Free Day Out:
Spend the day in a city near you … without spending a dime
It’s the most annoying paradox: When you’re unemployed, you have all the free time in the world but no income to spend filling it! Still unable to land a job in the land Down Under, curbing my spending habits has become vital. But I still want to make the most of my time here.
Solution: A day full of complimentary Sydney activities I had yet to do. With a little digging, I was able to put together a great day that didn’t cost a penny. I thought I’d share my strategy, which can be applied to any city. Just because we need to save a few bucks doesn’t mean our free time has to suffer.
Pick a beautiful day. Check the weather report and find the sunshine. The advantages are many: You’ll be happier avoiding buses and trains by walking, with the added bonus of built-in exercise; better chances for glittering photo ops; both indoor and outdoor activities will be available; and street performers will be out – free entertainment! It’s winter here, but a sunny winter day in Sydney is like a perfect autumn day at home in New York, and I was lucky enough to score one. There is nothing like the sun sparkling off the Sydney Opera House to boost my energy for the day ahead.
Research and Resources
Do your homework ahead of time. Time Out magazine is a great place to start, listing museums, events, shows, parks…everything. Local newspapers are also good to scan a few days in advance. From perusing these I was informed that Sydney’s Museum of Contemporary Art is free and currently showing a great black and white aboriginal photography exhibit. I popped into The Rocks Discovery Museum, just a few rooms giving some history on The Rocks, Sydney’s old Irish neighborhood. It was great learning more about my favourite locale for a frosty beer. I was also reminded that the Art Gallery of New South Wales was free with four floors of varying exhibits. Just be careful to avoid the museum shops on the way out!
Local universities are also worth looking into. I was hoping to give my day a dash of weird science at the University of New South Wales’s Museum of Human Disease. That’s right, a place filled with diseased organs. Unfortunately (or not), I didn’t have time and would have had to catch a bus, which, of course, would cost money. But it’s on the list for another day when a morbid mood strikes.
Finally, don’t be afraid of tourist resources. Sites like www.nycgo.com are a wealth info. It’s easy to put off the standard activities in your hometown, but they’re often worth a visit. The Royal Botanic Garden is a main attraction of Sydney. I’ve walked through, but never really studied the hundreds of species and info plaques. So, I joined the free afternoon tour. Talk about stopping to smell the roses: led by a cute retiree (what a great way to spend your time!) our small group took a leisurely pace moseying about and learning about the trees and flowers around us.
Want an extra challenge? Try eating for free as well. A few tips: Check the calendar for festivals or markets, usually on the weekends. These can be great for tasty handouts. A bit thirsty, a nice Starbucks employee gave me a cup of ice water. I kept the cup to refill at water fountains throughout the day. Hankering for something sweet? Needing a quick blood-sugar boost on my way to the Botanic Garden walk, I swung by a gelato stand and asked to try a flavour (American Chocolate – it tasted like a Snickers bar!). For a smorgasbord lunch, try hitting a food court. A word to the wise: timing is everything, so be sure to be there at peak lunch hour. I arrived at 3 p.m. and all I found was a plate of bagel chip crumbs. Which leads me to my final thought on this matter: bring snacks!
It was a wonderful day full of sightseeing, culture and education in my current home town, without spending a dime. So go ahead and make a day of it in your city – and leave your wallet at home!
Read Megan’s last blog: My Bungy Jumping Experience