Live Outside and Play Road Team here. We consider ourselves Road Trip experts. We have lived in a van for three years, driving back and forth across the country multiple times over these past few years. We sometimes take on ten-hour drives multiple times a week to get to a new festival location. All this time on the road has forced us to figure out how to entertain ourselves for hours at a time. There’s only so much time you can spend chatting, then starring at the driver, then making up songs about the town names we are passing. We’ve written some suggestions before if you’d like more tips on how to have an awesome summer road trip!
This is a no brainer, and the best of all the options. We’ve got our favorites that we cycle through, but there are thousands of options for all interests. Our biggest suggestion is to put down the money for a podcast playing app. The app that comes standard on most phones is frustrating.
Reply All: This is a podcast both Ben and I enjoy. It’s a Gimlet Media podcast that discusses all things internet. As vanlifers, we miss a lot of internet phenomenon, and this a podcast is a fun way to catch up.
This American Life: Classic podcast that discusses all things American, from really tough hot topics, to fun smaller local stories.
Revisionist History: Malcolm Gladwell brings us super interesting stories on events we thought we knew the whole story on. We clearly did not.
Heavyweight: Jonathon Goldstein helps humans right a wrong from their past. Something about his voice, sense of humor, and focus on human connection keeps us coming back.
Mystery Show: Bring back the Mystery Show! Starlee Kine’s voice and perspective on the world make this ten episode podcast a must-listen. Similar to Heavyweight, but with a focus on life’s little mysteries. Listen to the episode on Brittney Spears, really.
S-Town: We listened to this podcast while we were driving through the southeast and what a background for the drive. It’s an investigative journalism podcast that dives deep into the life of an interesting man in Alabama.
2. Free books from your Public Library
Overdrive and Libby are two apps that allow you to listen to free books from your public library. You need to have a library card to get access to the books, but it’s simple to set up. Make sure to look up and request a few books ahead of time, each public library only has a few licenses of each audiobook and popular ones take a while to get access to.
If you want books right away and don’t mind shelling out some dough, check out Audible. They have an awesome selection, and there’s no wait time.
Bonus for finding a series you really like and knowing you have hours and hours of listening time ahead of you. We really enjoyed the entire Harry Potter series. The narrator is wonderful and listening to the story is like playing movies in your head as your drive.
3. Passengers Only
Sorry drivers, sometimes you have to keep your eyes on the road. Ben reads every road sign available to quell boredom and also peaks over at my time-passing-crafts. Don’t forget those city name songs along the way.
Crafting projects on the road! I have learned how to cross stitch, embroidery, and macrame while headed down the road. The first two are great because they are smaller and can be stopped and started at any point. Sometimes I get ambitious and do a macrame project, but the excessive rope can get in the way. There are many craft stores that sell kits which are great to start out with, then you can start with projects of your own.
4. Trusty Music
Everyone knew this was coming. We rely heavily on Spotify random playlists to keep us occupied. The classic Road Trip playlists get a lot of attention as well. Thank you to Spotify for suppling endlessly hilariously titled playlists that you can shuffle through.
5. Snacks Snacks Snacks
Everyone wants crunchy and salty treats on the road. We try to stop by the grocery store instead of the gas station when we head out on a Road Trip. This allows us to get organic nuts, fruits and berries, chips and salsa, crackers and peanut butter, and grass-fed jerky. Spend money upfront on snacks, and you won’t be forced to make poor choices when hunger strikes and you’re perusing the isles of a gas station.
We travel with a two burner stove and often pull over at rest stops to make meals. It’s worth taking the time out of the drive to fight the hanger.
We would love to hear your suggestions. Please help us add to this list!
There is one way for this tour to be a reality– our sponsors! Sending a thank you shout out to all of our awesome sponsors that make this tour happen: Sea to Summit, Mountain House, Lowe Alpine, Leki, Big Agnes, Stio, Roofnest, and Franklin County, VA.