How to Choose the Right Tent for Your Camping Vacation

June 24, 2016

So, you want to go camping. It is a wonderful idea really — camping is an affordable, easy, and extremely enjoyable way to enjoy the great outdoors, your time off, and your family and friends. Indeed, in 2010 alone, approximately 40 million people went camping for a total of 515 million outings.

Once you’ve made your decision to go camping, it’s time to figure out exactly what that means. For some, it means roughing it along the trails, and for others, it means staying at a camp resort with many modern amenities. Most camping — about 70% — is done in public campgrounds, but there is still a lot of freedom when it comes to choosing where and how you will camp. If you forgo cabin camping and instead opt for tent camping, keep these things in mind when looking for your new tent and tent sites for camping!

Sleeping Capacity

How many people are you camping with and what will your sleeping arrangements be? If you have small children, it might be best to get a large tent that can sleep the whole family, whereas with older kids, it might be nice to have a kid tent and an adult tent. Make sure to use this as your guiding standard when looking at the many tent options out there.

Seasonality

Early spring or early fall camping trips are different than camping trips in the middle of the summer. Make sure to note what seasons your tent was designed for, and purchase accordingly. Regardless of when you go camping, it is a good idea to bring sleeping pads or easily inflated air mattress so that you don’t get too much contact with the ground — it can be chilly at night all year long.

Doors

You’ll want a tent with well-designed entrances and exits, especially if you end up doing a lot of going in and out. Make sure that there at least two, so no one has to do complicated maneuvers to get out to go to the bathroom at night.

More than one in 10 adult participants (12%) first went camping with their immediate family. Take the opportunity to teach your children to love the great outdoors and tent camping.

8 Great Gifts for the RV Dad

June 3, 2016

It’s almost Father’s Day, and the last thing your dad needs is another tie. But what to get for the guy who has everything? We have compiled a list of great gear for the RV dad or granddad in your life. Read on to find that gadget that Pop can’t live without…

 

  1. Truma LevelCheck, $69.99. Want to save dad the hassle of lifting and shaking the propane tank to guess how much gas is left? A quick swipe with the Truma LevelCheck will show exactly how much propane is still in the tank.

 

  1. TastePure 25’ Heated Drinking Water Hose, $67.50. Give your dad the gift of an extended camping season with this heated hose. Even if the temperatures dip below freezing, the water will still keep flowing into the RV.

 

  1. RV Lock 4.0, $239.99. Let’s face it…the standard RV door lock doesn’t provide the security we all want for our precious cargo. This RV lock fits all standard travel trailer and 5th wheel doors, plus comes with keyless entry and remote fob.

 

  1. Weber Q1000 Grill, $169.00. This is an RV dream grill since it’s small enough to fit in the storage bin, and big enough to cook steaks for the whole family.

 

  1. Bristle Free Grill Brush, $16.95. You may think your dad has all the grill accessories he needs. But if he’s still using a bristle brush, it’s time for an upgrade. A bristle free brush will guarantee the only thing added to that burger is awesome flavor.

 

  1. Anderson Camper Levelers, $39.99. Do you hear your dad huffing and puffing as he piles up the wood in an attempt to level the RV? That means it’s time for levelers, which magically take the stress out of this frustrating task.

 

  1. Igloo Freestanding Ice Machine, $139.00. No one said that dad has to rough it when traveling in the RV. There’s nothing like a cold drink after setting up camp, and this ice machine will help him chill out and relax.

 

  1. Camelback Forge 16 oz. Travel Mug, $29.99. This is a serious travel mug for a serious coffee drinker. It will keep your beverage hot for hours, whether you are taking a morning hike, or swinging the hours away in a hammock.

 

  1. Estwing 4 lb Special Edition Fireside Friend Wood Splitting Axe, $50.00. The campfire just got a bit more authentic with this beautifully crafted axe, perfectly for splitting up big logs and getting that flame roaring.

 

Happy Father’s Day to all the wonderful camping dads out there. We hope you are lucky enough to unwrap a new RV gadget this month!

5 Easy Ways to Personalize Your RV

May 20, 2016

Many new RVs are decorated in a neutral color palette, making it simple to add your own personal style highlights. But where do you start? We recommend some easy and affordable additions that will make your RV truly feel like a home away from home.

  1. Pick a single pop or highlight color and then use it throughout the RV. Choose a color that you love and one that blends with the textiles already in the RV. Maybe blues help you feel relaxed and peaceful. Or perhaps reds bring you excitement and energy. Whatever highlight color you decide on, use it in every room to make the space feel roomier and unified.
  2. Splurge on bedding. A good night’s sleep is so important when traveling in your RV, so don’t overlook the bedroom. A mattress topper, quality sheets, and a fluffy comforter will make sure you get your beauty rest, even when you are on the road.
  3. Add some pillows and throw blankets. Using your chosen highlight color, find some patterned throw pillows for the couch and dinette. A couple of cozy throw blankets will also go a long way to making your RV feel like your own personal happy place.
  4. Put up some custom wall hangings. You do not have to put any holes in your RV walls to display treasured family photos or collected prints. Adhesive squares and sticky Velcro will hold up great if attached properly. Some RVers create a feature wall by framing and hanging postcards from their travels.
  5. Only introduce items you love. A new RV is clutter free, and keeping it that way will ensure that you enjoy all the time you spend in your home on wheels. Choose every item that you add with care, and at the end of every trip, remove items you didn’t use.

Your RV is your home away from home, and you can to feel as comfortable and relaxed while traveling as you do in your sticks and bricks. These five tips will help you personalize your RV in a simple and affordable way so you can focus on the fun part…the amazing adventures ahead.

 

Jeremy and Stephanie Puglisi are the co hosts of the weekly RV Family Travel Atlas and Campground of the Week podcasts, as well as the creators of the RVFTA Podcast Network. They are also the authors of The Idiots Guide to RV Vacations and the Acadia National Park Adventure Guide. After buying their very first pop up camper six years ago, Jeremy and Stephanie caught the RV bug in a big way, and now spend over 70 nights a year in their travel trailer with their three sons, Theo, Max, and Wes, and sweet Maggie the pup. You can follow along on their adventures (and misadventures) at rvfamilytravelatlas.com.

Planning a Family Vacation in the Empire State? Experience the Endless Excitement of Cabin Camping in NY

May 5, 2016

Many people think about tall skyscrapers and busy streets when they imagine New York, but the truth is that there’s a lot more to this eclectic state than just The Big Apple. New York is actually one of the most popular camping destinations in the country, and thousands of families trek to The Empire State every year for an annual camping trip.

Cabin camping in NY is so unique because it blends the excitement of NYC with the pure serenity of the great outdoors. Families travel an average distance of 186.7 miles for camping trips, and most of these families come to NY from states like Florida and Georgia. The scenery of cabin camping in NY is truly incomparable, but there are tons of exciting opportunities and amenities for your family to enjoy as well.

There are few vacation destinations that can combine fast-paced excitement with relaxation, but NY is certainly one. Here are just a few of the many reasons why so many families have made cabin camping in NY an annual tradition:

 

    • Award-winning campgrounds. Of all the family cabin camping parks in the U.S., NY campgrounds are among the most celebrated in the camping community. In fact, the Woodridge-Ellenville location in the Catskill Mountains was honored as the Jellystone Park of the Year in 2008. About 80% of campers like to participate in multiple outdoor activities, which is part of the reason why families flock to NY. This campground offers a fun-filled Water Zone for the kids, and it’s just a stone’s throw away from attractions like the Mighty M Gaming at Monticello Raceway.

 

    • Ideal location. Campers spend an average of 14.9 days on cabin camping trips, but your family may want to prolong its stay after learning about all of the campgrounds in the greater NY area. There are four incredible campgrounds within 100 miles of each other in NY and its surrounding areas, and they each offer something unique. For example, Yogi Bear at Tall Pines Resort is technically located in NJ, but it’s just 30 miles away from the award-winning Woodridge-Ellenville campground. This campground is located near the famous Cape May, where your family can watch majestic whales swim in the ocean.

 

    • Start a new family tradition. Above all else, you should be looking to create a new family tradition every time you take a vacation. Cabin camping in NY is one of the best ways to bring the family back together without smartphones or laptops. Before you know it, your kids will be teaching your grandchildren about the best places to hike while camping in NY.

 

If you’re looking for the perfect place to take your family on your next vacation, look no further than cabin camping in NY. It’s exciting, relaxing, and so fun that you’ll never want to leave.

What to Expect When Cabin Camping

April 28, 2016

NewJerseyCabinsTo most, cabin camping sounds more luxurious and relaxing than tent camping, but the truth is that the two are very similar. In fact, it might even help you to think about cabin camping as roughing it in a hard-shelled tent. Cabin camping is a great introduction to camping for beginners, and for more seasoned adventurers, it can be a welcome change of pace. You get all the benefits of a traditional camping experience, but without the trouble of setting up and taking down a tent, or worrying much about the weather.

No matter, it is still important to come prepared in mind and body. Here’s what you should expect from your cabin camping experience:

Campgrounds with cabins can have accommodations that range in size and quality from basic, four-walled structures with cots and bunks, to deluxe accommodations including kitchen appliances and air conditions. Some cabin sites, like tent sites, will come with a picnic table and a fire pit. These two ingredients are often all you need to have a great time at the campsite in between outdoor adventures — 87% of campers participated in multiple outdoor activities during their stay, which is why it’s a great idea to have a comfy campsite ready to go.

Bedding will be just as important in the cabin as without for all family vacations — it can get chilly at night, even in the summer! Make sure you know what the accommodations are in the cabin — you may need to bring sleeping bags and pillows and some extra blankets.

One thing you now have room for in your cabin, as opposed to the old tent, is full sized towels! They will be a luxury after a day on the lake, or after a big rain.

Speaking of rain — now that you have a dry area to enjoy for those rainy days, come prepared with games for a family vacation like cards and board games to occupy the time until the sun shines again. Of course, all the standard camping amenities should not be forsaken — coolers, warm clothes, fire starting gear, cooking and cleaning gear, and food are a given! Jellystone Parks have great planned activities in all types of weather, so bring different types of layered clothing.

Camping is well loved. In 2010 alone, approximately 40 million people went camping for a total of 515 million outings, and American families, in particular, spent 534.9 million days camping altogether in 2011, but make sure you come prepared for your vacation cabins and enjoy!

3 Reasons to Plan Your Shakedown Trip Today!

April 15, 2016

Unless you are lucky enough to live in a year-round RVing climate, you are probably opening up the RV for camping season this month. While many experts recommend a “shakedown” trip if you purchase a new RV, we strongly suggest that you make this a yearly tradition, even if you are a camping veteran.

What is a Shake Down Trip?

A shake down trip refers to a short, close to home, excursion with your RV for the purpose of testing out the systems and stocking up on necessary supplies.  We used to be so excited about dewinterizing our travel trailer and hitting the road that we skipped this tradition for years. Then we ended up on a 10-day vacation in Myrtle Beach without any running water. A problem that could have been easily fixed at home became a lot more complicated on the road.

Now we visit a favorite nearby campground where we enjoy a shake down weekend every spring. Something we avoided has become a favorite family tradition, an event we look forward to that marks the opening of our official camping season.

 

3 Reasons You Should Plan a Yearly Shake Down Trip

  1. Identify any maintenance issues before embarking on longer trips.

We take very good care of our RV, and most of the time it opens up without any issues at all. However, fuses do blow out and squirrels do sometimes chew on propane lines.  When you set aside a weekend at the campground to tend to these basic maintenance issues, you can take care of your chores in a beautiful and relaxing environment.

 

  1. Practice working all your systems in a low stress environment.

When you are on an RV vacation, you don’t want to worry about anything except enjoying your precious time at the campground. The last thing you want to do is figure out how to get your hot water heater working. Take care of this ahead of time on a shake down trip, and you will coast through your RV set up for the rest of the season.

 

  1. Make sure your RV is properly packed.

Pack up your RV and then head out for your shake down trip. Once settled at the campground, you will inevitably discover items you forgot. No worries…your home is nearby and you can pack that tire pressure gage as soon as you return.  You might also discover a few items that you don’t really need. You can ditch that clutter before your next big trip.

 

Our yearly shake down trip has turned into a fun, relaxing way to celebrate the beginning of camping season. And other RVers seem to feel the same. This year we will be joined at the campground by many other camping friends, eager to test out those tanks and then share s’mores around the fire.

 

See you at the campground!

 

Jeremy and Stephanie Puglisi are the co hosts of the weekly RV Family Travel Atlas and Campground of the Week podcasts, as well as the creators of the RVFTA Podcast Network. They are also the authors of The Idiots Guide to RV Vacations and the Acadia National Park Adventure Guide. After buying their very first pop up camper six years ago, Jeremy and Stephanie caught the RV bug in a big way, and now spend over 70 nights a year in their travel trailer with their three sons, Theo, Max, and Wes, and sweet Maggie the pup. You can follow along on their adventures (and misadventures) at rvfamilytravelatlas.com.

Stock that Storage Bin: 5 Gear Recommendations for the New RV Owner

April 6, 2016

These 5 inexpensive products should be among your first purchases when stocking your brand new RV.

As exciting as it is to prep a new RV for your first camping trip, it can also be a bit overwhelming. There is a fine line between being prepared and over packing, and you just might find yourself asking, do I really need this?

There are thousands of camping gadgets and gizmos that you might never actually use. But here are 5 pieces of gear that every newbie RVer should purchase before heading out to the campground.

  1. Tire Pressure Gauge

RV safety experts recommend checking your tire pressure on every single traveling day, but many RVers don’t do this until they experience a tire blow out. Adopt this simple but important safety habit from day one. Tire pressure gauges are inexpensive, so you don’t have to bust the budget to stay safe. Our own gauge cost under $20 and has been working well for years.

  1. Extra Water Hose

We were shocked the first time we showed up at a campground and couldn’t reach the water hookup with one hose. We were even more shocked at the price we had to pay to purchase an extra hose in the camp store.  Although this doesn’t happen regularly, experienced RVers know to always have an extra hose for those campgrounds that have the water hookup across the campsite from the sewer. Go figure.

  1. Water Pressure Regulator

You don’t want to figure out the hard way that there is a water pressure problem at a campground. This rather inexpensive product can save you a tremendous amount of money by protecting your RV plumbing. It can also save you a lot of aggravation from uneven water pressure. The fancy ones come with a gauge and will run you about $50 or so. But if you are on a tight budget, get one of the simple ones for under $10. It will do the job.

  1. Firewood Splitter

While you won’t be cutting down any trees at the campground, you will be buying your fair share of firewood at camp stores. A small splitter can be a lifesaver when the firewood is just too big to burn properly. Don’t let a bum campfire get you down. Be prepared to do a little chopping. As an added benefit, you will feel way more outdoorsy.

  1. Fire Starters

You may have finely tuned Scout abilities, but most people don’t want to rub two sticks together until a campfire sparks. Keep it simple by always stocking a box of fire starters in your storage bin. You can buy them commercially, or make your own using one of the many ‘recipes’ found on the Internet. Our favorite DIY method is to buy candles at the dollar store, break them into one-inch pieces, and wrap the candles in wax paper.  Place one in your fire ring, and watch the magic happen.

 

These five inexpensive items will help keep you safe, keep your RV working, and get your campfire roaring. Because at the end of the day, that is why we RV– to make wonderful memories with our loved ones at the campground.

 

See you there.

 

 

Jeremy and Stephanie Puglisi are the co hosts of the weekly RV Family Travel Atlas and Campground of the Week podcasts, as well as the creators of the RVFTA Podcast Network. They are also the authors of The Idiots Guide to RV Vacations and the Acadia National Park Adventure Guide. After buying their very first pop up camper six years ago, Jeremy and Stephanie caught the RV bug in a big way, and now spend over 70 nights a year in their travel trailer with their three sons, Theo, Max, and Wes, and sweet Maggie the pup. You can follow along on their adventures (and misadventures) at rvfamilytravelatlas.com.

 

 

Here's How Family Camping Trips Can Provide You with the Vacation Experience of a Lifetime

April 1, 2016

When most people think of going on a family vacation, they imagine flying to a tropical destination. In most cases, the grown-ups will indulge in adult activities while the kids run around a hotel and order room service well into the night.

While this type of vacation may be enjoyable for some, it has one crucial and glaring flaw; it’s not really a family vacation. If you want a real family vacation that brings loved ones together, you should consider family camping vacations.

Family camping is truly the essence of a great vacation because it encompasses so many different things. From packing up the RV to telling stories around the campfire, the entire family camping process will allow you to learn more about your loved ones while enjoying their company. Here are three of the many reasons to consider family camping vacations for the experience of a lifetime:

 

    • Explore new places. Cabins in Texas, campgrounds in New York, RV camping in Illinois…the list goes on and on. When it comes to camping, there truly is no limit to the places you can discover. Most camping — about 70% — is done in public campgrounds. However, there are also incredible camping destinations with furnished cabins, as well as enormous RV camps that almost feel like a small village.

 

    • Weather the great outdoors together. The word “weather” may be a bit strong considering your family will likely be staying in a furnished campground, but you never know how loved ones will react to the outdoors until you’re in the moment. Hiking is the most popular activity among campers (about 92% said they hiked,) allowing you to see what your loved ones are really made of. It’s a fun and harmless way to push each other to your physical limits, which is something most people rarely get to do at their work desk.

 

    • Put down the smartphones. Teenagers certainly do their fair share of texting, but most adults would also admit that they spend a bit too much time on their smartphones. On a family camping trip, you’ll be having too much fun to think about your phone. An estimated 87% of campers participate in multiple outdoor activities, and you’ll quickly realize that there’s no time for texting when you have a full day of excitement ahead of you.

 

If you love spending time with your family and want something new to try, you should strongly consider a group camping trip. It’s the perfect blend of excitement and serenity, and one of the best ways to reconnect with loved ones.

Plan on Camping in North Carolina? Check Out One of These 3 Incredible Campgrounds

April 1, 2016

Regardless of where you choose to visit, camping with family is truly a special experience. An estimated 40 million people went camping in 2010 for a total of 515 million outings, and that number continues to grow with every passing year.

While you really cannot go wrong when selecting a place to bring your family, you should strongly consider camping in North Carolina. Between its beautiful year-round weather and eclectic mix of camp resort destinations, it’s no surprise that camping in North Carolina is one of the most popular options for vacationing families.

Campgrounds in NC are full of families just like yours who could use a nice retreat away from the smartphones and tablets that currently dominate our free time. You can bring your RV or even take advantage of cabin rentals to indulge in a more luxurious camping experience. The list is quite long, but here are just a few places you should consider when camping in North Carolina:

 

    • Marion. Located at the base of the Blue Ridge Mountains, your family will enjoy one of the most breathtaking views in the country at this incredible campground. Marion is the perfect place to enjoy outdoor activities, particularly camping. Hiking is the most popular activity among campers (about 92% said they hiked,) and the Blue Ridge Mountains are full of exciting trails to discover.

 

    • Cherokee. Deep in the Great Smoky Mountains of North Carolina is Cherokee, a unique campground in which your family can opt for cabins, RVs, or tent camping. Nearly 70% of tent campers have one to two-night outings, but your family can camp in a tent for much longer in Cherokee because of its great weather and wide range of amenities.

 

    • Asheboro. If you’re not planning on camping in North Carolina until the spring or summer, you absolutely need to reserve a spot in the Asheboro campground. This new site is scheduled to be ready for rental in the spring, which will be just in time for most families’ vacations. There will even be Wi-Fi in this new campground for those who just can’t afford to go a few days without the Internet.

 

North Carolina has dozens of unique campgrounds just like these, so you really can’t go wrong regardless of which one you choose. Check out any of these great places for camping in North Carolina and experience everything the Tar Heel State has to offer.

3 Make-Ahead Meals for Weekend Camping Trips

March 9, 2016

There is nothing more exciting than heading off to the campground after a long week at work. However, prepping for those short weekend RV trips can be a bit of a challenge.  The trick is to prepare in bits and pieces throughout the week, so that on Friday afternoon you can hit the road with no muss and no fuss.

One of the easiest ways to prepare in advance is by doubling your dinner recipes the week before and stocking your RV refrigerator with the extra portion. That way, you won’t have to do additional meal planning and food shopping for your short weekend getaway.

Here are three of our favorite make-ahead meals for weekend camping trips.

 

Tortilla Pie

Ingredients

 

1 pound ground beef

1 package taco seasoning

1 15-ounce can of diced tomatoes

1 large can of beans, black or pinto

12 large flour tortillas

12 ounces grated cheddar cheese

 

  1. Prepare the ground beef according to the seasoning packet instructions. Add in the can of diced tomatoes and the can of beans. Let simmer for 10 minutes.
  2. Using non-stick cooking spray, coat the bottom of a casserole dish large enough to fit the tortillas.
  3. Place a tortilla in the bottom of the casserole dish. Cover the tortilla with some of the meat mixture. Top with a thin layer of cheddar cheese. Place another tortilla on top of the cheddar, and repeat the process until you have layered all the tortillas with meat and cheese.
  4. Sprinkle cheese on the top of the tortilla pie and cover in foil. Store in the refrigerator.
  5. At the campground, cook the tortilla pie at 350° for 30-40 minutes or until bubbly and hot. Serve with rice and a fruit salad.

 

Pasta Salad

Ingredients

 

1 pound bowtie pasta

1 6-ounce jar of prepared pesto

A medley of your favorite roasted vegetables (I roast asparagus, grape tomatoes, and yellow bell peppers on a sheet pan at 425° for 25 minutes)

 

  1. Cook pasta in salted water according to package directions. Drain.
  2. Mix pasta with pesto sauce.
  3. Add roasted vegetables. Store in the refrigerator tightly covered with plastic wrap.
  4. This is the perfect dinner to serve on Friday night when arriving at the campground. A loaf of crusty bread makes a complete and hearty meal!

 

Barbeque Meatloaf Sandwiches

Ingredients

 

1.5 pounds ground beef

1 cup breadcrumbs

1 onion, diced

1 egg, beaten

1 tsp salt

1/4 tsp pepper

1 8-ounce can of tomato sauce

1 cup of your favorite BBQ sauce

  1. Mix all of the ingredients together except for the BBQ sauce.
  2. Form into a loaf and place in a shallow pan.
  3. Pour BBQ sauce evenly over the top of the meatloaf.
  4. Bake at 350° for 1 hour.
  5. Cool and store tightly wrapped in the refrigerator. Serve at the campground on slices of sourdough bread with prepared coleslaw and potato salad.

Keeping meal preparation simple will ensure that those quick RV getaways are relaxing and refreshing.  That way you can return to work on Monday, rested and ready to plan your next great RV trip.

 

See you at the campground!

 

Jeremy and Stephanie Puglisi are the co hosts of the weekly RV Family Travel Atlas and Campground of the Week podcasts, as well as the creators of the RVFTA Podcast Network. They are also the authors of The Idiots Guide to RV Vacations and the Acadia National Park Adventure Guide. After buying their very first pop up camper six years ago, Jeremy and Stephanie caught the RV bug in a big way, and now spend over 70 nights a year in their travel trailer with their three sons, Theo, Max, and Wes, and sweet Maggie the pup. You can follow along on their adventures (and misadventures) at rvfamilytravelatlas.com.

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