Krista Jensen
June 14, 2014 1:37 pm

Summer has unofficially begun. The idea of leaving my life behind for a brief vacation is just what the doctor ordered, except for that the doctor makes six figures, and I make …not that. If your mind is craving tropical drinks and tall exotic plants but your wallet is lacking in greenery of its own, never fear. There are plenty of places to seek out for a cheap daycation, regardless of where you live.

Enjoy Some Live Theater!

I love seeing a live performance, the good ones transport me to some place else mentally and that’s realllllly nice once in a while. If you’re in New York, definitely rush tickets at box-office open, which entails standing in line early in the morning for a super steep discount. The cool air conditioning and the chance to sit still with my mouth agape with no one watching or judging me? Sign me up!! If you’re not in New York, even better. Call up your local performing arts venue and inquire about tickets to their weekend shows; comedian tour stops, movie screenings with talk-backs, a local production of Kiss Me, Kate starring your high school band teacher. Mention you’re a local and a student (just try it!) and see what discounts are available. Make a full day of it and get gussied up for a day at the thee-ah-tah. Seriously strapped for cash? Offer to usher a show or run concession at Intermission and sit in on a show for free!

Museum hop!

Last year I took a trip upstate to see my sister at college. I had Google Maps’d the area where my bus layover would be, and was delighted to see it was nestled within a cute little hub of the town. It was there that I walked into a historical museum housed within this gorgeous old movie theatre (complete with a “cinema” sign with missing bulbs). This place featured programs from old screenings and photos of celebrities that had visited or grown up nearby, and before I knew it, my two hours of down time were up. Museums, aquariums, planetariums and historical landmarks exist everywhere. You’ll be surprised as you walk back to your car or re-board your bus that you’re still in the same time and place as when you entered.

* If you are in New York or thinking of making a trip, utilize one of the many discounts for your trip down “Museum Mile.” And never forget that the MET suggests an admission price but will happily let a curious soul get lost in its halls for free.

Go Swimming!

This one sounds perhaps a little entitled, coming from a former Long Islander and potentially being read by a land locked-lady in the middle of the country. While beaches, lakes and infinity pools are not available to all of us (And yes, I said lakes. In college we bordered Lake Erie and on a hot day in late August it could have been Bermuda.), open swims at hotels and fitness centers are available year-round and country-wide. When I visit anywhere that requires staying in a hotel I ask about twi things. One is if they offer a continental breakfast with one of those flip-over waffle making devices. And the other is for pool hours. Dipping your toes in a body of water – chlorine, salt or otherwise – is one of the most therapeutic and transformative feelings, ever. Go early, pretend you’re in slipping into a hot spring and unwind.

Have a Picnic!

Do you have a blanket? An unused sheet, towel or a table cloth? Hit up your nearest Trader Joe’s or wherever you steer clear of when you have to do your dangerous “hungry shopping.” Stop by for some crackers, a block of sharp cheddar, some apples or grapes and a slicing utensil. If you’re feeling fancy and willing to splurge a little, stackable wine is available and allowed most places where picnic tables are provided. Do a little research and pair your wine and cheeses accordingly, then tie a long rope on your dog, call your girls (or don’t! The one-person-picnic with a smooth writing pen and a notebook is a beautiful thing) and set free your outdoor sophisticate. The trip home will feel a lot lighter, even if just a mental burden that’s lifted.

*For serious picnickers who hate the pack-up portion, companies like Boxsal offer disposable, compostable everything just for the occasion.

Ride Some Roller Coasters!

If you’re like me, you don’t get down to the street level of your apartment building via log flume. Roller coasters and rides = vacation because it takes a bit of travel to see those beautiful metal loopty-loops filling the sky. The summer is the best time to hit up your local amusement park, water park, etc.– partly because it’s the only time most of them are open. Keep an eye on your closet park’s website; daily deals for admission or free parking pop up for weekdays where the weather looks bleak or school’s are back in session Don’t be afraid of rallying a group together to make that group rate quota, and definitely try to get there early and make park-opening. Pack your lunch and keep a cooler in the car, get stamped for reentry and save a ridiculous amount of cash (and calories!) by eating outside of the park. There are roller coasters and water slides literally everywhere, so GO! Even Alaska’s got an indoor waterpark.

Just a few ideas to let you take a break without breaking the piggy bank. Let me know what you do to vacate without packing a suitcase!

Image courtesy of Pixar

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