By Melissa Smith
If you look at my Instagram, it’s just one compilation of adventures. I’ve been told on more than one occasion that I’ve inspired someone to get outside and explore or go somewhere new. And it’s usually followed by some variation of the question “How are you going all of these places?”
I’m just a regular person. I’m taking a normal 12-hour course load and working more than 40 hours a week at less than minimum wage, and I pay most of my own bills. I don’t have a lot of money or long stretches of time to go out exploring. But I do. And you can, too. Here’s how:
- Make the time
If you have weekends free, take advantage of them! If you need to do homework or study, you can always do it on the road when it’s not your turn to drive. Don’t let your schedule be an excuse. After a long week of classes and work, it’s easy to just plant yourself on the couch for hours at a time to relax. But this, in my experience, often leads to an unproductive mindset. It’s much better to relax while enjoying yourself and feeling like you’ve accomplished more than watching an entire series of “Gilmore Girls” in two days.
- Spend the money
Gas isn’t cheap. But it’ll get you where you want to go. I recommend traveling with other people (the more the merrier) who can split the cost of gas to keep expenses down. A campsite is roughly $20 per night, depending on where you go. You can also split this cost or, if you do your research, you can often find cheaper or even free sites around. Add in the cost of food and entrance to the area you’re visiting (state park admission usually runs from free to $7) and that’s about it for costs. It comes out to a little more than what you might spend in a typical weekend in Gainesville, but you’ll get so much more out of it.
- Change your mindset
If what comes to mind immediately when you think of weekend plans is what bar has the best drink specials or whose apartment you’re going to pregame at, you’ve got to change up your vision of a weekend. I’m not saying don’t drink or have fun with your friends, but think of other places to go. Realize that there are a lot more options than midtown or downtown. Whiskey tastes a lot better around a campfire than in a sweaty, crowded bar, and a Sunday morning hangover is much more bearable surrounded by fresh air.
- Find your spot
Going on adventures doesn’t always mean taking a three-day hiking trip. Go to St. Augustine and see the city and the old fort. Go to the beach and watch the shore birds or play in the water. Rent kayaks in Crystal River and eat some great seafood when you get back from paddling. Snorkel in one of Florida’s beautiful springs or do a photoshoot with your friends in Paynes Prairie. There are so many ways to fill your life with wonderful adventures. Those will be the memories that last long after your college days have ended, not another routine night going out or afternoon spent watching Netflix.