(This post is part of a series. If you’re new to my blog or this is the first you’ve seen of this series, you might look at the introduction first.)
I’ll be mostly talking about in-home entertainment, and the options that exist for occupants of RVs and other small dwellings. For outside-the-home entertainment, the options are the same as anybody else has, and depends on where you live and what is available. Living in an RV can arguably add to the options, though, because you can easily move your house to be near the entertainment.
The book is the original portable entertainment system. It’s compact, goes anywhere, uses no energy, and requires nothing more than enough light to read by. Its biggest drawback for RV living is size and weight. While a single book isn’t especially big nor especially heavy, things can quickly get out of control if you are an avid reader. Unlike a regular house, an RV doesn’t have enough space for a very big library so you will be limited in the number of books you can carry on board.
In And Out
You’ll have to decide how many books you can comfortably carry, and stick to a strict “one in, one out” plan. Each time you get a new book, you must gift or donate one. Friends, neighbors, and fellow campers might enjoy reading some of the books you are finished with. Some RV parks and campgrounds have informal exchange libraries where you can leave some extras and maybe find something new, too. If you want to make a fun game out of giving away extra books, try Book Crossing.
If you plan to stay long enough in one spot, find the local public library and see if you can get a library card, or if they will honor the card from your hometown. Even if you can’t do either, you can always sit and read right there in the library. Many libraries also lend CDs and DVDs – great for music and movie lovers.
Some consider e-books to be the future of publishing. While blog readers are certainly familiar with self-published e-books written by bloggers and other independent authors, most mainstream “big-name” authors and publishers offer their works electronically, too. Amazon recently announced that e-books are outselling physical books on their site. E-books are ideal for RVers with space at a premium since they take up no physical space at all. Some people like to use an e-reader to mimic the ergonomics of reading a traditional book, but that’s not necessary. You can read e-books on many devices now, including whatever you are using to read this blog.
Music was one of the earliest entertainment media to go digital. This is wonderful for the music lover and collector who wants to live small and portably. What would have once been a room-sized library of LPs, or a full-length bookcase full of CDs, now fits in the palm of your hand. Your existing media can be “ripped” to digital files, and in the future you need never visit a record store again (if you can find one – I actually liked going to the record store back in the day). As long as you have internet access, you can get all your music digitally, either buying and downloading files or merely streaming the music.
Movies And More
Movies and other video content can also be digitized and stored on a hard drive, but there are potential legal issues. While many people rip their own DVDs that they have purchased, the DMCA has technically made that illegal. In spite of “fair use” allowances, the law is worded such that merely breaking the encryption on a DVD (necessary to copy it) is illegal, even if copying it would otherwise be permissible for personal use. My advice, and it’s worth what you’re paying for it, is to let your conscience be your guide. In reality, I doubt anybody is going to come beating down your door because you ripped your DVD to watch on your computer or streaming media server. They are interested in people pirating and distributing copyrighted material – not the average user doing format conversion for his or her own convenience.
That said, you can still easily store quite a large movie library on DVD or Blue-Ray discs in a small space if you are willing to give up the inefficient packaging they come in. One of the large binder-style disc albums, about a foot square and six inches thick, will hold 300 or more discs and can easily be tucked away in a corner somewhere.
Of course if you have fast internet, you can always download or stream movies and TV shows. If you are staying in one place long enough, you can do rent-by-mail, and if you are close enough to civilization, you can do Redbox or a video store (are they still around?) for rentals.
Do you play an instrument? That’s a great way to entertain yourself as well as neighbors and friends. You might have to think a bit outside the box, and not all instruments are RV-friendly. You won’t likely be carrying a piano or organ, but a portable electronic keyboard instrument, why not? Guitars, violins, and similar stringed acoustic instruments as well as most brass and woodwinds are small and easy enough to carry on board, and, as a bonus, need no power to play. How about a harmonica? an accordion? Maybe you like to sing. Many DVD players will play karaoke discs – no special machine needed. Or, if you’re really good, you could sing a capella.
I’m sure I’ve just scratched the surface, but as you can see, there’s no want for entertainment when living in an RV. Feel free to share your own experience and ideas in the comments.
Like the others posts in this series, this post is very well done.
I think many people long for high-quality entertainment but don’t know how to entertain themselves. I like a balance of being left to my own devices (very literally “devices” these days) and being entertained by others at a band concert, for example.
hanks, Gip. Yeah, I covered mostly indoor entertainment. You are certainly right about some people not knowing how to entertain themselves. We are surrounded by passive (and usually electronic) entertainment sources and it is easy to forget about simpler distractions like playing cards or a board game, or taking a walk or a hike. Or good conversation over a cup of coffee or tea.
I want an RV dammit. I went the digital route many moons ago. But my favorite entertainment when camping at an RV park is people watching.
Are you thinking about full-timing? I think you’d have a ball, Trinity.
RVers, in general, are a sociable lot. People-watching can be fun, as well as just hanging out and chatting with the neighbors.
My library was the hardest thing to give up when we sold the house and went full time in the RV. I had twelve bookcases (overloaded bookcases) full of books that I’d enjoyed. We pared that down to one bookcase with mostly cookbooks and Bible related material.
When we recently moved from the original fiver into the newer, smaller fiver, we pared it down again to about 20 books.
Now that we have Droid X phones, we can carry our library in our pocket. We listen to music and also watch TV and movies on these devices. Amazing what technology can do. I even use them to compose some of my blogs using the speech recognition apps, email them to myself and edit and post on the computer. It could all be done from the phone, but I find it easier to edit on a full size keyboard.
I’m enjoying your blog.
Thanks Mike, for all the great experience you share on your blog! I listened to an interview with you on “Minimalism For The Rest Of Us”. It was really good. One of the better ones. My wife and I are in the process of downsizing and moving from our rental into a class C this winter. We’re doing it for many of the reasons you’ve highlighted: cost, mobility, conservation of resources and a minimalist lifestyle. I’ve been highlighting some of my personal reasons on my blog: http://musingsonentropy.wordpress.com/
I plan on sharing my experience along the way as you are to help others that are seeking the mobile lifestyle. I hope to see more great content from you, and maybe I can help you too someday! Good luck to you! Live long and prosper!