Here is some of the ways truck drivers are able to stay entertained during their time on the road. I’ve divided it up between entertainment while driving vs stuff to do on your down time.
Down time entertainment
I understand that the amount of time we get outside of the truck is limited. Much of our time is spent getting from one hub or drop off to the next, but I like to try to find ways to get some entertainment outside the truck when possible.
Explore local city
Personally, this is probably my favorite form of entertainment, but the one I get to do the least. When possible, I like to try to park at a location that will allow me to get into the nearby city so I can go explore. I love sports, so if I can work out seeing a MLB game, I try to work it in when possible. For me, getting to be outside for a few hours and relax and take my mind off the road is the perfect way to get charged back up for my next run.
If you aren’t a baseball fan, or not able to make it to a game, there’s still plenty to do in most big cities. There are times if the weather cooperates that I just walk (or wander) around a city. This allows me to check out local bars or historical spots that the city has to offer.
Obviously the biggest challenge of getting the opportunity to explore a city is finding a place to park your truck and the logistics to getting into town. Typically, I research a day or so before I get to the city where I’m going to park my truck. I try to find a truck stop or spots that allow parking.
The next hurdle is getting from your truck into town. Typically, I will use an Uber (Free ride with this link) or Lyft ($5 credit with this link) to do this. If you haven’t used these services before, you can catch a ride using an app on your phone. Peak hours will cause prices to be higher, but you can usually get decent rates. If getting a ride into the center of town is too expensive, see about using these services from your truck to the local mass transit station such as a subway or train stop.
I’ve not done it, but I’ve also heard of truckers who keep a portable fold up bike in their trucks.
Geocaching continues to grow more and more in popularity each year. It started back in the early 2000’s when the military opened GPS satellites up to civilians to access. The game works by users hiding “caches.” There are millions and millions hidden everywhere. You pass thousands of caches everyday and don’t realize. Each cache can be different, but most are physical items that must be found in order for you to log it as a find. Many times the item you are looking for is a Tupperware container or ammo can. However, some cache can be much smaller which adds to the challenge. Once you begin finding caches, you can start completing various challenges such as find one in every state, or one on each day of the year, etc.
I love geocaching for two reasons – 1) it’s quick and you can do it just about anywhere. There’s almost always a cache at a truck stop or rest area. This allows a quick walk around out of my truck to get some blood flowing before I hit the road again. It’s perfect because it only take a few minutes to find in most cases.
The other thing I like about it is that it takes me to some amazing places. I’ve found some incredible historical locations or amazing scenic views because of caching. When you log a cache you have the option to give it a “favorite” point. When I’m exploring in a city, I always pull up the geocaching app to see some of the best caches that I’m near. I will then sort it by the favorite points and head to those caches since they are the most popular in that area.
In order to play, you have to download an app to your phone. There is a free version available to try to see if you like it. If you decide you want to become a premium subscriber, you pay a yearly fee of $30 which opens up the paid caches. I highly recommend you at least giving the free version a try. Don’t get frustrated when staring out. Try to find at least 20 caches before giving up. Here’s a 75 second video that explains more about geocaching.
This idea is a bit out of the box. I met a trucker who was doing it at a stop once, and it turns out there’s a decent little following of others that do it. I did some basic wood carving in the past, so I can see how people would enjoy it out on the road. The tools needed work perfectly because they are relatively small and inexpensive unless you end up getting very serious about it.
Surprisingly, wood carving isn’t horribly difficult to learn either. Like any new hobby, it takes some practice, but there are plenty of online videos available. I put together a basic starter’s pack of good quality tools that you might want to look at if this is a hobby you would like to try. Total price of the carving knives and wood will set you back about $125. I also have a couple books listed that I recommend as well for someone just starting out. Here’s a link to my suggested tool set.
Another hobby on the road that has grown in popularity is video games. I’d venture to say this is more popular with the drivers under the age of 40 or so. Picking up a small TV for your truck and playing an Xbox or Playstation is a great way to relieve some stress and get your mind off the road for a bit. The primary limitation to playing video games is that unless you have wifi setup in your truck or are close to a hotspot with a strong signal, you are going to be limited to playing locally. Just make sure playing video games gets in the way of you getting the proper amount of sleep needed to safely get back out on the road!
With the prices of digital cameras declining each year, photography has become an increasingly popular hobby. This is a hobby that is easy to take on the road with you. Photography is something that can be done anywhere. You aren’t required to be at the beach or in the mountains.
Taking part in photography can provide two opportunities for downtime – one when you are actually taking the pictures and the other should you choose to Photoshop them and make enhancements to them. I’ve heard of drivers taking photos when they can, and then doing the computer work at night or when the weather is permitting. There’s a wide range of cameras available on the market. Equipment can range from a couple hundred dollars to several thousands of dollars.
Behind the Wheel
Perhaps one of the more obvious approaches to entertainment on the road is listening to music.
There is a huge variety of free, or relatively inexpensive, music streaming apps on the market that allow for a seemingly unlimited amount of listening to music of your choosing.
Mobile applications are available such as YouTube Music, Spotify, Amazon Music, Pandora, Apple Music, Sound Cloud, Amazon Music, Google Play, the list goes on and on.
Satellite Radio is also a promising option as there are no commercials and you will be able to listen anywhere even if you lose cell phone service on the road.
Each application offers something different. Your taste in music, your listening style, and your budget will help you decide which app is best for you.
Listening to music is a classic and timeless way to pass time on the road and with the technology of modern smart phones, listening to music on the road is more convenient than ever.
Podcasts are somewhat like internet radio shows that can be streamed online as well as downloaded. These shows often are in the form of a series that focuses on a specific topic of interest.
If you are looking for a way to remain intellectually stimulated while on the road podcasts are a great way to do so.