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20 cheap things to do for bored students on a budget

10 Aug 2018

What can you get for a tenner these days? A cinema ticket for one (and maybe a handful of pick n mix if you have a student card – but only if you stick to flumps and jelly beans!), a game and a half of bowling, or maybe a cheeky Nandos if you have a refillable drink and avoid the ice cream?

But what if you want to get away from your town’s local entertainment complex and fancy doing something more fun than trying to win a Minion again in the arcade? Summer holidays can be long and boring, but even if you have a part-time job, it can easily get expensive if you want to do more than just binge-watch Netflix all summer.

Here are 20 things to do this summer without breaking the bank.

1. Old school sleepover (and movie marathon)

Grab your sleeping bags, dig through the loft for your board games and relive your childhood with an old school sleepover and movie marathon. Pick a theme – it could be Harry Potter films, Disney only, 90s Chick Flicks, Musicals , All 6 season of Game of Thrones – get everyone to bring plenty of sweets, and don’t turn the lights off until at least 3am.

2. Find out who’s the next Nigella


Okay so you might not be able to make three courses (and provide entertainment!) for a tenner, but you’ll easily have enough to serve dinner for a few friends. Take it in turns to cook (now is a good time to learn if you’re off to uni in September!) and if you think you can handle it, vote at the end.

3. Explore your town in a new light


Most major cities have a walking tour, and a lot of them are free. These are a great way to explore new little nooks and crannies you may not have discovered before, and you just have to give a tip afterwards. TripAdvisor usually has a list of tours in each city and for bigger cities suggests a few itineraries. Want to get out of town? Grab a dayrider  using contactless to travel as much as you like all day.


4. One man’s trash is another man’s treasure

charity shop

Charity shops can be an absolute haven of surprises, from DVDs and books to clothes to homeware – perfect if you’ve got a student flat to fill in September! The best part is you never know what you’ll find, so go in with an open mind and see what you can find for a tenner.


5. Dine al fresco


A few cans of fizzy drink, a box of cookies, a few homemade sandwiches and some plastic cups – you’ve got yourself a picnic. Get yourself to a local park and enjoy some al fresco dining. Fancy upping your picnic game? Jamie Oliver has a great selection of picnic recipes – from watermelon and feta salad to homemade sausage rolls.

6. Get quizzy with it

Put you knowledge to the test with a pub quiz. Make sure you have a group with a wide range of specialties – and don’t forget to think of a great team name! If quiz nights aren't your thing, why not check if there is a Bongo's Bingo near you. It is a bingo experience you will never forget, with its famous dance battles to see if you can get your hands on a giant unicorn cuddly toy!

7. Open mic or comedy night


Even if you’re not musically talented yourself, open mic nights are a great way to experience some new (and free!) music or comedy. And it’s nice to support local artists! Open mic finder will be able to help you track one down nearby.

8. See what you could win

There are absolutely thousands of online competitions just waiting for you to enter – and you could win anything from holidays to cars to electronics. Money Saving Expert has an entire forum dedicated to comping and loads of tips to maximise your chances! It’s time-consuming to fill in hundreds of forms, but who doesn't want to win a year's supply of Skittles?

9. Sporty Spice


Fancy a game of badminton? What about squash? Sports centres will usually let you rent a court and lend equipment if you don’t have your own. Fancy something a bit more traditional? Most gyms will offer a one-day pass so you can try their facilities out for free.

10. Potluck Party

Organise a potluck party – invite your friends round and ask everyone to bring something to eat. Set a theme so you’re not serving jelly alongside curry next to nachos, and make sure you know what everyone is bringing so you don’t end up with 5 pans of brownies! Can’t cook won’t cook? Get non-cooks to bring drinks or snacks.

11. Get your ghost stories ready


Love the great outdoors? Organise a camping trip! Make a fire, make s’mores and tell ghost stories by torchlight. Find campsites nearby with PitchUp or hostels at the Youth Hostel Association. At home version? Do it in the garden!

12. The first rule of film club is you don’t talk about film club

Choose a book or film, make sure everyone gets a copy (choose books or DVDs that have multiple copies in your local library) and choose a regular time to meet up and discuss what you thought. Tea and biscuits are not optional.

13. Climb a mountain


Love a good walk? Pack a picnic and plenty of water and head out of a leisurely hike. Ramblers has a great list of hikes all over the UK so you can find a great walk wherever you are.

14. Take on a Pinterest project

Pinterest is filled with DIYs – from hair tutorials to upcycling to chocolate chip and crisp cookies (seriously). Whatever you’re into, there’s a project for you. Choose something fun to tackle over the summer, but make sure it’s manageable – you don’t want to end up on !

15. Race for free


All over the country at 9am on a Saturday morning, you’ll find thousands of people lining up in their lycra for their weekly parkrun. These 5K weekly timed runs are a great way to meet new people and keep fit. Haven’t run since the bleep test? Why not give Couch to 5K a go?

16. Learn something new

headphonesThere are thousands of free podcasts available online, covering everything from sports to fiction to true crime to history. They’re an easy way to learn without even thinking – listen while you’re on the bus, out for a walk, cleaning your bedroom, packing for uni... 

17. Make a movie


Fancy yourself on the silver screen, or prefer to be behind the camera? Making a short film is easier than ever – and you can do it on your iPhone! Start with an idea, choose a scriptwriter, director and star. Bring some props and have fun!

18. Get outside


Bored of Pokemon Go? Have you tried Geocaching? Geocaching is a world-wide treasure hunt. Use the website or the app to locate Geocaches nearby, find it, leave a message in the log book, rehide it where you found it and share you experience online. There are thousands of Geocaches around the UK – can you find all the ones in your town?

19. Trampoline park

Forget bowling and laser quest – trampoline parks are the next big thing, and you can bounce til your heart’s content for an hour at most parks for under a tenner. 

20. Road trip


Where can you go? Whether it’s by car, train, tram or bus, the journey is half the fun! Go somewhere new, go somewhere old, get outside and explore.

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