10 May

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

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

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

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

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

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27 Apr

RVFTA #139 RVFTA Goes Tent Camping with Cabela’s

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

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

Segment One: The Tent Camping Experience

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

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

Our main takeaways:

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25 Apr

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

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

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

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

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19 Apr

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

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

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

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

Segment One: Rules of Campfire Etiquette

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27 Mar

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

Jayco Whitehawk Master Bedroom

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

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

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

This makes zero sense, folks.

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

And then the light bulb went off.

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22 Mar

RVFTA #134: 2017 Spring Gear Guide, Part Two

Download the complete Product Guide that accompanies this episode!

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

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

Segment One: Stephanie’s Picks

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

Cutco Knife RV Set ($370):

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

Camp Casual Nesting Bowls ($34.99):

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

Angel Tears Solar Light Mason Jar Lid, $10

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

Bottle Cap Map, $35.00

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

USA Scratch Off Travel Map, $32.99

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

Camping T-shirts from Cabela’s, $14.99

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

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

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

Amazon Basics Portable Powerbank, $29.99

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

Segment Two: Jeremy’s Picks

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

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

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

Flexi Retractable Dog Leash with accessories, $26

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

Nite Ize Nite Dawg Leash, $12

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

Linwood Ripstop Pants by Cabela’s, $29.99

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

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

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

Porta Potti 320P by Thetford, $100

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

Stanley Classic Vacuum Travel Press Mug, $34

Segment Three: Brett’s Picks

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

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

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

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

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16 Mar

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

Download the Complete Product Guide that accompanies this episode! 

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

Boy, did she come through on that request.


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

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

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

Listen to the episode to hear Kate discuss:

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02 Mar

RVFTA #131 Who is Ready to Go RVing?

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

But seriously, who is buying all these RVs?

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

Segment One

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

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27 Feb

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

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

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

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

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

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

Enter the Chatbooks App.

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23 Feb

RVFTA #130 Pros and Cons of the Class B RV

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

Segment One: Pros and Cons of the Class B RV

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

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13 Feb

Our First RV Rental: Visiting Disney World and Fort Wilderness with a Lazydays RV Rental

After booking a trip to Disney World in Orlando, Florida for this past January, we faced a dilemma: should we take at least two days on both ends of the family vacation to tow our RV south from New Jersey, or just stay in a hotel like so many other travelers?

Unfortunately, neither of these options worked for us. We didn’t have the time to make the drive, and hotels are stressful, uncomfortable, and expensive for our family of five.

So we figured out a third option: fly down to Florida, rent an RV from Lazydays in Tampa, and stay in the rental at Fort Wilderness. This checked off all the boxes: we would get down to Florida quickly, enjoy the comforts of an RV, and get to stay at one of the best campgrounds in the country.

Done.

But we still had some major concerns about the whole RV rental process. We know that many of our listeners and readers are very curious about RV rental vacations, so we wanted to share the details of our experience. To hear us chat more about our stay at Fort Wilderness in our Lazydays RV rental, you can listen to RVFTA podcast episode #128: Greetings from Walt Disney World, the Most Magical Place on Earth!

Cost: What are the Economics of an RV Rental?

Our first concern was cost. By combining a fly and drive vacation with an RV rental, would we be spending a ridiculous amount of money? The answer to that question is going to be different for every single family because the combined cost of airline tickets, Fort Wilderness campsites, and RV rentals can vary so much depending on when you travel, where you are traveling from, and how many people are in your party.

For us, the cost ended up being comparable. We didn’t save a ton of money by staying in an RV, but we didn’t spend more than we would have on two hotel rooms for our family of five.

Here is a basic breakdown of our costs:

  • Fort Wilderness Premium Campsite: $90/day
  • Class C Bunkhouse RV Rental from Lazydays: $275/day

So ultimately our cost was $365/day for very comfortable accommodations at our Disney resort of choice. That’s a financial win in our book.

We are lucky to have a budget airline that flies out of an airport near our home, so we were able to buy all of our airline tickets for $650.95. This means that it did not cost us more to fly than drive, when we factor in gas, tolls, and overnight stays.

Now, you can lower these costs if you are on a tighter budget. Fort Wilderness offers sites for as low as $74/day if you are traveling at non-peak times. Lazydays in Tampa also has RV rental options for as low as $150/day. Realistically you could find a combination that will keep you under $250/day. That’s a pretty competitive price point for a Disney resort.

Logistics: How do you pack and prepare for an RV Rental vacation?

If you are used to having the RV in the driveway, and traveling with all the luxuries of home, it can be intimidating to pack for your first RV rental experience. We tried to keep it as simple as possible, and this really paid off.

Lazydays offers the option of adding additional packages like a Kitchen Kit ($150), a Linen & Towel Kit ($150), an Outdoor Kit ($50), and a bike rack ($25). We added on the Kitchen Kit and the Linen & Towel Kit, which meant that we could pack as if we were taking a traditional hotel vacation, but would still enjoy the benefits of an RV kitchen.

In fact, we only packed one carry on item and backpack per family member, which meant we saved money by not checking any baggage. We had everything we needed, and knew we could easily do laundry at the comfort station if necessary. (But we were happy when we didn’t have to!!!)

Fort Wilderness also offers rentals on all the gear you could possibly want to use during your vacation. Bikes, fishing poles, canoes, and golf cart rentals are all reasonably priced, so you won’t miss having your favorite toys!

Benefits: Why choose an RV rental over a hotel room?

Although we were excited to try something new, we honestly didn’t know if we would end up enjoying the RV rental experience. After all, it wouldn’t be our  family camper…and that familiarity is one of the best parts about RV travel.

Well, we loved it more than we ever expected to. First of all, the RV was a beautiful unit with comfortable sleeping options for everyone.

Then there was the luxury of having a kitchen, where we made coffee in the morning, had breakfast before heading into the park, and prepared PB&J sandwiches before heading to the pool. After traveling in an RV for so many years, we hate not having a kitchen available to us when we stay in a hotel. With kids, this becomes an even more important feature.

The third benefit was outdoor space. Our campsite backed up to woods, and the boys spent tons of time back there running, playing, and stick collecting. Show me a hotel room that comes with an amenity like that.

The final benefit for us is probably the most important one. Simply put, we are campground people. We enjoy the atmosphere at campgrounds: meeting new people, spending time outdoors, hanging out at the campfire. Disney World is amazing, but it is busy and frenetic. Starting and ending each day on the peaceful grounds of Fort Wilderness is the only way we will ever do Disney. Seriously.

Other Details: The Lazydays Experience

We were in Tampa for the Florida RV SuperShow, so it made sense for us to rent from Lazydays, just a few minutes away from the fairgrounds. Lazydays is the largest RV dealership in the world, so even though their rental program is relatively new, they know a lot about RVs. We were extremely impressed by their whole operation–customer experience is definitely at the heart of the Lazydays culture. Plus, all of the rentals come with unlimited mileage and unlimited generator use, a recipe for a great RV road trip.

One of our favorite things about the Lazydays RV Rental service is the wide variety of really great motorized rigs available for rent. There are smaller Class C options starting at $150/day. Then you have a luxurious Class A toy hauler at $500/day. Of course, there are also plenty of price points in between. We really like the fact that you can pick and choose your rental based on personal budget constraints.

Another thing that stood out about the Lazydays experience was the availability of online information. Every available rig is itemized on their website, with a floor plan diagram and pictures of the interior and exterior. To be honest, they also have a great print brochure, and we would probably request one in the mail for a handy reference…

We rented the Lazydays RV specifically because we wanted to have the Disney experience and the Fort Wilderness experience without towing our own rig. But Florida is an amazing winter RV destination, and there are so many other fantastic destinations and campgrounds around the state. After our trip, we would highly recommend flying down and renting from Lazydays.

Sometimes you want to travel a farther distance than you can reasonably tow your own rig. That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t still enjoy the RV experience. After our first RV rental adventure, we are more convinced than ever that traveling in an RV is the best option for our family. In fact, Lazydays also rents RVs out of their Tuscon, Denver, and Northern Colorado locations…sooooo, we may just find ourselves out west sooner rather than later.

We might have to fly there, and we might be in a rental RV, but as always…

We will see you at the campground!

Stephanie + Jeremy

05 Feb

The Best Bang for Our Buck: Cabela’s Hooded Sweatshirts

Product Review: Cabela’s Hooded Sweatshirts

When Cabela’s reached out to us last year and asked if we would test camping gear, we honestly didn’t know a lot about their products. We did know, however, that they had a great reputation for value and quality, so we were happy to join their Pro Staff and start some testing.

Nine months later and we understand exactly why Cabela’s has earned such a devoted following among outdoor sports enthusiasts. We’ve totally hopped on the bandwagon, and have been happy to review many of their quality products on our RV Family Travel Atlas podcast.

So I decided it was time to write a review of the item that has most impressed me since we visited our first Cabela’s store back in June of 2016. It’s not the ice maker or the smoker or the cast iron starter set. It’s not the hiking backpack, life vests, or Gortex raincoats. (Although you know I love those, too!)

It’s the branded hoodies.

Seriously.

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02 Feb

RVFTA #127 Greetings from the 2017 Florida RV SuperShow!

On this podcast episode we are reporting back from the Florida RV SuperShow, our very favorite RV show of the year. Two weeks ago, we fled the frigid temperatures of the northeast and hightailed it to sunny Tampa, where we enjoyed touring an amazing variety of RVs and shopping for camping accessories.

We also were lucky to meet tons of podcast listeners and enjoy the talented and quirky entertainment that visitors always find at the SuperShow.

Segment One

On this episode, we will chat about some of the podcast listeners that we spoke with, and share their unique and diverse RVing experience. We are still continually surprised at the wide variety of listeners this podcast has, and we will introduce you to the stories of young couples with Aliners, moms with Class As, and retired folks living the life in Class Bs.

Segment Two

Then in the second segment, we compiled a list of things we learned about RVers from hanging out at the Florida RV SuperShow. In many ways this RV show is more like a festival, and we thought a lot of wonderful aspects of RV culture were evident during our visit. We came up with 6 things we can say for sure after the show:

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19 Jan

RVFTA #125 Towable vs. Motorized with Josh the RV Nerd

 

On this week’s episode of RV Family Travel Atlas we reigniting the age old debate about which is better, motorized or towable! And while it may be different for every family we have some general tips and principals to consider before you plunk down your hard earned cash!

We decided to invite Joshua Winters (aka Josh the RV Nerd) back onto the show for this topic after we watched his great You Tube video on the same topic.

In Segment One we talk to Josh about his families dealership and their own stock and experience with towables and motorized. Josh breaks down his best selling units for us and talks about why they lean hard towards stocking towable.

In Segment Two Josh walks us through his tips to consider before deciding on towable vs. motorized:

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08 Jan

Punk Rock Parenting, Pinball, and the Search for Stephanie’s Lost Records

Stephanie and I have been scratching for time to write our second book–and coming up short.  Parenting, podcasting, freelancing, and teaching are all fulfilling, but time consuming.  This weekend I decided that it was time for some Deep Work. I would take the boys out for five or six hours on Saturday so Stephanie could write.  On Sunday I would take my turn writing.

But then the snow…

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05 Jan

RVFTA #123 Kick Those RV Winterization Blues, 2017

On this RV Family Travel Atlas Podcast episode, we are back with more tips on how to treat (if not cure!) those winterization blues. Thousands of RVs across the country have been winterized and covered for the long, cold months ahead, so we came up with a brand new list of all the things you can do instead of crying quietly in your camper.

From books to projects to getting cozy in the traditional Danish style, we have something to keep you busy no matter how much you hate Mr. Jack Frost.


Segment One: 2016 Recap and Getting Hyggelig

In the first show segment, we have a quick recap of our favorite timeless tips from the Winterization Blues, 2016 podcast episode. If you missed it last year, you can check it out here:

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22 Dec

RVFTA #121 Saying Hello to Our Jayco Octane Superlite Toy Hauler

RV Family Travel Atlas Podcast Episode #121:

Saying Hello to Our Jayco Octane Superlite Toy Hauler

On the last episode of RV Family Travel Atlas, we said goodbye to our beloved Jayco White Hawk Travel Trailer, which has taken us on countless adventures over the last 5 years. We gave a complete review of the quad bunkhouse travel trailer, talking about what features worked perfectly for our family of five, and what features drove us absolutely bonkers.

On this episode we are talking about the new rig, a Jayco Octane Superlite 272. This is a toy hauler model, and if you have been following along with the RVFTA podcast, you know we think this is the new family travel trailer. Here is the link to the 360-degree tour available on the Jayco website. You can follow along while listening to the episode if you wish.

First, we talk about why we decided to get a toy hauler as our next RV. We discuss other models we looked at, and share how we finally made our decision and settled on the Octane SL 272.

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15 Dec

RVFTA #120 Saying Goodbye to Our Jayco White Hawk Travel Trailer

saying-goodbye-to-the-jayco-white-hawk

Podcast Episode #120:

Saying Goodbye to Our Jayco White Hawk Travel Trailer

Well, the day is finally here. After 5 years, dozens of epic adventures, and hundreds of camping nights, we are finally saying goodbye to our Jayco White Hawk SQB Travel Trailer and trading her in for another rig.

We had a fantastic experience with this trailer, and we are only trading it in because we are entering a new season of RVing with bigger boys and bigger toys.

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01 Dec

RVFTA #117 Dispatches from an RV Newbie

rig

We couldn’t be more excited about our episode this week, Dispatches from an RV Newbie.

itunes

Our absolute favorite type of email to receive is from our listeners who have finally made the leap and bought their first RV. They tell us about how they found our podcast, all the rigs that they looked at, how they narrowed down their choices, and of course, all the fun adventures they have planned for the future.

These emails really do make us feel awesome about producing this weekly podcast.

So this fall we decided to reach out to one of those listeners who sent us an email last January, and see how that first season went for the family. Neil Potter was incredibly generous and agreed to come on the show, tell us about his story, and offer some tips for the RV newbie.

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25 Nov

RVFTA 2016 Holiday Gift Guide for the RV Enthusiast

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Photo credit: Hector Garcell

The RVFTA Holiday Gift Guide is here!!!

The RVFTA 2016 Holiday Gift Guide podcast episode is out and it is definitely bigger and better than ever. This year we broke down our guide into 5 segments: Stocking Stuffers, Just for Kids, Grownup RV Fanatics, Best of the Gear Guides, and Our Personal Wish Lists.


Listen to the episode to hear all the details about why we chose each item. Then click on the links below to order!

rvfta-2016-holiday-gift-guide

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