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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14 Feb

Tips for Planning 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?

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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02 Jan

A New Year’s Wish for Strong and Adventurous Women

If you are like me and the rest of the world right now, your head is full of ways to make 2017 your best year ever. As much as people dismiss the power of New Year’s resolutions, I personally love the fresh start and the opportunity to think about goals for the upcoming year. 

However, it’s easy to fall into the work out/dieting/decluttering death spiral of the “New Year, New You” marketplace. So if you like setting goals, but also want to avoid the cycle of negativity and disappointment, I wanted to share this piece that I wrote last year for Camp Cabela’s…

Recently, as Cabela’s hosted their Ladies Day Out event, I started thinking about what it means to be an outdoor woman and mother. I immediately recalled a moment from this past summer, when I was hiking in Acadia National Park with Jeremy and the boys.

We had arrived at the trailhead to Bubble Rock Mountain early in the morning and climbed to the summit without much effort. We all had tons of energy and were excited to be back in one of our favorite national parks. We were also excited to be hiking with our new rescue dog, Maggie, as her enthusiasm kept the boys moving forward with few complaints.

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02 Sep

RVFTA #104 Road Trip Wrap Up, Part 2


On this week’s podcast episode of RV Family Travel Atlas, we are wrapping up our entire summer of travel with the second part of our Road Trip Reflections. We took two major trips this summer, and learned lessons about ourselves, our children, and our traveling styles on each of the trips.

In cased you missed it, you can check out Episode #99: Road Trip Wrap Up, Part 1 here.

Summer Road Trip Wrap Up

For this week’s Road Trip Wrap Up, we separated our reflections into two different segments: one for Jeremy and one for Stephanie. Take a listen as we discuss forgotten items, reading resolutions, deeply wooded campsites, finding wifi, the messy French Press, and trying out new activities. We will also talk about television and sleeping in.

Fair warning: things get a little heated with the last topic of conversation…the dreaded bathroom argument of 2016.

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08 May

Dear RV Moms, I Think You’re Killin’ It.


Just days after launching our new RV Family Travel Atlas site a couple of years ago, we received this comment on the blog:

Having been camping and traveling with little tykes (our grandchildren), we’ve found that, later, they have little recall of most of the scenes and sights they’ve seen, although they seemed to have enjoyed the trips, mostly. Just a thought.

At the time, I shook my head, sighed, and wrote a brief response, basically telling the gentleman that he was missing the point altogether.

But now, on Mother’s Day, I want to elaborate.

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24 Mar

RVFTA #81: Spring Camping Resolutions 2016

Spring Camping Resolutions 2016

Happy Spring, everybody! Here in the Northeast everyone is opening up the RVs and celebrating the beginning of camping season. And at RVFTA, that means it’s also time for our Spring Camping Resolutions.

We started this tradition last year on Episode #27, and it was fun (and a little nerve-wracking) for us to go back and listen to our resolutions from the beginning of camping season in 2015. We scored ourselves on our progress and accomplishments in the first segment of this show.

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29 Aug

RVFTA #50: Naughty Behavior at the Campground

On this week’s episode of RV Family Travel Atlas, we are talking about the naughty behaviors that can sometimes pop up when traveling with kids.

Nobody’s perfect and when environment, schedules, daily activities, and food are different, things are bound to get a little out of hand.

We will explore some of the hotspots we have identified and small tweaks that can make a big difference. Four areas that many parents seem to struggle with are…

  • Car Rides
  • Activities
  • Bedtime
  • Sweet Treats

Plus, we are reviewing a campground in the Northeast Kingdom of Vermont, Sugar Ridge RV Park, where we whittled away the last days of summer vacation. Listen to hear the skinny on our latest New England campground discovery.

And we are reviewing Season 2 of Big Time RV on the Travel Channel this week. RV shows have become a bit more mainstream and this is one of our recent favorites.

You may have perfect angels that fly through campground trips with an aura of sweetness and light. But here at RVFTA, we have enough material to dedicate a whole podcast to this topic. Thanks for listening to Episode #50: Naughty Behavior at the Campground!

We are delighted to have Go RVing as our RVFTA sponsor. Listen for a message from them just a bit later in our show. To find your AWAY head over to gorving.com/rvfta.

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31 Jul

RVFTA #46: Reflections from 34 Days on the Road

reflections from 34 days on the road

On this week’s episode of RV Family Travel Atlas, we are looking back at 34 days on the road. We have never spent that many consecutive nights in our travel trailer, and it was definitely a different experience than a long weekend or one-week vacation.

Four states and seven campgrounds later, we have some thoughts to share. Listen to hear our reflections about campgrounds and family travel. Will RVFTA become a full-time RVing operation? You will have to tune in to find out…

Campground Topics

  1. Aesthetics
  2. Landscaping
  3. Furnishings
  4. Communal Spaces

Family Topics

  1. Chores and Clean Up
  2. Activities and Down Time
  3. Homesickness
  4. Mountains or Sea?

And we are wrapping up our reports from the road by interviewing Running Bear, one of the co-owners of the Jellystone in Marion, North Carolina. They are doing a lot of things right at this campground, and we will talk about the customer service and activities that blew us away.

We are delighted to welcome back Go RVing as our RVFTA sponsor. Listen for a special message from them just a bit later in our show. To find your AWAY head over to Go RVing.

Our epic road trip is over, but maybe yours has just begun. And you are listening to Episode #46: Reflections from 34 Days on the Road.

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05 Jun

RVFTA #38: The Family Road Trip…What’s In It For Mom and Dad?

On this week’s episode of RV Family Travel Atlas, we are talking about good ole Mom and Dad.

Awhile back we recorded a podcast about how our kids benefit from RV travel. It was called The Family Road Trip: What’s in it for the Kids? This ended up being one of our most popular episodes, and parents regularly write us letters talking about how they relate to the reflections we shared. We all want so badly to raise kind, curious, flexible, and adventurous kids. RVing is such a great way to work towards those goals.

This week we wanted to turn the tables and talk about moms and dads. RVing and family travel doesn’t just benefit the little guys. We have grown as individuals, as parents, and as a couple over the last 5 years of hitching up and heading out to the campground. Listen to hear the list of the ways we think we have changed through our experiences as an RVing family.

We’ve said it before: It’s not always easy, but we do believe it’s worth it.

And we are thrilled to have an interview with the couple who got us thinking about this topic in the first place. David and Veronica James, aka The Gypsynesters, bought an RV and hit the road after the last of their children had flown the nest. Six years later they are still traveling and having the adventures of a lifetime. Their recently released book, Going Gypsy: One Couple’s Adventure from Empty Nest to No Nest at All, is hilarious and inspiring.

Going Gypsy book

We reached out to Veronica and David not only to hear some of their great stories, but also to ask them to share some advice for young parents who are still in the thick of raising kids. Boy, did they deliver. Listen to hear these Gypsynesters talk about remaining a connected and adventurous couple throughout this whole parenting gig.

And we would love to hear from you. How has travel and RVing helped you grow as an individual or a couple? The kids are important, but so are we.

See you at the campground…

21 Mar

RVFTA #27: Spring Camping Resolutions

Spring Camping Resolutions

On this week’s episode of RV Family Travel Atlas, we are sharing our Spring Camping Resolutions–five from Stephanie and five from Jeremy.

Although you wouldn’t know it by the weather here in the Northeast, it is the first week of spring, and we are more than ready to kick off a new camping season.

We have been thinking a lot about our goals for this year…what we want to do more of, what we want to do less of, and all the new things we would really like to try. From food to family activities to technology, we have a lot of ground to cover in 2015. Coffee also makes an appearance on the list…of course.

After you listen to our resolutions, head over to one of our social media channels and tell us about your goals for the 2015 camping season.  We would love to share your resolutions on next week’s show!

And speaking about resolutions, we should all resolve to be a little bit safer this year when we travel with our RVs. Walter Cannon is the safety guru at the Recreational Vehicle Safety and Education Foundation. We interviewed him at the Atlantic City RV Show and he gave us some great tips for staying safe while traveling during the upcoming camping season.  This is an important segment and we encourage everyone out there in listener-land to take notes (but not while you are driving)!

Of course we also announce our 2 lucky winners of Trailerama, the great coffee table book by Phil Noyes, who we interviewed on last week’s episode, Meet Mr. Trailerama! We will have more giveaway and product reviews coming up this spring, so stay tuned.

Thanks to everyone who started posting their camping pictures on our Facebook page this week. We love seeing all the beautiful campers and campgrounds out there, so keep them coming. Make sure you tell us where the picture was taken. We take notes on this stuff.

All of this…and so much more on Episode 27 of RV Family Travel Atlas: Spring Camping Resolutions!

Spring Camping Resolutions Pinterest

31 Jan

RVFTA #20 The Family Road Trip: What’s In It For the Kids?

On this episode of RV Family Travel Atlas, we are talking about the great American tradition of the family road trip. We truly believe we are helping our boys develop some pretty amazing qualities as we hitch up and explore this big and beautiful country. Road trips with kids are not always easy, but on this episode we will share why we think they are absolutely worth it!

We also share some of our favorite blog posts about travel and parenting. Jeremy reads a reflection about RVing and fatherhood, and Stephanie talks about liking her kids and creating lasting moments every single day.

We are also incredibly excited to share a terrific campground review from our FIRST RV Family Travel Atlas correspondent from the wild and beautiful state of Utah. Brett Neilson is going to tell us all about Devil’s Garden Campground in Arches National Park. At this point, we are still a ways away from exploring the beautiful western regions of this country, so we are thrilled to have a correspondent to give us the lowdown.

And a review of Trailerama, by Phil Noyes…a fun and fabulous coffee table book that has been getting a lot of page views in our house lately.

All of this on Episode 20 of RV Family Travel Atlas…The Family Road Trip: What’s in it for the Kids?

05 Mar

In Spite of the Busy, Something Permanent Everyday

My day started at 5:30 this morning. I was on my way to work by 6:50, getting the kids from school at 4:00, eating dinner at 5:30, and baths and bed by 7:00. In between all of these major checkpoints, there was lunch packing and dish unloading and oatmeal making and face wiping and milk pouring and media negotiating. Today wasn’t anything special. Today was busy. Most days are.

I’m a bit routine obsessed. The only way I can get through one of my typical week days is by having a mental checklist, marking it off in my mind, making sure that every necessary thing is accomplished by the time I kiss my boys good night. I don’t really feel guilty about this. I’m not one of those people that can relax amidst the chaos. If there is a baby toy on the floor, it must be picked up.

This tendency of mine is mostly positive, helping my family navigate those rough seas without feeling like we are on a sinking ship. However, some days I realize I am losing perspective, saying not right now when I should be saying yes, absolutely, right this minute.

Let me be clear: I do not feel guilty about taking the time to do my daily chores. I believe in making my family a healthy dinner every night, and I believe everyone should be picking up after themselves before settling in for the evening. But all of these things that I spend time doing will be quickly undone in a very short amount of time. There will be crumbs on the floor; there will be another mountain of laundry.

So the question occurs to me, in the middle of all of these necessary and good tasks, what permanent thing did I do today for my children? What did I offer them that will stay forever, that will change the way they behave towards one another, that will–in a tiny or big way–help them become happier, more loving, and more lovable human beings?

Tonight we taught Wes to dance to Sam Cooke. Max modeled some sweet moves, and we all laughed when the baby tried his hardest to mimic them. It was a busy day. Our permanent moment was small. But through it, we hope we told our children that we love music and we love them and spending time dancing together can shake off the stress of a long day.

I suspect one of the reasons we love traveling with our children so much is that it takes us out of the daily grind and helps us focus on the big picture. When we are somewhere new and exciting, we don’t get bogged down in errands and to-do lists. All we do is wonder, what could we do today that will be fun and fabulous and will help shape our children in the years to come?

So tomorrow do the dishes and the laundry and vacuuming. And then do at least one thing that is fun and fabulous, even if it is just dancing to Sam Cooke before bed. The carpet will get dirty again, but the music will stay the same, settling somewhere deep inside of them and forming a soundtrack for their lives.

Good work, parents.

23 May

One Fish, Two Fish, the Campers Caught You Fish!

Jeremy and I have mentioned quite a few times over the last year that we would really love to get the boys out fishing. The conversation comes up, we nod in agreement, and then the subject is dropped with no action taken.

What’s the big deal, you might ask. You can drag your toddlers up to Acadia National Park for weeks on end, but you can’t get a $10 Spiderman fishing pole and mosey on down to the lake?

I know. Jeremy and I both grew up on the water. I had a river in my backyard and he had the Atlantic Ocean.  We both dabbled in fishing or crabbing here and there, but neither of us took it very seriously. So I had this feeling like we might wind up with a fish hooked on a pole and not a parent in sight who was willing to deal with the issue.

Lucky for us, we have our friend Joe. After the ice cream social at the West Chester KOA last weekend, Joe stuffed some leftover hotdogs in his pocket and led the kids like a bunch of ducklings down to the Brandywine river, which runs through the campground.

He made sure each of the boys got to reel in a fish (thank you, universe, for cooperating!). The fish were examined, photographed, unhooked, and thrown back in record time.


I want my boys to be the type of boys who fish. I want them to pack supplies, walk to the water, and patiently wait for that stroke of good luck. I want them to kick into gear when they feel a tug on their line. I want them to know what quiet expectation feels like, even thought they are the loudest two boys I have ever met.

Mostly I want them to know the rewards of waiting patiently for nature to provide just one second of joy. Like when you stare at a night sky for ages, just hoping to catch sight of a shooting star. It is always worth that investment–every time.

It is harder and harder these days to find that quiet. We bring our iPhones to the campfire and our DVDs on car rides. I can’t even imagine what it will be like for my boys in ten years.

But maybe fishing will help. I’m going to buy them those stupid Spiderman fishing poles and give it a shot. This time I mean it. Really.