel.

Enjoy the outdoors.

No matter where you go, there’s some outdoors green space to explore, without having to pay an entry fee. We’ve gone hiking in a rainforest in Honduras, strolling through hillside villages in France, and climbing hills in the US. Most places have a few parks to explore with your kids and probably a hill or two to climb.

Just as getting outside is good at home, it’s good to do while you travel as well.

Folks ask us all the time what to do when they come to San Diego. While there are plenty of great attractions, the free stuff: playing at the beach and hiking through the hills is typically the most fun for us.

You don’t need to spend any money to have fun.

What free thing do YOU enjoy on vacation?

Read Great Travel Books - Planning a trip? Be sure to check out some great travel guides before you go -- and make sure the kids get a chance to read along with you.

Travel with Kids

This is part of the Travel with Kids series. Every day in October, I’m posting tips, tricks, and tutorials for making all your travels fun, frugal, and family-friendly.

Be sure to read through the archives in case you missed a post.

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  1. Architecture, public art, places where children’s books have been set such the Boston Garden with its setting in Make Way for Ducklings, and street performers are a couple free options. It’s also just fun to notice small differences. Are the fire trucks the same color as your town’s? Do people wait for the cross walk signal and cross quickly? Or just walk calmly? Single buses? Articulated buses? No buses?

    1. Yes, and the grocery stores can be very, very different. The Netherlands, for example, has no baking soda or muffins (when we came back to Canada our kids asked, “What are muffins?”) but you CAN buy breakfast cake. There’s so much to learn even in the chain stores.

      People watching is fun, too. We lived near Amsterdam and could always tell American tourists by their clothes: they were always the wrong color for the current season.

      Enjoy all your preparations…and do take along your OTC medications because they will most likely be prescription only in Europe.

  2. My parents took me and my siblings to Europe when I was 10 (there are 8 of us). My brother was serving a mission for our church in Germany and my dad had served a mission in France, so we went to go pick him up. My parents wanted us to see these cultures and experience new things. We walked EVERYWHERE. I thought my little legs would fall off! But is was such a great adventure! For Breakfast and lunch we would peruse a market and buy a few things that we could snack on- yogurts, cheeses, baguettes, fruit, spreads and usually something exciting to try- it saved a whole lot on feeding a large family compared to a restaurant and we still got to try new things. I also remember many restaurants refused to serve us, because our family was so big. At the time, I had never realized that our family was unusually large, but wow! Sometimes people could be rude! Anyways, with all the walking we did, the things i remember the most about that visit through Europe was the architecture and how different things look from America- the cobblestone streets, the way things are set up, the statues everywhere, etc.

    1. That is crazy! We had CPK give us a hard time once, making sure we knew they were going to charge us the 18% tip before they would seat us.

  3. Love how this long-time goal is getting nearer and nearer! Grocery stores in another country are a kick – great entertainment. One way to save money when traveling, while not free, is to learn and love what the locals eat. We found restaurant prices in Australia so expensive until we discovered fish and chips. In Italy I think I ate caprese salad almost every day.