It’s a New Year and now that the bills are rolling in, it may be that even the most thrift-minded among us are feeling the results of excessive generosity and celebration. (Hopefully that’s not too painful a feeling!) It might feel like you have to restrict your activities for a while but rather than hole-up at home and do nothing, there are ways to continue to enjoy life without breaking the bank. This month, I’ll look at some fun things to do for cheap or free. Let’s start with free.
Along with my resolve to reduce waste in my house this year, I’m also resolving to be more active. This is a common New Year’s Resolution but while I do intend to do something physically active on a regular basis, I don’t mean taking up running or going to a gym (egads!). I already go to yoga twice a week. I also walk home from work each day and if I can get my butt out of bed early enough, I walk to work as well. But over holidays, my husband and I rediscovered some great trails/walks around our city and we are committed to doing something like this each weekend, even if the weather is horrid. We did it in Scotland, why not here?
The best thing about walking or hiking is that it’s free. No gym membership required! Doing this just means having a good pair of walking shoes/boots and, here on the Wet Coast, a good rain jacket. If you’re lucky, you’ll find both at your local thrift shop. It doesn’t have to be anything super high-tech, just something that will support your feet and keep you mostly dry in rainy weather. In the past, I’ve found New Balance runners in mint condition in my size and a couple of years ago, I scored big when I found an MEC gortex jacket for $4. I’m finding the jacket is starting to wear out so I’ll be on the lookout for a replacement at thrift shops this year. I think I’m also going to look for a good pair of rainpants.
If you’re looking for new trails or places to walk, do a google search in your area. Most cities promote parks and trails and often include maps, like this one from the city of Abbotsford. Our new favourite is the Olund Trail that starts at Douglas Taylor Park in Abbotsford. You can walk more than 10 km, right up to the Mission Bridge.
If you don’t have a regular walking partner, try a walking or hiking club. These often have no membership fees and are a great way to find like-minded people to share your favourite activities. You can also find gender-specific groups if that’s important for you. A friend of mine is part of the Abbotsford Walking/Hiking Group and loves it. It gets him out and moving and he’s made some really great friends. The organizers seem to do a good job of accommodating people of varying skill/activity level by having easy/moderate walks scheduled on certain evenings and more active hikes on weekends. They even go snowshoeing in winter.
What’s your favourite free/cheap outdoor activity?