According to The Nature of Americans, a collaborative study led by DJ Case and Associates, most Americans view being in nature as an enjoyable experience.
However, even with an interest in being outside, “Americans face a significant gap between their interests in nature and their efforts, abilities, and opportunities to pursue those interests in their lives.”
If you’re hoping to increase the amount of time you spend outdoors this summer, the good news is that it’s possible to do so without spending a lot of money. Here are seven low-cost summer activities that can help you get out more.
Approximate cost: $10 to $500
As long as you don’t insist on glamping, you can enjoy time outdoors for cheap when you go camping. Camping is a great way to save money on road trip accommodations or while vacationing on a budget.
After that, you only need to gather food and supplies. I recently went car camping for two nights with my son. We took food from our freezer and pantry and headed out to nature. Our immediate out-of-pocket cost included the gas to drive out to the site two hours away.
Over the years, I’ve bought gear on the cheap. For example, I spent $60 on two sleeping bags 12 years ago — and my son and I still use them.
Car camping allowed me to avoid spending money on a tent until I had saved up enough to get what I wanted. But if you don’t want to wait, it’s possible to find tents for less than $100.
Approximate cost: $50
If you’re looking for a low-cost activity outdoors, said Hernan Santiesteban, the founder of fishing website Reel Game, fishing can be a good choice.
“You can get a basic fishing kit for about $30 and find worms in your backyard to get started,” said Santiesteban. “Fishing licenses can be bought for about $20 a year in many states.”
If you aren’t interested in catching anything, Santiesteban said you can enjoy sitting near a stream or taking a walk around a lake or along the beach.
3. Bike as much as possible
Approximate cost: Free or up to $89 per day
“While other outdoor activities might be inexpensive, biking is one of the few that actively saves you money,” said Mary Weidner, one of the co-founders of the nutrition and training app Strongr Fastr. “Biking saves you money on parking, gas, Ubers, and car maintenance. I chose to bike to work and it saved me thousands of dollars.”
If you own a bike, it doesn’t need to cost you anything extra to go for a ride with your friends or family. Look for bike paths in your town or city to enjoy the great outdoors. Pack a picnic lunch and bike to a favorite park for practically nothing.
You could rent bikes for excursions as well. My son and I rented bikes one day for $5 each while in Montreal. It was a great way to get around and see the city.
In some cases, you might be able to get an annual membership to a bike share program. Greenbike, for example, costs $75. That type of program allows you to bike on any occasion without the need to purchase your own bike.
If you want to do less work, you could rent an e-bike, but you could end up paying as much as $89 per day.
4. Visit local and state parks
Approximate cost: Free or up to $20
Chances are, there’s a park somewhere near you. It’s a great chance to be outside. And if you have kids, the playground can keep them busy.
“Many cities have public parks with space for picnics and grilling, walking trails, and rivers or lakes for swimming or boating,” said author Janet Ruth Heller. “There might also be special events, like stargazing at night.”
Check with your city’s parks department to find out what’s available and how much it costs. You might discover low-cost activities for kids, day camps, outdoor classes, and other events taking place in your city’s parks.
“We have several great parks where I live,” said Courtney Barbee, who writes about business and accounting at The Bookkeeper. “I take my four-year-old on flat, even trails around local lakes and parks.”
Barbee’s family can choose to do shorter walks, or pack a picnic and snacks and spend all day at a park. Some city parks even have disc golf courses and other activities that don’t require a lot of extra costs.
If you don’t mind driving, you might be able to visit state parks for entrance fees as low as $5 per car. My state of Idaho offers a “passport” that costs $10 per year. With it, I get free access for day use at various parks around the state, including my favorite: City of Rocks.
Approximate cost: Free or up to $200
Barbee’s family does more than walk park trails, though. They also take hiking trips.
“Hiking costs us very little,” said Barbee. “Besides small incidentals, like snacks and bug spray, the only real investment is a good pair of hiking shoes and a sturdy backpack.”
I buy hiking shoes every three to four years and spend about $130 for them. We use old school backpacks when we hike, so there’s no need to make an extra expenditure.
If you can’t hike where you live, consider driving to a state or national park. Entrance fees at national parks vary. But you can get an annual pass for $80 that covers the entrance fee at each park.
6. Look for free passes
Approximate cost: Free
“Check your local library for museum passes or cultural passes,” suggested Larisha Campbell, the co-founder of parenting website We’re Parents. “Not all museums are inside. Our library offers passes to botanical gardens, and that gives us a chance to check out local places completely free.”
Find out if your library provides free or discounted passes to outdoor exhibits and attractions. In some cases, you might even score free passes to the zoo.
On top of that, some gardens and zoos offer free entrance days. Check with your local visitor center or parks department to find out when these days take place. You can also check online discount sites for coupon codes to local outdoor attractions.
7. Catch a ride
Approximate cost: $5 to $50
Looking to get out of town and save money on an outdoor adventure? There are new and interesting ways to get to the outdoors — without the need for your own vehicle.
Check local transit options to see if you can quickly and easily get to a destination. For example, a one-way trip on the New York City subway is $2.75. You can use that ride to get you to Central Park.
In Denver, you can catch the Flatiron Flyer at Union Station and ride to areas known for the outdoors, such as Table Mesa and Boulder, with a $9 day pass.
If you live in an area with Megabus, you might be able to hitch a ride to different outdoor locations. For instance, you can take a weekend trip to Niagara Falls from Buffalo, New York, for about $16. You’ll have to pay your other costs, but getting there won’t cost you much.
Another unique option for New Englanders: Use a carpool service such as Ridj-it. You can get a ride to various outdoor locations for a low price. For example, you can join a trip for the Newport Cliff Walk for $25.
Finding ways to get outdoors
No matter where you live, it’s possible to spend more time outdoors without breaking the bank. Whether you camp or picnic in your backyard or start a biking program, enjoy the benefits of being outside this summer. You just need to make the time.
Interested in refinancing student loans?Here are the top 6 lenders of 2018!
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1 Important Disclosures for Earnest.
To qualify, you must be a U.S. citizen or possess a 10-year (non-conditional) Permanent Resident Card, reside in a state Earnest lends in, and satisfy our minimum eligibility criteria. You may find more information on loan eligibility here: https://www.earnest.com/eligibility. Not all applicants will be approved for a loan, and not all applicants will qualify for the lowest rate. Approval and interest rate depend on the review of a complete application.
Earnest fixed rate loan rates range from 3.89% APR (with Auto Pay) to 6.97% APR (with Auto Pay). Variable rate loan rates range from 2.47% APR (with Auto Pay) to 6.30% APR (with Auto Pay). For variable rate loans, although the interest rate will vary after you are approved, the interest rate will never exceed 8.95% for loan terms 10 years or less. For loan terms of 10 years to 15 years, the interest rate will never exceed 9.95%. For loan terms over 15 years, the interest rate will never exceed 11.95% (the maximum rates for these loans). Earnest variable interest rate loans are based on a publicly available index, the one month London Interbank Offered Rate (LIBOR). Your rate will be calculated each month by adding a margin between 1.82% and 5.50% to the one month LIBOR. The rate will not increase more than once per month. Earnest rate ranges are current as of Month/Day/Year, and are subject to change based on market conditions and borrower eligibility.
Auto Pay discount: If you make monthly principal and interest payments by an automatic, monthly deduction from a savings or checking account, your rate will be reduced by one quarter of one percent (0.25%) for so long as you continue to make automatic, electronic monthly payments. This benefit is suspended during periods of deferment and forbearance.
The information provided on this page is updated as of 08/21/18. Earnest reserves the right to change, pause, or terminate product offerings at any time without notice. Earnest loans are originated by Earnest Operations LLC. California Finance Lender License 6054788. NMLS # 1204917. Earnest Operations LLC is located at 302 2nd Street, Suite 401N, San Francisco, CA 94107. Terms and Conditions apply. Visit https://www.earnest.com/terms-of-service, email us at firstname.lastname@example.org, or call 888-601-2801 for more information on ourstudent loan refinance product.
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2 Important Disclosures for Laurel Road.
Laurel Road Disclosures
APR stands for “Annual Percentage Rate.” Rates listed include a 0.25% EFT discount, for automatic payments made from a checking or savings account. Interest rates as of 11/8/2018. Rates subject to change.
Variable rate options consist of a range from 3.27% per year to 6.09% per year for a 5-year term, 4.64% per year to 6.14% per year for a 7-year term, 4.69% per year to 6.19% per year for a 10-year term, 4.94% per year to 6.44% per year for a 15-year term, or 5.19% per year to 6.69% per year for a 20-year term, with no origination fees. APR is subject to increase after consummation. The variable interest rate will change on the first day of every month (“Change Date”) if the Current Index changes. The variable interest rates are based on a Current Index, which is the 1-month London Interbank Offered Rate (LIBOR) (currency in US dollars), as published on The Wall Street Journal’s website. The variable interest rates and Annual Percentage Rate (APR) will increase or decrease when the 1-month LIBOR index changes. The variable interest rates are calculated by adding a margin ranging from 0.98% to 3.80% for the 5-year term loan, 2.35% to 3.85% for the 7-year term loan, 2.40% to 3.90% for the 10-year term loan, 2.65% to 4.15% for the 15-year term loan, and 2.90% to 4.40% for the 20-year term loan, respectively, to the 1-month LIBOR index published on the 25th day of each month immediately preceding each “Change Date,” as defined above, rounded to two decimal places, with no origination fees. If the 25th day of the month is not a business day or is a US federal holiday, the reference date will be the most recent date preceding the 25th day of the month that is a business day. The monthly payment for a sample $10,000 loan at a range of 3.27% per year to 6.09% per year for a 5-year term would be from $180.89 to $193.75. The monthly payment for a sample $10,000 loan at a range of 4.64% per year to 6.14% per year for a 7-year term would be from $139.65 to $146.76. The monthly payment for a sample $10,000 loan at a range of 4.69% per year to 6.19% per year for a 10-year term would be from $104.56 to $111.98. The monthly payment for a sample $10,000 loan at a range of 4.94% per year to 6.44% per year for a 15-year term would be from $78.77 to $86.78. The monthly payment for a sample $10,000 loan at a range of 5.19% per year to 6.69% per year for a 20-year term would be from $67.05 to $75.68.
However, if the borrower chooses to make monthly payments automatically by electronic funds transfer (EFT) from a bank account, the variable rate will decrease by 0.25%, and will increase back up to the regular variable interest rate described in the preceding paragraph if the borrower stops making (or we stop accepting) monthly payments automatically by EFT from the designated borrower’s bank account.
3 Important Disclosures for SoFi.
4 Important Disclosures for LendKey.
Refinancing via LendKey.com is only available for applicants with qualified private education loans from an eligible institution. Loans that were used for exam preparation classes, including, but not limited to, loans for LSAT, MCAT, GMAT, and GRE preparation, are not eligible for refinancing with a lender via LendKey.com. If you currently have any of these exam preparation loans, you should not include them in an application to refinance your student loans on this website. Applicants must be either U.S. citizens or Permanent Residents in an eligible state to qualify for a loan. Certain membership requirements (including the opening of a share account and any applicable association fees in connection with membership) may apply in the event that an applicant wishes to accept a loan offer from a credit union lender. Lenders participating on LendKey.com reserve the right to modify or discontinue the products, terms, and benefits offered on this website at any time without notice. LendKey Technologies, Inc. is not affiliated with, nor does it endorse, any educational institution.
5 Important Disclosures for CommonBond.
Offered terms are subject to change. Loans are offered by CommonBond Lending, LLC (NMLS # 1175900). If you are approved for a loan, the interest rate offered will depend on your credit profile, your application, the loan term selected and will be within the ranges of rates shown.
All Annual Percentage Rates (APRs) displayed assume borrowers enroll in auto pay and account for the 0.25% reduction in interest rate. All variable rates are based on a 1-month LIBOR assumption of 2.28% effective October 10, 2018.
6 Important Disclosures for Citizens Bank.
Citizens Bank Disclosures
|2.47% – 6.99%3||Undergrad & Graduate|
|2.47% – 6.30%1||Undergrad & Graduate|
|2.51% – 8.09%4||Undergrad & Graduate|
|3.02% – 6.44%2||Undergrad & Graduate|
|2.69% – 7.21%5||Undergrad & Graduate|
|2.79% – 8.39%6||Undergrad & Graduate|