When it comes to tailgating, getting creative with your vehicle is a surefire way to make any game day party a hit. From unique converted vehicles to decked out RVs, check out this guide to the eight best tailgating vehicles, including some tailgating vehicle conversion ideas!
Types of Tailgating Vehicles
When it comes to tailgating vehicles, using your family car is definitely an option for your game day party. However, there are many other vehicles that can be used ahead of the big game! This includes everything from SUVs and trucks to converted tailgating rigs like ambulances and school buses.
Pickups are a classic tailgating vehicle—and for good reason! Not only do they offer a convenient way to transport chairs, coolers, grills, and other must-have supplies for game day, but the bed itself can double as a seating area or staging space! Plus, cleanup is as easy as leaving everything in the truck bed and tidying up once the party’s over. Since the term “tailgating” originally referenced the tailgate of a truck, what better way to pay homage to the spirit of this event than using the tailgate as a makeshift table for a portable grill, snacks, or cooler? You can even mount a TV to your tailgate with the right equipment!
Much like pickup trucks, sports utility vehicles are a handy, accessible tailgating vehicle option for game day. This functional vehicle can facilitate your tailgate party needs just as well as a custom rig. Common SUV features like foldable rear seating and sliding rear cargo decks offer plenty of storage for all of your tailgating supplies. On top of that, there are tons of tailgating accessories you can add to your SUV, including awnings, storage containers, tailgate mats, and more!
Vans are another low-key tailgate vehicle option with a lot of versatility. Your van could be a family car one day and your tailgate party station the next with minimal preparation! Vans offer a lot of stow-and-go space that’s perfect for storing your tailgate party’s food, games, drinks, and more. Hatchback vans also provide some shade, so you can get out of the sun by hopping into the back yourself. Additionally, this vehicle is highly customizable and can be made very comfortable with the right adjustments—to the extent that some people choose to live in vans full time!
There are many types of RVS, all of which make a great tailgating rig with indoor and outdoor potential. They include large living spaces and amenities like a full fridge and bathroom—which isn’t the case for most other tailgating vehicles. This large indoor space also means that you can keep the party going even if the weather goes south. As for fair-weather game days, all you’d need to do is attach an awning to the side of the RV for some shade, then place chairs underneath where you can sip on brews or munch on game day snacks!
If you want to get extra creative with your tailgating rig, converting an old ambulance into a “fanbulance” may be just the thing for you. Painting it in your team’s colors or using a car wrap with your team’s logo is a good place to start. Converting an ambulance into the tailgating vehicle of your dreams goes far beyond just cosmetic changes. You’ll also need to make it street legal by disabling the emergency lights and sirens, removing all emergency vehicle logos, and getting it properly insured.
Want a tailgate vehicle that offers just as much fun indoors as outdoors? Skoolie tailgating rigs are a great option. Remove the old seats and replace them with couches for lounging, card tables for dining and games, or coolers full of cold beverages. And with as much space as school buses offer, there’s plenty of room for large-scale, high-tech tailgating equipment. For example, try hanging a retractable screen against the back of the bus and mounting a projector to the ceiling. Or rig up a sound system like the kind used in traditional party buses. Features like this will help take your tailgate parties to the next level, even on game days with bad weather!
You can attach a television to the side (or inside) of your trailer for a compact tailgating vehicle that offers storage and entertainment all in one. Store lawn chairs inside, then pull them out and set them up in front of the built-in screen for outdoor game day parties. Or mount a grill on your trailer so that you can churn out burgers, hot dogs, and other tailgate food without having to set up a separate cooking station. Since trailers are typically used for storage anyway, it’s easy to stow various decorations and tailgating supplies inside of it when it’s not in use!
Take your tailgate party to the water with a truly unique vehicle choice: a boat. This nautical twist on traditional tailgating—often called sailgating—lets you soak up the sun and enjoy the open water all while you celebrate your favorite team. Bring a cooler on board with beverages and food, pack a radio so you can tune in to the game, and, if space allows, stash some games and other tailgating supplies so you can make the most of your day on the water. If you have the right permit and are in a good fishing lake, you could even cast a line and go fishing. Then, once you’re back on shore, you can have a post-game fish fry!
How to Convert Your Tailgating Vehicle
While an unmodified truck, SUV, or camper can definitely work as a tailgating vehicle, a few key customizations can really take your rig to the next level. From showing team pride with decorative touches to making a non-traditional tailgating vehicle party-ready, check out these helpful vehicle customization tips!
Paint the Exterior
One of the simplest ways to customize your tailgating vehicle is by giving it a custom paint job! Whether it’s something as simple as your team colors or more complex artwork in honor of your favorite team, painting your tailgating rig is a great way to add some decorative flair to your game day events. Keep in mind that this option is fairly permanent, and the cost of the paint job will vary depending on the size and complexity.
Go for a Vinyl Car Wrap
For a more affordable and less permanent way to deck out your vehicle with your team’s color and logo, try a vinyl car wrap. These wraps offer a huge range of design options, variety of finishes from satin to glossy, and also have the benefit of being removable in case you want to revert to the original paint color at some point. Though, once removed, you won’t be able to re-apply the wrap without getting a new one from a professional. For a smaller version of a full-vehicle wrap, you could always place a decal of your team’s logo on your door, tailgate, or rear window. You can apply these yourself, but be careful removing them so you don’t damage the paint underneath!
Put Up Banners & Flags
To show off your team spirit on a budget, attach a flag mount to your tailgating vehicle and fly a flag or banner with your team’s logo. Flags are a simple option because they’re both inexpensive and versatile! You can take the flags out of the mount at any time in mere seconds, or switch them out for different flags or banners depending on the occasion. These mounts are most commonly used on trucks, but can be attached to SUVs, RVs, boats, and other tailgating vehicles, too. If you plan on keeping the flag attached while you’re on the road, though, you’ll need to make sure they’re safely attached and comply with certain rules. As for banners, you can hang them directly from the hatchback or tailgate once you arrive at your tailgating destination.
Use Paint Markers on Windows
Looking for a no-commitment, zero-prep way to decorate your tailgate vehicle? Write game-day messages or draw your team’s logo with erasable chalk or ink markers on the window of your tailgating rig. Designs, messages, and more written in your team’s colors can be applied the morning of your tailgating party and taken off that same night with minimal effort. These chalk or ink markers are also very inexpensive, as are the various stencils you can find to help guide your design!
Add Extra Seating
Getting together with friends, family, and fellow fans is a big part of what makes tailgating so much fun, so adding extra seating to accommodate everyone is one of the best ways to customize your tailgating vehicle! Putting a couch inside a converted school bus or ambulance is one great option, but there are also small-scale solutions for those with a more compact tailgating rig. For instance, you can easily install a bench into your truck bed for added comfort during your game day party.
Attach Awnings or Canopy Tents
Beat the heat by attaching awnings or canopy tents to your tailgating vehicle for extra shade. Some tailgating vehicles provide enough room to hang out indoors like RVs and school buses, but having a retractable awning means you don’t necessarily have to retreat inside to keep the fun going on hot days. As for smaller vehicles, the addition of an awning or canopy tent can offer a more comfortable tailgating experience.
Mount a TV or Projector
By adding a TV or projector to your tailgating vehicle, you can bring all the fun of an at-home game day party with you wherever you go. For large tailgating rigs like school buses, RVs, and ambulances, you can mount a TV or projector screen to the inside of the vehicle itself. For smaller vehicles that don’t have the room, mounting a television or projector screen on the side of the rig will work just as well. You can even make a DIY projector screen with a white sheet! This way, you’ll never miss a play—even when you’re grilling food for your fellow partygoers.
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