When people think of Generation Y they most likely conjure up images of lethargic, computer addicted, consumers of media. But a recent LowDoughTrips poll showed that  26.8 percent of students 18-29 spent more than 5 hours per week outdoors for recreational activities.

The finding is significant because A 2007 study by the Center for Disease Control found that 25.6 percent of girls and 43.7 percent of boys in high school averaged one hour of physical activity per day. Further, the study notes that physical activity tends to decline as people get older.

Most importantly LowDoughTrips found that 15 percent of respondents don’t think state, local or national recreational areas are a cheap day trip or vacation. “You have to pay for parking  most of the time and the really great beaches or parks generally are in isolated areas,” Brian Donnelly said, a Quinnipiac University senior criminal justice major.

He equated long travel times with high expenditures on gas. But he felt the need to qualify his  statement, “it is generally pretty cheap once you get there since you can bring your  food, beverages. And you can split the cost among friends which makes it more manageable.”

Donnelly said that he prefers a cost free alternative, “I have a hammock in my backyard, couple that with a basketball hoop and I can keep busy for a whole day without dropping a dime.”

Randy Horn, a junior majoring in geography at University of Colorado-Boulder, said “If you look at how much you spend on a trip to a national or state park it does seem like its a pricey endeavor at first glance.” He cited the need for food, water and gas as the potnential costs. “But really, in any given day you need to eat, drink and probably will drive, so its really money you’d have spent if you just stayed home.”

Patrick McNerney, Randy Horn and Ian Swallow in Canyon Land National Park Courtesy of Randy Horn

Horn recently travelled to Canyon Lands national park in Utah and estimates that not counting the two hour drive from Boulder, he actually saved money on the trip. “We brought only canned food which means we spent like $2 per meal, we collected water in the park so that was free. Then obviously I didn’t spend any money on electricity and all those other utilites that a person generally uses in a day.”

Horn continued, “Realistically, if I chose to live like I do when I go camping year round I’d save myself a pretty penny, but at the same time one week in the desert is more than enough in my book.”

National Parks charge an admission fee which is used to help maintain the park and educate visitors. Those planning to visit multiple parks this year should consider purchasing an annual pass, $80, which allows the pass holder and 3 adults to enter any federally managed park in the country.

A few notable statistics:

  • Not a single respondent averaged one hour per day in a public park, beach or forest per week.
  • 38% of respondents plan to visit or have visited a National park this year
  • On a completely unscientific note, roughly 7 out of 10 respondents contacted via e-mail, AOL Instant Messanger, or Facebook chat replied, “donezo” after completing the survey.