The Camper's Guide to Zika

May 25, 2016

With spring in the air, many camping fanatics are switching off their television sets and hitching on their hiking boots in hopes of making their first tent camping endeavor of the season. Indeed, camping is somewhat of a pastime for Americans: in 2013 alone, over 40 million people went camping, and almost 99% of campers report that they were likely to camp again within the coming year.

And while 87% of those campers are eager to engage in multiple outdoor activities on their family camping trip, perhaps they shouldn’t turn off their television news program just yet — especially if the Zika virus is the hot topic that’s trending.

What is the Zika virus?
Zika is an illness caused by the Zika virus. Typically, it is usually mild, with the most frequent symptoms being fever, joint pain, rash and red eyes. These symptoms can last anywhere from a few days to a week. It’s rare for someone to have to be hospitalized because of the Zika virus.

Who is vulnerable?
While anyone can contract the Zika virus, those who spend a lot of time outdoors are of course at a slightly greater risk. Pregnant women and campers should be especially cautious of the Zika virus, as it can cause very serious negative birth outcomes as well as birth defects of the brain.

How does it spread?
The Zika virus is typically spread through the bite of an infected mosquito. Mosquitoes normally lay their eggs in and near standing water. They also occupy shady areas, like wooded campgrounds and shaded campgrounds. They will also come out at night, so be sure to prepare yourself if you are tent camping.

Where is Zika now?
Currently, no one in the U.S. has been locally infected by the virus. Check your local news station for outbreaks and warnings. However, do not live in fear of Zika. Regardless of where you are, it’s important to take precautionary measures.

How do I protect myself.
Stocking up on permethrin and EPA approved bug repellent sprays is one of the biggest and best lines of defense. Spray your clothing in permethrin and let it sit overnight. Additionally, cover exposed areas of your body with Deet. If possible, try to wear long sleeves.

There’s no family vacation like a family camping vacation. That being said, don’t be afraid to get out there and enjoy yourself. With education and awareness, it’s possible to protect yourself from Zika and have a good time.

3 Essential Survival Trips For Your Inaugural Summer Camping Trip

May 25, 2016

As summer rapidly approaches, families across America are gearing up and getting ready for their first weekend camping trip of the summer. After all, family camping vacations are one of the most popular vacation choices for Americans; in 2011 alone, Americans spent a total of 534.9 million days camping! That’s a whole lot of smores!

And while camping can provide ample opportunities to bond with nature and loved ones, a weekend trip can easily be spoiled by a lack of foresight and poor planning. Even when cabin camping, you’re still forced to confront the downsides of nature every now and again — especially when you consider that 82% of those who are cabin camping spend one to two nights outside.

In order to ensure that you have the most optimal, enjoyable, and as safe of a time camping as possible, be sure to follow these three survival tips for your next summer camping trip:

Pack for all temperatures.
Even if the forecast looks warm on the particular weekend of your family vacation, do not neglect to bring clothing suitable for a range of temperatures. Your best bet is dressing in layers and having convertible clothing on hand.

Prepare for Zika (and other pest prevention)
With the Zika virus working its way across the country, it’s imperative that families — pregnant women especially — protect themselves. Dress in long sleeves when possible and equip yourself with an effective bug/mosquito repellent such as Deet. If camping in a tent, take care to invest in mosquito nets.

Protect your family and your food.
Wildlife that’s privy to your family’s food supply are not only a pain, but a real danger. Be mindful when munching on snacks, being sure to always seal them securely. If possible, keep items that give off a strong scent in your car.

Recent surveys show that campers are planning as many as 4.3 camping family vacations this very year. By Following these three safety tips, you and your family are guaranteed to have a fun and safe time.

Tips For Family Vacation Camping

May 23, 2016

Camping is a time honored tradition, especially for families. Indeed, family camping vacations are one of the most popular choices for Americans, with families spending about 534.9 million days camping altogether in 2011. Camping is a formative experience for many young people, especially for those who don’t get the chance to experience much of nature in their homes. Among current camping participants, 85% took their first trip between birth and the ages of 15 — after 15, chances of being introduced to camping were small. In order to foster an appreciation and respect for the great outdoors, many families choose to camp with their children during vacation times.

Of course, camping can also be labor intensive, especially with kids in tow. Check out how to make your family vacation camping trip a little for relaxing for everyone:

    • Food Prep: Make your vacation feel more like a vacation by doing as much food prep before hand as possible, while you have a sink, cutting boards, and space at your disposal. Marinate meat, prepare kebabs, pack sandwiches, and chop vegetables with dip. Don’t forget the watermelon.


    • Come Prepared for Rainy Days: Even though you may be all geared up for some summer outdoor fun, rain happens, and when it does, it is best to have activities planned so the little ones (and their parents) don’t go tent-crazy. Bring board games, coloring supplies, and books to pass the time until the sun shines again.


    • Take Advantage of the Ranger Stations: The ranger stations or visitors centers at parks are chock-full of untapped resources for camping families. During busy seasons, rangers will often hold learning sessions and nature activities for kids. Plus, they’ll provide maps, interesting facts, wildlife identification checklists, and suggestions for activities to do together.

Camping has a high rate of return for a reason — 99% of camping participants said they were “likely” or “very likely” to camp next year, according to the 2014 American Camping Report. Whether you and your family go cabin camping or tent camping, tenting or family cabin camping provides a valuable chance for families and groups to spend time in nature, take a break from work or school, and spend your family vacation together with those who matter the most.

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

Tips for Finding the Right Campsite For Your Family

May 17, 2016

Family camping trips are some of the most fulfilling, affordable, and rewarding ways to travel with a family. With various levels of camping amenities, and throughout many seasons, spending some time in nature is truly a great way to unplug and reflect, together. Indeed, it can also spark a family tradition — 12% of adult campers first went camping with their immediate families.

The first step of any camping trip is deciding on a location. Campers across the board spent an average of 14.9 days camping, meaning that the location you choose for your summer camping trips should be optimal for the length of time you stay there.

Consider the Accommodations

Campgrounds come in many different shapes and sizes and have varying degrees of accommodations. Some families prefer to rent a cabin and go cabin camping while others enjoy tent camping. Still more have RVs, which are especially convenient when the campsite has full hookups, providing electricity, gas, and waste disposal. Consider the needs of your family and your camping choices when looking at different campgrounds.

What Kind of Nature do You Like?

Some families dedicate themselves to climbing all of New York State’s 46 highest peaks while others prefer tumbling over boulders in the beautiful desert of Texas. Some families specifically camp to experience a destination like the Grand Canyon of Arizona or the Badlands of South Dakota. What kind of nature are you set on experiencing?


Do you want to be fully immersed in a state or national park, or would you like easier access to certain amenities? For family camping, it can be nice to have all of the advantages of a scenic campground, but be able to run to a store for emergency supplies. For more seasoned families with older children, a more isolated campground with fewer amenities might make it easier to embark upon serious hikes and explorations.

Whether you choose summer camping trips or autumn camping trips, make sure to choose a memorable and practical camping ground! If you find the perfect spot, don’t let distance deter you — many campers travel an average distance of 186.7 miles for a camping trip. Let the search begin!

If You're Looking for a Mix of Tranquility and Excitement, Look No Further Than Ohio Campgrounds

May 5, 2016
Ohio residents will proudly tell you that they’re living in the best state in the country, and they aren’t wrong. Sports and entertainment are very prominent in the Buckeye State, but it is the eclectic mix of relaxation and fun that really separates Ohio from other family camping vacation spots.Camp Jellystone’s Ohio campgrounds perfectly mirror this unique combination, and there are campgrounds in Ohio for every family member. Summer camping trips are fantastic, but everyone in the family usually has different expectations for the trip. Ohio campgrounds are extremely well-balanced, and they’re so close to each other that you can visit all three in just one weekend.

Camping vacations are supposed to be fun for everyone, and Ohio is one of those special places that guarantees each person has the time of their life. Here is a brief overview of what Ohio campgrounds have to offer, from serene tranquility to utter excitement:

    • Tranquility- Amish Country. The World’s Largest Amish Community is located in Shreve, OH, but locals know this area as a fantastic camping destination. About 13% of adult campers want to spend more time with their families, and there is no better place to do this than in the Amish Country. Just sit back and relax on a swinging chair with loved ones while you share stories and listen to the chirps of the birds.
    • Relaxation- Columbus North. If you’re looking for a relaxing camping experience with a bit more action, you need to check out the Columbus North campground. It’s one of the best places for tent camping in all of Ohio, but there are also cozy cabins for your family to stay in. Plus, it’s located just minutes from the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course and Cardinal Center Shooting Center.
  • Excitement- Akron/Canton. Approximately 87% of all campers participated in multiple outdoor activities, but this number is much closer to 100% at the Akron/Canton campground. A 500,000-gallon pool, 144-foot water slide, 100-foot playground slide, and an 18-hole mini golf course are just a few of the amenities offered at this exciting campground.

Campers travel an average distance of 186.7 miles for camping trips, but all three of these unique Ohio campgrounds are within just 100 miles of each other. Learn more about these amazing campgrounds online and choose a vacation that will satisfy every member of the family.


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

What to Bring on a Cabin Camping Trip

April 13, 2016

CampingTo some, family vacation means staying at a resort, with many amenities and luxuries at your fingertips. To others, it means roughing it in a tent or a cabin in the woods. Indeed, in 2013, 40.1 million Americans (that’s 14% of the U.S. population) camped. It’s no wonder why, with so many amenities and activities our camp-resorts have that being in the great outdoors, getting off the grid, far away from the office, and leaving material items behind, is just one of the many reasons to go camping!

In the realm of camping, there are many possibilities — you could strap a tent on your back and enjoy a hiking and camping adventure, or you could opt for the more convenient campsite, which is often a better choice for families. You could also rent a cabin as a home base while you discover the state or national park or forest you want to explore. Cabin camping is also comfortable when the weather gets chilly at night or if your party is comprised of too many people to make a couple of tents feasible. One in 10 campers between the ages of 18 and 34 enjoy cabin camping and many times, it’s the best way to stay comfortable and have the amenities of home with you.

While cabin camping offers many more modern amenities, it is still important to be prepared and bring some of the essentials. Your park store may also carry many of these items.

    • Fire starters, including lighters, matches, kindling, and lighter fluid. Remember to read up on wildfire prevention and fire safety — a cabin is made up of much more flammable materials than a tent.


    • Flashlights and extra batteries — headlamps are particularly recommended for after-dark grilling and late night walks to the bathroom. Not to mention, easy reading if you can’t fall asleep after the sun goes down.


    • Camping saw or small axe — unless you plan on buying wood, it is often handy to have the tools to forage for it yourself. Make sure to check with the park or site you are staying at to make sure that foraging for wood is allowed first!


    • Plastic bags — from impromptu rain jackets to garbage disposal and leftover storage, plastic bags are an essential and underrated part of the cabin camping experience.
    • Camping stove: Some family cabin rentals won’t come with a kitchen, so make sure to bring your own! Mess kits, camping stoves, spices (store them in empty Tic-Tac containers for easy transportation), and cooking oils should be the recipe for yummy camping food for days.

Remember, family cabin camping can be a great way to spend quality time with the whole family. Don’t be afraid to spend some time out of doors either — sleeping up the stars is magical, especially when you can go inside anytime you want. About 82% of cabin campers spent up to two nights outdoors.

Enjoy vacation cabins as the happy medium between camping outside and staying in a hotel and can be more affordable.