For us, travel is all about the experience – whether it’s dining out, chatting with locals, participating in cultural experiences, or unique and exciting activities. Being a budget traveler doesn’t mean that you have to sacrifice the quality of your travel experience. Our first recommendation for finding low-cost or free activities at a destination is to check out official tourism board offices or websites.
While some of the activities they offer will be less then unique (or authentic), you can still find valuable information for your trip such as city maps / guides, as well as downloadable content for your mobile devices. In fact, most of these tourism office websites will have entire sections devoted to free or inexpensive activities, so they are a great resource that you shouldn’t overlook!
Not every tourism board is created equal, but over the years we have discovered some some pretty great ones. Dublin, Ireland has a fantastic tourism office right in the city center. Their website also has a variety of items you can download to your mobile devices for free. Hong Kong is another great example. With an awesome website and helpful on-site location, they provide a wealth of information as well as a wide range of low-cost and free activities for visitors.
Hong Kong’s “Cultural Kaleidoscope” program allows visitors to participate in classes including Tea Appreciation, Tai Chi, Feng Shui, Cantonese Opera, etc. all FREE of charge! They even have a free Chinese Junk Boat ride that you can take of the harbor on certain days. The classes are amazing, and you can’t beat the price!
Tourism board websites are also a great travel planning resource because they typically have a calendar of events such as festivals, concerts, parades, etc. Many of these local events are free and are a great way to mingle with the locals and soak up their culture. For example, in late September / early October Italy’s Tuscany region celebrates the harvest season with all kinds of festivals. Being in these small villages eating and drinking with the locals is an awesome experience. You may even be able to participate in some of the harvesting activities and learn about making wine.
So regardless what kind of traveler you are, whether you like to run with the crowd or blaze your own trail, tourism boards are great resources that should not be overlooked. With a bit of advanced planning and research, you will be surprised at how much you can find to do at your travel destination that costs you little-to-nothing.
Examples of awesome tourism board websites:
- Hong Kong: http://www.discoverhongkong.com
- Tuscany: http://www.turismo.intoscana.it/intoscana2/export/TurismoRTen/
- Malaysia: http://www.tourism.gov.my/en/us
- Prague: http://www.praguewelcome.cz/en/
- Tokyo: http://www.gotokyo.org/en/
- Rome: http://www.turismoroma.it/?lang=en
- Dublin: http://www.visitdublin.com/
- Toronto: http://www.seetorontonow.com/
- USA – Georgia: http://www.exploregeorgia.org/
- USA – Seattle: http://www.visitseattle.org/Home.aspx
- USA – San Francisco: http://www.sanfrancisco.travel/
Do you have any to add to this list? Please share in the comments below!