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Frugal Entertainment While You Travel

As Published In WBCCI Blue Beret Magazine
Frugal Entertainment While You Travel

I don’t spend a lot of money on “stuff.” (There’s just no room for conspicuous consumption when you live in a 29-foot Airstream!) What I enjoy more is having lots of travel “experiences.” But enjoying life does NOT have to cost a lot of money — I manage to cram more serious fun into my days than anyone with so little disposable income has a right to. Remember, living frugally is not about abstention — it’s about eliminating unnecessary expenses so you can afford to partake in those activities that are worth the cost (and here are a few tips on doing just that).

Learn to Share

Restaurant portion sizes are absolutely ridiculous these days — I never get a full entree when I eat out, because it’s just too much. My companion and I usually get one meal to split, a couple bowls of soup and an appetizer, or a few “small plates.” The same goes for events like pub tours and wine tastings — when you share, you get to try more options, and it takes longer to reach your legal limit! If you don’t have a built-in food partner, just invite a friend along to split the cost with you.

Happy Hours

Even if you aren’t a big after-work drinker, happy hours are a great way to eat at a nice restaurant for less. Most places offer “small bites” for just a couple bucks each, along with their two-for-one beverages — pick up some sampler-sized plates to split, and you’ve got an entirely acceptable early-evening meal.

Free Admission Days

Most museums, zoos, aquariums, botanical gardens, and parks offer random “free admission” days throughout the year — some are even regular monthly events, like a “free first Friday” with later hours and special activities. The National Park Service opens its doors gratis twice a year, the Smithsonian Institute has a freebie day for affiliates each fall — Target sponsors free museum days around the country, and Bank of America credit card holders can visit a variety of facilities around the US at no cost.

Leave Off the Extras

It’s not the main event that costs so much when you go out — it’s all the add-ons! Candy and popcorn at the movies, a t-shirt at the zoo, a souvenir program at each concert, an elephant ear at the fair, a dog and a beer at the ballgame — these “little” expenses can add up in a hurry. Take a second to ask yourself whether that purchase is essential to your enjoyment of the event, or could you enjoy yourself just as much
without it?

Online Discounts

The internet is a wonderful resource for half-price admissions to your favorite attractions — services like (where an annual membership gives you access to discounted tickets and buy one get one meals), “daily deal” websites (like Groupon), and (where you might spend as little as $2 for a certificate that gets you $25 off a $35 meal). Some of the rules are a bit complicated, but it’s worth learning a few of these systems for the savings.

Go For The Combo Deal

Purchasing a pass that combines a number of activities can save you big bucks, especially in a city that thrives on tourism — companies like City Pass and Go USA have special arrangements with tourist destinations, saving you as much as 50% off the regular price of admission to their most popular sites.

Ask for a Discount

If you know when you’ll be in a certain area, call the Convention And Visitors Bureau — these folks are paid to help tourists make the most of their visit, and many times their member attractions give them passes to hand out. And don’t forget to contact individual attractions directly — most will be happy to point you toward a special deal available during your visit.


If you love high-brow performances but can’t swing the cost of a season ticket to the symphony or theater or opera, there’s still a way to get a good seat for less — volunteer as a ticket-taker or usher or even a docent giving tours during off hours, and you’ll usually be rewarded with free admission to the show. (Just call it cultural “sweat equity!”)

Bring Your Own

Concessions at events have become a multi-million dollar business in this country, but you aren’t always required to buy your food and drink on-site at public events — you can almost always bring at least a bottle of water and a few snacks with you. And even though you might not be able to tote a cooler through the front door, most places offer picnic-style seating just outside the gates.

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Ramona Creel is an award-winning 15-year veteran organizer and member of the National Association Of Professional Organizers. As well as having birthed “The A-To-Z Of Getting Organized,” Ramona is also the author of “The Professional Organizer’s Bible: A Slightly Irreverent And Completely Unorthodox Guide For Turning Clutter Into A Career”—and the creator of more than 200 “quick-start” business tools and templates for use by productivity professionals. She writes seven different blogs, has worked with hundreds of clients, and has delivered scores of presentations on getting organized. Ramona resides on the roads of America as a full-time RVer—living and working in a 29-foot Airstream. Learn more at and

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