Go Outside: Walking is Free and College is Not

Being on a college budget doesn’t mean every moment of free time outside of class should be spent browsing the Internet and playing CoD. There are other cost-effective things to do in the world, believe it or not.

Even now, you sit here reading this blog entry, fully plugged into the Matrix. Have you been outside recently? There’s a fantastic, amazing, superb world of natural wonder right through the door. Really, just look! And it’s free.

Get Adventurous

Barring the occasional admission fee or event ticket, most of the forest paths in the world are yours for the hiking.  Google Maps has a handy trail display feature under the right-hand drop down menu (“Bicycling”) for showing nearby trails.  Often, trails pass through state and city parks; with a little search legwork, you’re apt to find websites for these reservations that offer information, trail maps, and bear warnings.  Très important to heed those, by the by.

With your destination in mind, affording the day is easy.  Homemade trail mix and water will sustain you on your journey; a day’s supply can easily be purchased for under $5. If you have a cafeteria plan, you can likely grab some fruit and veggies to go.  If you’ve never eaten any of the above items before and tend towards anything with a colorful package, thank the stars you’re even alive to have found this guide.

Gear Up

Empty your backpack of books for the day and fill it with your rations and some first aid bits (ask your campus Health Services office for band-aid and ointment samples if your parents didn’t send you a survival package of supplies your first week). Wear sneakers or comfortable boots, depending on the environment you plan to traverse. Long-sleeved and -legged layers help to protect against bugs and sunlight; burns and bites are not, in fact, the fashion favorites of this season’s party attire.

Feeling artistic?  Bring a camera or notebook with you to record your thoughts and observations along the way.  If you’ve never tried either creative outlet before, you may find you have a hidden talent that comes to the surface when inspired by the living, breathing world.  Hokey, maybe, but Shakespeare didn’t arrive at his works by playing croquet all day.

Go!

Check our your campus transportation offerings to see if you can hitch a ride to your destination if it’s outside of the range of your foot or bicycle travel comfort zone.  Try pairing up with a friend with a car, if need be; the extra company on the journey can be practical in terms of safety, too.  Friends make excellent bear shields.

Then, go.  It’s that easy. Okay, so it’s maybe not quite as easy as pressing the power button on the 360 and being immersed in a fight against Nazi zombies ten seconds later, but think of it this way: at the current rate of deforestation, 360 will always be there. The earth’s wondrous bounty might not. One day, you can tell your children you walked the surface of the earth and they’ll.. well, probably tell you that’s so “not cool” and go back to their underground virtual reality chambers. Oh well.  It’s the inner satisfaction that counts.

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