5 Tips for Camping With Kids That Could Save Your Family Vacation

September 12, 2016

Pamela Miller 1Camping can be a lot of fun at any age. If you love hiking in the great outdoors and sleeping under the stars, you probably want to share your passion with your kids. Camping with kids is great fun!

In fact, camping vacations are already one of the most popular vacation choices for American families. In total, they spent about 534.9 million days camping in 2011 alone. According to a recent survey, as many as 13% of adult campers took a family camping vacation because they wanted to spend more time with their families. Camping with your kids can be a blast, but it can also be a challenge.

To avoid any vacation-ruining drama, here are five ways you can make your family camping trip a little easier for everyone.

Plan and prep meals. Planning meals for camping trips can be hard enough since storage and cooking supplies are so limited. Add kids and their picky appetites into the mix, and you’ve got yourself a whole new challenge. Make sure you portion everything out ahead of time and keep all food sealed in a bear-proof container. Bring snacks that will provide your kids with enough energy throughout the day to hike and play.

Make a checklist. Packing all the essentials is critical to planning a successful family camping trip. Kids require a lot more gear than you might realize, so make a list and check items off as they go into the backpack.

Keep them busy. Not all kids are fascinated by sticks and pine cones, especially in this day and age, when so many kids rely on their television or Minecraft for entertainment. To keep the boredom at bay, get them outside and participating in all of the activities and amenities Our parks have to offer!  Bring along some books and board games for rainy days as well. While you’re outside enjoying the fresh air, take the time to teach your kids about nature and get them excited about outdoor activities.

Find a family-friendly campsite. For family camping trips, make sure you are heading to a safe and kid-friendly site. Choose family campgrounds that provide an array of options for activities such as hiking trails or a lake for swimming or fishing. For a child’s first camping trip, you may want to stay close to home, especially if you are tent camping.

Stay safe. Nothing is more important than safety during family camping trips. If you have multiple children and are worried that you won’t be able to keep an eye on them at all times, have them use the buddy system. You can also give them whistles to blow in case they get lost or hurt.

Among current campers, 85% took their first trip between birth and age 15. After age 15, the chances of being introduced to camping are lower. Similarly, 57% of campers regularly participated in outdoor activities when they were young, while just one-quarter of non-participants were exposed to the outdoors.

If you want your kids to have a healthy relationship to the world away from screens, camping is the perfect solution. Taking your kids camping is a wonderful experience!

Don't Forget These Must-Bring Camping Items on Your Next Family Vacation

September 12, 2016

easy-camping-recipe-campfire-coneWhen you are prepping for a family vacation, it can be easy to forget some items in your stash. You don’t want to shell out a lot of money replacing forgotten items at your camp resort’s store, so here is a list of some must-bring camping items. Be sure to check these items off your pre-camping checklist so you never go without on those family camping trips!

A first aid kit

You are bound to experience a bump, bruise, scratch, or burn while on a camping trip. Carry one with you at all times and make sure it is stocked with plenty of bandages of all sizes, anti-septic cream, burn ointment, gauze, and medical tape. While you’re at it, be sure to pack things like asthma inhalers or Epipens as needed!

Peanut butter and Nutella

These two snack staples are a must for any family vacation, as they are well-liked by all ages and can be used for many different purposes. Peanut butter especially is a great source of protein that can be used for a makeshift dinner, or to even remove gum from your hair!

A couple pairs of matches and a lighter

You can leave matches in your camping bag for long periods of time, but it is always a good idea to have a couple more for backup. It can also be helpful to have a lighter on hand in case the matches get wet.

Tarps

These are great if you are camping in tents and need a little extra protection. They are easy to store and take up virtually no space in the car.

Flashlights and Lanterns

You can never have enough sources of light when you are camping. Bring at least one flashlight for every person in your party to use, and toss a few lanterns in your bag. Don’t forget plenty of extra batteries, too.

A water filter

For those roughing it, it is a good idea to bring a water filter so you will not be concerned over the quality of the water you’re drinking. You can get portable water bottle filters, or a big jug or pump for the entire family to use.

An extra set of sheets and blankets

Mother Nature can surprise you and deliver a rainstorm at the most inopportune moment. Leaks happen quite frequently when tent camping, so you can never be too safe. Always pack extra bedding, just in case. After all, who wants to sleep in damp sheets?

On average, camping aficionados spend 14.9 days a year camping. No matter where you stay, remember these items for a family vacation with no stress!

Kid-Friendly Camping Tips and Activities

September 12, 2016

RVFTA Syndicate Image 8_16Camping is a great way to spend time as a family. In fact, the 2014 American Camper Report showed that 40.1 million Americans (that’s 14% of the U.S. population over age six) camped in 2013. This just shows that kids of all ages enjoy camping, so plan your next family vacation immersed within the wilderness!

That being said, not all camping activities are kid friendly. Here are some fun tips and activities to enjoy with your kiddos that will make those family camping vacations ones to remember!

Preparation:

1.Pack clothes with easy dressing in mind. It will make the entire campsite tidy and easy to clean.

2.Prepare a good first aid kit.

3.Buy two collapsible bins. Throw laundry in one and trash in the other to stay a bit more organized.

4.Bring along puzzles, books, and quiet games so your kids can relax and have some free time to themselves when they are cabin camping.

Set up:

1.Think ahead and determine a safe campground layout, keeping the child’s location to the fire in mind at all times.

2.Set up a hand sanitizer or hand washing station that is easy for everyone to access.

3.Make sure your child has a lantern or flashlight within reach.

4.If you are camping in a tent, toss in some blankets and pillows to make the ambiance feel more comfortable.

Activities to do

Of course, Jellystone Parks pride themselves in 1st rate activities and amenities on site, but it’s always fun to have some old fashioned alternatives to keep in mind as well.

1.Star gaze! Bring along a book of constellations that are visible in your location at that time of year and get to imagining! See who can find the most unique constellations and hard to find planets.

2.Go searching for animal tracks. This is a great way to teach your younger kids to learn about wild animals in your geographic location.

3.Make s’mores and other treats over the campfire.

Games to play

1.Have a family-wide scavenger hunt! Be creative, split into teams, and whoever gets the most amount of items in an hour wins! Some ideas to include are a feather, a purple flower, an odd shaped rock, a piece of trash, a pine cone, a piece of rope, and/or a coin.

2.Lawn twister.

3.Glow stick ring toss.

4.Frisbee Golf.

5.Nature Tic Tac Toe.

With these tips in mind, you will not want to return from your family vacation! All you need to do is pull up to your family cabin rentals, pitch your tent, or rent an RV and get ready to make some great memories.

RV Shopping? Here are 5 RV Features You Shouldn't Overlook!

September 9, 2016

Many people approach RV shopping with lists of must-have items and no-go deal breakers. These lists might include outdoor kitchen, extra storage, rig length, or solar readiness.

But in our experience talking with RV owners, there are some very important features that people don’t think about until they are out traveling in their rig. We constantly hear our listeners and readers say, “I wish we had thought of _______ while we were shopping.”

So we have put together a list of the top 5 features people overlook when buying an RV.

 

  1. Tank size. You can’t see them, so it is easy to forget about them. If you plan on doing any dry camping, or if you plan on staying in state and national parks with limited hook ups, pay attention to tank size. You will want to fill up with fresh water before arrival, and you will want your grey and black water tanks to handle at least a weekend’s worth of RV use.
  2. Movement/Access with Slides In. One of the benefits of RV ownership is using your own kitchen or bathroom while traveling from point A to point B. So if that is in your game plan, make sure you can actually open the bathroom door and refrigerator door, even when the slides are in. Check access to drawers and cabinets also!
  3. Bathroom Size. No one want to be the person who sits on the toilet when RV shopping, so many folks just stick their heads into the bathroom and look around. It’s okay to be that person. Also make sure you can stand in the shower. Close the bathroom door to get a better feel for the amount of space you will have when traveling.
  4. Doors vs. Curtains. The lightweight or ultra light RVs are perfect for folks with limited tow capacity. But many of these RV models stay light by swapping out doors with curtains. While it may not seem like a big deal, really think about whether you need the privacy of a bedroom door if traveling with the kids or grandkids.
  5. Walk-Around Bed. Again, many people feel silly climbing into the beds when RV shopping, but if you are uncomfortable with the bed arrangement at the dealership, imagine how you will feel after a week at the campground. Also consider the ease of bed making. If you can’t walk around the mattress, this can become an aerobic feat.

 

Take it from the thousands of RV owners that we have heard from over the years: paying attention to some of the smaller, less obvious RV features is worth it in the long run.

 

Happy RV shopping!

Camping Illinois: Best Bets and Sights

August 16, 2016

TherCamp illinoise’s no time like summer to get out and see the country, and camping Illinois is one of the best ways to enjoy both rural wilderness and the vast expanse of the prairies, all in one trip. Campers tend to travel an average of 186.7 miles for their trips, and Illinois has more than 57,900 square miles of land to choose from the next time you feel like exploring.

For family vacations or romantic getaways, there are plenty of places to see and stay in Illinois. Here are a few of our best bets and recommendations for a great trip or vacation.

  • Abraham Lincoln’s Home in Springfield: This national historic site is where our country’s 16th president lived from 1844 to 1861 before moving to the Oval Office. Learn about his legacy and lifestyle as well as some history of the area in this well-preserved 19th century neighborhood.
  • Millennium Park in Chicago: The windy city may be the third most populous area in the country, but it’s only an hour’s drive from our Milbrook Camp-Resort.  While 82% of campers like to spend one or two nights outside, many enjoy taking in the hustle and bustle of the city — if only to remind them of the peace and quiet that comes from camping.
  • Route 66 Scenic Byway: Get your kicks on this famous stretch of road that runs diagonally across the state en route from Chicago to St. Louis. Along the way, you can find some of our campgrounds for cabin camping in Illinois.
  • Shawnee National Forest: No camping Illinois trip would be complete without a visit to this national gem, located in the southern part of the state in the Ozark and Shawnee hills. This park boasts everything from lake beaches to rolling hills and rugged bluffs. Truly a must-see for all nature lovers.

It might be impossible to see all there is to see while camping Illinois in just one visit. But that’s the beauty of this state: Once you’ve visited, you’ll want to come back for more, year after year. The diversity of lands and experiences that Illinois has to offer makes it one of the best spots for camping and adventure, anytime of year.

Country Camping Meets Resort Amenities: Welcome to the Lazy River Jellystone!

August 11, 2016

I was huddled behind an old broken down bus with my sons Max and Theo, along with our new friends and campsite neighbors John and his son Austin.  It was almost dark. We were locked in an intense laser tag battle. The other team had us surrounded. It was time to make a move or lose. I was sweating and exhausted. I was also having an insane amount of fun.  Maybe the most fun I’ve ever had at a campground—and I’ve been to a few.  John made a strong run across the field and we all followed him screaming at the top of our lungs. We repositioned ourselves, finished strong, and won! As we drove our golf cart back to our site Max and Theo couldn’t stop talking about the game and how they couldn’t wait to play again.  It was a perfect ending to a perfect day of camping.

 

Our first impression of the Lazy River Jellystone Park in the Hudson River Valley of New York was of a peaceful country campground with pretty riverside sites and views of the mountains. But that is only half the story. This Yogi Bear campground also has an action packed activity schedule and world-class amenities.  Laser tag may have been the highlight for our crew, but the waterpark, Ga Ga Ball Courts, hayrides with Cindi and Yogi, miniature golf, jumping pillow, and organized arts and crafts were all awesome.  So if your family is looking for a campground that combines natural beauty with resort-like amenities, then this is a pretty tremendous option.

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We spent most of our daylight hours bouncing back and forth between the SplashPad and the heated pool.  These amenities were theme-park quality and our boys couldn’t get enough of the waterslides.  Mom and dad enjoyed ordering delicious sandwiches and wraps (and even a cold beer!) at the Tiki Bar while chatting with other parents around the pool.

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We were also impressed with how friendly and professional the entire staff was—they really helped make our stay terrific.  The general vibe at this campground is totally relaxed and totally friendly from the maintenance staff to the pool attendants to the front desk. Whoever is doing the training here deserves a high five and a big bear hug from Yogi.

 

You could spend your entire vacation at this campground and never come close to getting bored, but we recommend that you check out the surrounding area. It’s beautiful and rich in history.  Lake Minnewaska is pristine and perfect for hiking and swimming. More adventurous spirits might venture to the Shawangunk Mountains, aka “the gunks,” for mountain climbing.  The nearby town of New Paltz is cozy and charming and filled with great options for food, culture and craft roasted coffee at places like the Mudd Puddle café.

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Our favorite day trip was to Hyde Park, a National Historic Site and the former home of President Franklin D. Roosevelt. Our morning tour with the highly theatrical and knowledgeable “Ranger Dimitri” was fun, informative, and compelling.  We are fascinated with presidential history and this hit a sweet spot for all members of our family. The boys completed a Junior Ranger activity book and earned their badges and mom and dad dropped a few bucks in the gift shop for books and magnets.  This is a must-do day trip if you are camping at Lazy River and is only a forty minute drive through pretty countryside and across the Hudson River.

 

At the end of our stay at the Lazy River Jellystone our boys DID NOT want to leave.  We said good-bye to our new friends and took down phone numbers and email addresses.  We have heard that this campground does awesome thematic weekends in the fall and we promised to meet up again in September or October. Halloween Zombies Weekend anyone?  Sound too scary?  We would be just as happy to meet up at Celtic Weekend. Who doesn’t love a pipe band marching across the campground on a crisp fall day? We will 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.

8 Great Instagram Accounts Every RV Owner Should Follow!

August 4, 2016

Have you joined in on the Instagram craze yet? We think it’s the perfect social media hub for the RV enthusiast. Even if you can’t RV 24/7, looking at campers in pretty locations is almost as good.

 

Signing up for Instagram is easy, but finding great accounts to follow can be tricky. Here are our favorite Instagram accounts for folks that love RVing.

Go RVing (@gorving)

When it comes to great pictures of RVs in magnificent locations from coastal Maine to Southern California, GO RVing’s Instagram account is the mother ship.  Their gallery provides daily inspiration for your next great road trip.

 

Go Parks (@goparks)

For stunning photographs that celebrate the beauty and historical significance of our National Parks, National Seashores, and National Historic sites there is no better gallery.  From sunrises glowing through Mesa Arch in Utah to black and white photos of John Muir in Yosemite, this account will help you find your park!

 

Vintage Camper Trailers (@vintagecampertrailers)

Can’t get enough of fun photos of vintage trailers from the 40’s, 50’s and 60’s?  Then this gallery is for you! Vintage Camper Trailers features teardrops and canned hams and every historical oddity in-between! The classic cars that are often matched as tow vehicles are just the icing on the cake!

 

Hip Camp (@hipcamp)

Those of you who like to wander off the beaten track and park your rigs in more adventurous places like “farms, vineyards, and nature preserves” will find much information and inspiration in Hip Camp’s gallery.

 

Monica Bennett (@j5mm_blog) We love Monica Bennett’s RV-centric photography of the Pacific Northwest so much that we asked her to provide the cover image for our book, The Idiot’s Guide to RV Vacations.   Monica’s photos are filled with romance, wanderlust, and perhaps most importantly, the delicious local foods that she cooks while camping.

 

Mandy Lea (@mandyleaphoto)

 We started following Mandy Lea after hearing a great interview with her on the Girl Camper podcast in iTunes.  She describes herself as a “Full time teardropper, full time photographer, and full time adventurer” and her gallery has the dazzling photos to prove it.  Her feed is jam packed with waterfalls, mountains, and deserts. Take us there!

 

Jonathan Irish (@jonathan_irish)

This National Geographic contributor has a dream—traveling to, and photographing, all 59 U.S. National Parks during the 2016 centennial.  His pictures, like the parks themselves, are magnificent and breathtaking. We hope a coffee table book is in the works.

 

Peter Holcombe (@peterholcombe)

 Peter Holcombe is a professional photographer and kayaker who travels full time with his family in a Class B RV.  For beautiful photos of mountains and rivers with an emphasis on kayaking there is no better account.  His wife and daughter also crush rapids on the kayak and they are featured in many of the photographs!

 

As RV enthusiasts, Instagram is our favorite social media platform since we can enjoy beautiful images of camping even when we can’t be out in the RV. Follow these eight great Instagram accounts for your daily dose of RV therapy!

 

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.

Tips for Keeping a Campground Clean

August 1, 2016

Camping isn’t just about reconnecting with family and friends — it’s about connecting with our natural environment. Part of our responsibility as campers is to keep the impact on our environment to a minimum while we enjoy it. We all know that we should “leave no trace” while in the wilderness, but that can be hard to do when camping, especially with large groups or children on family vacations. Campers travel an average of 186.7 miles to go camping and spend an average of 14 days at a campsite, which can make cleaning up an extra chore that many don’t feel they have time for.

Cleaning a campsite can be difficult, but it is also an important part of the experience. Check out these tips for making and keeping your campsite clean and pristine during your family camping vacations:

    • Less is more. When packing for your trip, be deliberate and mindful of what you are bringing. The more times you go camping, the better you should be able to plan for your next trip. Doing things like prepping for meals before you go, “undressing” snacks and toiletries products, and using versatile pieces of clothing instead of several different ones is a great way to reduce mess before you even get to the campsite.
    • Bring biodegradable soaps for washing: Soaps and laundry detergent that is biodegradable can help lessen the impact on the environment.
    • If you are tent camping, start a garbage bag as soon as you set up camp, but make sure to move it inside or into an animal or bear-proof locker before you go to bed every night. Consider using a pop-up hamper with a zipper, lined with a heavier duty trash bag.
    • Bring a mat to put outside of your tent or cabin entrance, to prevent the inside from getting messy, muddy, and hard to pack up later.

The overwhelming majority of surveyed campers said they’re planning an average of 4.9 camping trips. Whether you go on one trip or five, make sure to try that your family camping vacations “leave no trace”.

3 Simple Recipes for Your Next Family Camping Trip

August 1, 2016

When it comes to family vacations, there are so many fun activities to choose from. For Americans, however, camping is at the top of the list.

In 2010, approximately 40 million people took a camping trip, for a total of 515 million outings. Fast forward to 2014 – the American Camper Report revealed that 40.1 million Americans, or 14% of the U.S. population over the age of six, camped in 2013. As many as 99% of those surveyed in the report said that they were “likely” or “very likely” to camp again during the next year.

So, yes, some families prefer lounging on the beach or riding roller coasters at an amusement park, but the experience of tent and cabin camping is alive and well in the 21st century.

One aspect of camping is that some campers may struggle with cooking. Most of our cabins have all of the essentials you need for helping you make a fun meal, but if you are tent camping, then we have some easy camping recipes and delicious suggestions to help you enjoy the most of your family camping time!

Three Simple Meals for Campers

    1. Foil Packet Breakfast: Foil packets are great for cooking on a camping trip. All you have to do is toss it on the grill or over the campfire. For this meal, add your choice of breakfast goodies. For example, we recommend sausage, eggs, potatoes, and onions. You’ll need to par-cook the potatoes a little bit — or throw in the leftover veggies from last night’s grilling adventure.
    2. Hobo Dinner: Like the previous meal, all you need to do is throw some ingredients in a foil packet. Your hobo dinner can consist of beef, potatoes, carrots, and onions. Fish filets are another great candidate for this low-maintenance meal, since the foil will keep it from drying out or falling apart — two problems that tend to occur when you’re grilling fish.
    3. Orange Peel Blueberry Muffins: This one is super creative. Pour your muffin ingredients inside a hollowed out orange peel to keep them moist, and add extra flavor, while they cook over the fire.

Those were just a few to get you started as there are so many more creative ways to craft delicious meals with minimal tools and ingredients.

The 3 Best Camping Recipes For You and Your Family

August 1, 2016

camping recipesWhen it comes to vacations, a family camping trip is often the most convenient and low-cost way to get the whole family out of the house and into nature. Indeed, about 13% of adult camping participants went on trips because they wanted to spend more time with their families, and 12% of adult campers first went camping with their own immediate family.

Family camping is truly an American past-time, with American families camping around 534 million days collectively in 2011. And while it can be the best choice, it doesn’t mean it is the easiest.

Camping can require a lot of planning; from getting the necessary outdoor gear to remembering to bring appropriate clothing. However, the most important thing to consider is food. Contingent upon where you camp, there may not be many restaurants in or around family campgrounds, after all. (Plus, it’s much more fun to cook over the fire with the whole family.) Check out these awesome camping recipes for easy preparation and delicious flavors:

Omelet in a Bag
With just a gallon-sized Ziploc and boiling water, you can make easy omelettes for the whole family. Crack two or three eggs into each individual bag, and add fun ingredients, like onions, peppers, cheese, ham, sausage, and spinach. Stick them in the cooler. In the morning, boil a large pot of water and cook them for about 12 or 13 minutes. After that, pull them out of the water, slip them out of the bags and onto a plate.

Campfire Sandwiches

Without cutting all the way through a loaf of French bread, cut 12 slices about 3/4 an inch thick, which will create six sandwiches. Melt some butter and spread it with mustard on each slice. Then, fold cheese slices in half, adding ham slices into the middle, and slip them in the slits of the bread. Wrap the whole loaf in foil and place on the grill or on coals for about 20 minutes. Remove from the fire and pull apart delicious melty sandwiches!

Cake in an Orange

Cut the top off of an orange and scoop out the flesh, which you can use for juice or fruit salad in the morning. Then, fill with cake batter, cover, wrap in foil, and stick in the coals. About 20 minutes later, you’ll have a cake in an orange!

Make sure you make your reservation at CampJellystone.com and try out these fun recipes.

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