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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22 Dec

RVFTA #121 Saying Hello to Our Jayco Octane Superlite Toy Hauler

RV Family Travel Atlas Podcast Episode #121:

Saying Hello to Our Jayco Octane Superlite Toy Hauler

On the last episode of RV Family Travel Atlas, we said goodbye to our beloved Jayco White Hawk Travel Trailer, which has taken us on countless adventures over the last 5 years. We gave a complete review of the quad bunkhouse travel trailer, talking about what features worked perfectly for our family of five, and what features drove us absolutely bonkers.

On this episode we are talking about the new rig, a Jayco Octane Superlite 272. This is a toy hauler model, and if you have been following along with the RVFTA podcast, you know we think this is the new family travel trailer. Here is the link to the 360-degree tour available on the Jayco website. You can follow along while listening to the episode if you wish.

First, we talk about why we decided to get a toy hauler as our next RV. We discuss other models we looked at, and share how we finally made our decision and settled on the Octane SL 272.

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15 Dec

RVFTA #120 Saying Goodbye to Our Jayco White Hawk Travel Trailer

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Podcast Episode #120:

Saying Goodbye to Our Jayco White Hawk Travel Trailer

Well, the day is finally here. After 5 years, dozens of epic adventures, and hundreds of camping nights, we are finally saying goodbye to our Jayco White Hawk SQB Travel Trailer and trading her in for another rig.

We had a fantastic experience with this trailer, and we are only trading it in because we are entering a new season of RVing with bigger boys and bigger toys.

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09 Dec

RVFTA #119 Greetings from the RVIA Show in Louisville, Kentucky!

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On this week’s episode of the RV Family Travel Atlas podcast, we are bringing you inside the largest RV industry event of the year and talking all about the RVIA trade show in Louisville, Kentucky that took place from November 28th through December 1st.

Stephanie attended the event and toured countless RV models, interviewed manufacturers, and poured through the endless vendor displays. She walked away with lots of news to report and plenty of great RV content for future podcast episodes.

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01 Dec

RVFTA #117 Dispatches from an RV Newbie

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

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Our absolute favorite type of email to receive is from our listeners who have finally made the leap and bought their first RV. They tell us about how they found our podcast, all the rigs that they looked at, how they narrowed down their choices, and of course, all the fun adventures they have planned for the future.

These emails really do make us feel awesome about producing this weekly podcast.

So this fall we decided to reach out to one of those listeners who sent us an email last January, and see how that first season went for the family. Neil Potter was incredibly generous and agreed to come on the show, tell us about his story, and offer some tips for the RV newbie.

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25 Nov

RVFTA 2016 Holiday Gift Guide for the RV Enthusiast

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Photo credit: Hector Garcell

The RVFTA Holiday Gift Guide is here!!!

The RVFTA 2016 Holiday Gift Guide podcast episode is out and it is definitely bigger and better than ever. This year we broke down our guide into 5 segments: Stocking Stuffers, Just for Kids, Grownup RV Fanatics, Best of the Gear Guides, and Our Personal Wish Lists.


Listen to the episode to hear all the details about why we chose each item. Then click on the links below to order!

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18 Nov

RVFTA #115 Greetings from Myrtle Beach, South Carolina

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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..

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10 Nov

RVFTA #114 Holidays at the Campground

hol On this episode of RV Family Travel Atlas, we are gearing up for the season by talking about holidays at the campground. We spent last Thanksgiving in our RV and just can’t wait to do it again this year. Listen to hear why this might be a great option for your family.

And set a reminder for our next Go RVing Facebook Chat on November 17th at 4 pm Central Time all about RVing and the Holidays!!! We had so much fun doing a live Facebook event this past August and we can’t wait for round 2!

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If you want to read a bit more about our first foray into holiday camping, check out this post from last year. Stephanie wrote it after spending both Thanksgiving and Christmas away from home in 2015. It was definitely different…but it was also exhilarating!

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27 Oct

RVFTA #112 RV Winterization 101 with Quality Mobile RV

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

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

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

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

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

Other topics mentioned in the News Roundup include:

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

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

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20 Oct

RVFTA #111 Seasonal Camping 101 with Jon and Heather Anderson

seasonal-camping-101On this week’s episode of RV Family Travel Atlas, we are talking about seasonal camping with some experienced experts, Jon and Heather Anderson. We first met Jon and Heather at the Hershey RV show in 2015 when they purchased their Class A Winnebago Brave. Since then, we have been impressed with how much time and research they put into all their RV decisions.

So we invited them onto the show to teach us the ins and outs of seasonal camping. Why did they decide to take the plunge? Are they happy with their choice? And perhaps most importantly…how much does this cost???
listen-on-itunes-hoverIn the first segment, Jon and Heather walk us through their journey from buying a travel trailer to investing in a seasonal campsite. Then in the second segment, they share five tips for finding the perfect seasonal campground for your family.

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14 Oct

RVFTA #110 Say Hello to Winnebago Towables

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

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

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07 Oct

RVFTA #109 Ladies’ Day Out at Cabela’s with Kate Dunbar

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On this week’s episode of the RV Family Travel Atlas podcast, we are talking about Ladies Day Out, a bi annual event hosted by Cabela’s which celebrates women in the outdoors.

Our Texas Correspondent Kate Dunbar participated this past week at her local Cabela’s store, and she is here to tell us all about it. Kate describes the event from soup to nuts, and gives examples of all the outdoor organizations and learning opportunities.

Kate also spent the weekend boon docking in the Cabela’s parking lot in her super sweet Airstream. She learned a ton from the experience and is ready to pass along some lessons.

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22 Sep

RVFTA #107 Support the Tents for Troops RV Loaner Program

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Donate to the RVFTA Supports Tents for Troops RV Loaner Program here!

Please help us purchase an RV so that our active military and their families can camp for free!!!

On this week’s episode of RV Family Travel Atlas, we are celebrating the 2nd birthday of the podcast we started recording at our dining room table in September of 2014. Some people might call it an anniversary, but this is our baby so we are lighting candles and blowing up balloons.

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And we are announcing the most exciting project that we have ever undertaken in the history of RV Family Travel Atlas. Tents for Troops is a charitable organization that seeks to provide camping opportunities for enlisted military members. They have a new initiative called the RV Loaner Program, and we want to help get it off the ground. So we are raising $10,000 to buy an RV that will be permanently available to active military and their families.

We need your help! Please visit the Go Fund Me page that has been set up for this fantastic cause. Let’s join together as a camping community and support Tents for Troops!

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