Why do cool adventures have to cost so much? I am lucky enough to live in a very outdoorsy resort town with a limitless supply of adventures: bungee jumping, sky diving, heli-skiing, cat skiing, zip lining, ATVing, white water rafting—and that’s just for starters. Unfortunately, these activities tend to be extremely pricey, but there are ways around it. Here are a few tips and tricks to get access to awesome adventures, even on a budget.
Never Pay Full Price
Here’s a little insider secret: the posted rate is only for suckers. With a little sleuthing, you should never have to pay the advertised rate. A simple search online for “[Name of activity] discounts” might pull up some specials or coupon codes. Have a search through the company’s website to see if they offer any deals. Peruse some local shops or brochure stands to find coupons (even 5% off is better than nothing), or chat up the hotel concierge or tourist information booth—they can almost certainly offer discounts.
Go Off Season
Every activity has its prime time. When the weather and conditions are just perfect, demand for the activity is going to be sky high. However, prices during shoulder season can be more competitive. Conditions can still be pretty good, and simply adjusting your wardrobe to account for weather can make a big difference. As a perk, tour groups are usually smaller, which means less waiting around and more attention from your guide.
Network for Hook Ups
Employees often get significant friend and family discounts, so ask around to see who in your network might have connections. If your friend works directly for a company, that’s great—but consider who might have friends of friends, or who might work for companies that have connections to other companies. In addition to a better deal, you might get better service for having an “in”.
Last Minute Deals
If you’re feeling spontaneous, wait for last minute deals. For group activities, the marginal cost of adding one person is usually pretty minimal, so if there is space on a tour a company has incentive to fill it—just about anything they charge will be profit, and anything is better than nothing. For something like a heli-skiing trip, this can means HUGE savings.
Win Your Admission
If you’re willing to look around and fill out a few forms, you wouldn’t believe how many opportunities there are to win adventures. Sure, you can’t guarantee that you’ll win, but it’s worth a shot. In my experience, your best bet is to attend small community events and fundraisers with raffle prizes, silent auctions and door prizes. Organizers put in a lot of effort into securing top notch prizes, and there usually aren’t a ton of attendees so your odds are pretty good. Besides, your money usually goes towards a good cause—win-win!
Be willing to think outside the box. For instance, you could offer to review an activity for a website or local publication. Many companies are willing to swap free (or deeply discounted) adventures for free publicity. Of course, this requires that you have some writing skills and an actual place to post a review.
Another option is to volunteer for an event. This really depends on the activity and time of year, but sometimes there are opportunities to volunteer and as a thank you, companies offer free use of their facilities or activities.
My most creative free adventure to date was responding to a call for models for promotional materials. Not only is my mug pasted on brochures and newspaper ads, but I got paid in free adventures!
Make Your Own Adventure
If all else fails, gather some enthusiastic buddies and find a way to experience your own adventure. DIY bungee jumping is never a good idea, but you can see some pretty wild things on a long hike or a snowshoe tour.