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Summer Issue: What to do in the Seacoast without spending a cent

portsAlthough the Seacoast is home to many societal elites, fun can still be found for those who want to save money, are broke or are out of work. I fall under the latter category. While I’m in college full time, I’m also unemployed, so I can relate to the struggle of having little to no spending money. I therefore  recently decided to explore my options for free summer entertainment, and the results were wonderful, stressful and interesting.

I began my explorations by taking a trek to College Woods, where I sat on the nearest bench and journaled about what would eventually become this article. College Woods is a place that can be enjoyed without spending money. You can draw, read a book, meditate on all the problems in your life or get stressed out over schoolwork. Just being outside in the beautiful weather gave me a sense of peace and motivation that I personally wouldn’t have gotten indoors.

Afterwards I sat down for a while on Thompson Hall (T-Hall) lawn, and took a few photos. Completely at peace and soaking in sunlight, I felt a contrast to my usual  weekday morning, sunken-eyed, cup-of-coffee-or-two-in-hand fatigue.  There were no clocks (save the bell tower of T-Hall), to remind me of impending deadlines. I wished I had my dog next to me, keeping me company while I temporarily forgot about schoolwork, GPA, loneliness and all other stresses. To worry would have corrupted the beauty of the moment.

Next I went to the Waysmeet Center to inquire after summer volunteer opportunities for students. Waysmeet is also a community center, with drum circles and dinners held at the beginning of each month. Getting involved at Waysmeet could be a fun way to help others without spending money.

Following my Waysmeet visit, I took a bus to Market Square in downtown Portsmouth, where I spent an hour walking around, not spending a cent. I spoke to a lot of dogs and saw a lot of people. I browsed stores with shelves full of cool merchandise I couldn’t afford.  I particularly enjoyed visiting the public library, where anyone can read books for free.

Later I stopped to rest by the harbor near the Old Ferry Landing restaurant. The smell of seafood filled me with desire, and I imagined how wonderful it would feel to go for a swim in the river.

My phone battery eventually died, leaving me without technology for the day’s remainder. While I waited for the next bus to arrive, I perched on a street corner and whipped out my journal and a snack. I observed the casual passers-by and wondered if survival and happiness are achievable without money. Waiting for a bus in Market Square, without music or company, where there is a noticeable lack of public restrooms (thank goodness I missed my afternoon cup of coffee), could I possibly achieve the same peace of mind I felt in College Woods?

Phoneless and broke, I sat watching people and cars go by and struck up conversations with other people waiting for a Dover bus. Made uncomfortable by loneliness and boredom, I spent the next hour counting cars waiting for the Wildcat Transit’s arrival. I craved food and another coffee, but kept my resolve not to spend money, and instead remained in the cold, watching street performers serenade pedestrians.

Reflecting on my adventure during the bus ride back to Durham, I thought about how traveling without money forces one to consider alternative activities. Spending solitary time in nature was more fulfilling to me than going shopping. When my phone died, I felt a sense of security stripped away, and realized how attached people are to material possessions, myself included. To have fun on the Seacoast without spending money, I recommend spending time in nature, relaxing, reflecting and enjoying the simpler moments.

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