5 Ways To Keep Entertained On The Road
This coming month we’ve got more travel (= more actual driving) than we have done in our previous 6 months on the road. Compared to our usual turtle-slow pace we’re practically racing across the country, and in order to schedule in some good rest days that’s going to mean some longer drives and more hours in the front of the RV.
Paul and I usually share the driving (yes, I’ve even got a video that proves it) and on scenic roads we’ve got plenty to gawk at, but sometimes the road is not enough and we seek other ways to keep ourselves entertained. Of course there’s my scintillating conversation, which is naturally superb and well above the norm in both intelligence and wit (I think I hear Paul snickering in the background), but what other ways do we amuse ourselves?
Well here’s my list:
For many years we had satellite radio (Sirius) which was quite decent, but last year we started to get bored with it, so we dropped it and switched to plain old radio and Internet-based music.
Now regular radio is ok, but as you drive across the USA you’ll find grand swaths of the country where you can only get a few stations typically either Country Music, Religious stations or Mexican Music. I can handle it for a while, but sometimes there’s only so much Mariachi I can take. On the internet however, you can find anything!
Many radio stations (worldwide) now have internet play links (e.g. BBC radio) plus there are general radio aggregators such as TuneIn where you can find just about any station you like, including local stuff. For those who want more personal control over your music, online players such as Spotify, Jango, RadioTunes or Pandora allow you to choose your genre, create playlists and even download playlists beforehand (the latter is a paid, premium service). And now that we have our handy dandy Bluetooth audio hack, we can blast that music over the big RV speakers like the hard-core roadies we are.
“Hey, Hey mama, Said the way you move, Gonna make you sweat Gonna make you groove….” (yeah, I’m a HUGE Led Zepplin fan)
Podcasts have been around for yonks, but I’ll admit that I only became a true fan once we went on the road. There are lots of quality options out there which can keep you entertained for hours (days?) on end. Download the podcasts before you drive onto your pad or phone and you’ll have no end of stimulating entertainment (once again our Bluetooth audio hack comes in handy here).
If you’re just starting out, try Serial, probably the most thrilling crime podcast ever made. Our other favorite is This American Life, one of the most interesting and well-produced series I’ve ever come across. Of course there are tons of other podcasts covering just about every subject you could imagine including photography, economics, philosophy, politics, lifestyle and even RVing (e.g. John and Kathy have been producing Living The RV Dream since 2009). The sky is the limit!
3/ Audio Books
Yet again this is a “technology” that’s been around for years, but I never really appreciated it until we started long drives. What better way to keep you entertained than to have a great book read to you along the way?
There are tons of Audio books on Amazon.com covering everything from classics to recent releases. If you get hooked to this medium, an Audible Membership is worthwhile and can save you some money over the long term. There are also, believe it or not, lots of FREE audio books online at sites such as LibriVox and 630 Free Audio Books. For another 244 links click HERE -> there’s at least a few years worth of “reading” in there!
4/ Paper Maps and Google
This is a “Nina special”. While Paul is driving I’ll often break out our handy Benchmark Maps so I can follow the road and point out cool landmarks (towns, mines, mountains, parks etc.) along the way. Whenever we come across an unusual looking town, or a particularly interesting-looking or sounding landmark I’ll Google it to get the history or background of the place. This way Paul gets a running commentary of our trip, with some history (or geology) thrown in. Plus of course he gets to listen to my fabulous voice for hours on end (the lucky devil).
As an example as we were driving back along the Columbia River earlier this year my eye dropped on Hanford , WA which listed the “world’s first large-scale reactor” on our map. That got me intrigued so we Googled the place to find its history. Turns out it was a massive Plutonium production site started in WWII that has since become an environmental nightmare. We Googled and discussed this and a ton of related subjects (Plutonium, nuclear history, environment, eminent domain etc.) for the rest of our 3-hour drive to Portland. See how utterly cool this is?
5/ Visual Games
Trust me, this is not as dirty as it sounds. What we’re talking about here is a good old-fashioned game of “I spy” (= choose something you can see and reveal the first letter by saying “I spy with my little eye, something beginning with C”) or “License Plate Scrabble” (= who can make the longest word out of the letters on the license plate that just passed you). The games are interactive, fun and can last for hours.
Lots of other creative ways to entertain yourself (and your family) here including the “Story Game” (= make up a story about the driver that just passed you…each person adds to the story in rotation) or “Who AM I” (= choose a famous person (living or dead) or type of trade (e.g. Carpenter) and everyone else has to guess who you are by asking yes/no questions). Sometimes old-fashioned games are the best!
That’s it folks! The one thing I didn’t mention here that might surprise you? Movies! We don’t play movies on the road since there’s only two of us, and it would be distracting (and frankly dead boring) for the driver if the passenger was absorbed in never-never land. However I know folks with kids who do this, and it can be a good way to keep hyperactive kids still for a long, boring drive. Downloading movies beforehand on something other than your own data plan (e.g. Amazon Prime, at the local library) will provide hours of kiddie fodder.
In our case, our “on the road” time is an interactive, shared experience and something we truly look forward to in our RV travels.
Got any cool road entertainment of your own? Share and comment below!