Are You Ready to Live in the Woods?

Camping is a great way to connect with nature, get some fresh air, and bond with family and friends. People camp with their friends about 70% of the time, and the same number of campers stay at public camping grounds. Even if you live in a big city, finding suitable camping grounds is easy enough. Once you have found the right campgrounds, it is time to gather up your friends and pack your things for a great weekend of outdoor fun. Before you head out, double-check to make sure you have all the essentials with you.

    • Shelter – If you are camping in cabins, you don’t have to worry about bringing shelter with you. If you have elected not to rent a cabin, you will need to bring a tent, a tarp for the ground, extra stakes, and a mallet. Investing in a large duffel bag will help you keep all your tent supplies tidy as you transport them from place to place. Almost 70% of tent campers only stay out for one to two nights at a time, but if you wish to camp longer, it is certainly doable. While a sleeping bag and pillow are all you really need for bedding, an air mattress and portable pump can go a long way toward increasing your comfort at night.


    • Clothing – When packing clothing, it is important to bring extras in case of inclement weather or other unexpected problems. You will need one outfit for each day you will be camping, plus several spare pairs of socks, shoes, underwear, and other essentials. Be sure to bring a variety of clothes, as you will need to layer for warmth or remove layers as the days heat up. Pajamas, towels, sturdy walking shoes, and sunglasses will complete your stash of attire.


  • Food – While you may think you have packed everything you need to eat, man cannot live on s’mores alone. Grilling meat over a campfire is a lot of fun, but if you will be camping for a long time, make sure you bring enough ice to keep any perishables you bring nice and cold. Canned food is your best bet for dinners, and don’t forget to bring plenty of bottles of water. Put travel safe cookware, utensils, and plates in your bag as well.

While this list covers most of the essentials, you will also need flashlights and batteries, matches or lighters, sunscreen, and bug spray. If your camping grounds have shower facilities, you will want to bring bathing supplies as well. With the appropriate supplies, you are ready to hit the trails for the camping trip of your dreams.

Gearing up for Spring Camping Adventures



The 2015 camping season has arrived, and it’s time to plan some great escapes for your family! It’s also the perfect time to buy some new gear that will make this year just a bit more fun and functional.  We have used and abused each of these great products and recommend them for their style, their value, or their utility–and in some cases all three.


Camp Casual 12 Piece Dish Set (List Price $49.99)

We get oohs and ahhs every time we serve food on these fabulous, retro dishes. A 12 piece set includes 4 dinner plates, 4 salad plates, and 4 bowls. With a variety of colors and RV art, they bring tons of style to a campground picnic table. The dishes are super sturdy and dishwasher safe, which is great if you happen to love them so much they wind up in your home kitchen. And, yes, we are speaking from experience.


Nightstick Dual-Light with Dual Magnets (List Price $32.00)

Why do we love the Nightstick Dual-Light with Dual Magnets?  Let me the count the ways.  The flashlight/floodlight combination is perfect for walking around the campground at night because you can illuminate the path ahead of you and the ground at your feet.  The dual magnets also make this perfect for changing tires or working “hands free” underneath the camper.  Attach it to the fridge when your done so its easy to find next time you need it.


Estwing Leather Sportsman’s Axe (List Price $44.99)

Every camper needs an axe in their camping kit–so why not buy one that’s beautiful and built to last?  Estwing makes tools that you will be able to pass on to your children. Their Sportsman’s axe is “forged in one piece with a genuine leather grip” that is incredibly comfortable to hold.  This spring gear guide pick will make chopping kindling for the campfire fast and fun. Skip the el cheapo and buy your camp axe from a company that’s been proudly manufacturing tools in the U.S.A since 1923.


Toas-Tite Grill (List Price $31.99)

Looking for something other than marshmallows to snack on around the campfire this season? The Toas-Tite is the ultimate campfire cooking tool, simply because the possibilities are endless. You can keep it simple by toasting ham and grilled cheese sandwiches or jazz it up by making mini chicken pot pies and pulled pork pockets. Basically, if you can put it between two pieces of bread, the Toas-Tite will turn it into something delicious!


Spot It Gone Camping (List Price $13.99)

This is our favorite traveling card game for two reasons: it is fun for people of all ages and any number of people can play. Spot It is a memory game and a speed game at the same time, so your family will probably get a little loud and rambunctious trying to find the match and win a pair of cards. The cards come in a small, sturdy tin that can easily be stored in your car or RV. Game on.


My Mayu Lightweight Rain/Outdoor Boots (List Price $57.95)

Weather happens, and the last thing our family wants is to be stuck inside on our camping vacations. These My Mayu boots are the best piece of kid gear we have discovered in a long time. Comfortable and lightweight, your little ones can run and play just like they would in regular sneakers. Only difference? Feet will stay warm and dry even if you happen to have puddle-jumping professionals. When they start to make these for adults, we will be their first customers.


L.L. Bean Trail Model Rain Jackets (List Price $49.95 to $79.00)

These rain jackets are another piece of rain gear we won’t leave home without. The material is light and breathable, so we don’t get uncomfortable on warm, rainy days. The hoods stay up nicely without being cinched and tight. And they do the job…even after a long hike on a rainy day, our entire family stays bone dry.  L.L. Bean’s legendary return policy lets us buy with confidence.



Camping World Collapsible Container (List Price $13.99)

Every RV owner knows that a messy camper can suck all of the relaxation out of your family vacation.  The number one reason why our RV used to end up being such a mess?  Dirty clothes on the floor!  But not anymore. Now we throw all of our dirty laundry into this sturdy and affordable collapsible container made by Camping World.  When its not in use we collapse it and use the plastic clasps to keep it small and storage ready.  We liked using this product in our RV so much that we bought another one for home.

Stephanie and Jeremy Puglisi are the co-hosts of the RV Family Travel Atlas podcast, which is available for free in the iTunes store, and on their blog.

More Americans Are Discovering The Joys Of Glamping

Dallas Buyers Club and True Detective actor Matthew McConaughey and Brazilian model Camila Alvarez tied the knot semi-recently in 2012. It is not necessarily their decision to finally get married that made headlines (the couple had, in fact, already been together for years, and they currently have two children); what everyone can’t stop talking about is how they got married. McConaughey and his new bride chose a glamping theme — something most people hadn’t heard of at the time, but is now an emerging and rapidly growing trend.

What Is Glamping?

Glamping is a mash-up of two words: glamour (or glamorous) and camping. In other words, glamping refers to any sort of luxury camping — from campgrounds with luxury amenities, such as resorts and clubhouses, to tent camping or tent rentals with non-traditional, luxury features, such as air-conditioning. Glamping may entail tent camping, cabin camping, RV camping, or even yurt camping — and comforts and extravagances may include chandeliers, cable and/or satellite television, saunas, fully-functioning kitchens, and more. Although it is an emerging trend and it may entail slightly different experiences in different campgrounds, glamping has a single, unified goal: to enable campers to enjoy the great outdoors and/or be fully immersed in nature, without sacrificing everyday or even high-end comforts.

Can You Go Glamping In the Winter?

The answer is yes — and, in fact, some people may even prefer glamping to more traditional camping during winter months. At the very least, most winter glamping will come along with fireplaces, electric fireplaces, heaters, and/or wood-burning stoves. Some campsites, such as campsites in Sweden, are taking it even further and renting out luxury igloo tents with wifi, showers, Apple TV, in-pod massages, and breakfast in bed.

Just about 43 million Americans went on a camping trip in 2013 — and that number is likely to increase, thanks to increased family camping and increased glamorous camping or glamping

Four Fabulous Locations Across the Country to Consider for Your Next RV Camping Trip

Going camping in an RV is one of the most popular ways that American families choose to spend their time in the great outdoors — in fact, almost one-fourth of people, 24%, say they prefer this way of camping! RV campers also enjoy some of the longest, most enriching camping trips — an amazing 28% of RV camping trips are for five nights or longer.

Looking for somewhere truly unforgettable to spend your next family camping trip? If you and your family are looking for the best in RV camping, you might want to start planning now — camping season is starting soon, and spaces at these sites are going to start filling up sooner than you know! Here are our four favorite places across the U.S. that offer the absolute best in RV camping sites:

Williamsburg, VA

Colonial Williamsburg is rich with history — and rich in opportunities to enjoy the stunning outdoor scenery. Almost 1 million visitors take a trip to Williamsburg each year for its incredible re-enactments and living colonial village that looks and feels just as it did in 1776. Williamsburg, along with the neighboring historical landmarks at Jamestown and Yorktown, are all an easy drive for most people who live on the East Coast. Visit our website to see our other Jellystone Park locations in Virginia.

Horse Thief Lake, SD

Horse Thief Lake is just two miles away from Mount Rushmore, one of the most impressive sights in the whole country. There are a handful of different sites for RV camping, and they all offer easy access to Mount Rushmore. In addition, attractions like Jewel Cave, Harney Peak and the unparalleled hiking trails of the Black Hills National Forest are all close by.

Vicksburg, MS

Vicksburg has it all — a historic waterfront with amazing views of the Mississippi River, plenty of fishing and much more. Vicksburg offers plenty of places to go camping with your RV — and there’s even a casino nearby, if the kids are staying home. If you are looking for an RV park in MS, check out our site to see which of our two parks are close to you.

Where are some of your favorite RV camping sites that you and your family have visited? Feel free to share with us and your fellow readers in the comments below!

Could Your Next Trip to Wisconsin’s Campgrounds Have a Corporate Sponsor?

We’re familiar with sports venues and various events that are named after their corporate sponsors — but what about camping sites?

If the state’s proposed two-year budget passes, a trip to state parks and public campgrounds in Wisconsin could soon mean visiting a corporate-sponsored camp resort.

According to a March 3 Duluth News-Tribune article, Republican Gov. Scott Walker’s proposed budget would cut all funding to Wisconsin’s state parks — and the State Department of Natural Resources (DNR) is considering selling the naming rights to these campgrounds as a way to generate revenue.

The DNR is also considering finding revenue from alternate sources, such as increasing entrance and camping fees for the state’s 46 state parks, 14 state trails, four recreational areas and two national scenic trails. Camping in public campgrounds such as state parks continues to be the most popular choice for campers — 70% of campers go camping in these public camping sites.

Walker’s budget would also put a halt to conservation land purchases for the next 13 years and cut 66 jobs in the DNR, in addition to stripping much of the agency’s authority to create policies.

A few other U.S. states have turned to the idea of corporate partnerships for their parks and camping grounds, but no state has been able to cover the cost of these parks’ upkeep with these funds, according to

The budgetary issue will be studied over the next two years before a final decision is made, DNR Secretary Cathy Stepp said.

Despite the Wisonsin parks system’s budgetary woes, it can’t be denied that camping is becoming more popular than ever for Americans — in 2013, we went camping for a collective total of 516.6 million days, up from 515 million camping days in 2010. In 2014, more than 15 million people went camping in Wisconsin alone.

New Startup Takes Camping to the Next Level — Literally

A new London-based startup has developed a product that will make it possible to bring a treehouse with you wherever you go tent camping.

According to a Feb. 26 Fast Company article, Tentsile is a company that manufactures tents that can be pitched up in the air by attaching its corners to trees, rocks or other sturdy structures.

Tent camping is by far the most popular method for camping across the country’s numerous campgrounds — about 86% of campers choose to do so in tents.

And as the post-recession ecotourism industry continues to thrive, so does the desire for a way to go camping that will have minimal impact on campgrounds’ natural terrain and environment. Currently, 71% of people say they plan to make an environmentally-conscious travel decision within the next year; Tentsile’s tents offer a perfect way for campers to immerse themselves in nature without leaving behind a footprint. Additionally, the company plants three trees for every tent it sells, further adding to its eco-friendly credentials.

Compared to other vertically-minded pieces of camping equipment, Tentsile’s product is surprisingly affordable, as well. Its models range from $500 to $1,500, and shipping is free worldwide, Fast Company writes. They’re also portable, and easy to set up and secure.

In 2010, Americans collectively spent 515 million days camping — and by 2013, this number grew to 516.6 million days. As more people continue to see the excitement and unique activities that a camping excursion can offer, it’s likely that more campers will turn to options like Tentsile’s treehouse tents to make their journeys even more fun. These treehouse tents are literally taking camping to the next level.

Would you try out the portable treehouse experience that Tentsile is offering with its unique tents? Share your thoughts about these tents — and ask us any questions about camping life and camp resorts — in the comments below.

How to Plan a North Carolina Camping Trip the Whole Family Will Love

Camping is one of the most popular family vacations in America — in 2010, more than 40 million people went camping in the United States, for a total of 515 million camping trips. Since it allows families to reconnect without too many distractions, is away from home, and allows people to get back to nature, camping has become a quintessential family vacation. Camping in North Carolina is pretty popular since the natural landscape is varied and the weather is pleasant, but it still takes a bit of planning to make sure that the trip will go off without a hitch. Here are a few tips for planning a camping vacation the whole family is going to love.

1. Find comfortable accommodations.
There are a number of different accommodations for campers. The most popular is staying in a tent — 86% of respondents in a survey reported using one when they go camping. The second most popular is cabins, which 33% of people reported they do. Finding North Carolina cabin rentals might help your family feel a little more comfortable, especially if you have kids along. Having a secure and sturdy structure at all times is going to make things a little easier.

2. Prepare for a variety of activities.
One of the reasons North Carolina camping is so popular is that the natural landscape offers a lot of different activities for you and the family, so it’s important to pack well and prepare for any of them. Ninety-two percent of people say they hike when they go camping, which makes it the most popular camping activity by far. Pack bug spray and a small first aid kit to help handle any trips and falls. Depending on your campsite, you should also prepare for water activities like swimming by packing suits, sunblock, and life vests.

3. Stay as long as you can.
One of the worst things about any vacation is the end of it, but making sure that your trip was long enough can help. Tent campers have the shortest average camping trips at two days, while RV campers have the longest average trips at five days. Planning carefully and well-ahead of time are both important for planning the longest trip possible for you and your family.

Do you have any other tips for planning a North Carolina camping trip for the whole family? Feel free to share them with us in the comments section below.

5 Ways to Make First-Time Camping Easier

If you’re hoping to warm up with some summer-related thoughts, then this is the perfect time of year to make plans for camping when the weather gets warm (and book spots, since many campgrounds in PA, Ohio, New York and other Great Lakes-region states are filling up). Camping is a fun, affordable way to get the entire family outside for some bonding under the sun. And the even better news is that it doesn’t have to be intimidating, even if you’ve never taken on an outdoorsy trip before. Here are five ways you can make your first camping vacation easier:


  1. Look for Campgrounds That Offer Activities

    There are plenty of campgrounds that offer scheduled activities and amenities that give you an alternative to simply pitching your tent and playing in the woods. If you’re looking at campgrounds in PA alone, for example, you can head to Quarryville or Mill Run and lounge by the pool while the kids play in the water park, or go to Harrisville and enjoy mini golf and a game room. You can always transition to more rustic camping on subsequent trips if you so desire.

  2. Go Camping in Cabins, Instead of Tents

    If even these upgraded campgrounds sound overwhelming, you might want to start out by camping in cabins, instead. While there are many cabin rentals in Ohio, PA and surrounding states, you might want to start by checking out these cabin rentals in Ohio: Camps in Mt. Gilead, the Akron area and Big Prairie offer a smaller, more intimate environment that will let you get into the swing of camping without needing to worry about investing in a bunch of camping gear.

  3. Pack the Essentials — and Nothing More

    Resist the urge to pack for too many “in case” scenarios. If you’re starting with these beginner camping spots, you don’t need to gear up as if you were heading for the backwoods. Make sure you have what you need to keep everyone warm and fed, and leave the additional outfit options behind.

  4. Time Your Comings and Goings Carefully

    This will be less of an issue if you’re camping in cabins, rather than tents, but it’s such a common rookie mistake that it bears addressing regardless: Do not plan to arrive at your campground later than early afternoon. Especially if you’ve never done it before, setting up camp will probably take at least twice as long as you expect, and you don’t want to be figuring it out in the dark. When you’re leaving, make sure you allow time to break camp, as well.

  5. Educate Yourself on Camping Etiquette

    This tip is not just about making your trip easier on you, but also making it easier on the environment. It’s important that you educate yourself on the products you’ll be using and disposing of; for example, it’s important you use biodegradable soap, which won’t contaminate water sources. You should also observe a carry-in, carry-out policy, meaning you leave no trash or litter behind when you leave. The old saying “take only pictures, leave only footprints” applies even to more luxurious types of camping.

What sounds more your style? Exciting campgrounds in PA, relaxing cabin rentals in Ohio, or something else altogether? Share your plans in the comments.

Dreaming of a New Rig? Get to an RV Show!



Are you dreaming about purchasing your first RV? Or upgrading to a new one? Or just looking for a something fun to do on a cold winter day?  For about the price of admission to a movie, you can buy a ticket for a full day of seminars, kid-friendly entertainment, and window-shopping at your local RV show.  We recently attended the Atlantic City show and had a blast browsing through family-friendly floorplans and dreaming about the day when we will be flying without the kids in a smaller, sleeker unit.

So after inspecting the best that the industry has to offer here are five great picks for a wide range of travelers–from a sporty Class B for adventurous couples to a cozy fifth wheel with privacy for mom and dad and plenty of room for the kids.

The Winnebago Travato (Class B Gas)



The first rig that really grabbed our attention was the brand new Winnebago Travato.  Its bold red exterior color and sporty looking bike and kayak racks made us want to hop in and head out for an adventure.  We were not the only ones to feel this way–dozens of shoppers were struck by the same sense of wanderlust.  But we have three little boys, and this Winnebago was clearly not designed with our family in mind.  Could we see ourselves touring the country in a unit like this after the boys head off to college? Possibly. But only if Winnebago found a way to make the bed bigger.  It was just a bit too cozy for us!

The Itasca Reyo 25P (Class A Diesel)



The Itasca Reyo 25P had both of us dreaming about early retirement and leisurely cross-country road trips without the kids (sorry boys!).  At under 26 feet, the compact size of the Reyo would make it possible to travel without towing a car–and we find that mobility very appealing.  The style and comfort of the Reyo’s interior took our breath away and the size of the bathroom felt incredibly spacious for such a small rig.  Could we see ourselves in a sweet Itasca like this someday? You betchya!

The Itasca Tribute 26A (Class A Gas)



Is the retro- inspired Itasca Tribute 26A designed for a young family or for an adventurous couple?  Well, with its flexible sleeping options, its actually designed for just about anyone.  We loved the retractable StudioLoft beds (one above the queen and one above the cockpit) that can be stored along the ceiling at the push of the button–perfect for using every night for the kids–or just dropping it down occasionally for the grandkids.  For a rig without a slide we found the 26A to be surprisingly spacious and comfortable–and we loved, loved, loved the retro styling.

The Airstream 30FB Flying Cloud Bunk Model



We have both always loved the timeless look and quality build of an Airstream.  But we never think we’ll own one.  Why?  Because they never seem spacious enough for our family of five.  But the 30FB Flying Cloud Bunk Model does boast a family-friendly floor plan.  One of the boys would have to convert the dinette into a bed every night–and the top bunk was very tiny.  But if your family values form over function and the Airstream makes your heart skip a beat–then this bunk model may be for you.

The Jayco Eagle 29.5BHDS (Fifth Wheel)



Do you dream of the luxury and comfort of a fifth wheel?  Do you want some privacy from the kids and cozy bunks to boot?  Then the Jayco Eagle 29.5BHDS may be the right fit for you.  This rig is half ton towable and has space and storage for the whole family and the dog.  The double over double bunks could easily fit four if they had to–and the master bedroom will make mom and dad feel like they have their own private retreat.  If your tow vehicle has the power why not move into a fifth wheel?  They are often called the Cadillacs of the towable world–and for good reason.

As you can see, an RV show provides the perfect opportunity to get out of the house and daydream about your next rig, and your next great adventure!  Here is a list of all of the RV Shows across our great country:

We encourage all of our fellow campers to beat the winter blues and head to a show.  There’s no harm in looking, right?

Stephanie and Jeremy Puglisi are the co-hosts of the RV Family Travel Atlas podcast, which is available for free in the iTunes store, and on their blog.

Camping Near Shenandoah National Park

Family Fun Shenandoah National Park

By guest bloggers Jeremy & Stephanie Puglisi of RV Family Travel Atlas.

Because of the planned activities and exciting amenities at Jellystone Park Luray, a family could easily spend an awesome weekend there without leaving the property. But that would be a shame, because the magic and beauty of Shenandoah National Park are waiting just five miles away from the campground. Camping near Shenandoah National Park makes it easy and convenient to take in a great hike, experience the majesty of the mountains and scenery, and still make it back in time to partake in other great family activities at Luray Jellystone Park.

When you plan your next trip to Jellystone Park Luray make sure you set aside time to cruise along Skyline Drive, take in a hike or two, and share a family picnic at Big Meadows. Here is a suggested itinerary for a fun family day trip into the park. Who knows, you might just see a few bears and dozens of deer like we did!


Shenandoah National Park’s epic roadway, Skyline Drive, has 75 scenic overlooks and stretches for over 100 miles before it joins the Blue Ridge Parkway. Since you are camping at Jellystone Park Luray you will want to take route 211 into the park using the Thornton Gap Entrance Station. Once you are in the park, head south and take your time to enjoy the views. Also keep your eyes peeled for bear in the woods on the side of the road. They move faster than you think. The ever-changing beauty of the landscape might tempt you to put the radio on and drive all day, but we recommend that you park the car and take in a hike or two. Adventure waits around every corner.


At mile 41.7 pull over and park for the adventurous, but family-friendly, 1.6 mile circuit Stony Man Trail. The National Park Service designates this hike as “easiest” but the summit views of the Shenandoah Valley and the town of Luray are nothing short of spectacular. After all, this is the second highest peak in the park. Plan on bringing water and a snack to share at the summit, but we don’t recommend a picnic lunch here. The rocks at the summit are jagged and it can be crowded on a clear summer day. Don’t forget your camera.


After you’ve conquered Stony Man head south on Skyline Drive towards the Byrd Visitor Center at Big Meadows. Watch a short film and take in an exhibit on the park ’s history before you visit the gift shop for a vintage park poster or magnet. After you’ve educated yourself and plunked down a few bucks for a souvenir you’ll be good and hungry for a picnic lunch. If you need to grab more cold drinks for your next short hike head into the well-stocked campstore. You may be tempted by the fudge counter on the left. Your call.


After lunch (and fudge?) burn off some calories with a casual and easy stroll on the Story of the Forest Trail, which begins across the street from the visitor center. Before you leave, grab a scavenger hunt booklet from one of the park rangers. Your kids will enjoy running from blue blaze to blue blaze, searching for large fungi and animal watering holes. Mom and Dad will enjoy learning the names of trees, finding out where witch hazel comes from, and discovering more about the works projects that developed the park. Whitetail Deer sightings are common on this trail, so keep your eyes wide open. We saw more than a few and spotting them was definitely the highlight of our walk.

When you’ve completed this 1.8 mile loop, drive north on Skyline Drive and back home to Jellystone Park. You may still be able to catch story time with Boo Boo. Or just head directly to the Cartoon Cafe for a well-deserved ice cream treat. We recommend the Moose Tracks!

Jeremy and Stephanie Puglisi are the co-hosts of the podcast RV Family Travel Atlas, available in the iTunes Store, on Stitcher, and TuneIn Radio. You can read more about their adventures at