5 Free Things to Do Close to Home During Your Downtime - My Family Travels

In this day and age, when the average American only has about five hours of leisure time daily, you should feel lucky when you discover some free time. When traveling, you might find yourself open to checking out hotels by day and taking advantage of hotel facilities. 

When you’re at home, however, don’t spend your entire downtime lazing around doing nothing. Instead, explore some of the exciting free things you can do close to you. Here are my five top no-cost and low-cost things to do close to home.

Close up of hotel key in a woman's hand.
Check into a hotel close to home and enjoy the facilities when you have some free downtime.

1. Become an Active Volunteer for a Local NGO

Volunteering with a local non-governmental organization is one of the most productive and noblest ways to spend those free hours. It works particularly well if there are causes that matter to you.

The benefits of becoming a volunteer are muliplied because there are innumerable social evils rampant in today’s society. By volunteering your downtime close to home, you get a chance to spread awareness of their existence and prevent them from spreading any further.

2. Play Games Close to Home

Man's hand holds wooden board for the game mancala. Photo c. Tobias Tullius for unsplash.
Grab a board game like Mancala and challenge a new friend to play in a park close to home. Photo c. Tobias Tullius for unsplash.

Are you stuck on fun ways to utilize your downtime close to home? Why not visit a local public park to play various games, including card and board games? In public, you have the added benefit of playing alone or engaging a stranger or acquaintance in a friendly game.

Games are fun, challenging and offer a great way to exercise the brain. For example, a study by NIH featuring more than 2,000 participants showed that active gamers perform better in cognitive tests.

Bring what you need to play more than just brain games. What you play depends on your interests and on the ages and abilities of those in your group. 

3. Go to a Nearby Concert and Party

Crowd in silhouette at a nighttime concert. Photo c. Sebastian Ervi for pexels.
Head to a free outdoor concert in your downtime and spend the night your way. Photo c. Sebastian Ervi for pexels.

Many towns host free music events. If your favorite artist is coming to a venue close to you for a concert, grab this opportunity. Buy a ticket to see them live in action. Going to a concert or music show on your own allows you to plan the night’s activities however you want, without accounting for others.

For example, not interested in seeing the opening act? Plan to arrive a few minutes late. Has the musician sung all your favorite tunes? Head home early. Want to sing out all the catchy songs at the top of your lungs? Why not!

4. Plan a Picnic & Relax Close to Home

Two women have picnic on grass field in site of mountains in San Luis Obispo, California. Photo c. Luke Bender for unsplash
Having a picnic close to home is a free thing to do during your downtime. Photo of San Luis Obispo, California c. Luke Bender for unsplash

Going on a picnic alone — or with family and friends — is a guaranteed fun way to spend your free time. Most importantly, you can do it without spending any money. When planning picnics, explore your beloved local spots or even wander a bit and try some new areas.

If you have no idea where to go, take out your phone and use the maps app to check for green patches around your locality. Google the names of the patches close by to determine whether they are areas you can visit on your own or which are best with company.

5. Visit a Farmers Market In Your Neighborhood

Woman kneels by the plants and herbs at a green market in a city. photo c. pixabay.
Spend your time shoping for fresh produce and fruits at a green market close to home and prepare for a picnic. Photo c. pixabay

Take in the scents, sights, tastes, and sounds at your nearby farmers market. Despite their reputation for being expensive, these are some of the best places to source locally grown vegetables and fruits for less.

The same holds true when looking to shop for greens in large quantities. In some cases, a visit to the local grocery store may not prove productive. While at the market, take your time to stroll through the stalls and engage the vendors in small talk as you sample their offerings.

It’s Healthy to Spend Downtime Doing Fun Things Close to Home

Volunteers sort clothes at a clothes bank near to home to help others. Photo by Julia Cameron for pexels.
Volunteering near to home helps others and is a productive way to spend some free time. Photo by Julia Cameron for pexels.

For those of us accustomed to prioritizing our work life above anything else, it may be difficult to see the value of having some free time. Or, perhaps you know downtime is valuable but aren’t sure how to start enjoying it.

The list above should act as a good starting point. Use it to start small and expand on your activities as you go along.

With time, the benefits of taking advantage of the free hours at your disposal will become evident in your mental, social, and physical well-being.

Author Anaïs Bourgain is always looking for fun, free things to do close to home. She contributed these tips on how to maximize your downtime and improve your personal wellness for sponsor Dayuse.com

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