How to have fun and stay safe during a pandemic on a budget

University of Illinois Extension Services

Bike rides are an expensive and socially distancing way to have some fun as we continue to battle COVID-19.

There are many ways to have fun while staying safe and healthy during the pandemic without spending a lot of money. A few of my favorite activities to do are crafts, exercising, playing games, watching movies, and spending time with family and friends. There are many things to do, alone or safely with others.

Exercising can be done in many fun ways, such as taking a walk around campus or at a park, biking, swimming, sledding, ice skating, rollerblading, skiing, snowboarding, or grabbing a friend to hit the gym together.

Play fun and unique games with your friends, either virtually or in person. You can play board games, card games, do puzzles, or download an app or go online to play games with others. Crafts are a fun way to get creative and show your artsy side. You could have a painting/art competition — grab a few friends, snacks, and art supplies and create something in a certain period of time, then vote on which is the best.

Watching movies or TV shows is a great way to connect with friends and family. You could watch something simultaneously or over the phone together. You could also cook a meal or bake something simultaneously or over the phone together. Just find a recipe, grab the ingredients, and make it at the same time over the phone.

Spending time with your family and friends does not always have to cost a lot of money or force you to put your health and safety at risk. This year, like so much during the pandemic, will be different as we adapt to the changes brought upon us by COVID-19. It is important to stay safe and protect those around you, so make sure to social distance, wear a mask, and stay home if you or those close to you feel unwell.

Many low-cost activities are fun during the pandemic and will still be fun once the pandemic is over.











Roller Skating

Ice Skating





Play sports







Art show


Painting class


Can do virtually



Games – Board games, card games, puzzles

Can do virtually


Movie and dinner

Make dinner/bake together

Virtual concert

Other activities


Campus event

Drive-in movie

Go to the beach



Other activities


Go out to eat

Car ride

Zoo or aquarium

Sporting events

Weekend or day trip

Renting something for the day



Written by Lindsey Eccleston, Financial Wellness for College Students Peer Educator, University of Illinois Extension, Spring 2021. Reviewed by Kathy Sweedler, University of Illinois Extension.