It’s about time that I compile a list of free and cheap things to do during this pandemic. The ideas have been trickling in, and with cooler temps arriving, I think now is an ideal time for a list like this.
- Go to the library. Do you have a library card? Great! If not, why not? It’s free! And the library has so many amazing book, video, and game options! Locally, check out the Waterloo Public Library.
- Read. Read a book or magazine. Listen to an audio book. Leave your reality behind and escape into another storyline.
- Go for a walk. I know this might seem boring to some, but it’s not. You get fresh air. You observe your surroundings. You see people (at a safe distance). Walks are great! You can explore new neighbourhoods while you’re at it, too. Locally, for easy walks, I suggest Uptown Waterloo, Waterloo park, Downtown Kitchener, Victoria Park, trails around St. Jacobs, and a drive to and walk around Elora. For trails, check out this Waterloo Region trails page.
- Call a friend. I think I have talked with friends and family on the phone more than I have in my whole life. Conversations pass the time and (sort of) mimic face-to-face interactions. I often call people when I’m out walking, and I love the break from texting, FaceTime, and computer work.
- Tune in to an online performance. Symphonies and theatres are inviting people to attend online performances. While I haven’t done so yet, this is on my to do list. The Stratford Festival, the KW Symphony, and the MET Opera have offerings listed on their websites.
- Take a drive. Have a change of scene. Explore some new-to-you trails.
- Plan an at-home spa. Make a face mask. Have a bath. Paint your nails. Take an afternoon or evening to pamper yourself.
- Meditate. I was meditating briefly but consistently a long while ago (it’s likely been a year), and I’m getting back into it now. I use Insight Timer which offers so many meditation options (time, type) for free. If you’re looking for alternative meditation options (at a cost), locally, the Dharma Centre offers several online meditation options; this is the organization through which I did a one-day silent retreat last September.
- Prepare a budget. Now (and probably always) is a great time to revisit your spending and saving habits. Prepare a budget so you know how your money flows and where you can and want to spend or save it.
- Live adventurously. I watched Alistair Humphreys’ video about #MicroAdventures on Swiss Miss last week, and it reminded me to try new things…which don’t have to cost a dime!
- Make a nice meal. Cooking or baking is a great past time, as it does exactly that – passes time. The plan, the shop, and the execution can take hours! And the best part is that you’ll get to reward yourself with a delicious meal (and leftovers). Drop off extra portions at a friend’s.
- Do a puzzle. I have bought puzzles from HomeSense, Indigo, and Amazon for under $25. Locally, Gifted in Waterloo and The Art of Home in Cambridge have artistic selections for around the same price point.
- Knit or crochet. Knitting a basic scarf or blanket isn’t too complicated. I’ve seen a kit at HomeSense for $40. It has everything you need to get started on a small blanket. Purl Soho offers a lot of free tips and instructions (as well as packages) online. Locally, I don’t have experience with crocheting, but I have heard it’s even easier and quicker to pick up than knitting.
- Sewing. If you don’t already have a sewing machine, then this option might be out of your price range. If you already have one, then this is a relatively cheap hobby. Locally, I get fabrics at Lens Mills. The selection is vast. Prices are competitive.
- Play a board game. Board games are relatively affordable and provide hours of entertainment for you and your bubble people. Monopoly is a classic option that is always fun to play. Newer in my board game rotation are Sequence and Catan. Both are very enjoyable and pose new challenges every time I play.
- Try a new subscription. Whether it’s a new magazine subscription, food delivery service, or a TV streaming service, trying something new could provide hours of entertainment. I added Disney+ (about $10CAD a month) to my subscriptions way back in March, and I’ve enjoyed it. I’m still making my way through the Star Wars movies, but I have also watched the full Mandalorian series (how is Baby Yoda so darn cute?), Moana, and Hamilton – all shows I would never have watched otherwise. I’m not sure if I’ll keep it forever, but for now, this service is working for me.
- Treat yourself. Some days are harder than others. If you want to treat yourself (retail therapy often works for me!), but are watching your budget more carefully than usual, opt for something small. A candle, a lipstick, a new shampoo, a coffee, a new book, or a new top are small options (often under $20) that could help to brighten your day (or several)! Locally, buy a book at Words Worth Books and a coffee at Seven Shores Cafe in Waterloo.
- Learn a language. Through online options like DuoLingo (free), italki, or language teachers offering online instruction, learning a language would be a fun way to pass time. Choose a language of a country you’d like to visit once the borders are open to travel and tourism!
- Try an outdoor activity. With winter coming, it might be a good idea to think about how to enjoy being outside in the cold. Buy a cross country ski set, snowshoes, or shoe grips (e.g., crampons, Yak Trax, icers). If you buy these items used or on sale, they can certainly fit in the “cheap” category.
- Visit another town. There are so many places to see, and a day out doesn’t mean a big expense. Grab a coffee and wander around towns who may need an extra visitor or two. Wear your mask. Pack your sanitizer. Here are some easy day trips from Kitchener-Waterloo: Stratford, Elora, Bayfield, Kincardine, London, Port Stanley, and Caledon. Small towns and small shops (everywhere) need our support!
Thanks for this great list; it came at a perfect time! I go to the library at least once a week. I think Iâ€™m going to buy snowshoes this year, and give them a try.
I think snowshoes would be an excellent purchase this year! One other way to stay active through the snowy winter!
Great life experiences to enjoy and all within a reasonable budget!
Thanks. I think a lot of us are more budget conscious at the moment, so I hope this post is helpful!