Nothing beats that moment when you realize when you have no weekend plans and no obligations. Just two whole, glorious days without responsibilities or to-do lists, where you can kick back, nap, watch movies — and maybe nap some more.
And hey, if that's what you want to do with your days off, that's totally OK. But it can also be fun to switch things up and make the most of your two free days, possibly by trying something out of the ordinary. There are plenty of fun times to be had right in the comfort of your home, of course. You might, for example, consider hosting an event that takes place in your apartment so you can be social and fun, within a few feet of your couch.
But a free weekend also offers the chance to head out into the wide world, see new things, have a few cultural experiences, and maybe even make your town a little bit better. (Hint hint, a free weekend is the perfect time to volunteer.) And if you plan ahead just a little bit, you'll be able to find plenty of things to do around your neighborhood that won't cost a lot of money.
Again, don't feel bad if you just want to curl up with a movie, and not talk to another living soul till Monday. But if you're in the market for a some fresh ideas for how to spend your day off, consider giving a few of these a try.
1. Take Thyself On A Hike
When was the last time you set out into nature with the goal of exploring, seeing trees, and breathing in the fresh air? If it's been a minute, consider going on a hike this weekend. "All you need [are a] few snacks and water," Heather Ebert, a travel expert at MissTravel.com, tells Bustle. "Exploring nature is a great way to spend your free time, especially if you’re always at work or in the house."
For it to be most enjoyable, don't fret too much about planning. Simply gather up some friends, or your dog, and hit the ol' dusty trail.
2. Try Out A New Recipe
"Is there a sweet dessert or scrumptious ... recipe you saved forever ago on Facebook? Get out your pots and pans and make it," Ebert says. Whipping out complicated recipes during the week — when you're hungry and tired and stressed — may not be a good idea. But that's why the weekend is the perfect time to spend a day chopping vegetables, or filling your apartment with the sweet smell of dessert.
3. Be A Tourist In Your Own Town
While you may want to get out of town for the weekend, you certainly don't need to in order to make the most of your two days. "Chances are there are some great museums, zoos, and landmarks in your area that you've either never visited or haven't seen in a long time," Eric Anthony, managing editor of the travel site HoustonOnTheCheap.com, tells Bustle. "Spending the weekend acting like a tourist in your own city can be incredibly fun. And make sure to check to see if any of the attractions in your town offer free or discounted days to help you save on your trip."
4. Camp Out For The Day In The Park
When you're stressed from a super busy schedule, nothing's better than grabbing a blanket and some snacks, and setting up camp in the park.
"Every city and small town has plenty of parks that are free to enjoy," Anthony says. "Go to the park by yourself, with some friends, or with your family and enjoy what it has to offer. You can have a picnic, play games, or just relax and enjoy the scenery."
5. Go Tech-Free
If you have a spare weekend with no responsibilities, why not go turn off your phone, or avoid social media, and see what it feels like to be tech-free?
"No matter where you decide to go, may it be a trip to the forest, to a lake, to the mountains, or to the beach, try something new and leave your smartphone at home," travel writer Clemens Sehi tells Bustle. (Or, at the very least, keep it in your pocket on silent.) "It's a true relief from the digital age," he says. And the same is true, even if you're simply relaxing at home.
6. Plan A Scavenger Hunt
Why not take something you used to do as a kid, and recreate it as an adult? Think giant games of tag with your friends in your neighborhood, or something along the lines of a scavenger hunt. "Brainstorm a fun list of clues and items to include in the hunt, and invite your friends to participate," Anthony says. "Scavenger hunts are not only a ton of fun (for free!), but they can also be a great way to explore your local town or city."
7. Go To The Farmers' Market
If you're going to spend a day cooking, try to find a local farmers' market and see what kind of fresh things they have to offer. "Most communities have farmers' markets on the weekends, giving you a chance to buy locally grown produce and other goods," Anthony says. "This is a fun way to do a little grocery shopping while supporting local businesses."
8. Check Out Your Town's Free Events
Again, all of this can be free — or at least super affordable — if you take advantage of local events and passes. "Every community has little events going on that are unique and exciting, so take advantage of them," Anthony says. You might find a free concert in the park, or score a day pass to a museum. The possibilities are endless, if you're willing to do a little digging.
9. Visit An Open House
Sundays are usually the day when Realtors host open houses for their clients, which means those super pretty homes — the ones you might drive by and wonder about and dream about living in — are free and open for your viewing pleasure. So grab your partner, or your friend, and go have yourselves a snoop.
Yes, you may have to sign your name at the door. And the Realtor may want to send you info. But as long as you're quick, and quiet, and respectful, there's no reason why you can't take a peek.
10. Volunteer At An Animal Shelter
The weekend is the perfect time to get out and do some volunteering. And if you love dogs, what better place to do that than at your local animal shelter? This is the best way to spend the weekend because dogs. But also, shelters tend to be run by volunteers, so any help you can provide — even if it's just for an hour or two — will really help keep your local one running smoothly.
"Not only do you get to play with cute doggos, [you're also lending an] extra pair of hands to a local shelter that might be short on staff," Agita Wijaya, of Creative Edge Travel, tells Bustle. "Some activities that you may be asked to do range from playing and walking the dogs to [feeding] and returning them back to their cages. Bring along a friend and turn it into an afternoon of de-stressing without having to take care of a dog full-time!"
11. Host A Potluck
Want to host something at home? Try a potluck. All you need to do is text your friends, ask them to show up with whichever foods their hearts desire, and voilà, instant party. Wijaya also suggests playing a movie or TV series, so you can binge watch it together, and feel a bit more social in the process.
See how easy it is to get a bit more out of a free weekend? "When we branch out of our normal day-to-day schedule and find new things to explore, we refresh our minds and outlook," Wijaya says. And, aside from being out of the ordinary, that can mean starting the following week with a clear head, and the feeling that you truly took advantage of your days off.