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

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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

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

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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!

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22 Nov

Shopping for the RV Enthusiast: RVFTA Holiday Gift Guides from the Past

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Are you excited about the 2016 RVFTA Holiday Gift Guide???? We certainly are!

The 2016 Holiday Gift Guide podcast will be released this Friday, November 25th and it is jam packed with something for everyone on your list. But in the meantime, we thought we would give a shout out to our Holiday Gift Guides from 2014 and 2015. Looking back at these products, there are so many items that we still love and use all the time.

In fact, we will be talking about some of our all-star favorites on this year’s episode!

So want to get a jump start on the giving? Check these posts out…

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04 Nov

RVFTA #113 Casita Dean and the Invasion of the Egg People

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On this episode of RV Family Travel Atlas, we are diving into the fascinating and quirky world of molded fiberglass travel trailers, otherwise known as egg campers. These RVs have their very own cult following, so we went to the source and invited a Casita owner onto the show to dish on the drama of researching, buying, and camping in a fiberglass trailer.


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Dean May, and his wife Laura, bought a 2005 Casita 17′ Freedom Deluxe travel trailer just last year. They are recent empty nesters looking forward to retirement in about 10 years. A few years ago, they never imagined themselves as RV owners, but that all changed with one fateful group text between Dean and his brothers and brothers-in-law. In this episode, we will learn the story behind their egg camper purchase, and the journey to finding the perfect tow vehicle to haul it.

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01 Nov

4 Steps to a Better Cup of Campground Coffee (Lifelanes Progressive Blog)

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Coffee and camping seem to go together like peanut butter and jelly. They are both absolute staples in our RV, at least.
We have been through a lot of changes in our coffee making equipment since we starting RVing six years ago, but one thing always remains the same: every morning at the campground must start with a steaming mug of java.

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One of our most popular podcasts ever was Camp Coffee 101, and our listeners keep asking us when we are doing Camp Coffee 102.

It’s coming…we promise!

But in the meantime, if you need your camp coffee education fix, we wrote a post for the Progressive Lifelanes blog on 4 Steps to a better cup of coffee. We want you to check all four of these boxes before we start bringing you the more advanced stuff in the near future.

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Want some other great coffee content? Our awesome forum members have weighed in on what they use when at the campground. And you can revisit Stephanie’s musings on what happens when the love of your life starts drinking coffee for the first time in his life…at the age of 35!

We will also be sharing some new coffee brewing gear on the upcoming RVFTA Holiday Gift Guide. And here’s a hint…Jeremy might be ready to ditch that French Press that has been traveling with us for the last two years. Stay tuned for the all the details and the drama. Believe us, cleaning out that French Press does count as drama.

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And if you are completely good to go with brewing your camp coffee, but just want a sweet new mug to put it in…use our coupon code RVFTA2 for 15% off of Camp Casual’s adorable mugs. Or you can do the responsible thing, and start your holiday shopping early!

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See you at the campground,

Stephanie

27 Oct

RVFTA #112 RV Winterization 101 with Quality Mobile RV

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On this episode of the RV Family Travel Atlas podcast, we are talking about the most unpopular topic for RV enthusiasts: winterization. Some of you down there in the sun belt might be doing the happy dance right now, but many of us are closing up the camper and shutting down the travel until next spring.

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We here at RVFTA want to make sure you do it right. So we are sharing our tips for safely storing the RV through the perils of winter weather. Check out our article for the Progressive Lifelanes blog to see all our tips for shutting down the RV and making sure you don’t get any surprises when you open up again in the spring!

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Plus we invited our maintenance experts Julie and Lazlo Sears of Quality Mobile RV in Mansfield, Texas. They are going to walk us through the process of winterizing the right way. Here at RVFTA, we know that anyone can find the directions for anything on the internet, but we believe strongly  in listening to and learning from the experts.

Julie and Lazlo run an RV mobile repair business, and take the education of their customers very seriously. Lucky for us, they also have created resources that we can use as well! Here is the winterization video that goes hand in hand with our interview on this episode:

To check out more of their RV maintenance videos, download the RV Tube app available for iOS and Android devices. You can also find Quality Mobile RV on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

Other topics mentioned in the News Roundup include:

You might think you can squeeze in a few more camping trips before putting on the cover, but we know that time is ticking for many of our listeners in the US and Canada. Cozy up and enjoy Episode 112: RV Winterization with Quality Mobile RV

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

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25 Oct

Go RVing and RVFTA Satellite Media Tour: Video Footage!

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Back in July, Jeremy and I had the pleasure of doing a Satellite Media Tour to publicize the release of our book, The Idiot’s Guide to RV Vacations. Go RVing was kind enough to host the event, and we broadcast from the amazing resort campground Normandy Farms in Foxboro, Massachusetts.

For those of you who aren’t quite sure what a Satellite Media Tour is (like us before we did one!!!), it’s basically like an old fashioned book tour meets speed dating.

News organizations from all over the country signed up for slots to interview us during their morning programs. We appeared on over 20 stations across the country in a period of about 4 hours…without even leaving the campground. Amazingly enough, it went off without a hitch.

We can’t thank Go RVing enough for handling all the logistics that went into making this happen. Everyone we worked with was amazingly kind and patient even though we had zero television experience. They produced this clip video of the event, and we wanted to share since many of you were bummed you didn’t get to see us on live television that morning.

In the video we mention that Go RVing is a great resource for newbies looking to purchase their first RV. We really believe this. We used the site ourselves back when we were shopping for our first pop up, and still recommend it to our listeners and readers.

Now all we need to do is write that next book. We’re on it…

14 Oct

RVFTA #110 Say Hello to Winnebago Towables

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On this podcast episode of RV Family Travel Atlas, we are taking our listeners back to Middlebury, Indiana and talking to Mark Gerber, the Director of Marketing for Winnebago Towables. Mark gave our family an awesome tour of the factory during our visit, and then sat down to chat about what’s in the future for this iconic RV manufacturer.

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Plus, we know many of our listeners heard the news last week that Winnebago acquired Grand Design, the 5-year old RV manufacturer that has caused quite a splash in the industry over a very short period of time (you can read the press release here). So we called Sam Jefson, Public Relations Specialist at Winnebago, and talked about why Grand Design was such a good fit for an iconic RV company, and what kinds of products we might expect in the future.

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29 Sep

RVFTA #108 Say Hello to the Jayco Hummingbird!

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On this week’s episode of the RV Family Travel Atlas podcast, we are talking about one of the latest tiny trailers to explode onto the RV scene, The Hummingbird by Jayco. Since it became available just months ago, the Hummingbird has sold more units than anyone at Jayco ever expected. We sat down with the product designer, John Fisher and talked about why this small RV is getting such a big response.

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18 Sep

Hershey RV Show: RVFTA Takeaway

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We are at the 2016 Hershey RV Show, and are releasing four extra special podcasts over the course of the show, featuring some of the new and exciting RV’s that are being rolled out for the upcoming show.

All of these podcasts are sponsored by our friends at Progressive Insurance, and we are thrilled they sent us to the show to gather great RV intel for our listeners and readers. To learn more, you can visit them at Progressive.com/rv or call 1-800-Progressive.

On our fourth and final special edition podcast, we are sharing our takeaways from the Hershey RV Show. After chatting with hundreds of shoppers and manufacturers’ reps, and looking through hundreds of RVs, we saw some themes emerge. There is a lot to look forward to during the 2017 RV Shopping season and we can’t wait to cover it!

The four major takeaways that we discuss on this episode are…

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17 Sep

Hershey RV Show: RV’s for the Larger Family

 

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We are here at the 2016 Hershey RV Show, and are releasing four extra special podcasts over the course of the show, featuring some of the new and exciting RV’s that are being rolled out for the upcoming season.

All of these podcasts are sponsored by our friends at Progressive, and we are thrilled they sent us to the show to gather great RV intel for our listeners and readers. To learn more, you can visit them at Progressive.com/rv or call 1-800-Progressive!

On this third “almost live” Hershey podcast episode we are discussing some great floor plan options for larger families.  After we had our third child we quickly realized that our RV options had shrunk dramatically because so many floorpans are designed for families of four. So for those of you that have three or more lively little campers–this one’s for you!

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16 Sep

Hershey RV Show: The Bling is the Thing!

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We are here at the 2016 Hershey RV Show, and are releasing  four extra special podcasts over the course of the show, featuring some of the new and exciting RV’s that are being rolled out for the upcoming season.

All of these podcasts are sponsored by our friends at Progressive, and we are thrilled they sent us to the show to gather great RV intel for our listeners and readers. To learn more, you can visit them at Progressive.com/rv or call 1-800-Progressive!

On this second Hershey podcast episode we are discussing some of the blingiest class A diesel pushers at the Hershey RV Show. For those who are looking for the high-end luxury motorhome, here are three models that stood out as best in show.

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