25 May

RVFTA #143 Tips for Buying a Used Pop Up Camper with the Pop Up Princess

Photos courtesy of The Pop Up Princess

For many folks buying a used pop up camper is the easiest and most affordable way to jump into the RV lifestyle. There are many reasons why a pop up camper is a great way to get your feet wet, since they are so easy to tow and super easy to store.

However, the process of shopping for a used pop up camper can be a bit overwhelming. Inexperienced shoppers often make mistakes that end up costing a ton of money and a ton of time.

Lucky for us the Pop Up Princess came onto the podcast to guide us through the exciting but daunting experience of searching for the perfect used pop up camper. Larissa Richardson has seen a ton of pop up camper remodels, and she knows what she is talking about.

The Hunt for a Used Pop Up Camper

In the first segment, Larissa talks about all the things you need to research and decide before shopping for a used pop up camper. Important points include:

  • Current tow capacity
  • desired features
  • budget
  • deal breakers

Inspecting a Used Pop Up Camper before Purchase

In the second segment, Larissa walks us through her amazing checklist of all the things you should inspect before purchasing a used pop up camper. Seriously, everyone should be armed with this PDF checklist before going to check a rig out. We discuss:

  • roof
  • flooring
  • lift systems
  • canvas
  • electric
  • appliances
  • AND MORE!!!

Words of Experience

Folks who have been following the RVFTA story for a while know that we started out with a pop up camper and made a lot of very common mistakes in our RV journey. In the last segment of the show, we discuss some of our best advice for making sure you don’t wind up with a camper (or tow vehicle!) that doesn’t suit your family or your budget.

We still believe that a used pop up camper is an amazing way to begin your family’s RV adventure. If fact, our number one piece of advice to people sitting on the fence is to find an inexpensive used pop up camper and just give it a try. Even if you HATE it (which you won’t) you will probably be able to sell the camper at the end of the season for at least what you paid.

To see more of our advice on pop up campers, check out:

You can also visit our RVFTA Facebook Group, where lots of friendly folks will answer any questions you have about looking for that perfect pop up camper.

Thanks to our sponsors for supporting weekly content for all our RVing fools:

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22 May

The RV Weekend Warrior: 10 Tips for Getting the Most Out of Short Weekend Getaways

So many RV owners want to squeeze in more camping trips…but it sure is tough to figure out how to do that! Between work responsibilities and busy activity calendars, finding time to get away can feel like an impossible feat.

Plus, let’s face it: not many of us can find an extra week each year where we can say bye-bye to the boss and head out on the open road.

Don’t despair! There is a way to achieve that campground mojo more often. The secret is in becoming a RV Weekend Warrior.

What’s that, you say? Weekend trips are too short and too stressful? We feel you on that one. If they aren’t done correctly, weekend trips can leave you feeling exhausted and unprepared for the week ahead.

However, if you follow our Weekend Warrior training, you should return from the campground rested and refreshed. Here are our tips for getting the most out of weekend RV trips…

(Watch the Facebook Live post from Jayco’s page to see us talk about more indepth about these tips!)

#1 Take a Friday or Monday off of work.

Yeah, we know it’s hard to take time off of work. But more than 50% of Americans don’t use up all their vacations days, and a lot of doctors are telling us that’s no good for our health. Can’t take a full day? Try for a half day at least. This will get you to the campground early and the cares of the week will melt away by the warmth of the campfire.

#2 Reduce the driving distance.

The more time you spend in the car, the less time you spend at the campground, so keep the driving distance under two hours. Pay attention to traffic patterns, and try to avoid heavily trafficked areas to maximize relaxation and minimize stress.

#3 Camp close to home on busy weekends.

Can’t find a free weekend between sports games, baby showers, and birthday parties? Find a campground that is close to home, and head there even when a prior commitment is on the calendar. We found a nice county park just 20 minutes from our home where we camp even if the boys have a baseball game on Saturday. Why waste an entire weekend because of a 2-hour event?

#4 Reserve a seasonal RV site.

Seasonal camping is becoming more popular every year, and it’s easy to see why. When your fully-stocked RV is all set up and ready to enjoy at a campground, short weekend getaways are a breeze. Prices vary tremendously depending on location and amenities, so don’t assume a seasonal is out of your price range.

#5 Prepare incrementally throughout the week.

If you try to pack for your weekend getaway at the last minute, stress might be high by the time you hitch up and head out. We spend about 20 minutes every weeknight leading up to the trip, packing just one thing at a time: clothing, toiletries, bedding, food. On Friday you are all ready to go and your blood pressure hasn’t spiked. Win/win.

#6 Splurge for a late checkout on Sunday.

Many campgrounds will offer you a late check out if no one is coming into your site later that day. Sometimes it won’t cost you anything, but we have paid between $5-$20 to stay until late Sunday. It never hurts to ask, and having that whole extra day of downtime is might sweet.

#7 Enforce SWAT team Sunday.

We have a system in place where everyone (kids, too!!!!) helps unpack the RV when we get home on Sunday. No one sits in front of the TV until the camper is unloaded, laundry is running, and the food is restocked in the fridge. When we all pitch in, it really takes no time at all. Plus, we feel ready for the busy week ahead.

#8 Have a set weekend menu and shopping list.

Don’t feel like you have to be the king or queen of campfire cooking on a short weekend trip. A set weekend menu will mean that you spend zero brain power on food prep the week before your getaway. We do bagels and oatmeal for breakfast, PB&J or cold cuts for lunch, and a classic weenie roast on Saturday night. I could shop in my sleep for our weekend camping food, and you should be able to also.

#9 Grocery shop on Thursday for the weekend AND week ahead.

The worst thing ever is to come back from a weekend RV vacation and have to run out to the grocery store for the work week ahead. Plan in advance and shop for the whole week when you stock up for the weekend trip. Keep it simple for yourself, also. A post-camping trip week means tacos, pasta, and hamburgers around our house.

#10 Order out for Friday supper at the campground.

Getting to the campground, setting up, and then preparing dinner can set some folks over the edge…especially if you have kids that act like they haven’t eaten in seven days. Take that stress off the table by ordering something to go for Friday’s dinner. We like to pick up sub sandwiches from our local deli on Friday afternoon. Another option is getting pizza delivered to the campground. Call the campground office and ask who delivers directly to campsites. Place your order when you are just 15 or 20 minutes away.

It took us a few camping seasons to figure out how to make weekend RV trips relaxing and fun, instead of stressful and overwhelming. Now that we have been through our weekend warrior training, we look forward to escaping to the campground…even if it’s for just a few precious days.

Are you a seasoned weekend warrior? We would love to hear your tips in the comments below. And for more advice on making weekend trips worth it, check out our RVFTA Facebook Group!

You can also listen to our podcast episodes Becoming a Weekend Warrior, Part One and Becoming a Weekend Warrior, Part Two.

See you at the campground!

 

18 May

RVFTA #142 Hiking 101 with Andrew Skurka

Hiking 101 with Andrew Skurka

As new parents, it was difficult for us to imagine how we were ever again going to enjoy outdoor adventures. Thank goodness we discovered the magic off hiking. Hiking has been the perfect family activity since we can vary the level of difficulty while still exploring the natural beauty of a destination.

We know a lot of our listeners would like to try hiking for the first time, or just do a bit more  of it over the course of the travel season. So we invited hiking expert Andrew Skurka, author of The Ultimate Hiker’s Gear Guide: Tools and Techniques to Hit the Trail.

Andrew Skurka was named “Adventurer of the Year” by Outside Magazine and National Geographic, so this guy clearly has some serious hiking chops. However, he can also bring it down to a beginner’s level, and he does that very well in the introduction to his book…and on this episode of the RVFTA podcast.

Finding Your Why

Andrew starts off by talking about the three most important questions that any hiker needs to ask:

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10 May

RVFTA #141 To Blog or Not to Blog: The RV Traveler’s Conundrum

On this episode of the RV Family Travel Atlas podcast episode, we are taking a cue from our listeners and talking about a question that we get asked all the time: Should I start my own travel blog to document my RV journey?

There is no easy answer to that question, but since we have gotten so much joy out of our own blog over the last seven years, we decided to tackle the issue in a podcast episode.

Not everything about blogging is easy or enjoyable, which is why many people who start blogs throw their hands up in frustration after just a short while. Having a good understanding of the challenges and rewards of travel blogging might help you make a decision about whether or not you should launch a blog before you hit the road for your RV adventures this season.

Segment One: The Pros, The Cons, and The Myths

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04 May

RVFTA #140 Kate Gets Her Kicks on Route 66: RVing the Mother Road from Ventura, California to Amarillo, Texas

On this podcast episode of RV Family Travel Atlas, Kate Dunbar of KatesCuriousKitchen.com gives us a fabulous trip planner for one of the most popular stretches of Route 66. Kate traveled 1,862 miles over the course of 7 days with her 1962 Shasta SC and stayed in 6 campgrounds as a solo woman traveler. We get to hear all the great details on the show.

Kate started her adventure in Ventura, California and journeyed on the Mother Road all the way to Amarillo, Texas. Listen to hear reviews of the campgrounds she stayed in, stops she enjoyed along the way, and restaurants that met her very high standards!

All of the places she reviews are linked below…

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01 May

Dutch Oven Breakfast Frittata, Courtesy of the Valley Forge Black Pots

Dutch Oven Breakfast Frittata

We had the very tasty privilege of hanging out with the Valley Forge Black Pots at the Hamburg Cabela’s store during last week’s Camping Classic event. We tasted way more than our fair share of breakfast, lunch, dinner, and dessert samples.

These folks are not only great Dutch Oven cooks, they are also super generous about sharing recipes with wannabes like us. I’m going to share a couple of the recipes here on our blog, but you can also head over and follow their Facebook page for lots more inspiration.

The very first sample we tasted was the Dutch Oven Breakfast Frittata, and it is always awesome to see veggies show up in a style of cooking that often skews toward meat stews and desserts. I’m going to try a frittata the next time we are at the campground and cross my fingers it turns out this yummy.

Seasonal Breakfast Frittata

Ingredients:

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27 Apr

RVFTA #139 RVFTA Goes Tent Camping with Cabela’s

On this episode of the RV Family Travel Atlas podcast, we are talking about our recent adventures in tent camping. Cabela’s just debuted an entire line of redesigned tents and we got to try a few of them out.

It has been at least ten years since we set up a tent, and this was a brand new experience for our boys, so listen to hear how we fared at the campground.

Segment One: The Tent Camping Experience

In the first segment, we chat about our prior tent camping experience, the aspects that we felt confident about, and the things that made us nervous. We also talk about how the boys felt about leaving behind the new toy hauler. Spoiler alert…they were not thrilled about the idea.

Well, their attitude changed pretty quickly once the tents were set up. These tents are nothing like the ones we grew up with, and the gear took comfort camping to a whole new level.

Our main takeaways:

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25 Apr

6 Great Mother’s Day Gifts for the Camping and RVing Mom

Jeremy was lucky this week to join Rick Petitt over on the Girl Camper podcast to talk about great Mother’s Day gift recommendations for the camping and RVing mom.

You will have to listen to the episode to hear all the product reviews and details, but here are the six gifts that Jeremy picked.

(And he did a pretty good job, if I do say so myself.)

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19 Apr

RVFTA #138 Finding your Campfire Mojo: Everything You Need to Create the Perfect Campfire Experience

On this episode of the RV Family Travel Atlas podcast, we are going back to the basics and talking about the classic campfire experience.

Most of us crave our campfires more than any other part of RV travel, so we started to wonder…exactly what does it take to create the perfect campfire mojo? We have talked about campfires, and recommended our favorite products in many different episodes over the last few years, but never in one comprehensive episode.

So here it is. The RVFTA campfire episode. The rope lights, the Cabela’s camp chairs, the Toas-Tites…everything that people ask about after every social media post. All in one place.

Segment One: Rules of Campfire Etiquette

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13 Apr

RVFTA #137 Meet the 2017 North American Camper

On this episode of the RV Family Travel Atlas podcast, we are diving into the North American Camping Report, an annual independent study supported by Kampgrounds of America.

If you want to take a more in depth look, or follow along while listening to the podcast, you can find the entire report here. You can also check out our episodes on the 2015 North American Camping Report and the 2016 North American Camping Report.

Yeah, it’s kind of a tradition…

Segment One

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06 Apr

RVFTA #136 Spring Camping Resolutions 2017

On this episode of RV Family Travel Atlas, we are having fun with one of our favorite RVFTA traditions: talking about our resolutions for the upcoming 2017 camping season. What do we want to do more of? What do we want to do less of? And what do we want to try for the very first time?

Setting goals for our family’s time in the RV and at the campground helps us think about what works in the past and what we want to change. It has become a fantastic way to kick off a season of travel.

In case you missed them, check out our Spring Camping Resolution episodes from 2016 and 2015, also!

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30 Mar

RVFTA Episode #135: Ready, Set, Road Food!

RV Family Travel Atlas Podcast Episode #135:

Ready, Set, Road Food!

On this episode of the RV Family Travel Atlas Podcast, we are checking off a bucket list item and interviewing Micheal Stern, co-author of Road Food: An Eater’s Guide to More than 1,000 of the Best Local Hot Spots and Hidden Gems Across America. The 10th edition of this classic book was just released, and we asked Michael to come on the show and talk about his forty years of traveling around the country and reporting on the best road food joints out there.

We have personally traveled with Road Food in each of our campers since day one, and it has led us to some of the best BBQ joints and lobster shacks in America. If you don’t have a copy yet, we don’t know what you are waiting for.

In Segment One, we chat with Michael Stern about the evolution of food writing over the last forty years. He takes us back to the beginning, when they struggled to get publishers to buy into the idea that readers would be interested in ‘regular’ food.

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27 Mar

Making the RV Bed: Sleeping as Comfortably on the Road as You Do at Home

Jayco Whitehawk Master Bedroom

When we bought our first travel trailer, we made two big rookie mistakes:

  1. We went out and bought discount store, cheap bed-in-a-bag sheets and blankets for all our beds.
  2. We slept on the original RV mattress for over three years.

Now think about this. We had invested in a brand new, bunkhouse travel trailer in order to have the comforts of home while we were on the road and at the campground. But then for some reason, we skimped on the beds and bedding.

This makes zero sense, folks.

We just accepted that we would come home from our extended trips with achy backs and necks.

And then the light bulb went off.

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22 Mar

RVFTA #134: 2017 Spring Gear Guide, Part Two

Download the complete Product Guide that accompanies this episode!

On this week’s episode of RV Family Travel Atlas, we are bringing you the second par
t of our annual spring gear guide. On last week’s episode, Kate Dunbar schooled us on stocking our camp kitchens. Now it’s our turn to fill in the rest of the RV cabinets and cupboards.

We will share items that make your walls a little prettier, your campfire a little cozier, and your beds a little comfier. That just about covers it in our world. Plus, Brett Neilson is back with his favorite picks from the 2017 Outdoor Retailer Winter Market.

Segment One: Stephanie’s Picks

In the first segment, Stephanie shares a selection of her new favorite things, including some fun decorative items, clothing, and a surprise tech appearance…

Cutco Knife RV Set ($370):

A curated set of 4 Cutco knives with sturdy sheaths, designed to take care of all the cutting and chopping you may have to do while traveling in your RV. The custom set includes the hardy slicer, 5″ Petite Santoku Knife, Traditional Cheese Knife, and 4″ Paring Knife. This custom 4-knife set with sheathe is only available through Stacy’s online website, where she will give RVFTA listeners the special pricing!

Camp Casual Nesting Bowls ($34.99):

A set of four nesting bowls in fun retro colors with tight-fitting lids. These will join our Camp Casual 12-Piece Dish Set and Serving Bowl in the RV this season.

Angel Tears Solar Light Mason Jar Lid, $10

These solar light lids fit onto standard mason jars and are absolutely adorable sitting on the picnic table at the campground.

Bottle Cap Map, $35.00

This bottle cap map is already hung on the wall in our new camper, just waiting to be filled with craft beer bottle caps from all around the country!

USA Scratch Off Travel Map, $32.99

Another new decoration for our RV. We are excited to scratch off the states as we visit them in the future!

Camping T-shirts from Cabela’s, $14.99

Stephanie ended up with four of these shirts with fun graphics about camping and the outdoors. They are on sale for $14.99 right now, and that is a bargain for a quality t-shirt from Cabela’s.

Women’s Hiking Boots by Cabela’s, $129.99

Stephanie needed waterproof hiking boots, and this Gortex option from Cabela’s hits a great price point. The color is also guaranteed to cheer you up on a rainy day. Again, there is a Spring sale right now over at Cabelas.com, so you can snag these for as low as $80.00.

Amazon Basics Portable Powerbank, $29.99

It was long overdue for us to acquire a portable power bank, and we are so happy that our research led us to this affordable option. With two USB ports, we will both be able to charge up even when away from shore power for an entire day.

Segment Two: Jeremy’s Picks

In the second segment, Jeremy steps up with a new favorite coffee gadget, a collection of leashes, and a solution to an age old problem with winter camping…

National Park Service Camping Guide by William C. Herow, $15.95

The National Park Service Campgrounds are notoriously tricky to research, and this book is a big help.

Flexi Retractable Dog Leash with accessories, $26

This is Jeremy’s Nimbus 2000 doggie leash setup. He gets razzed a lot for it, but having a retractable leash with light and attached doggie bags has proven to be convenient more than a few times over the last year.

Nite Ize Nite Dawg Leash, $12

In addition to a retractable leash, we always carry a standard 6-foot leash in the camper. This affordable one offers illumination for late night walks.

Linwood Ripstop Pants by Cabela’s, $29.99

Jeremy has been searching for a lightweight hiking pant that will translate into real life situations as well. He finally found one.

Roughneck Men’s Thermal Lined Hooded Sweatshirt by Cabela’s, $70

Jeremy had a similar sweatshirt in the past that was perfect for Spring and Fall temperatures. This Cabela’s version is even better than the one he had since it is fully lined through the arms.

Porta Potti 320P by Thetford, $100

We initially tested this porta potti for our pop up and vintage camper listeners. Then we realized it was awesome for winter camping, and is small enough to go in the truck when we are heading into the backwoods. This might be your new favorite thing…

Stanley Classic Vacuum Travel Press Mug, $34

Segment Three: Brett’s Picks

Our last segment features Brett Neilson, of OurCampingAdventures.com, who brings us his picks from the 2017 Outdoor Retailers Winter Market, which took place this past January in Salt Lake City, Utah…

  1. Superfleece blanket by Rumpl
  2. Country Archer Jerky
  3. Gear Ties by Nite Ize
  4. Luci Inflatable Solar Lantern
  5. HX5 Flashlight
  6. Kicker Bullfrog Jump Bluetooth Speaker
  7. SureCan Gas Can

For a handy-dandy, quick reference guide to all the products reviewed in this episode, download our Product Guide!

A special thanks to our sponsors who support weekly RV content for all our RV fools!

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16 Mar

RVFTA #133 2017 Spring Gear Guide, Part One: Kate’s Camp Kitchen

Download the Complete Product Guide that accompanies this episode! 

On this episode of RV Family Travel Atlas, we are bringing you the first part of our popular and much anticipated Spring Gear Guide!!! We always like to mix it up a bit with our gear guides, and this time we reached out to Kate Dunbar of KatesCuriousKitchen.com and begged her to develop a complete guide for building and stocking a camp kitchen.

Boy, did she come through on that request.


Kate dug deep into her trailers (Airstream and Vintage Shasta, folks), hauled out the bins, and catalogued all the products that she uses to make the magic happen at the campground.

Kate basically runs her camp kitchen like a catering service and provides restaurant-quality meals for her crew. So you might not need as many grills, cooktops, and ovens as she does, but you can be guaranteed that the products Kate recommends have been put through their paces and thoroughly tested.

And we wanted to make sure you could easily reference the dozens of items Kate recommends on this episode, so we put together a complete guide with links to every single product mentioned. Download the PDF and start building your own dream camp kitchen today!

Listen to the episode to hear Kate discuss:

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09 Mar

RVFTA #132 Say Hello to Highway West Vacations

On this episode of RV Family Travel Atlas, we are introducing you to Highway West Vacations, a company with 12 luxury resort campgrounds spread out across the great American West.

We were first introduced to this brand when Kate Dunbar reviewed the Flying Flags RV Resort over on Campground of the Week last year. Kate raved about this place, and we knew it was worth checking out.

Well the more we learned, the more we became convinced that Highway West Vacations has it’s finger on the pulse of campground resort trends. So we invited Didiayer Snyder, Director of Marketing and Sales, onto the show to tell us more about this growing brand.

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08 Mar

Make-Ahead Meals for RV Vacations

Folks in the RVFTA community are gearing up for their spring trips, and many have been asking for make-ahead meal options. Sure, we all love cooking over the campfire and on the grill, but it’s also a great idea to bring along some ready-made meals.

Listeners were giving some great meal suggestions over on our RVFTA Facebook group, and it inspired me to share three of my easy-peasy favorites.

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02 Mar

RVFTA #131 Who is Ready to Go RVing?

On this episode of RV Family Travel Atlas, we are talking about current RV buyers. The RV industry has been breaking sales records for the last few years, and it shows no signs of slowing down. We have all heard that the average RV buyer is getting younger, and perhaps more adventurous.

But seriously, who is buying all these RVs?

We decided to go to the source, and reached out to the RVIA, which recently commissioned Nielsen to complete a study of current owners and potential RV buyers. Karen Redfern, Senior Director of Marketing Communications returns to the show to talk about what the RVIA plans to do with all this great data they collected.

Segment One

In the first segment, we discuss the data gathered about current RV owners, many of whom are researching or shopping for their next rig. We chat about:

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27 Feb

The Chatbooks App: Our Favorite Photo Book App for RV Vacations

RV travelers are really good at taking pictures of their trips, right? Most of us have Instagram and Facebook accounts stuffed with photos of campsites, activities, and food from our travels.

But printing out those photos for memory books or framing? Yeah, that’s another story.

On our recent Winterization Blues podcast episode, we recommended tackling a picture project to get through the cold, winter, non-camping months. Well, we practice what we preach, and in early January I went in search of a new way to print out our huge collection of RV trip photos.

I have tried a lot of things in the past, but nothing really clicked. Years ago, I made picture book collections on Shutterfly and Snapfish. However, the clunky platforms soon lost their appeal, and I was annoyed with the long upload times and very high prices.

Then we started buying those cheap little photo wallets and printing out pictures for the boys of individual trips. This was a great keepsake for them, but my aesthetic sensibilities were definitely not satisfied.

Enter the Chatbooks App.

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23 Feb

RVFTA #130 Pros and Cons of the Class B RV

On this episode of RV Family Travel Atlas, we are talking about Class B motorhomes, one of the fastest growing segments of the RV industry. The small foot print might scare away a lot of buyers, but driving comfort and flexibility are huge draws.

Segment One: Pros and Cons of the Class B RV

In Segment One, we talk about the pros and cons of the Class B that you might want to consider if you are in the market for a small motorhome. Here are some of the issues we discuss.

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