One aspect of vanlife we don’t hear so much about is what to do in-between destinations. Depending on the range of your trip, you may spend hours in your van with friends or family, and it’s good to have a few ideas on how to keep everyone’s mind occupied. Of course, you could just listen to your separate media, but what fun is that? Instead, here are some things that will be fun to do together while driving on your van camping trip.
Okay, this one is a bit of a no-brainer, but what you may not be aware of is that most local libraries actually offer temporary audiobook downloading, so that you don’t necessarily have to pay a dime! The harder part of course is getting everyone to agree on a book. If you’re traveling with a larger group, try narrowing it down to a genre, and then perusing what’s available in that genre from your local library. If you have data limitations, don’t forget to download it ahead of time!
Podcasts are growing to be one of the most popular forms of media on the internet, and they can be a very cool way to pass your time on the road, as long as you can get everyone to agree on what to listen to. They range from radio-series styled fictional podcasts to comedy or any topic you can imagine. If you’re new to the podcast world, it’s easy to get started, just search itunes or any podcast manager app (I prefer Castbox) for the kinds of topics you’re interested in, and you’ll never run out of content. Some highly recommended podcasts are the TED Radio Hour, Freakonomics, History On Fire, Stuff to Blow Your Mind, Welcome to Night Vale, and select episodes of the Joe Rogan Experience (choose episodes based on the guests you are most interested in).
One of the advantages of the smartphone era is that “road trip games” can be a lot more interesting, because you can utilize online resources for them. For example, you can look up riddles or 5-minute mysteries online, have one person read them to the rest of the car, and everyone else attempts to guess the correct answer. Another game called Battle of the Bands involves taking turns coming up with strange or funny things situations, and letting someone else pick a song that goes together with it. Everyone votes after each round to decide who had the best song selection, if you want to make it competitive. There are also many other games on your smartphone that the whole car can participate in, even if they aren’t intended for more than two people, such as online scrabble.
If you didn’t find the audiobook you were hoping for, or just think the idea of reading a book out loud sounds more fun, then this can also be a great option. It’s especially good for getting in some practice with reading for your kids, as well. Of course, you have the same problem of deciding as a group, but this may not be as much of an issue for you.
Good Old-Fashioned Eye Spy and Similar
Then, of course, there are always the old games that we’ve all played at some point on a road trip, such as Eye Spy, where you describe something around you, and the others guess what it is. There’s also the one where you take turns adding elements to a story, and end up creating a story together. There’s a version of scavenger hunting, where you search for items that are a certain color, or category of some sort, and then people call them out when they see them. There’s practically no end to these kinds of games, and of course they’re much more popular when kids are involved, but if you’re van camping with kids then they can be great fun.