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Streaming the exception, not the norm.

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Books. I have read more books during van life than the previous decade of work life. I like to visit non-profit thrift stores that support a local cause and pick up a few books at a time. It’s also neat to find those little library share boxes in parks or other community spaces. A bonus to the share boxes is finding regional reads like Reservation Blues in Spearfish, SD. As I near finishing the last book I’ll donate the read books and repeat. Pretty much how I've acquired and donated books the past 2+ years.

Podcast. I became a huge fan of podcast during Covid and it certainly carried over in van life. Anything from history (History That Doesn’t Suck), backpacking (Backpacker Radio), adventure (Dirtbag Diaries, Outside, Wild Ideas Worth Living), survival stories (Out Alive, Out There) , science and psychology  (Ologies, Hidden Brain), philosophy (Life Kit, The Moth, This is Love), and a little true crime (Criminal, The Disappearing Spoon). When I know I’m going to be with limited cell signal I’ll download a handful of podcast in advance. I listen to them while driving or when chilling in the van at camp or in the tent on a backpacking trek.

Music. A Spotify subscription is my main source of music followed by an old iPod loaded with albums and playlist. Definitely enjoy not hearing ads, which goes with my overall news/media boycott. A life without ads frees the spirt and clears the mind to respond more organically to the surroundings. And it's so refreshing to discover new music that matches where you are in life. I switch from music to podcast while driving and at camp depending on the mood.

Movies. As part of becoming a minimalist, I selected my favorite 50 DVDs, removed them from their plastic cases, and condensed them into two soft cases. They run on a player connected to the laptop. I stream the occasional movie or series when I have solid cell signal and download Netflix content when I know I’ll be boondocking or in areas with weak or no signal. During my first year I found that I didn’t watch as many movies since I was traveling so much; however, I am now doing more slow travel and staying at sites for longer periods of time. I will say that I'm aware of an evening watch routine that can become habitual. I notice it too when I visit family and friends as they are pretty much doing the same thing. Too much leans to wasting time and missing out on content that could nourish the mind or be more productive. I am working on it.

Cell Service / WiFi. There is no wifi in Vanpe Diem. Before van life I rarely used a cell phone for anything other than text, talk, pics, and maps. I had a desktop at work and a desktop and laptop at home. Now, I use the phone for dang near everything. My main source of wifi is at public libraries, coffee shops, or even restaurants and grocery stores. I will visit a library when planning 1-2 weeks out or doing a deep dive into an area. However, some days I’m pulled over at a rest area planning a day or two out with cell service, which sometimes makes for hasty planning. When boondockihg there is often limited or no cell service. I have boondocked for several days without coverage, which is no big deal for someone not tied to social media. I did however purchase a used WeBoost Sleek on eBay, which brings the outside cell signal inside and boost it a bar or so. Beforehand, I was holding the phone up to the window for a stronger signal or to send a photo. See, the van is basically a tin can so the signal is blocked by the metal so the WeBoost has been a big help (wish I had done it a year earlier).

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