19 Oct

RVFTA #164 The Fit RV Campervans Through Europe!

 

 

On this week’s episode of the RV Family Travel Atlas podcast, we are talking to the wonderful duo from The Fit RV: James and Stef Adinaro. The healthiest RV couple in the world recently took a break from filming their fun and educational YouTube videos and headed to Germany on an epic European campervan adventure!

In this episode we talk about planning for a European RV vacation and the travel highlights from their trip. Plus, we get to hear all about their visit to the Truma Headquarters and what it’s like to camp across the pond.

Segment One: All the Travel Details

In the first segment, Stef and James tell us how they planned out their stops and picked their campgrounds. Spoiler alert: reservations seem to be the only way to go, especially when traveling during peak holiday months.

We were honestly surprised to here the descriptions of campgrounds and how they compared to their American counterparts. Listen to hear all about…

Google Maps helped them in locating campgrounds and finding reviews. They also used the ACSI app, a directory for European campgrounds.

Segment Two: RVs and RV Culture in Europe

The Fit RV really enjoyed their tour of the Truma Headquarters in Germany. They were particularly blown away by the cleanliness and the technology that seamed lightyears ahead of American RV factories.

Plus, they visited the Dusseldorf RV Show during their visit…

We also chat about the similarities and differences in campground culture and the rigs themselves. We learned a lot in this segment, and found out many of our preconceived notions about campervanning in Europe were not exactly on the mark.

In fact, after this interview we both felt like an RV trip in Europe would be more accessible and easy to pull off than we had previously imagined!

Make sure you check out all The Fit RV’s YouTube videos from their epic European adventure, and visit The Fit RV blog for more details!

A big thanks to our sponsors for supporting weekly content for all our RV and Campervanning fools:-)

See you at the campground,

Stephanie + Jeremy

 

04 Oct

RVFTA #162 Greetings from Albuquerque, New Mexico!

On this episode of the RV Family Travel Atlas podcast, we are talking about our magical trip to New Mexico, otherwise known as the Land of Enchantment. We packed as much as we could into our brief stay and wanted to share the highlights with you.


From the amazing weather to the national monuments, volcanoes, great food, and shopping, we enjoyed a whirlwind tour of the Albuquerque region. Our visit left us asking one question: how soon do we get to go back?

Listen to hear us chat about…

  • The 5 things we learned about RVers in New Mexico
  • Petroglyph National Monument
  • Regional hiking
  • FOOD!!!!

You can also check out a complete review of the Albuquerque Central KOA, where we stayed during our visit, over on the Campground of the Week podcast episode #101.

Other links mentioned during the podcast:

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

16 Aug

RVFTA #155 Greetings from the Redwoods National and State Parks in California!

The Redwoods have such a mythical, magical beauty and most people would place them high on the RV travel bucket list. Personally, we’ve been dreaming about hugging a Redwood tree for as long as memory serves. Well, we finally got our chance to visit, and this week’s podcast is all about the highlights and recommendations from our time spend in the Redwoods National and State Parks.

This podcast episode is paired with Campground of the Week #94, and our complete review of the Crescent City/ Redwoods KOA can be heard on that podcast.

Segment One: Learning about the Redwoods

We are nerdy teachers who love to RV, so we have some great recommendations for you if you would like to bone up on your tree facts before a visit. We also share the resources that helped us out the most during our stay.

Segment Two: Hiking in the Redwoods

We hiked almost every day during our stay, and in this segment we talk about our favorites. Listen to hear our learning curve on appropriate clothing and foot wear, timing, and where to eat that picnic lunch.

  • The Hiouchi Trail to Stout Grove
  • Ladybird Johnson Grove Trail

Segment Three: The Coast

After oohing and aahing over the trees for a couple of days, we appreciated the variety of scenery found along the coast in Redwoods National Park. In fact, some of our favorite experience were in the coastal areas of the Redwoods.

  • Yurok Trail to Hidden Beach
  • Fern Canyon
  • Crescent City

If the Redwoods are on your RV destination bucket list, make sure you take a listen to RVFTA episode #155: Greetings from Redwoods National and State Parks!

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

koa logo

See you at the campground!

Stephanie + Jeremy

08 Aug

RVFTA #154 Greetings from the Oregon Coast

We spent almost a month touring Washington, Oregon, and northern California, and on this podcast episode we are bringing you all the highlights and recommendations from our magical stay along the southern Oregon Coast.

We camped at the Oceanside Beachfront RV Resort, just south of Coos Bay and the Oregon Dunes National Recreation Area. This is a paired podcast episode, so to hear a complete review of the campground, check out our Campground of the Week…

Segment One: Hikes, Lighthouses, and Beaches

During our stay, we explored the southern part of the Oregon Coast from the Oregon Dunes National Recreation Area down to the Bandon. We spend the majority of our time in the Coos Bay/Charleston area, and if you want to escape the crowds and enjoy some of the best coastal scenery out there, this is a great place to go.

The highlights of our stay included:

Listen to hear all the details of our hike along the Oregon Coast Trail and the fantastic views of Simpson Reef and Cape Arago. You can also find more information (and a great map!) about lighthouses along the Oregon Coast at the Oregon State Parks website.

Segment Two: Regional Activities

The locals in this area did a fantastic job at guiding us to the best gems in the area. We arrived with little on the agenda besides clocking in some serious beach time, and everyday ended up being a great adventure on account of recommendations we received from camp workers and local business owners. Our favorite past times included…

Segment Three: Seriously Good Eats

The good news is that if you are staying at the Oceanside Beachfront RV Resort, you don’t have to go far for an AMAZING seafood meal. The Coos Bay Crab Co. is located right on site at the campground and offers delicious fish and chips, crab, and clam chowder bread bowls.

Other great dining options include…

This was a very special stop on our trip, and we know that we will remember the magical stay in the glamping tent forever. On this episode, we also chat about some other important family moments, including our struggles to hike with a toddler and traveling without the RV kitchen. Tune in to hear the good, the bad, and the downright ridiculous.

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

koa logo

We will see you at the campground!

Stephanie + Jeremy

02 Aug

RVFTA #153 Greetings from Mount St. Helens in Washington

On this episode of RV Family Travel Atlas, we are bringing you the next travel installment from our epic Pacific Northwest adventure. On this leg of our trip, we stayed at the Silver Cove RV Resort which was the perfect basecamp for exploring Mount St. Helens.

You can listen to the entire Mount St. Helens episode here…

And you can check out our complete review of Silver Cove RV Resort here…

Segment One: Crash Course on Mount St. Helens

Sure, you remember that Mount St. Helens is a volcano somewhere in Washington that erupted back when hair was big and jeans were acid washed. But we are going to be completely honest–we were shocked by how much we didn’t know about this volcanic eruption that happened in our lifetime.

So in the first segment, we are giving you a crash course on the “most economically destructive event in US history.” You’ll have to listen for the other nine interesting facts…

Segment Two: Exploring the West Side

There was far more to do in the area around Mount St. Helens than we initially realized. In fact, we assumed this would be one of those day trips where you drive up, take a few pics, and go find some lunch.

Couldn’t be farther from the truth.

In this segment we talk about…

  • Mount St. Helens Visitor Center in Silver Lake
  • The Forest Learning Center
  • The Hummocks Trail Hike
  • Johnston Ridge Observatory

Plus, all this hiking and learning is exhausting, so you are going to want to perk up by eating at the Fire Mountain Grill on your way back down the mountain!

Segment Three: Exploring the South Side

Our boys saw Jack and Colton explore the Ape Caves on their favorite show, Rock the Park. So we knew this was on their must-do list during our visit. It was worth the drive for sure, considering they say the caves were the VERY BEST THING on our entire trip. In this segment we chat about…

  • Lower Cave
  • Upper Cave
  • Area Reservoirs with day use beaches and water access
  • Lone Fir Cafe

Thanks so much to our sponsors for supporting weekly content for all our RV fools…

koa logo

26 Jul

RVFTA #152 Greetings from Olympic National Park in Washington

Let’s get the important information out of the way first: Olympic National Park is knock-your-socks-off beautiful and has shot to the top of our list for favorite NPS sites. We still love you, Acadia…but you may have slipped to #2.

We visited Olympic National Park on the first stop of our 25-day Pacific Northwest adventure, and it was a pretty epic way to kick off the trip. On this RVFTA podcast episode, we devote the entire episode to sharing all the hiking, boating, and eating recommendations from our visit.

This is one of our paired podcast travel episodes, so to hear a complete review of the campground we stayed at during our visit, Elwah Dam RV Park, listen to Episode #91 of our Campground of the Week Podcast.

Segment One: Planning Your Stay

Olympic National Park is not one of the easiest NPS sites to visit mostly on account of its size. Many National Parks have ‘loop roads’ or ‘scenic drives’ that can give day visitor’s a quick glimpse of the park highlights. Not so with Olympic. The most popular areas of the park are quite dispersed, so planning your stay will involve a bit more research and strategy.

In the first segment of this episode, we give our tips for navigating the park including picking a location for your basecamp. We chose Port Angeles, but there are other spots that may be a better fit for you.

We also chat about…

  • Various Visitor Centers
  • Areas of the Park: Coast, Rainforest, and Alpine regions
  • Planning an itinerary

And we wrap up the segment by sharing the resources that ended up being our favorites, including…

  • Moon Guide Pacific Northwest Trip by Allison Williams
  • Best Easy Day Hikes: Olympic National Park, Falcon Guides by Eric Molvar
  • Olympic National Park: A Natural History by Tim McNulty {Jeremy’s Nerd Pick}

Segment Two: Port Angeles and Hurricane Ridge

We decided to use the Port Angeles area as our basecamp and were very happy with the choice. It placed us in close proximity to Hurricane Ridge, Sol Duc Falls, Crescent Lake, and the Port Angeles downtown area, which offered fun eating and shopping options.

We highly recommend beginning at the main Visitor Center here and chatting with a ranger about your visit. Skip the movie, which unfortunately offers little to no useful or interesting information about the park. You can also stretch your legs by enjoying two short but lovely hikes that leave right from the center: Living Forest Trail (.4) and Peabody Creek Trail (.5).

The Hurricane Hill trail ended up being our favorite hike of the entire trip. About three miles round trip, this ridge hike offers magnificent views for the entire length of the trail. In our opinion, this is a must-do when visiting Olympic National Park.

Our favorite food and drink joints were…

  • Little Devil’s Lunchbox
  • Next Door Gastropub
  • Easy Street Coffee and Tea House
  • BADA NW Coffee Shop
  • Country Aire Natural Foods

And some fun shopping options include…

  • Swains General Store
  • Lefties Team Store

Segment Three: Lake Crescent and Sol Duc Falls

Sol Duc Falls is one of the most popular destinations in the park. We did the Sol Duc Falls hike, and had a great time splashing in the smaller falls that you cross on the trail. We combined the hike with a visit to the Sol Duc Hot Springs, which was a HUGE hit with our kids. Beware…the hot springs really just look like pools/hot tubs and they do smell like sulfur. But nonetheless, it was a highlight for our boys who begged to go back every day during our visit.

Other great waterfalls nearby:

  • Marymere Falls
  • Madison Falls

There are a few places to rent boats on Crescent Lake. We felt the most scenic was at the Lake Crescent Log Cabin Resort, which has paddle boat, kayak, SUP, and canoe rentals at reasonable prices. There are lovely Adirondack chairs positioned along the waterfront, and you can buy ice cream and beer in the store to enjoy outside. Our boys took very quick dips in the chilly, but pristine, lake.

Our favorite food picks from nearby:

  • Blackberry Cafe
  • Granny’s Cafe

Segment Four: Ruby Beach and the Hoh Rainforest

Since we stayed near Port Angeles, both Ruby Beach and Hoh Rainforest were a long drive (1.5-2 hours). Based on local recommendations, we decided to combine the two stops and visited Ruby Beach in the morning and then headed out to Hoh Rainforest in the afternoon. You will want to check the tides before planning your day, as the coastal areas are best visited during low tide. Rangers at the visitor centers have tide charts for reference.

At the Hoh Rainforest, there are two loop trails with trail heads right at the Visitor Center: Hall of Moses (.8 miles) and Spruce Nature Trail (1.2 miles). These trails are an awesome way to experience the wonder of the temperate rain forest.

On the way back to basecamp, we ate dinner at Taqueria Santa Ana, a very authentic Mexico joint with delicious food and NO bells and whistles.

Our 5-day trip to Olympic National Park was truly phenomenal, and we are thrilled to share our best tips for visiting this natural treasure. Listen to the episode to hear complete details on all the above destinations, hikes, and restaurants! And don’t forget to check out Campground of the Week to hear our review of Elwah Dam RV Park in Port Angeles, Washington.

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

koa logo

 

 

 

22 Jun

RVFTA #147 Planning a Trip to the Pacific Northwest

We can’t wait to end the day with this view at the Oceanside Beachfront RV Resort in Oregon! We are only days away from our bucket-list trip to the Pacific Northwest that will include visits to 3 states, 5 campgrounds, and at least 5 national and state parks. On this week’s podcast episode, we wanted to share details about the planning that went into this very special adventure.

Segment One: The Trip Details

Our sticks and bricks home is in New Jersey, and we decided NOT to haul our RV all the way across the country to visit the Pacific Northwest. We’ll discuss some of the reasons for this decision as well as the resulting pros and cons . In this segment, we’ll also give a sneak peak at the campgrounds, cities, and parks we’ll be visiting.

Segment Two: The Trip Planning

Read More

22 May

The RV Weekend Warrior: 10 Tips for Getting the Most Out of Short Weekend Getaways

So many RV owners want to squeeze in more camping trips…but it sure is tough to figure out how to do that! Between work responsibilities and busy activity calendars, finding time to get away can feel like an impossible feat.

Plus, let’s face it: not many of us can find an extra week each year where we can say bye-bye to the boss and head out on the open road.

Don’t despair! There is a way to achieve that campground mojo more often. The secret is in becoming a RV Weekend Warrior.

What’s that, you say? Weekend trips are too short and too stressful? We feel you on that one. If they aren’t done correctly, weekend trips can leave you feeling exhausted and unprepared for the week ahead.

However, if you follow our Weekend Warrior training, you should return from the campground rested and refreshed. Here are our tips for getting the most out of weekend RV trips…

(Watch the Facebook Live post from Jayco’s page to see us talk about more indepth about these tips!)

#1 Take a Friday or Monday off of work.

Yeah, we know it’s hard to take time off of work. But more than 50% of Americans don’t use up all their vacations days, and a lot of doctors are telling us that’s no good for our health. Can’t take a full day? Try for a half day at least. This will get you to the campground early and the cares of the week will melt away by the warmth of the campfire.

#2 Reduce the driving distance.

The more time you spend in the car, the less time you spend at the campground, so keep the driving distance under two hours. Pay attention to traffic patterns, and try to avoid heavily trafficked areas to maximize relaxation and minimize stress.

#3 Camp close to home on busy weekends.

Can’t find a free weekend between sports games, baby showers, and birthday parties? Find a campground that is close to home, and head there even when a prior commitment is on the calendar. We found a nice county park just 20 minutes from our home where we camp even if the boys have a baseball game on Saturday. Why waste an entire weekend because of a 2-hour event?

#4 Reserve a seasonal RV site.

Seasonal camping is becoming more popular every year, and it’s easy to see why. When your fully-stocked RV is all set up and ready to enjoy at a campground, short weekend getaways are a breeze. Prices vary tremendously depending on location and amenities, so don’t assume a seasonal is out of your price range.

#5 Prepare incrementally throughout the week.

If you try to pack for your weekend getaway at the last minute, stress might be high by the time you hitch up and head out. We spend about 20 minutes every weeknight leading up to the trip, packing just one thing at a time: clothing, toiletries, bedding, food. On Friday you are all ready to go and your blood pressure hasn’t spiked. Win/win.

#6 Splurge for a late checkout on Sunday.

Many campgrounds will offer you a late check out if no one is coming into your site later that day. Sometimes it won’t cost you anything, but we have paid between $5-$20 to stay until late Sunday. It never hurts to ask, and having that whole extra day of downtime is might sweet.

#7 Enforce SWAT team Sunday.

We have a system in place where everyone (kids, too!!!!) helps unpack the RV when we get home on Sunday. No one sits in front of the TV until the camper is unloaded, laundry is running, and the food is restocked in the fridge. When we all pitch in, it really takes no time at all. Plus, we feel ready for the busy week ahead.

#8 Have a set weekend menu and shopping list.

Don’t feel like you have to be the king or queen of campfire cooking on a short weekend trip. A set weekend menu will mean that you spend zero brain power on food prep the week before your getaway. We do bagels and oatmeal for breakfast, PB&J or cold cuts for lunch, and a classic weenie roast on Saturday night. I could shop in my sleep for our weekend camping food, and you should be able to also.

#9 Grocery shop on Thursday for the weekend AND week ahead.

The worst thing ever is to come back from a weekend RV vacation and have to run out to the grocery store for the work week ahead. Plan in advance and shop for the whole week when you stock up for the weekend trip. Keep it simple for yourself, also. A post-camping trip week means tacos, pasta, and hamburgers around our house.

#10 Order out for Friday supper at the campground.

Getting to the campground, setting up, and then preparing dinner can set some folks over the edge…especially if you have kids that act like they haven’t eaten in seven days. Take that stress off the table by ordering something to go for Friday’s dinner. We like to pick up sub sandwiches from our local deli on Friday afternoon. Another option is getting pizza delivered to the campground. Call the campground office and ask who delivers directly to campsites. Place your order when you are just 15 or 20 minutes away.

It took us a few camping seasons to figure out how to make weekend RV trips relaxing and fun, instead of stressful and overwhelming. Now that we have been through our weekend warrior training, we look forward to escaping to the campground…even if it’s for just a few precious days.

Are you a seasoned weekend warrior? We would love to hear your tips in the comments below. And for more advice on making weekend trips worth it, check out our RVFTA Facebook Group!

You can also listen to our podcast episodes Becoming a Weekend Warrior, Part One and Becoming a Weekend Warrior, Part Two.

See you at the campground!

 

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…

Read More

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.

Read More

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

Read More

14 Feb

Tips for Planning a Romantic RV Vacation

HOW TO PLAN A ROMANTIC RV VACATION

You may not think of your RV as the prime setting for a romantic getaway, especially if you usually travel with kids.  But many couples know that an RV vacation, if planned correctly, will leave them feeling as relaxed, refreshed, and rejuvenated as staying in an expensive bed and breakfast.

To plan a romantic RV vacation, make sure you focus on creating opportunities to connect with your partner, and invest a bit of time into tweaking your regular RV routines to make this trip seem special. Then let the fresh air, beautiful scenery, and romantic campfire do the rest.

Set the scene.

When picking out a restaurant for a romantic dinner, you focus on location, decor, and service. You wouldn’t visit a family dining establishment hoping to find a peaceful atmosphere and nice mood lighting. The same is true when choosing a campground for a romantic RV vacation.

There are actually quite a few adult-only campgrounds, where two adults are allowed per camper and minimum age requirements are enforced. Some campgrounds have a dedicated adult-only section, often referred to as “Lovers’ Lane”, that provide a quieter setting.

There are other ways to set the right mood as well. Splurge on a beach or lake front campsite. Book a deluxe patio site with stone fireplace, pavers, and furniture. Look for little extras like nice swings or gas grills for cooking a special surf and turf dinner.

It is not a bad idea to avoid online booking systems and make a call to the campground. Tell the receptionist that you are planning a romantic getaway and ask for recommendations on the best site. There is no substitute for insider information!

Pick a theme.

Picking a theme around a common shared interest is a great way to encourage bonding on a romantic RV vacation. Take a trip to wine country and indulge in a culinary tour. Visit all the craft breweries in a nearby city. Tour historical sites, visit art galleries, kayak and fly fish, or shop for antiques.

Having a theme, or focus, for your time together can create a sense of adventure and expectation. Just make sure it is something that you both truly enjoy, so no one feels like they are getting dragged from one activity to the next.

Plan some time to unplug.

Discuss the use of technology before your trip, and if possible make an agreement about times that you will both be completely unplugged. Nothing ruins the mood like seeing your partner looking at a screen while you are trying to have an important conversation. A little time away from social media can do wonders for creating a peaceful and relaxed environment.

Also discuss ahead of time any work that needs to be done. It might be unavoidable to check in with office periodically, but a clear understanding about this will prevent hurt feelings or resentments from ruining the romantic mood.

Pamper yourselves.

If you were staying at a spa or a bed and breakfast, little items of luxury would help create the perfect setting for romance. Take a bit of time before departing to fancy up the RV with nice linens, comfy robes, and the good towels. Stock the refrigerators with fruit and cheese. Pack the good wine and chocolates.

Make reservations at a special restaurant, or if you both enjoy cooking, prepare a gourmet meal at the campsite. Some campgrounds have on site wine tastings, massages, and spa treatments, so book these in advance if interested.

Try something new.

It is very exciting and romantic to try something for the first time with your partner, and this is the perfect opportunity to do so. Get extreme and go skydiving, bungee jumping, or book a hot air balloon ride. Keep it mellower with horseback riding or fly-fishing.  Bonding over a new experience will make sure this trip is one to remember.

Schedule some ‘me’ time.

With so much togetherness, a little bit of scheduled ‘me’ time can be a very important thing. If you enjoy shopping, and your partner loathes it, embrace the opportunity for some alone time. Again, planning this ahead of time will help prevent misunderstandings or hurt feelings. And if you just can’t stand to be apart from each other at all, that’s okay, too.

Although camping is often portrayed as ‘roughing it’, an RV vacation can be a luxurious and romantic experience. Make sure you pick the right campground, and then plan activities that focus on shared experiences and opportunities for connection. After all, is there anything more romantic than sharing a cozy campfire under a sea of stars with your love?

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

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…

koa logo

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:

Read More

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):

Read More

18 Nov

RVFTA #115 Greetings from Myrtle Beach, South Carolina

img_9610

On this episode of RV Family Travel Atlas, we have a complete guide to enjoying one of our favorite RV destinations–Myrtle Beach, South Carolina. We first visited this area in spring of 2014, and since then we have found ourselves returning again and again.

itunes

Make sure you also listen to Campground of the Week episode #55 to hear our review of the Myrtle Beach KOA, our favorite place to stay when visiting this area.

img_9564

Sure, Myrtle Beach has plenty of tourist attractions along the famous Grand Strand, but we have also discovered a world of outdoor adventure and natural beauty. We make time to enjoy both during our visits.

Another reason why Myrtle Beach is such a remarkable RV destination is that you can visit year round. We have been in spring, summer, and fall and though the summer was a bit warm for our taste, we still had a blast every time.

img_9560

We split the episode into three distinct segments: On the Strand, Off the Strand, and Good Eats in Myrtle Beach. We will talk about our favorite attractions in each category, and we picked our top places to eat when we visit.

Here are the links to all the attractions, activities, and restaurants mentioned in the episode..

Read More

13 Oct

Got 48 Hours and an RV? Visit Fancy Gap, Virginia! (Destination Inspiration for Go RVing)

DSC_0023

One of our most popular podcast episodes ever was about camping in the Blue Ridge Mountains. Last summer we originally planned a stay in Fancy Gap, Virginia largely because we needed a place to rest on our way down to the Great Smoky Mountains.

We were shocked when Fancy Gap became one of our favorite stops that summer. The Fancy Gap KOA was a peaceful and sleepy retreat, just a few tenths of a mile from the entrance to the Blue Ridge Parkway. We enjoyed driving along one of America’s most popular scenic byways, and we loved watching live music at the Blue Ridge Music Center.

Plus, our visit to Mount Airy–the childhood home of Andy Griffith and inspiration for the Andy Griffith Show–could not have been amore delightful way to spend a day sightseeing with our boys. After pork chop sandwiches at Snappy Lunch, haircuts at Floyd’s Barber Shop, and a tour of the town in the back of a police car our kids were obsessed with all things Andy Griffith.

IMG_1460

And they are still watching the TV show in regular rotation.

Go RVing has a special section of their website called Destination Inspiration, where you can find out how to make the most out of 48 hours in some amazing locations around the country. We were thrilled to write one about Fancy Gap, Virginia and the surrounding area.

You can read our step-by-step guide here on Go RVings Destination Inspiration. And then tell us where you love to go when you have an RV and 48 hours to kill…

DSC_0157

And you can also check out the podcast we recorded about the area last summer…RVFTA Episode #42 Greetings from the Blue Ridge Parkway!

28 Sep

The Perfect Campsite: 10 Questions to Ask (Go RVing Blog)

 

IMG_9203We are well aware that everyone in the campground industry wants you to book your campsite online. And we are also well aware that many of you do just that.

But our longtime readers and podcast listeners know that we have one thing to say about this trend: Don’t do it.

Seriously.

Pick. Up. The. Phone.

All campgrounds are not created equal, and you would never blindly book an RV park without doing a little research and reading some reviews. So why would you blindly book a campsite, not knowing if it has the space, the views, or the location that you prefer?

DSC_3678

Happy campers know that not all campsites are created equal, so they do their due diligence and research before booking. Happy campers also know what makes them happy, and they book campsites that have the ambiance, amenities, and activities they want.

Want more camping nirvana in your life? Check out our latest blog post for Go RVing where we described 10 questions to ask BEFORE you book your next campsite.

You might have to work a little harder and actually talk to someone on the phone (GASP!), but when you are sitting with a view of the creek and a cocktail while your kids play within sight at the nearby playground, you’ll know it was worth it.

Outside Gear Bar Harbor Acadia

See you at the campground!

Check out our other blog posts on the Scenic Route

GoRVing

25 Aug

RVFTA #103 Greetings from Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore

Greetings from Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore

On this week’s episode of RV Family Travel Atlas, we are celebrating the 100th anniversary of the National Park Service, and telling you all about the amazing Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore in the great state of Michigan.

Voted one of America’s most beautiful places by Good Morning America, this truly is a magical destination that demonstrates why the National Parks might be our country’s greatest idea ever. We will talk about the best drives, hikes, swims, and even shopping in the Sleeping Bear Dunes park.

IMG_0501

This episode goes along with two different Campground of the Week episodes: #41 about Holiday Park in Traverse City and #42 about the Platte River Campground in the Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore. Both are amazing places to stay while visiting the region. We cover completely different activities and food options in the different episodes, so be sure to listen to all three if you are planning a visit of your own in the future!

Subcribe to Campground of the Week here…

Read More