Must. Get. To. Spring. Now. After a seemingly endless midterm grind, a simple walk or picnic probably sounds like heaven, but we have ideas on how you can pump leisurely activities up to be more exhilarating. Even if you forgot what the sun looks like, remember, there is life off campus, and you deserve a piece of the action. Carpe diem! So grab your BFF, significant other or canine partner in crime and try some of these budget-friendly spring outdoor activities.
Take a hike
If your idea of taking a walk is circling that same old loop around the college track, think again. Whether you’re an outdoor aficionado or a part-time couch potato looking to change your ways, let technology help you find a speed that fits your lifestyle. Check out a mobile app that can scope out a local hiking trail or walking path in your area. The AccuTerra app by Intermap Technologies provides GPS-powered trail maps covering more than 5 million square miles. The app helps you to choose your route based on elevation, distance and energy level. The app also lets you record your hikes with unlimited geo-coded pictures and the ability to upload photos of tracks to social networking sites so you can brag to your friends about your hiking conquests.
Go fly a kite
Indie rock fans: Although listening to Ben Kweller’s new album “Go Fly a Kite” could technically count as a spring activity, this is not about Ben. While kite flying may seem like a dying pastime, there’s no time like the present to give it a second life—like Lindsay Lohan’s career. On a lazy Sunday afternoon, any old kite on a string will do the trick, but if that means jumping over toddlers and their inflatables on a crowded beach, try going indoors. Indoor kite flying has developed into its own subculture with handcrafted gliders ranging from the slow and graceful to the fast and feisty. In a February 15, 2012 post to KiteLife.com, “The Glider Craze,” Spence Watson explains how you too can learn to make your own glider such as the “Urban Ninja” or the “Borelli Fighter.” Side effect warning: serious kite/glider flying addiction may occur.
As the days get longer and the winter chill burns off, spring can be the best time of year to go camping before the summer rush. Camping can also be the cheapest getaway you’ll find. Here are some tips to save cash:
- Check campsite websites for student discounts. Many campsites offer deals for college students.
- No wheels? Amtrack offers a 15 percent discount through its Student Advantage Card. For those who live in the Northeast, there’s a Downeaster six-ride college pass (College 6Tix) that is valid all year. Or try a car-sharing service like Zipcar that allows you to rent a car by the hour or day (often right on campus), and share the cost with your friends.
- Buy a package deal. A whitewater rafting tour or canoe ride combined with camping facilities can often be a better deal for college students.
- Camp midweek. Weekday camping will usually offer the deepest discounts available.
Pack a picnic
There’s something about going outside for a picnic that heightens your senses. Plus, it involves little planning—the more spontaneous, the better. Besides the great outdoors as your backdrop, the key to an outright stellar picnicking experience is, of course, the food. Whether you are going out with a group of friends or that special someone, try creating small plates that are way better than just crackers and cheese.
In his August 9, 2011 post “A Picnic in the Park: Recipes for Your Basket,” for the website Serious Eats, Will Levitt lists a handful of tasty recipes, many of which are original twists on old favorites.
Also, before heading out the door, don’t forget to pack these handy helpers:
- Plates, napkins and silverware
- Blanket or sheet
- Corkscrew or bottle opener
- Cups and/or wine glasses
- Thermos for soup or hot drinks
- Serving utensils
- Paring knife
- Cutting board
What outdoor activities are you looking forward to doing most this spring?