06 Dec

Go RVing Special Episode: RVFTA’s Holiday Gift Guide

Go RVing Special Podcast: RVFTA’s Holiday Gift Guide

We’ve recommended a ton of fantastic RV gear over the years, so it’s always hard to narrow down our choices for fellow camping enthusiasts. On this special podcast produced exclusively for Go RVing, we picked some of our very favorite gifts.

We have broken it down into three different categories: Gifts for the Lively Little Campers, Jeremy’s Picks, and Stephanie’s Picks. If you want to find even more great gift ideas, check out our other Holiday Gift guide podcasts from this year: Small Business Saturday Gift Guide and RVFTA’s 2017 Holiday Gift Guide

Happy holidays from our family to yours!

Stephanie + Jeremy

04 Dec

24 Great Books for RV and Camping Lovers

We here at the RVFTA Podcast Network are passionate about camping and RV Travel, and we are also passionate about good books. We have an extensive library covering these topics, and we wanted to share an epic list of our absolute favorites. Whether you are interested in coffee table books filled with vintage campers, reference books that will inspire your own adventures, or “how to” primers on caring for your RV–we’ve got you covered.

We often regret time wasted surfing the internet or doodling on social media, but we never regret reading a good book. So pour yourself a mug of warm tea (or your favorite beverage of choice) and let yourself get lost for a little while.  These books will take you on fantastic adventures, and some of them will even help you get back home.

The links in this post are affiliate links. This means if you purchase something through the link, we receive a small commission at no additional cost to you. Jeremy will use all of that money to buy more books, so he kindly thanks you.

Coffee Table Books

1. Airstream: The History of the Land Yacht by Brian Burkhart and David Hunt

This coffee table classic is beautifully designed, much like the Airstreams that grace its pages. It is also compulsively readable and tells the story of Wally Byam and his legacy with just enough detail.  The pictures are gorgeous but the stories about Byam and his international “Caravan Club” are even better. Who’s up for a cross country trip…..from Cape Town to Cairo!?

2. Trailerama by Phil Noyes

This chunky tome is chock full of kitschy visual memorabilia about the travel trailer and its role in American pop culture. Phil was a guest on episode #26 of our RV Family Travel Atlas podcast (Meet Mr. Trailerama) and he beguiled us with tales of vintage campers, quirky entrepreneurs, and Hollywood starlets.  From cartoons, to sheet music, to magazine covers, Trailerama will satisfy the wanderlust of any member of the travel trailer tribe.

3. Vintage Camper Trailers by Paul and Caroline Lacitinola

Addicted to vintage trailer makeovers? Than Vintage Camper Trailers will regularly find its way to the top of your coffee table pile. This book of makeovers is more about fetish and fashion than Noyes’s road trip through the heart of Americana–so they make perfect traveling companions. Hopefully they both end up with reservations under the pine needles of your family Christmas tree.

4. Don’t Call Them Trailer Trash: The Illustrated Mobile Home Story by John Brunkowski & Michael Closen

Product Details

When it comes to the image of RV culture in America, most of the trash was taken out a long time ago.  When asked to imagine a travel trailer the average person is more likely to picture a $100,000 dollar Airstream at a busy campground than a meth lab beater in a back alley. Despite the bright shiny image of the modern RV industry John Bronkowski and Michael Closen ( the dynamic duo behind three of our coffee table picks) have decided to put the final nail in the coffin.  This book serves as a hilarious visual history of a bad reputation.

5. Camper & RV Humor by John Brunkowski & Michael Closen

RV travel humor is a comedic genre unto itself–as is any pastime where so many things can go wrong. Who among us has not cracked a black tank joke or broken something essential due to operator error? This coffee table cutie contains postcards and images from the world over and makes me want to take a private tour of Brunkowski and Closen’s extensive collection. This book is more charming than laugh out loud funny, but it can park itself on my coffee table any day.

6. KOA and the Art of Kamping by John Brunkowski and Michael Closen

The history of Kampgrounds of America, which was founded in 1962 in Billings, Montana, is told through 230 photos in this somewhat slim but very enjoyable walk through the company’s visual history. The story is told through images of original artwork that the company has commissioned over the past 55 years–and you can practically feel the warmth of the campfire and taste the sticky sweetness of a burnt S’more as you turn the pages.

7. See America: A Celebration of our National Parks & Treasured Sites by Creative Action Network

The Creative Action Network has boldly revived the glorious See America project which was born during New Deal era America. The original project implored Americans to “See America First” and spend their tourism dollars right here in the United States.  The original campaign captured, and inspired, the wanderlust of a generation that won a ferocious world war and defined the American century.  The legacy of this revitalized campaign is captured in the pages of this compact but completely inspired collection of crowd sourced prints by contemporary artists. This rebirth of See America easily rises to the occasion for a new generation.

Check out episode #52 of RV Family Travel Atlas (Get Ready to See America) for an in-depth interview with Creative Action Network co-counder Max Slavkin about the rebirth of the See America project.

8. Route 66: The Mother Road by Michael Wallis

Product Details

This is the ultimate pictorial scrapbook for those disciples who wish to worship on the mother road.  Wallis’s book is as thick as a cheeseburger from a roadside dinner in Winslow, Arizona and it, “takes us on an unforgettable journey through the secret corners and hidden towns of America’s most famous and beloved highway.” I spilled a gigantic smoothie on my first copy of this book and ordered another one ten minutes later–I just couldn’t imagine my coffee table without it.

9. The Lincoln Highway: Coast to Coast from Times Square to the Golden Gate by Michael Wallis and Michael S. Williamson

Product Details

Route 66 isn’t the only way to get your kicks on an epic road trip. The Lincoln Highway documents the heart and history of “a glorious highway” that was born in 1913 and “connected the bright lights of Broadway with the foggy shores of San Francisco.” That road still exists and if your considering traversing it, your journey should begin in the gorgeous pages of this quirky and utterly unique coffee table masterpiece.

RV and Camping History and Culture

10. From a Wooden Canoe: Reflections on Canoeing, Camping, and Classic Equipment by Jerry Dennis

Product Details

This delightful collection (and a personal favorite) is filled with sharply crafted essays about objects that are well made–like wooden canoes and wool hunting jackets, and things that are just as essential to outdoor life as oxygen–like camp coffee and cast iron. Jerry Dennis is personable and just as passionate about camping as you are. He is that camping buddy that we should all be lucky enough to have, and can have, at least on a trip through the pages of this fine book.

11. Under the Stars: How America Fell in Love with Camping by Dan White

Product Details

This wild and wacky history of America’s love affair with camping begins in New York State with William “Adirondack” Murray  and the birth of recreational camping and ends with the author renting a Class C motorhome and heading out into the Sonoran Desert in Arizona with his family. In between these adventures we read about John Muir and Theodore Roosevelt’s epic campout in the Yosemite, the birth of the Boy Scouts and the Girl Scouts, the history of Nylon, and how men like Dick Kelty used it to fill the wilderness with a new generation of Americans who desired to See America, not with automobiles, but instead by foot. The author is a colorful character who earns his place beside the campfire with these legends.

12. Heading Out: A History of American Camping by Terence Young

Camping nerds rejoice! You know who you are… This more academic history of American camping includes chapters with titles like “Liberalizing the Campground: W.J. Trent and the Struggle Against National Park Segregation.” If that sounds like your cup of percolated coffee, pull up a camp chair and get ready to get smart.  Terence Young is a professor of Geography at California State Polytechnic University and a camping historian–and this is his master class.

13. Winnebago Nation: The Peculiar Place of the RV in American Culture by James Twitchell

Terence Young is not the only professor to land a spot on our coveted and uber-intellectual reading list.  What Heading Out does for camping Winnebago Nation does for RVing. These two books would make the perfect pair for the camping intellectual on your list. Winnebago Nation is punchy and a bit cynical about RV culture and the RV tribe–but the book is entertaining and packed with some juicy tidbits about the history of Winnebago, the modern RV industry, and the dreamers who buy their products.

14. RV Capital of the World: A Fun Filled Indiana History by Al Hesselbart

Al Hesselbart joined us on episode #163 of RV Family Travel Atlas (The RV Capital of the World: A Fun Filled Indiana History) and mesmerized us with tales of classic RV’s and the zany entrepreneurs who put their fortunes on the line to build them.  This book is filled with stories and anecdotes about classic trailers like the Gilkie Camp King and the Continental Clipper and the modern companies that have transformed the RV industry, like  Thor and Forest River. But, perhaps most importantly, this is a story about a completely unique American industry whose latest chapters are just as interesting and compelling as its first.

15. Nomadland: Surviving America in the Twenty-First Century by Jessica Bruder

Product Details

Nomadland explores the dark side of RV culture by taking a close look at the “invisible casualties of the great recession” who have “taken to the road by the tens of thousands in late-model RVs, travel trailers, and vans.” Bruder’s scope is intentionally narrow and focuses on those who have few other economic options. This is decisively not a book about the growing number of adventurous “Digital Nomads”  who are doing just fine for themselves thank you very much.

Reference Books for Food, Travel, and Maintenance

16. Idiot’s Guides: RV Vacations by Stephanie Puglisi and Jeremy Puglisi

Product Details

Only a fool forgets to plug their own book. Idiot’s Guides: RV Vacations starts out with basic information for beginner’s about safety and convenience and campground “know how” before heading into an extensive section on trip planning. We recommend campgrounds, restaurants, and activities for 40 classic RV trips from coast to coast. The book includes “easy to use travel maps” and over 200 color photos. Make sure you buy two copies! One for your home library and one for the RV…

17. Route 66 Adventure Handbook by Drew Knowles

Product Details

While Route 66: The Mother Road (mentioned above) will get you inspired to motor west, this is the book to actually take with you.  Knowles’s handbook includes an oversized portion of quirky roadside attractions with side portions of “vintage motels and cafes,” and “amazing natural wonders.” This indispensable guide also includes 85 maps that help you “pinpoint points of interest” to help you get your kicks with style and efficiency.

18. The RV Book: Your Personal Guide to Understanding and Enjoying Your RV  by Mark Polk

Product Details

Mark Polk was born with a pair of Channellock pliers in his hands. Before starting RV Education 101 Mark was a Chief Warrant Officer 3 who specialized in wheeled and track vehicle fleet maintenance operations for the United States Army. The RV Book is a terrific primer on all things RV. It includes chapters on “RV Terminology,” “Maintaining your RV,” “Winterizing your RV,” and “RV Towing and Safety” among many others. Mark is a friendly guide for the newbie and expert alike, and this book should be purchased on the same day you bring home your first rig!

19. Roadfood: An Eater’s Guide to More than 1,000 of the Best Local Hot Spots and Hidden Gems Across America by Jane Stern and Michael Stern

Product Details

We love food, but with three young kids in tow, eating while traveling can be a challenge. We have learned that roadfood is the secret to successfully enjoying a local food culture. This definitive classic by Jane and Michael Stern should be kept in the glove compartment of every tow vehicle in America. We check its state by state recommendations on every RV trip and we have never been disappointed by its recommendations. In fact, whether its for Barbeque, burgers, chicken and waffles, or shrimp and grits, Roadfood has led us to our most epic and memorable meals.

We love this book so much it has been the topic of two RV Family Travel Atlas podcasts.

Check out a terrific interview with Michael Stern right here on episode #135 (Ready, Set, Road Food) and on episode #7 where we discuss our own philosophy of Roadfood as taught to us by the Sterns!

20. Campfire Cuisine: Gourmet Recipes for the Great Outdoors by Robin Donovan

This is the culinary guide for folks “who love good food and the great outdoors.” It includes over 100 recipes for campsite meals that are healthy and easy to make. Stephanie’s favorite recipes include the spice rubs, the make ahead pancake mix and the curry chicken salad sandwich. Jeremy has yet to use this book, but with his newly found love for camp cooking, and the vintage gas powered stove that he brought from craigslist, he plans on cracking it open very soon.

21. The 10 Best of Everything National Parks: 800 Top Picks from Parks Coast to Coast: by National Geographic and Fran Mainella

Product Details

This is the best reference book about National Parks that you have never read. It showcases “America’s best natural playgrounds” in an attractive full color book that includes over 800 top picks ranging from lodges, to swimming holes, to picnic spots, and even to picture perfect places where star-crossed lovers can say “I do.”

Travel Narratives

22. The Longest Road: Overland in Search of America from Key West to the Arctic Ocean by Philip Caputo

Philip Caputo gives the epic American cross country road trip an equally epic twist in this underappreciated travel classic. Instead of heading from East to West, Caputo starts towing his classic Airstream in Key West and heads all the way to the Arctic Ocean. His wife and two English setters make great company and so do the dozens of Americans that he interviews along the way. His constant question for them?  How do these United States, “peopled by every race on earth” stay united? Their answers are astonishing in scope and variety–much like the landscape of our great country.

23. Travels With Charley: In Search of America by John Steinbeck

Philip Caputo clearly had John Steinbeck’s classic Travels With Charley: In Search of America in mind when he wrote his own book. Steinbeck’s book has inspired generations of American travel writers and continues to do so. His son claims he made much of it up, but this is unsurprising considering he was a novelist at heart. Whether this is fact or fiction, travel narrative or novel, it still gets at the heart of what it means to be an American.

Religion/Philosophy

24. Life is a PIC-A-NIC: Yogi Bear’s Tips & Tricks for the Smarter than Average Bear by Yogi Bear with Earl Kress

“We want morsels not missiles!.”  Dope words of wisdom from our favorite bear.

‘Nuff Said.

Drop us a note and let us know what your favorite RV and Camping books are! Happy Reading Everybody!

23 Nov

RVFTA #169 2017 Holiday Gift Guide

On this episode of the RV Family Travel Atlas podcast, we are bringing you our 2017 Holiday Gift Guide. It’s our annual roundup of great gifts for all the RV enthusiasts that are on your holiday shopping list.

Also make sure to check out our very special 2017 Small Business Saturday Gift Guide for even more unique and creative RV-themed gifts.

Even though the most important part of the holiday season is spending time with our family and friends, we also know how fun it is to find that perfect gift for someone special. Here is a list of some of our favorite finds from the past year.

Segment One: Stephanie’s Holiday Gift Guide

Apple Watch ($199-$399)

Okay, this is a pricey one, but it’s also one of my very favorite things. My family got me one for Mother’s Day last spring, and I am completely addicted to this thing. Originally, I thought the Apple Watch was just an expensive fitness tracker, and I do adore the rings that I have to close everyday. But I was surprised at how it also helps me stay connected without a lot of the additional distractions of my cell phone. I can receive important texts or phone calls but not get tempted by email and social media when trying to disconnect.

The latest model, the Series 3, has cell and GPS capability. If you want to save a bit of money, go for the Series 2. I have been perfectly happy with it, and while it doesn’t have the cell service, it is waterproof…a much more important feature for a mom of young boys.

Sirius XM ($60 for 6 months)

We’ve been crushing on Sirius XM since we first got a free trial in a new car years ago. It was an on-again/off-again relationship, but now that our kids are a bit older, Sirius XM is a necessary part of the road trip experience.

We love that no matter where we are in the country, we can find music that everyone enjoys…at the same time. Plus, the sports, news, and comedy stations give us a much needed range of entertainment on long car drives.

This year we decided to splurge on the streaming package and now can access Sirius XM on our phones and computers, whether we are at home or at the campground. We use it every single day and would cancel cable before getting rid of our beloved satellite radio.

Beddy’s

If you follow us on Instagram or Facebook, you probably saw the post with our first Beddy’s set on the toy hauler Happy Jack bed. Making RV beds is quite the chore…RV bunks are a downright nightmare.

I have been aware of the Beddy’s product for awhile and have heard many RVers rave about how easy they are to make and how comfortable they are to sleep in. I finally had to find out for myself.

The verdict? Beddy’s are everything they are cracked up to be and more. I love that there is no more sloppy comforter hanging over the edge of the bed causing my RV OCD to go wild. I love even more that Theo is comfy cozy at night. He can easily zip up the bed in the morning before climbing down.

We have a special coupon code for RVFTA listeners. You can save 20% with the code RV Family at Beddys.com. Make sure you tag #rvfta in your Beddy’s pics!

Essential Oils Diffuser and Accessories

A couple of years ago, I started battling stinky boy odor in the RV by bringing along our oil diffuser. Now the whole family is hooked. We have a dedicated diffuser that lives in the RV and churns out peppermint, citrus, or lavender scents depending on our mood and time of day.

If your kids like a nightlight, you can get a diffuser that is illuminated. I like this one that is easily adjustable.

I also love my Evoon oils travel bag, so I can easily bring along and safely store whatever essential oils I’m in the mood for.

Essential Oil Diffuser Necklace from Red Cactus Design ($15)

I love no frills jewelry that fits in at the campground or out to dinner with my girlfriends. Red Cactus Designs has a ton of really beautiful pieces, but I particularly adore the essential oil diffuser necklace with a dragonfly etching. I can place a couple of drops of whatever oil I choose onto the terra cotta and then catch the scent all day long.

Cabela’s Women’s Wynter Boots ($99)

When we are camping in the winter, keeping my feet warm is my personal key to happiness. I was on the hunt for a super-warm boot that would also pass as reasonably stylish.

I found them.

These boots are waterproof with a Thinsulate lining. My feet are staying toasty, but I can wear them with a skinny jean and coat and not feel like Nanuk of the North. For the win.

And speaking of coats…

Cabela’s Coldspring Coat ($199)

I also wanted to break my habit of surviving the winter in a fashionable puffer coat that left me shivering if I wasn’t practically sitting in the campfire. I really dislike big, bulky winter coats, but I also dislike being cold. Humpff.

The Coldspring Coat manages to be warm without being overwhelming. I love, love, love the uneven hemline that dips in the back creating a very trendy profile.I’ve been wearing this coat with skinny jeans or leggings and all manner of shoes, and I haven’t felt like I was ready to trek to Greenland.

Segment Two: Jeremy’s Holiday Gift Guide

Coleman Triton InstaStart Two Burner Propane Stove

Jeremy has been claiming for a long time that he was going to learn how to make camp breakfast, but this was the year he finally did it. And like so many folks before him, he learned on a Coleman propane stove.

Cabela’s Outfitter Series Cast Iron Griddle

Jeremy didn’t consult me when buying a cheap, thin teflon coated griddle to make his pancakes. But the learning curve was steep and before long he had learned that you always cook with cast iron at the campground. Pair this cast iron griddle with the Coleman camp stove an you have a great gift for the camp cook in your life.

Don’t Call Them Trailer Trash, by John Bronkowski and Michael Closen ($19)

If you know someone who needs a little entertainment while their RV is winterized, get them this humorous coffee table book filled with pictures of vintage posters and RV-themed memorabilia.

Nebo Slide or Nebo Slyde King Flashlights ($25/$40)

Both of these flashlights have the same basic features, but one takes batteries and one is USB rechargeable, so you can choose based on personal preference. Its a 300 lumen flashlight and 200 lumen work light combination. There is a powerful magnetic base. Plus, Jeremy loves the packaging. Which is a pretty big deal.

Nite Ize Gearline Organizational System ($16)

We love their gear ties, and now we love this nifty contraption also. It’s a gear line made from rugged, wear-resistant webbing and you can hang it horizontally or vertically wherever you need to–in a tent, the RV storage bin, garage, or boat. There are a variety of carabiner clips and gear ties so you can switch it up according to what you need to store.

Southwire Surge Guard 34850 50 Amp ($299)

Every single RV owner should also have a surge guard. Southwire is a reputable family owned company in Georgia that has quite a reputation in home wiring across America. This Surge Guard is rated 120/240V, 50 A-3850 Joules. It continuously monitors and displays the voltage and amp draw, and protects against power surges, reverse polarity, and miswired pedestals.

UE Wonderboom Bluetooth Speaker ($85)

About the same size as a grapefruit, this bluetooth speaker takes up very little space but has a big 360-degree sound. We can play our music at the picnic table or campfire without broadcasting it to our campground neighbors. A small loop on the speakers allows us to hang it with a Nite Ize gear tie. Plus, it’s waterproof so we don’t have to worry about the common spilled beverage at our family dinner table.

Cabela’s Mens Roughneck Flannel Lined Stonewash Shirt ($42)

Warm, but not too warm. Casual, but easily dressed up. Jeremy and I rarely agree on his clothes, but we both love this shirt. It comes in a variety of colors, so you can get a couple and rotate through.

Cabela’s Men’s Pinnacle Gloves with Gore Tex ($75)

It’s the year of Gore Tex around these parts. It took us a while to realize that Gore Tex is possibly the most amazing thing in the whole wide world. First we fell in love with the rain coats…then it was the hiking boots. Now we’ve moved on to the seasonably appropriate Gore Tex glove. These are waterproof but breathable (of course) with PrimaLoft Gold insulation. A soft nylon cord goes around the wrist so you can take the gloves off without having to shove them in your pockets.

Segment Three: Under the RVFTA Christmas Tree

We really try hard to find gifts for the boys that will encourage their love of the outdoors and offer us an opportunity to have fun as a family. This year, we are giving them an archery set, so we can all learn a new hobby together.

We talked to some Outfitters at Cabela’s and they recommended the following gear to get us started. We’ll keep you posted as we go!

Genesis Camo Compound Bow Kit ($230)

Multiple Outfitters independently recommended this bow kit to us because they said it was great for young, beginning, or adult archery. The draw weight is adjustable from 10-20 pounds and the kit includes a belt, quiver, arm guard, and arrows.

Cabela’s Barricade Archery Target ($45)

You gotta give them something to aim for, right?

Polaroid Pic-300 Instant Film Camera ($65)

We are still on the fence about this one. The polaroid camera is back and our kids had a blast with this one that was highly recommended by some friends. However, we are not sure if our boys are into the camera enough to justify the purchase of polaroid film (an expense that could add up).

We wish you a very happy holiday season!

Stephanie + Jeremy

A big thanks to our sponsors for supporting weekly content for all our RV fools!

16 Nov

RVFTA #168: Small Business Saturday RV Holiday Gift Guide

On this week’s episode of the RV Family Travel Atlas podcast, we are celebrating folks that are very dear to our hearts–small business owners across America that sell awesome RV products.

We put together a list of some of our favorite things, plus we crowdsourced recommendations from our listeners.

Tis the season for gift giving and we want to help you find awesome gifts from amazing small businesses. By the end of this episode, you’ll have a shopping strategy that helps you feel good while doing good.

Two quick notes…
  1. RVFTA listeners love gear and gift guides and we love recommended some of our favorite things. We hope to make your gift giving a bit more inspired and fun. However, we also know that the most important part of the holiday season is celebrating the blessings of family and friends. Spending time with loved ones is the best gift of all…so make sure you put that on your shopping list!
  2. We do use affiliate links if they are available for products that we use, love, and recommend. This means that if you choose to buy through our link, we earn a small commission at no additional cost to you. Rest assured that 160% of those earning goes back into buying more gear to review.

Now onto the goodies…

Segment One: Small Businesses that We Love!

Camp Casual

Camp Casual 12-piece dish set

Camp Casual launched back in 2014 (the same year as RVFTA!) and we love every single product that they put out. Their blankets have become the most popular item in our home, and our boys will fight over them mercilessly. The mugs are under $20 and would make a great stocking stuffer for your hubby or wife, or gift for your camping buddy.

Camp Casual is offering our listeners code RVFTA17 to receive 20% off a serving bowl and servers set at campcasual.com!!

See America

We have See America prints hanging in multiple rooms of our house from our favorite places we have visited around the country. All the prints are crowd-sourced, so there are many different styles of art to choose from. Our favorite artist is Matt Brass, and you should seriously check out his stuff (who also designed our RVFTA logo!).

You can also get mugs, totes, the very awesome See America Calendar that we buy every year for our home office.

A big high five to See America for offering our listeners code SeeAmericaRV to receive 20% off of everything in the See America store. Right now they are also offering free shipping on orders over $100, and you can use both offers together!

Toas-Tite Pie Irons

We bought our first Toas-Tite about three years ago, and they are still one of our favorite campfire accessories. Cooking over the campfire is so much fun for kids, and Toas-Tites make it super tasty, too.

We do grilled cheese and pizzas most often, but the gift pack comes with creative recipe cards if you want to get fancy.

Brooke Birch Tea Shop

Podcast listener Angelita Bonita is renovating a vintage camper, and she has started a tea business to raise the necessary funds. We were lucky enough to sample a range of her tea blends and can’t wait to place our next order. Mint Medley, Sunshine in a Cup, and Nutritive Tea were our family favorites, but you can email Angelita at brookebirchtea@gmail.com for a complete tea list.

Andee Fagan’s Ravelry Shop

Andee Fagan creates knitting patterns that we would most certainly buy if either one of us knew how to knit. She created the “Going to the Mountains” hat pattern for our Tents for Troops fundraiser last year. Her site also has ear warmers, scarves, and sweaters. The Squish Starfish is a personal favorite. If you have a knitter on your list, a pattern and some yarn would be a lovely gift.

Luci Inflatable Solar Lights by MPowerd

Janine Pettit reviewed the Luci Inflatable Solar Lights over on the Girl Camper podcast, and we got to see them in action at her campsite. Luci Lights are inflatable, waterproof solar LED lights that are perfect for the campground.

Luci Lights are made by the company Empowered, which has a strong social conscience and donates these lights to people around the world that do not have reliable electricity. They have donated over 65,000 lights to areas that have been recently affected by natural disasters. What a wonderful company to support with your gift list dollars.

Segment Two: Specialty Treats from Your Travels

One of the best things about travel is finding those small business treasures in towns and cities across America. Sometimes we forget that many of those shops also do a pretty lively  shipping business online. One of our favorite things to do is order treats from places we discovered over the past year of RV travel.

You should considering doing this, also.  Think about the coffee, wine, beer, or food you enjoyed on one of your trips and make that your go-to gift for friends and coworkers this year.

I’m never in the mood to do Christmas shopping during the summer, nor do I want to cart around a bunch of gifts in my RV. No worries…just order online during the holiday season!

Here are some of our favorite travel finds that offer great online gift options…

Beanstock Coffee Roasters in Cape Cod, Massachusetts

Eastern Shore Coastal Roasting Company in Cape Charles, Virginia

Fiore Artisan Olive Oils and Vinegars in Bar Harbor, Maine

Chatham Vineyards on Church Creek in Machipongo, Virginia

Cape May Honey in Cape May, New Jersey

Cherry Republic in Glen Arbor, Michigan

Charleston House of Jerky in Charleston, South Carolina

Segment Three: Etsy for RVers

Let’s come clean right off the bat: neither of us is a big Etsy shopper by habit. But we stumbled upon the Making Something Happy Etsy shop over a year ago and were smitten with the dish towels and pillows.

In order to discover more hidden Etsy gems for the RV enthusiast, we reached out to our listeners in the RVFTA Facebook Group and loved all the great recommendations…

Paper Giraffe Shop

The Paper Giraffe Shop has customizable printables that you can download, print, and frame. We love this as an affordable gift idea for the kids to give to Mom!

Lizzie Fish Signs

Lizzy Fish Signs has customizable camping rule signs. The wooden signs are a variety of sizes, and RVers can write any rules they want on them. Sit by the fire, nap everyday, relax, etc (or never stop moving, talk very loudly, and demand daily camp store ice cream in the case of our family).

Back Roads Mama

Some folks hate how standard sheets don’t fit RV bunks, and Back Roads Mama has a solution. This Etsy shop sells camper bunk sheets with very fashionable patterns and designs. They might even pass muster with your preteen.

Rustic Metal Head

Rustic Metal Head created metal work with RV themes, including wall art and tea light holders. The shops features A-frames, pop ups, tear drops, and class A items. We are suspecting custom designs might be available for folks with other RVs.

Sew Lost Design

Lots of camping and RV themed gifts can be found in the Sew Lost Design Etsy shop. One of our podcast listeners recommended the Class C keychain that they purchased recently.

The Crafty Camper Vinyl

Vinyl decals for your RV, camper, or tow vehicle are all the rage right now, and you can get your customized one at The Crafty Camper Vinyl Etsy shop.

Creative Designs 77

Many people purchase a customized sign for their campsite before they even go camping at their first campground. Creative Designs 77 has custom wood signs that are colorful and fun.

Black River Wood Shop

Black River Wood Shop is another place you can find a custom sign for your campsite. These are a bit more rustic and classic than the Creative Designs 77 ones, so check both sites out to find your personal favorite.

Birch Fabrics

Okay, this isn’t an Etsy shop, but enough podcast listeners gave it a thumbs up so we wanted to include it. Birch Fabrics has high quality fabrics with camping-themed designs. If you are crafty and like to make your own gifts, this might be a great place for inspiration.

We are so grateful for all the small businesses that have made our RV experience a little more fun or a bit more tasty over the years. Oftentimes the most special, thoughtful gifts come from unexpected discoveries during our RV journeys.

We hope our small business gift guide helps you find a bit of inspiration for delighting your loved one during the holiday season.

From our family to yours…a very happy holiday season!

Stephanie + Jeremy

A big thanks to our sponsors for supporting content for all our RV fools!

02 Nov

RVFTA #166: The $1,000 Used Pop Up Camper

On this episode of the RV Family Travel Atlas podcast, we are telling the story behind our recent purchase of a $1,000 used pop up camper.

No, we didn’t get rid of the 2017 Jayco Octane 272. We just became a two-RV family.

Why on earth did we do that? We’ll go through the whole process from deciding to get a second RV to tracking down the perfect unit to negotiating a fair price to all of our plans for the remodel.

Segment One: The Used Pop Up Camper Hunt

There are many reasons why a used pop up camper was on our radar even though we just bought a brand spankin’ new toy hauler last winter.

The Octane toy hauler makes a ton of sense for us as a family, especially considering how much time we spend in our RV and how much gear we bring on our longer trips. However, the decision to go bigger came with some tradeoffs.

Heads up: everything comes with trade offs…

We now have to store our Octane away from our house, and quick weekend trips are more of a challenge. Plus, there are many rustic public campgrounds that are simply off limits to a rig that is over 30 feet.

I (Stephanie) also have the opportunity to attend lots of girl camper events. There is no way I would tow the enormous family camper to one of those weekend campouts. That would be ridiculous for too many reasons to list.

Plus…

We decided to put our money where our mouth is. We made a big mistake 8 years ago when we spend too much money on a new pop up camper and then took a financial hit when upgrading to a travel two years later. We highly recommend that listeners think about a used pop up as an affordable and fun way to enter into the RV lifestyle.

Think of this pop up camper as a living example of us practicing what we preach: cheap, used pop up campers are awesome.

In this first segment of the podcast, we also discuss all the budget and spec parameters we placed on our hunt, including a very strict dollar limit and a total ban on Craigslist.

The search took about two months, and plenty of our lowball offers were rejected. But ultimately, we came home with a used pop up camper that hit all the checkmarks on our list. You can listen to the episode to hear all the details.

Segment Two: Penny the $1000 Used Pop Up Camper

Penny the Pop Up is a 1996 Jayco Eagle Series 8 pop up camper. You can click here to see the entire PDF brochure from Jayco for this series of pop up campers.

We were looking for something small, simple, and in fabulous condition, and Penny hit the mark in all these categories.

A little safety maintenance work was in order immediately. We brought the pop up directly to a local trailer supply shop to have her axle inspected and lubed, plus we had safety chains welded on.

Some of our plans for Penny’s refresh include:

  • Reupholstering the cushions
  • Slip covers for the beds
  • Replacing curtains
  • Laying new flooring
  • Installing a Porti Potti closet
  • Cleaning the exterior and refreshing the decals

Stay tuned for updates on all these projects. We’ll definitely be keeping our winterization blues in check by having fun with our inexpensive used pop up camper!

We also chat about how Penny got her name…and how the Octane Toy Hauler was finally named as a direct result.

Additional Information: RV News Minute and RVFTA News Roundup

Other information and links mentioned in this episode include…

Other RVFTA Pop Up Camper Episodes include…

Tips for Buying A Used Pop Up Camper with the Pop Up Princess

RV Makeover 101 with the Pop Up Princess

An Ode to the Pop Up Camper

And our second podcast episode EVER: Pros and Cons of a Pop Up Camper

See you at the campground!

Stephanie + Jeremy

A great, big thanks to our sponsors who support weekly content for all our RV fools…

28 Sep

RVFTA #161 Say Hello to ROVA Magazine!

We’ve been talking about our love affair with ROVA since the magazine launched it’s first issue back in Spring of 2017.We adore the idea of more RV media geared toward a new generation of traveler, and we were impressed by the content.

So on this episode of the RV Family Travel Atlas podcast, we invited editor-in-chief Gemma Peckham onto the show to talk about how ROVA came into existence.

Segment One: The Origin Story

In our first segment, Gemma talks about her move from Australia to New York City, and how she convinced folks that a magazine for young, nomadic millennials would be a viable publishing endeavor.

Segment Two: The Adventures

In our second segment, we dive into the content of the first three ROVA Adventures. We talk about some of our favorite articles and what makes the stories in ROVA stand out in world of travel writing.

RVFTA News Roundup

Other topics discussed in this issue include…

  • Celebrating Campground of the Week’s 100th episode with the 10 most popular campground reviews.
  • Big thanks to the friendly RVFTA community in New Mexico! Stay tuned for more content about our stay on next week’s episode.
  • Check out episode #103 of the Girl Camper podcast, where Janine Pettit gives tips for fun RV DIY projects. This episode is for everyone, not just the girls.

Make sure you head over to ROVA and subscribe before you miss the next adventure! You can also find some pretty sweet RV travel eye candy over on the ROVA IG account.

A big thanks to our sponsors for supporting weekly content for all our RV fools…

21 Sep

What Can You Get for Your Money? Show Pricing at the Hershey RV Show 2017

On this week’s episode of the RV Family Travel Atlas podcast, we are looking at some select models from the 2017 Hershey RV Show in Hershey, Pennsylvania. Budget is king when shopping for an RV, so this year we decided to take a good look at the numbers and share what you can buy at a variety of different price points.

From small travel trailers to gas Class A motorhomes to luxury Class B vans, we’ll talk about our favorite picks from a range of manufacturers. Plus we’ll share MSRP and show pricing on every model, so you can get an idea of the deals that are out there right now.

Segment One: Featured Travel Trailers

Listen to episode #160 to hear more details about all of these models.

Pick #1: Forest River RPod T179

This is a great floor plan from America’s number one selling lightweight travel trailer.

MSRP: $23,541.75

Show Price: $16,500

Pick #2: Grand Design Imagine 2400BH

Want the elusive ‘under 30 feet’ bunk model with private master bedroom? This is your unicorn.

MSRP: $33,834

Show Price: $26,782

Pick #3: Jayco White Hawk 25FK

The front kitchen with huge window is the star of the show in this unit.

MSRP: $35,375

Show Price: $25,994

Segment Two: Featured Motorized Units

Listen to episode #160 to hear more details about all these models.

Pick #4: Coachmen Prism 2200 (Class C)

This floor plan makes 22 feet feel downright spacious.

MSRP: $119,155

Show Price: $87,892

Pick #5: Winnebago Vista 32YE (Gas Class A)

An affordable way to get into a Class A.

MSRP: $134,337

Show Price: $96,999

Pick #6: Airstream Atlas

Stunning luxury, design, and price point.

MSRP: $219,000

Show Price: $199,000

Other Episode Information…

Check out our Facebook Live video’s from the Hershey RV Show…

Check out the Winnebago new product launches:

Thanks to our sponsors for supporting weekly content for all our RV fools!

See you at the RV Show!

Stephanie + Jeremy

 

14 Sep

RVFTA 2017 Fall Gear Guide!

It’s that time of year again…time for us to round up and share some of the best new gear that we have been using during the 2017 camping season. Our gear guides are some of our most popular episodes, and it’s always exciting to recommend products that have brought value to our RV experience over the past year.

We have been doing gear guides in the fall and spring for the last three years, so if you’ve missed any, check them out on the blog or in the iTunes store. Looking back, we can honestly say we still regularly use so many of the products we have talked about over the years. In fact, we are seriously considering a Best of the Best Gear Guide in the near future!

Segment One: Our Fall Gear Guide Picks

In the first segment of the RVFTA 2017 Fall Gear Guide, we review about a dozen of our favorite new products this year. We’ve listed them below, and you can click on the picture or the product name to bring you to a place of purchase! A reminder that online prices change frequently, so there may be some fluctuation between the price we list and the one you find.

Pocket Hose Top Brass Bullet Expanding Hose, $44.99

Brass Hose Splitter wth 2-Way Shut off Valve, $9.99

Thetford Porta Potti 320P, $106.00

Accutire Digital Tire Pressure Gauge, $12.00

Emotion Guster 10 Kayaks, $349.99

Stanley Fatmax Rechargable Spotlight, $49.99

Olympus TG-5 Waterproof Camera, $449.00

Cabela’s Six-Compartment Camp Cupboard, $99.99

Dual Height, Three-Shelf Camp Cupboard, $59.99

Not in My Backyard Fabric Wearable Wristbands and Inserts, $14.99

Clear2O Water Filter Pitcher, $32.99

Camp Casual Sequoia Blanket, $89.99

Segment Two: Brett’s Picks from the Outdoor Retailer Show 

AfterShokz Trekz Titanium Wireless Bluetooth Headphones, 129.95

Bubi Bottle, 22 oz, $26.99

JBL Flip 4 Waterproof Portable Bluetooth Speaker, $91.00

Stops the Sting by Mountain Mike Remedies, $6.99

Mid Land Micro Mobile GMRS Radio, $149.99

DrinkTank Keg Cap Accessory Kit, $45.00

A big thanks to our sponsors for supporting content for all our RV fools!

We will see you at the campground!

Stephanie + Jeremy

 

07 Sep

RVFTA #158 RV Show Shopping 101

September brings cooler temperatures, back to school routines, and the official opening of RV Show Season at the Hershey RV Show in Pennsylvania. RV shows can bring amazing educational experiences and fantastic buying deals for consumers, but they can also leave some folks feeling overwhelmed and exhausted.

So we decided to compile all our RV Show Shopping tips in one single episode to help you make the most of your RV show visit this year. Listen to hear our advice that will be applicable no matter where you are on your shopping journey.

To download a RV research and recording sheet created by RVFTA listener Heather Anderson, click here.

Segment One: General RV Show Tips

In this segment we did into the basics for all of the larger RV shows. We have seen even the most seasoned RVers overwhelmed when confronted with acres of rigs and no clear game plan. We chat about…

  • Planning ahead
  • Being prepared
  • Creating goals and objectives
  • Talking to the right people
  • And much, much more

Segment Two: Different Types of Shoppers

In the second segment, we talk about the different types of shoppers at RV shows and offer our best tips for making the most out of your visit no matter where you are in your RV journey. We break it down into the following categories…

  • Dreamers and Newbies
  • Ready for the upgrade
  • Ready to buy

Your time at an RV show will look dramatically different depending on which category you fit into. We’ve got a RV pep talk for everyone!

Segment Three: RVFTA News Roundup

Our own RV Show season kicks off at the Hershey RV Show, where we will be hanging out at the Jayco display during the following times:

  • Thursday, September 14th, 5-6 pm
  • Friday & Saturday, September 15-16th, 2-3:30 pm

Plus, we will be at the Florida RV SuperShow in Tampa from January 17th-21st. Mark your calendars and join us!!! You can find more info here.

A big thanks to our sponsors for supporting weekly content for all you RV fools…



See you at the RV Show!

Stephanie + Jeremy

01 Sep

RVFTA #157 The New RV Learning Curve

Our longtime listeners know that we bought a new RV last winter and made the big leap from a bunkhouse travel trailer to a toy hauler. Well, we spent a few dozen nights camping in it already, and we’re ready to share some of our initial impressions.

If you want to check out our reflections on our previous White Hawk travel trailer, and listen to our expectations for the Octane SL 272, you can tune in to episode #120 Saying Goodby to our Jayco White Hawk Travel Trailer and episode #121 Saying Hello to our Jayco Octane Superlite Toy Hauler. If you would like a visual of our RV floor plan, check out the details here.

Segment One: The New RV Blues

We are being super honest here and sharing some experiences that caught us by surprise. The cold, hard truth? Our last travel trailer was awesome, gave us no major problems, and was completely customized to our family’s storage and travel needs. It came as somewhat of a shock to realize that the excitement of buying a new RV was somewhat tempered by the work involved in learning the new systems and organizing the new space.

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31 Jul

Which RV is Right For Me: RVFTA Quick Guide

If you are shopping for your first (or next!) RV, the good news is that there are a ton of great choices out there right now. However, the number of options can be quite overwhelming.

On this special episode of RV Family Travel Atlas, developed exclusively for Go RVing, we are helping you find your perfect RV, starting with a break down of each RV ‘type’.

From towables to motorized units, we will describe each major type of RV, plus give some of the reasons it may or may not be the right fit for you.

We wrap up the episode by adding a few of our own tips for smart RV shopping.

You can take a look at the pictures below while listening to get a better idea of the RV features that we discuss. We also highly recommend checking out Go RVing’s Compare RVs page, where you can learn more about each RV type and also get some personalized feedback using the Find My RV tool.

 

 

We believe the perfect RV is out there just waiting for you to bring it on some amazing adventures. But for now, enjoy the shopping part of your RV journey!

And soon enough, we’ll see you at the campground.

Stephanie + Jeremy

Pop Up Camper

Hybrid Travel Trailer

Conventional Travel Trailer

Fifth Wheel

Class B

Class C

Class A

20 Jul

RVFTA #151 The Rise of the Park Model

Say goodbye to the yesterday’s manufactured home! Today’s seasonal-centric campgrounds are often comfortable and well-appointed RV resorts, filled with residential park models that are packed with creature comforts at affordable price points. Seasonal camping has become more popular than ever. So after you have pulled the trigger on that perfect campground retreat, a park model may not be too far in the future.

On this week’s episode of RV Family Travel Atlas we are going to take a closer look at this growing segment of RV sales.  Our special guest is Amy Duthie, senior director of product development for Jayco. We invited Amy onto the podcast to educate us about her “Bungalow” line of park models, and this segment of the industry in general. (To learn even more about Amy, click here!)

Amy will answer questions about:

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06 Jul

Episode #149 Pros and Cons of a Fifth Wheel

It’s been a long time coming, but now its finally here! Our EXTRA HUGE Pros and Cons of a Fifth Wheel episode! If you have ever wondered if a fabulous fiver might be right for your family, then this episode is for you.

We will talk about the best aspects of the fifth wheel, such as:

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07 Jun

9 Great Father’s Day Gifts for the Camping and RVing Dad

In honor of Father’s Day, Jeremy joined Janine Pettit over on episode #87 of the Girl Camper podcast to discuss great gifts for the camping Mister Sister. Listen to the podcast below to hear Jeremy describe each product in detail, and find links to all the products below…

Petzel Tikka 200 Lumens headlamp, 29.99 with Rechargable battery, $22 and Noctilight Case, $19.99

Check out Jeremy’s demo here…

Grand Trunk Hammock, $69.99 

Estwing Camper’s Axe, $32

The Ultimate Hikers Gear Guide by Andrew Skurka, $12

Cabela’s XPG Hiking Socks for Men, 14.99

 

National Park Posters by Robert Decker, $30

Polar Cap Equalizer Cooler, $199-$399

Rigid 4.5 ShopVac 5.0 Horsepower Wet/Dry Vac, $99

Stanley FatMax rechargeable spotlight, $50

 

What are you planning on getting for the Mister Sister in your life? Don’t worry…we’ll keep your secret.

And to all those dads out there that take their kids camping: good work, guys!

See you at the campground!

25 May

RVFTA #143 Tips for Buying a Used Pop Up Camper with the Pop Up Princess

Photos courtesy of The Pop Up Princess

For many folks buying a used pop up camper is the easiest and most affordable way to jump into the RV lifestyle. There are many reasons why a pop up camper is a great way to get your feet wet, since they are so easy to tow and super easy to store.

However, the process of shopping for a used pop up camper can be a bit overwhelming. Inexperienced shoppers often make mistakes that end up costing a ton of money and a ton of time.

Lucky for us the Pop Up Princess came onto the podcast to guide us through the exciting but daunting experience of searching for the perfect used pop up camper. Larissa Richardson has seen a ton of pop up camper remodels, and she knows what she is talking about.

The Hunt for a Used Pop Up Camper

In the first segment, Larissa talks about all the things you need to research and decide before shopping for a used pop up camper. Important points include:

  • Current tow capacity
  • desired features
  • budget
  • deal breakers

Inspecting a Used Pop Up Camper before Purchase

In the second segment, Larissa walks us through her amazing checklist of all the things you should inspect before purchasing a used pop up camper. Seriously, everyone should be armed with this PDF checklist before going to check a rig out. We discuss:

  • roof
  • flooring
  • lift systems
  • canvas
  • electric
  • appliances
  • AND MORE!!!

Words of Experience

Folks who have been following the RVFTA story for a while know that we started out with a pop up camper and made a lot of very common mistakes in our RV journey. In the last segment of the show, we discuss some of our best advice for making sure you don’t wind up with a camper (or tow vehicle!) that doesn’t suit your family or your budget.

We still believe that a used pop up camper is an amazing way to begin your family’s RV adventure. If fact, our number one piece of advice to people sitting on the fence is to find an inexpensive used pop up camper and just give it a try. Even if you HATE it (which you won’t) you will probably be able to sell the camper at the end of the season for at least what you paid.

To see more of our advice on pop up campers, check out:

You can also visit our RVFTA Facebook Group, where lots of friendly folks will answer any questions you have about looking for that perfect pop up camper.

Thanks to our sponsors for supporting weekly content for all our RVing fools:

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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