Now that things are beginning to level off COVID-wise, you may find that you have a little more free time while on assignment. Consider picking up a new hobby or pastime that can be done anytime, anywhere and take up little to no space in your luggage. Here are just a few suggestions to get you started:

    Knitting, Crocheting, and Embroidering — Needlework has been a practical and creative pastime for millennia, and there’s no limit to what you can create. Here’s a beginner’s tutorial from Michael’s craft store to get you started on knitting, another one for the basics of crochet, and one for the basic embroidery stitches.

    Painting Between acrylic, watercolor, oil and more, there is no limit to what you can do with paint. Get started with this detailed “Complete Beginner’s Guide to Watercolor” and go from there. Paint pictures to make your temporary home a little cozier, or create something to bring home to loved ones.

    Coloring Books — Adult coloring books have been quite popular for the last few years, and it’s no wonder. They are relaxing and mesmerizing, and many people feel they produce a zenlike state that drains away the stress of the day. Whether on the plane, on break or as you’re winding down before bed, a coloring book is sure to entertain and relax you.

    Virtual Book Clubs — If you’re a bookworm, reading while on assignment is probably familiar for you, but why not join a book club? Oprah is the acknowledged queen of book clubs, but she’s got some lively competition in the likes of Reese WitherspoonNPR, and countless others. If you can’t find a book club you like, start your own! Here’s a how-to from Edutopia.

    Fitness and Workout — Getting regular exercise can be a great way to stay healthy and relieve stress from your day. YouTube has umpty-million workout videos for every fitness level and interest. If you want a full-body workout with minimal equipment and short duration, try resistance exercises with a fitness band (easily packable!). For those who prefer getting out to the gym, ClassPass is the place to look — it’s affiliated with over 30,000 health clubs in 28 countries and includes studios, gyms, salons, and spas so you can create a fitness and wellness routine that meets all your needs.

    Stargazing — Have you ever looked up at the sky while on assignment and wondered what star you were seeing? For those interested in things astronomical, give Interactive Night Sky a try. Just type in your current location and drag the view in the compass direction you’re looking for to see all constellations, stars, and planets in real time.          

    Photography — As you travel the country from one assignment to the next, consider taking up photography to capture your adventures. Your smartphone is probably all the equipment you need to take albums-full of great photos. With zoom lenses, special effects, and even some “real camera” settings, you can take memorable pictures on the fly.

    Word Games — Looking for a way to stimulate your brain? Puzzle books are easily packable and a great way to relax while also challenging yourself. And if you haven’t had time to explore the latest word-nerd rage, now’s your chance to get hooked on Wordle. It’s a simple logic game where you have to guess each day’s five-letter word in six tries or fewer. The site keeps track of your score so you can compete with yourself or your friends. And if you just can’t wait for the next day’s word, you can while away a few hours with the entire Wordle archive

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