If you’re a college student or a recent graduate, chances are you’re financially unstable. Many of us, including myself, are in relationships and want to spend time with our partners in the summer. We all know that Instagram, Snapchat, and those rich kids you went to school with on Facebook, can make you feel more poor than you actually are. The rooftop lunches, the glasses of wine on huge boats, and let’s not forget those who travel to faraway lands and get to explore the world while you’re sitting on the same couch watching your 30th consecutive episode of F.R.I.E.N.D.S.
It doesn’t seem fair, but don’t worry; your time will come. But until then? Make the best of what you got. It’s quite probable that you and your significant other won’t have the money to do extravagant things this summer, but that doesn’t mean you can’t have a blast. Here are some exciting things to do on a budget this summer:
1. Re-discover your city
You might think you’ve seen it all but you’re wrong. Most times when exchange students come to my city they tell me about all these awesome things they’ve done in the area and I’m left thinking “We have that? I had no idea.” Do your research. What does your city (or surrounding cities if you have a car) have to offer? What are some of the cool ‘touristy’ things available that locals typically overlook? Check it out. Museums, landscapes, tours, etc. You can rent a bike in most urban cities and it makes touring so much easier. Also, don’t make your mind up about a store or boutique until you check it out; you might be pleasantly surprised. I was once dragged into a comic book store and ended up stumbling upon a board game from my childhood that I had been searching years for.
2. Take a hike
If you’re lucky like me, you live in a place with rich landscapes and beautiful nature. I live in the waterfall capital of the world (Hamilton represent), so a huge thing to do is discover new waterfalls. I also live near the Niagara escarpment which makes hiking or climbing seem much more desirable. Trust me, there is nothing more romantic than walking hand in hand with your partner surrounded by untouched nature and there is nothing more trying than hiking a freaking mountain. Find a spot with a nice view that overlooks your city, take a seat, and relax. Bring some snacks with you; trail mix, granola bars, water. All those dinner dates and Netflix nights might blend into each other, but I promise you, you will never forget the time you went on an all day hike together.
3. Embrace your inner child
Remember all those birthday parties spent at the bowling alley or skating rink? I do. These activities are so much fun and hardly cost any money. You can also find deals on websites like Groupon or Wagjag to help cover those extra costs. When it’s too hot to go outside it doesn’t mean you need to stay in your apartment; go bowling (it’s fun as f*ck). On a calm, cool day try outdoor mini putting (even more fun), OR if all else fails; try go karting. I went go karting with my partner right near the beach for $6 each. It’s a nice change-up from the ‘adulting’ pool or darts at a bar and I kicked his ass. We couldn’t stop laughing for the rest of the day.
4. Be by the water
If you’re like me then you love being near the water. I might not have an ocean, but I do have Lake Ontario. Sure, it may not be the nicest water to swim in; but it’s beautiful to visit. My favorite place? Marinas and harbor fronts. Here you’ll find a horizon of sail boats, a pier filled with fathers teaching their sons to fish, and children smearing cotton candy ice cream all over their faces. Most harbor fronts have a diner, café, or restaurant of some kind, but if that’s too expensive for you; just grab a small ice cream cone. It’s a beautiful place for a walk, to take in the sights, watch the boats sail off, and dream about the life you’ll one day have and the places you’ll go with your loved one.
5. Farmers Markets and Local Farms
Growing up my mother always took me to Springridge Farm to go apple picking in the fall. I loved the leaves changing colors but my favorite was the corn maze; it was enormous. I might not be 6 anymore, but I still love going to local farms. You can go berry picking (or just come on an empty stomach for a free fibre filled meal), or you can check out the shop that’s filled with homemade jams, butters, and caramel apples. If you’re lucky, it will be in a small town near little shops and vintage boutiques to explore. If not, every week there are farmer’s markets. What’s better than an array of little tents with glowing local produce under it? You don’t need to spend your whole paycheck, but leaving with a little pint of cherries or a fresh stock of kale feels awesome.
6. Join a league or class
If you’re a student and live near your university then you know there’s about a million different recreational leagues you can join. Most of them aren’t very competitive and it’s great for people wanting to try something new. Joining a team with your partner is awesome because it gives you a scheduled event to look forward to together. Not very sporty? No problem; take a class. Many organizations offer ‘free trials’ before paying and other specials. Try out kickboxing together; drag him to yoga or take a cooking class (free wine, hello).
7. Free festivals and events
You would not believe how many festivals are near my city. There are at least 2 a week. Now there are ‘larger’ and more well-known festivals happening in the bigger cities, but there is always something happening near me. Best part? It’s usually free admission. It’s different, it’s near people, it’s usually at a huge park or on the streets of the city, and at the very least it’s new to visit if only for a little while.
There you have it. Eight awesome ideas to try with your significant other when your wallets are empty. Both me and my partner are entering grad school, so needless to say we will be poor for a while. What’s good about these activities are that they force you to put your phone away and to spend quality time with your loved one. I have a feeling that even when me and my partner are rich as f*ck, we’ll still prefer those walks along the pier at dusk over anything else.