As a college student, you may find yourself with some free time between classes, homework, and whatever trouble you get into at night. This is the perfect time for pursuing a new hobby, but this is where things can get tricky because it needs to be entertaining and cheap.
Sound like you? Perfect, because you’ll find this list valuable.
There are 5 hobbies particularly useful for keeping boredom at bay without burning a hole in your wallet, ones that every college student should try at least once:
- Bouldering – Mentally and physically rewarding.
- Yoga – Feel amazing without spending any money.
- Macrame and Weaving – Create and decorate in small spaces.
- Meditation – Cleanse your mind from distractions.
- Journaling and Creative Writing – Process, reflect, and imagine.
No matter what you choose to try first, all of these hobbies can help you make the most of the college experience and discover something new along the way. Otherwise, join me as I guide you to discover your newest favorite hobby.
1. BOULDERING – FUN & CHALLENGING, $15-$200+
This is an amazing physical hobby that exercises your mind as much as your body. In fact, it was one of only four hobbies to make the list of 19 Meaningful Hobbies within the “Move” category.
For the uninitiated, bouldering is what you might expect – climbing a boulder. But it gets far more nuanced than that. Technically, bouldering is a form of free climbing (no harness or rope) that’s carried out on actual boulders, freestanding rock formations, or in simulated environments like climbing gyms.
Benefits of Bouldering
Perhaps I should have led with this, but let’s put a disclosure on bouldering now – I’ve been bouldering for over 20 years, so this may be a biased hobby to make this list – but here’s why you should fall in love with it too, or at least give it a try once.
- Accessible: Most universities have a climbing gym or bouldering gym where there will typically be a small setup for you to try it out, and they will have shoes you can rent
- Get Out In Nature: This sport originated on actual boulders, so you can take it out in nature and explore the wilderness with your friends
- Mental and Physical: Routes are called “problems” – and that’s for good reason. It will test your physical strength but really, you’ll need to use your brain as well and problem-solve to reach the last hold
- No Great Heights: I’m afraid of heights, but I love bouldering. How is this possible? Well, bouldering in gym situations rarely goes above 15-20 feet, and if you miss a hold and fall, you’ll land on 2-foot thick pads to break your fall. Even in the wild, you’ll bring a mat and set your height limits, albeit outdoors is more dangerous
- Social As Hell: Some of my lifelong friends were made at climbing gyms. This sport is one of the most physically intense that you’ll ever try – and because of that, there’s a lot of rest time before each attempt. So you’ll sit near the problem you’re working on as others will, and strike up some conversation. Before you know it, that person has become your new climbing partner.
If you have a gym on campus or in your school’s town, this is the best way to break into the sport. You’ll show up, sign a waiver, and fork over $20 or less for a day pass that includes shoes and a chalk bag (keeps your hands dry so they don’t get sweaty and cause you to fall off a hold.)
A gym I used to climb at had $15 day passes with shoes – stay as long as you like kind of deal. If you enjoy your time and want more, it runs about $75 a month, and that’s where things start to get expensive. Especially because you’ll need to buy gear.
Here’s a general idea of the gear you’ll need if you decide to get into bouldering; take note of how worn the items are – if you buy quality gear to start, it will last you many years.
- Men’s Bouldering Shoes: The yellow and black shoes in the image above are mine (Evolve Addict) and seem to have been replaced by the Evolv Rave – the new and improved version of my shoes, which will set you back $125.
- Women’s Bouldering Shoes: The blue and orange shoes in the image above are my partner’s – they’re Evolve Elektra. They’ve had the shoes for some time as well, but don’t boulder as often. Either way, these are high-quality bouldering shoes.
- Chalk: This will last you a while and it’s pretty affordable. A lot of climbers will get caught up in brands, but personally, it doesn’t matter. The bag in the photo is all I could find, but I’m going to link to a brand I see a lot of people using in the gym, and hear good things about all the time – it’s Primo Chalk – it will set you back about $15, but this bag should last you a while. I burn through a bag this size in about 30-40 sessions at the gym – so maybe somewhere between 4-6 months.
- Chalk Bag: I’ve had many chalk bags over the years, and there’s really only one thing you’ll need a chalk bag to do well – and that is seal tight. There is nothing worse than spilling chalk all over – it gets everywhere and is a pain to clean up. The bag in this photo is one I grabbed from a local company, but you can get them just about anywhere online. Don’t spend big on them – odds are you will lose yours at some point, or maybe that’s just a “me” thing. I’m partial to prAna for chalk bags since that was the brand of the first one I ever bought.
- OR Chalk + Chalk Bag + Chalk Ball: I would recommend this Survivor chalk combo with liquid chalk if you don’t have a bag or chalk already. The Survivor liquid chalk, chalk bag, and chalk ball combo is a solid price – at the time of writing this, there was a $10 discount, making the price $19.95 which is awesome. But even outside of a sale, it’s still a great combo price at $29.95. By the way, chalk balls just make it easy to get your hands dry quickly, not mandatory. Neither is a bag, but chalk is a must in my book.
Alright, so that’s my love letter to bouldering. But you should absolutely give it a shot since it’s great exercise, mentally stimulating, and conducive to meeting new people.
2. YOGA – FEEL GREAT FOR $20 OR LESS
Yoga is the perfect hobby to pick up when you’re on a budget. All that’s required is a yoga mat, which can be found for free or for less than $20 on Amazon. And this mat is going to last you quite a while before it needs replacing.
Benefits of Yoga
Effective yoga can burn calories, make you sweat, and increase your flexibility. Many colleges offer yoga courses to get you started, but many YouTube videos will help you as well; which means you can do yoga from home.
However, if your schedule doesn’t allow time spent practicing at home then consider attending a gym or your university’s rec center which may charge small fees per session but offer great benefits like motivation and one-on-one instruction.
3. MACRAME AND WEAVING – CREATE AND DECORATE WITH $40
Fiber arts are a big hobby around the house, it’s almost to the point of being a problem. Macrame and weaving are my two favorites. Both of these are different kinds of art using rope or yarn (fibers for the sophisticated individuals out there.)
Macrame is a form of art that uses knots instead of weaving or crocheting to create some very cool art. Because we love having plants and greenery around the house, we have tons of handmade macrame plant hangers around, which is why we created the Macrame Plant Hanger DIY for Beginners.
Benefits of Macrame and Weaving
The living situation in college is usually pretty spartan – whether that’s on or off-campus. Plus space is always tight – more so the dorm rooms than a house or apartment you share with friends, but it’s rarely spacious.
So little things that can spruce the place up and don’t take up a lot of space are more than welcome. And that’s where macrame and weaving, specifically using a pop-out loom, come in handy.
The ability to be entirely creative and imagine a tapestry, sit down and make it happen, then be able to behold your creation is a powerful process. If Marie Kondo crashed your place, these creations would spark joy.
To boot, you can get into macrame and weaving for easily less than $40.
Weaving in our house is also used to decorate – we do a lot of tapestries. But we don’t even use anything fancy to do it. In fact, we use a pop-out loom, the same one that we’ve had for years and also the exact one used in the New Hobby Box weaving tutorial.
A pop-out loom is a thin piece of wooden sheet that has a full loom and weaving tools to get the job done. We have a great partner in Black Sheep Goods, who arguably makes the best pop-out loom, with full instructions, and they have a lovely aesthetic.
The loom runs about $37 but also includes 5 skeins (insider lingo for sets of yarn.
With macrame, you can get nearly a lifetime supply of jute rope for $37, and just get creative with it – such as using a tree branch to drape the macrame project from. Or if you want a full kit, it would only run you around $30 to get the supplies (sans pots) to create two beautiful macrame plant hangers, like the one linked here from the NHB macrame tutorial.
4. MEDITATION – CLEAR YOUR MIND FOR FREE
For an effective stress-reducing hobby that won’t cost you anything, you have meditation. Meditating will let you clear up your thoughts and help reduce stress from school and life.
Benefits of Meditation
Okay, aside from feeling zen and all that, you can meditate from anywhere, and with so many great meditation apps out there like BetterSleep and Headspace, you can get the instruction you need on how to meditate.
If you’re like me, maybe you’ve tried meditation before and it was too difficult to stick with. With BetterSleep and several apps for meditating, they guide you on how to breathe and deal with falling out of focus. it’s incredibly helpful for maximizing the benefits of meditation.
Still not convinced? Did I mention that BetterSleep is free to install? So what do you have to lose then?
5. JOURNALING AND CREATIVE WRITING – FULFILLING ON THE CHEAP
Have a look at the photo of my journals above – this is my life over the past four years.
There’s no secret diary to it or anything like that; rather, journaling for me is simply quickly recapping each day’s events right before bed. I’ll typically just lay out my favorite moments or things that were important to me – be it something that’s already happened, or something I hope happens.
I’ll rarely go over a sentence for each point, and each day is rarely more than 5 total thoughts.
Journaling and creative writing are two great options for getting your mind out of the house. Journal entries don’t have to be about how you’re feeling or what’s going on in life, they can also serve as a way to explore ideas that interest us more than just passing time with pages filled up with thoughts we didn’t understand at first glance!
Creative writers find themselves creating new worlds based on their imagination – which is only limited by our wildest dreams (and possibly budget).
Benefits of Journaling and Creative Writing
You’re in college. While there are some nights you won’t remember, there are many days and nights that you wish you could remember – trust me on this. Journaling is such a cool way to take you back when you’re a decade or removed from one of the best times of your life.
I view creative writing a little differently – it’s more of a skill that you can develop over time that can become a form of entertainment. Worthwhile in its own right.
But both journaling and creative writing have one huge thing in common – they are therapeutic at the moment.
There is something incredibly rewarding about digesting the day you just had or pushing your mind to dig deep and create things that don’t exist. One brings closure while the other opens you to possibilities.
The best part is you can do either one for free or on the cheap.
You can grab a journal just about anywhere, use your computer or phone, or even make your own journal with the New Hobby Box bookbinding tutorial (image above for how it looks), which is rewarding in itself.
I saw you eyeing my Harry Potter journal in the image above – it’s one of Moleskine’s limited editions. I highly recommend it to get the juices flowing. They also have a Lord of the Rings series – I’ve also got the entrance to the Mines of Moria, which seems to be out of circulation now.
The point is, whether you want to get a cool journal that inspires you, use a computer or phone, or make a journal – so long as you engage in the process of creative writing or journaling, you’ll benefit from it.
WHATEVER YOU DO – TRY SOMETHING NEW AT LEAST ONCE
College can be a time of great exploration and growth, both mentally and physically. With so many options for hobbies that are entertaining and affordable, there’s no reason not to try something new.
Whether you decide to take up yoga, start bouldering, or join a running club, you’re bound to feel rewarded for doing something different! And if you find yourself struggling to come up with ideas on your own, we’ve got you covered.
If you’re looking for hobbies that add meaning to your life, you should know about the 5 AM Club and 3 Hobbies You Should Have. If you’re just looking for a list of hobbies to pick from instead, we’ve dropped 19 of the most interesting hobbies you’ve probably never heard of here.
The sky is the limit when it comes to exploring new interests – buck the trend and try something new.