I’m an indoor kid, so even when the weather is nice, I spend a lot of time in my van. Other folks are the type who say they “live out of” their vans. Sure, they sleep in the vans and store their belongings in there, but during the daytime they’d rather be outside. Sometimes those folks are out hiking or rock climbing or kayaking or just sitting in the sunshine. Those outdoor kids are often perplexed when it’s too cold or wet or windy to leave their rigs. What should I do? they often ask in Facebook van groups when faced with inclement weather. Today I will share 15 ideas for what to do on those days when even the outdoor kids can’t stand to be outside.
#1 Clean your rig. If you’re like me, on any given day you rig could use some cleaning or at least reorganizing. Granted, you may not be able to haul everything outside and do a thorough deep cleaning, but you can put away everything that’s out of place, as well as make your bed. You can also wipe down the surfaces in the front, and perhaps use a whisk broom and small dustpan to sweep your floor.
#2 Do your laundry. If you’re in civilization, a rainy/windy/cold day is perfect for washing, drying, and folding your clothes. Laundromats tend to be toasty (all those dryers!), so you can warm up while you wait. Since you’re trying to pass the time anyway, go ahead and wash your curtains, bedding and rugs too. Once everything is washed, dried, and folded, you can remake your bed, rehang your curtains, and put all your clothes away in the proper places.
#3 Shop for groceries. If you’re in town anyway, get your grocery shopping done. No one will care if you walk down each aisle slowly to maximize your time in this warm, dry place.
#4 Visit the public library. If it’s too cold to comfortably sit in your rig and
you don’t want to use fuel to run a heater, spend some time at the public library. The heater is already running there, and there’s plenty to do for free. Read books or magazines. Utilize WiFi (from your own computer or phone or via the library’s public access computers). The library might even be offering a free movie or informational talk while you’re there. Check the bulletin board or ask at the information desk.
#5 Visit a museum. If you can’t afford an expensive admission fee, look for a museum with free admission or a donation system where you decide what you can afford to pay to get in. You may also luck out and decide to go on that one day of the week or month when a pricey museum doesn’t collect a fee. Perhaps it’s a day to splurge so you can get out of the bad weather and into a place with beautiful art or informative exhibits about nature or history.
#6 Go walking at a mall. If you’re one of those people who can’t sit still, and you’re in a town or city with a mall, you’ve got it made because you can go to the mall and walk, walk, walk. No one will care that you’re not spending money, and you can get some exercise without getting cold, wet, or windblown.
#7 Work out at the gym. If you have a gym membership, a bad-weather day is a great day for a workout followed by a long, hot shower. If you don’t have a gym membership at any of the places in the town you’re in, you may be able to get a day pass at a local indoor pool, community fitness center, or YMCA.
#8 Read. Whether you’re in town at a library or stuck in your rig on remote public land, a rainy day is good for reading. Although I live in a van and have limited space, I have at least a dozen books tucked away for my reading pleasure. You can find free books at Little Free Libraries across the United States. You can find inexpensive books at library book sales, garage sales, and thrift stores. If you’ve gone paperless, EBook Friendly offers a list of 12 sites from which you can download free ebooks for Kindle. Whether you have a Kindle of some other device, check out BookBub which offers free books in over twenty genres, available on all devices. If you’d rather listen, Open Culture offers links to over 900 free audiobooks. For more options, Book Riot offers a list of “11 Websites to Find Free Audiobooks Online.” These are all legal audio book options.
#9 Listen to podcasts. If you like audiobooks, you may like podcasts. If you
like myths, legends, and folklore, try Jason Weiser’s Myths and Legends Podcast. If you like classic fiction told in modern language try Weiser’s Fictional. If you want to learn something, give Stuff You Should Know or Stuff You Missed in History Class a listen. If you like personal stories recounted with enthusiasm, listen to The Moth or Risk! There are hundreds (probably thousands) of podcasts available for free.
#10 Watch movies. If you don’t have a DVD collection at your disposal, you can rent a movie from a Red Box for under two bucks. If you have some disposable income and a subscription to Netflix or Hulu, you can watch hundreds of movies (and television shows) on your phone, tablet or laptop as long as you have internet access. If you’re in civilization, you can even sit in a warm theater to view the feature attraction, just like we did in the old days.
#11 Cuddle. If you’re traveling with your sweetheart, bad weather gives you a great excuse to lie in bed and cuddle. Snuggle up under the covers and tell each other your hopes, fears, and dreams. Cuddling might lead to kissing, and kissing might lead to…(You might want to close your curtains before you start your snuggle session.)
#12 Nap. If you’ve followed some other suggestions, the weather is still bad, and you’re bored or tired, why not take a nap? I love a little daytime sleep, especially if it means being warm under the covers and/or hearing rain tapping on my metal roof.
#13 Plan your next outdoor adventure. Perhaps you don’t want to be outside right now, but maybe you will want to be outside as soon as possible. Use your downtime to plan what you’ll do the next time you can be outside. Grab your maps and your guidebooks and plan the route of the hike or bike ride you’ll go on when the weather clears.
#14 Write postcards.Have you been meaning to drop a line to your far-flung friends but can’t find the time? If you have to stay inside anyway, why not write out some postcards? Postcards are quicker to write and cheaper to send than letters, and if you send postcards of with pictures of local scenery, the recipients can get a feel for where you’ve been. If you’re not set on the idea of sending postcards from the place you’re visiting, you can often find inexpensive postcards in thrift stores, or you can make your own from old magazines and cardboard. If you need some postcard inspiration, give a listen to the Postcardist podcast.
#15 Sit in a coffee shop. Many of the activities you can do in your van can
also be done in a coffee shop. For the couple of bucks it takes to get a beverage, you can spend hours in a coffee shop reading, writing postcards, listening to podcasts (headphones, please!), or just people watching. If you’re suffering from cabin fever, a coffee shop is a good place to stay warm and dry while spending time outside your rig.
So there you go! Fifteen things to do when the weather’s too bad to spend time outside. What things do you do when the weather keeps you from exploring the great outdoors?
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