9 affordable 'covid compatible interests' to actually enjoy yourself more during the pandemic

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  • Six months into the coronavirus pandemic in the US, the pandemic had radically altered how people enjoy themselves.
  • In a recent Bloomberg opinion article, George Mason economist Tyler Cowen suggested that a key to feeling happier during the time might be to spend money in “covid-compatible interests” like perhaps buying more books and tipping better when you eat out.
  • Business Insider has put together a list of nine affordable things you could do to treat yourself during the pandemic – from watching ASMR videos on YouTube to staycations.
  • Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.


1. Buy more books.

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In a recent Bloomberg opinion piece, Tyler Cowen, a columnist for Bloomberg and economist at George Mason, discusses spending money to have fun and develop what he calls “Covid-compatible interests.” Buying more books is featured prominently and early on his list of potential new spending habits to develop during the pandemic.

“It is not enough for you to develop new spending habits – you should double down on them,” he adds.


2. You can take a road trip across your state and the country while longer trips and international travel is off the table due to the pandemic.

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Most of the world is currently off-limits or open with restrictions for US travellers due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Cowen wrote that people who might have previously flown to Paris for vacation might now drive to Maine or West Virginia. Travel experts previously told Business Insider’s Katie Warren, at the beginning of the summer, that they expect to see travellers putting car and RV rentals to better use during this time.

RV rentals increased by 650% in early May 2020, CNET’s Sean Szymkowski reported as travellers took to the road. An RV can cost anywhere between $US100 – $US275, on average, per night, according to RVshare.Car rentals can go for as low as $US34 a night or as high as over $US350 per night.

Business Insider’s Joey Hadden compiled this list of socially-distanced attractions you can visit during your next road trip across the Pacific Northwest or the Northeast.

Be sure to check interstate travel restrictions as part of your planning.


3. There are plenty of great, affordable staycation options for anyone who needs a change of scenery.

Joey Hadden/Business Insider

Business Insider’s Melissa Wiley put together “affordable staycations” as listed by TripAdvisor. The “bargain hotels” are under $US150 a night and have all scored positive reviews for their cleanliness.

The list includes family-run resorts, a cottage with a private beach, and a historic hotel.


4. Put your backyard to use if you have one — and go camping.

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Self includes camping in your backyard as number 2 on its list of “outdoor activities” for a pandemic summer. Rachel Wieser Haggerton, a reader, told the lifestyle website that the exercise felt like being on vacation in the absence of a real one.

You can get a tent on Amazon for around $US40 – $US50.


5. If you don’t have a backyard, you can still go on a vacation from your couch — virtually.

Explore.org, the world’s largest live cam network, has a large number of livestreams sourced from webcams in national parks and wildlife sanctuaries from around the world, as Melissa Wiley previously wrote for Business Insider.

Google Earth also offers several virtual tour options, whether it’s a trek through Yosemite National Park in California or a walk around the Palace of Versaille in France.


6. If you’re in a mood for something a little more local, and a lot less virtual, take a trip to your neighbourhood farmer’s market.

Getty Images/Justin Sullivan

Both Jessica Roy for the Los Angeles Times and Cowen for Bloomberg Opinion mention trips to the farmers market as pandemic summer activities.

“They’re a great place to get fresh air, support local businesses and farms, and see people other than the ones you’ve been confined with,” Roy wrote.


7. Going back to your computer screens, ASMR videos might be a source of some much needed moment of zen.

ASMR, or autonomous sensory meridian response, is the tingling feeling that runs down people’s back when they’re stimulated. YouTube has thousands of ASMR videos and the genre has accrued millions of views.

This closeup video of a person playing with and eating dessert has 91 million views. Cardi B whispered into a mic for W Magazine in October 2018. The video titled “Cardi B explores #ASMR” has over 43 million views.

Charles Trepany wrote for USA Today that ASMR videos have become a valuable tool to cope with pandemic isolation. It’s free to sign up for a YouTube account.


8. Mental health experts also recommend exercising and meditating regularly.

Sophie Glover/Insider

Carla Marie Manly, a clinical psychologist, told Today that “you’ll actually foster inner joy by slowing to meditate for even five mins at a time” and that even short walks can help you find those elusive endorphins.


9. Tip better when you’re eating out or ordering in and give more to charity.

REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque

Cowen suggests that giving more to charity during this time “might prove more rewarding than buying more heirloom tomatoes.”

As restaurants adapt around their business model around the pandemic and operate at reduced capacity or set up outdoor dining, there’s a certain degree of risk involved for restaurant workers.

Nick Mancall-Bitell wrote for Eater that workers who interact with customers more regularly are at a greater risk getting infected, while the Washington Post’s Anna Ciezadlo wrote in May that the issue isn’t with the dining room, but the kitchen.

Keeping this in mind, Cowen recommends tipping 20-25% when you’re ordering delivery or eating out.

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