18 May

RVFTA #142 Hiking 101 with Andrew Skurka

Hiking 101 with Andrew Skurka

As new parents, it was difficult for us to imagine how we were ever again going to enjoy outdoor adventures. Thank goodness we discovered the magic off hiking. Hiking has been the perfect family activity since we can vary the level of difficulty while still exploring the natural beauty of a destination.

We know a lot of our listeners would like to try hiking for the first time, or just do a bit more  of it over the course of the travel season. So we invited hiking expert Andrew Skurka, author of The Ultimate Hiker’s Gear Guide: Tools and Techniques to Hit the Trail.

Andrew Skurka was named “Adventurer of the Year” by Outside Magazine and National Geographic, so this guy clearly has some serious hiking chops. However, he can also bring it down to a beginner’s level, and he does that very well in the introduction to his book…and on this episode of the RVFTA podcast.

Finding Your Why

Andrew starts off by talking about the three most important questions that any hiker needs to ask:

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04 May

RVFTA #140 Kate Gets Her Kicks on Route 66: RVing the Mother Road from Ventura, California to Amarillo, Texas

On this podcast episode of RV Family Travel Atlas, Kate Dunbar of KatesCuriousKitchen.com gives us a fabulous trip planner for one of the most popular stretches of Route 66. Kate traveled 1,862 miles over the course of 7 days with her 1962 Shasta SC and stayed in 6 campgrounds as a solo woman traveler. We get to hear all the great details on the show.

Kate started her adventure in Ventura, California and journeyed on the Mother Road all the way to Amarillo, Texas. Listen to hear reviews of the campgrounds she stayed in, stops she enjoyed along the way, and restaurants that met her very high standards!

All of the places she reviews are linked below…

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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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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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13 Apr

RVFTA #137 Meet the 2017 North American Camper

On this episode of the RV Family Travel Atlas podcast, we are diving into the North American Camping Report, an annual independent study supported by Kampgrounds of America.

If you want to take a more in depth look, or follow along while listening to the podcast, you can find the entire report here. You can also check out our episodes on the 2015 North American Camping Report and the 2016 North American Camping Report.

Yeah, it’s kind of a tradition…

Segment One

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06 Apr

RVFTA #136 Spring Camping Resolutions 2017

On this episode of RV Family Travel Atlas, we are having fun with one of our favorite RVFTA traditions: talking about our resolutions for the upcoming 2017 camping season. What do we want to do more of? What do we want to do less of? And what do we want to try for the very first time?

Setting goals for our family’s time in the RV and at the campground helps us think about what works in the past and what we want to change. It has become a fantastic way to kick off a season of travel.

In case you missed them, check out our Spring Camping Resolution episodes from 2016 and 2015, also!

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30 Mar

RVFTA Episode #135: Ready, Set, Road Food!

RV Family Travel Atlas Podcast Episode #135:

Ready, Set, Road Food!

On this episode of the RV Family Travel Atlas Podcast, we are checking off a bucket list item and interviewing Micheal Stern, co-author of Road Food: An Eater’s Guide to More than 1,000 of the Best Local Hot Spots and Hidden Gems Across America. The 10th edition of this classic book was just released, and we asked Michael to come on the show and talk about his forty years of traveling around the country and reporting on the best road food joints out there.

We have personally traveled with Road Food in each of our campers since day one, and it has led us to some of the best BBQ joints and lobster shacks in America. If you don’t have a copy yet, we don’t know what you are waiting for.

In Segment One, we chat with Michael Stern about the evolution of food writing over the last forty years. He takes us back to the beginning, when they struggled to get publishers to buy into the idea that readers would be interested in ‘regular’ food.

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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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09 Mar

RVFTA #132 Say Hello to Highway West Vacations

On this episode of RV Family Travel Atlas, we are introducing you to Highway West Vacations, a company with 12 luxury resort campgrounds spread out across the great American West.

We were first introduced to this brand when Kate Dunbar reviewed the Flying Flags RV Resort over on Campground of the Week last year. Kate raved about this place, and we knew it was worth checking out.

Well the more we learned, the more we became convinced that Highway West Vacations has it’s finger on the pulse of campground resort trends. So we invited Didiayer Snyder, Director of Marketing and Sales, onto the show to tell us more about this growing brand.

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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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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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16 Feb

RVFTA #129 Greetings from the Wizarding World of Harry Potter at Universal Studios Florida

RVFTA #129: Greetings from the Wizarding World of Harry Potter at Universal Studios, Florida

On this episode of RV Family Travel Atlas, we are talking about our recent trip to the Wizarding World of Harry Potter at Universal Studios in Orlando, Florida. Harry Potter is a pretty big deal in our family right now, so we decided to cheat on Mickey and spend a day exploring Diagon Alley and Hogsmeade.

We will walk you through planning your trip to Universal Studios, plus discuss some strategies for enjoying a theme park known for long lines and expensive ticket prices.

Segment One: Planning and Preparation

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08 Feb

RVFTA #128: Greetings from Walt Disney World, the Most Magical Place on Earth

On this episode of RV Family Travel Atlas, we are reporting on our fabulous trip to Walt Disney World in Orlando, Florida. After hanging out at the Florida RV SuperShow, we couldn’t leave the Sunshine State without paying Mickey and his friends a little visit.

So we rented an RV from Lazydays in Tampa, reserved a site at Fort Wilderness Campground, and brought our boys to the most magical place on earth.

Listen to hear all about our planning and preparations, our first experience with an RV rental, and our favorite park rides and dining treats.


To hear the complete scoop on our trip, you can also listen to Campground of the Week Episode #67, which has our in-depth review of Fort Wilderness Campground.

Podcast Segment One: Planning and Preparation

First, a disclaimer: This is not an insiders’ guide to everything Disney. There are entire books, blogs, and podcasts devoted to exploring every nook and cranny of the this place. To be honest, we think it’s a bit overkill.

So we are breaking it down, and keeping it simple. Want to go to Disney and have a great time? We have you covered!

  1. People talk about how much planning you have to do before a trip to Disney. We agree, up to a point. Campsite reservations, dining reservations, and FastPass+ reservations should all be booked as early as possible if you want to nab your favorites!
  2. Balance a schedule with flexibility. Having a flexible game plan is crucial to enjoying Walt Disney World without getting burned out. We had our park mornings scheduled with reserved FastPasses, but after lunch we had a general, less strict game plan and could adjust to crowds and our kids.
  3. Don’t get carried away with dining reservations. We did two dining experiences (Hoop-Dee-Doo Musical Revue and Chef Mickey) on days that we were not visiting the parks. That freed up our park time to focus on the activities and attractions that we wanted to see. In the Magic Kingdom, we kept it casual and ate at Pinnochio Village Haus. In Epcott, we had a fun lunch in Germany.
  4. Take advantage of the FastPass +, and book your reservations 60 days in advance. We didn’t book a FastPass for the most popular ride we wanted to experience, opting to head right to that option when we arrived in the park (Space Mountain, Soarin’, etc.). Then we booked three FastPasses back to back between 9:30-12:00 pm. Once they were used up, we were free to add one Fastpass at a time for the rest of the day. This strategy worked perfectly for us.
  5. Download the My Disney Experience App. Disney has done a great job with this app, and it really does make managing all your plans and reservations a complete breeze. We wish we had an app like this to manage our daily life.

Podcast Segment Two: Our Lazydays RV Rental Experience

One of the most exciting parts about this trip was having our first experience with renting an RV. Lazydays is the largest RV dealership in the world, and they have a location in Tampa right near where we were staying at the Florida RV SuperShow. They also happen to have a great fleet of Class A and Class C motorhomes that are available for rent.

The Lazydays website is very user friendly, and you can easily browse through the rental options that they have. Price and floor plans are clearly displayed, and we love that they offer a large range of price points with a budget option of $150/day up to luxury options at $500/day. There is unlimited miles, unlimited generator use, and a 3-day minimum for all rentals.

We used a Class C bunk house model (much like this one here), which costs between $200-$275/day, depending on the specific model. Added to our premium campsite fees, that placed the total cost of our accommodations as comparable to staying in a hotel suite or condo, which would be necessary for our family of five.

Listen to hear more of our discussion about budget and cost, plus what we thought about our first Class C experience.

Bottom line? This was an amazing way to stay at Fort Wilderness, and renting an RV was a better experience than we even imagined it would be. We will be writing more on how we packed and planned for an RV rental vacation in the future. Stay tuned!

Podcast Segment Three: The Parks

On this trip, we spent a day in Magic Kingdom, a day in Epcott, a day at Universal Studios, and a day at Fort Wilderness. We decided that we wanted to completely cover Universal Studios and Harry Potter world, so stay tuned for that episode in the future.

Magic Kingdom:
  • Take the boat from Fort Wilderness. This is an amazing way to start and end each day at the Magic Kingdom.
  • Get there early. The difference between crowds at 9 am and 11 am is unbelievable. Suck it up, Buttercup, and set the alarm. It’s worth it.
  • Go immediately to the most popular ride you wish to enjoy. At 9 am, the wait for Space Mountain was 5 minutes. By 10 am it was 30.
  • Take advantage of ride swap if you have a youngin’. Disney has this system figured out, and a ride swap is basically a Fastpass you can use for the same ride at a later time. This was awesome for our family.
  • Enjoy the sentimental rides. Going on It’s a Small World and Pirates of the Caribbean is like getting in a time machine if you visited when you were a kid.
  • Take time out for the parade at 3 pm daily. Our boys are not totally into hugging and mugging with the characters, but they really enjoy watching them from a safe distance. The parade was a great way to see all the main characters in one place.
Epcot:
  • Allow extra travel time to get from Fort Wilderness to Epcot. You have to take the busses from the Outpost, and it is definitely a longer journey than the boat ride to Magic Kingdom.
  • Soarin’ was more amazing than anyone had led us to believe.
  • FastPass+ your rides for the morning and then head over to the World Showcase for lunch and the afternoon. We did another round of rides when we circled back between 4-6 pm, and this worked really well for us.
  • I made notes in the My Disney Experience app about timed performances at the different countries. This way I knew when the Chinese Acrobats or Voices of Liberty were scheduled to appear. This helped us time our tour of the World Showcase and the boys LOVED the live performances.
Hollywood Studios and Animal Kingdom:

We opted out of these parks on this trip, because we only had time for 3 park days, and we decided to bring the boys to Harry Potter World at Universal Studios. It was a touch choice, and we will definitely be visiting Hollywood Studios during our next visit. Still not sure if Animal Kingdom will make the cut…

Dining Options:

We talk about the Hoop-Dee-Doo Musical Revue and Mickey’s Backyard BBQ over on Campground of the Week, and we also enjoyed:

  • Chef Mickey–a great option when staying at Fort Wilderness since you can take the boat over to the Contemporary.
  • Biergarten Restaurant, Germany–the food here isn’t spectacular, but the beer flights and the entertainment are fantastic.

Closing Segment

Overall, we really were blown away by how much we enjoyed this trip to Walt Disney World. We are convinced that staying at Fort Wilderness in an RV turned this special experience into a truly spectacular one. Days spent at the Meadows Pool and evenings spent at the Campfire Sing a Long with Chip and Dale helped us balance frenetic fun with relaxation.

And yes, Jeremy already did make reservations for next year. He’s totally out of control.

A very special thank you to Lazydays RV for helping us enjoy our very first RV rental experience. We can’t wait to do it again!

And thanks to our sponsors for supporting weekly content for all our RV and Disney fools…

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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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26 Jan

RVFTA #126 The Gift of the RV Kitchen: Traveling with Special Dietary Needs

 

On this episode of the RV Family Travel Atlas podcast, The Gift of the RV Kitchen, we are talking about one of the most amazing parts of RV travel…carrying your kitchen with you on the road!

For some of us, this is merely a convenience that we have become attached to, but travelers with special dietary needs, a self-contained kitchen is the only thing that makes travel a viable option.

Addressing allergies or dietary restrictions while traveling in an RV can be an overwhelming and daunting process, but we don’t want anyone to feel like it’s an insurmountable obstacle. So we invited Jenn and Jerome Braga from Our1Chance.com to pass along their advice for living an adventurous life while still staying safe and healthy.

Segment One: Meet the Bragas

The Bragas life took a dramatic turn when their youngest daughter was diagnosed with severe allergies. Although they were scared and overwhelmed, they were also determined to live life to the fullest and learn how to manage this ‘gift’. After purchasing a travel trailer so they could still vacation as a family, Jenn and Jerome discovered that they loved the RV lifestyle. Now they spend months at a time on the road every year in their renovated fifth wheel.

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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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12 Jan

RVFTA #124 8 More Tips for Campground Owners

On this episode of RV Family Travel Atlas, we are talking about our top eight tips for campground owners, developed after spending hundreds of nights at campground over the last few years. We have had some fantastic experiences, but also quite a few that could have been improved.

We first covered this topic all the way back on episode #5 of RV Family Travel Atlas, over two year ago. It was definitely time to revisit the issue with fresh eyes, and chat about some of the bigger campground features that make the difference between an average camping visit and an amazing one.

Segment One: Revisiting the Original 8 Tips for Campground Owners

On our older episode titled 8 Tips for Campground Owners, we addressed the following topics:

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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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29 Dec

RVFTA #122 Top Travel Highlights of 2016

Episode #122: Top Travel Highlights of 2016

Special Announcement: Beginning January 6th, we will be hosting RVFTA Live, an interactive Facebook Live Chat on Friday afternoons, 3 pm ET. See you there!

On this episode of the RV Family Travel Atlas podcast, we are reflecting back on our travel highlights of 2016. We spent over 70 nights in the RV, enjoying beaches and mountains, national parks and bustling cities. It was incredibly difficult to narrow down our top picks.

But we managed.

Segment One

In the first segment, we talk about the highlights that we both included on our lists (Links lead to other podcast episodes and blog posts with more details about activities and experiences):

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