25 May

RVFTA #143 Tips for Buying a Used Pop Up Camper with the Pop Up Princess

Photos courtesy of The Pop Up Princess

For many folks buying a used pop up camper is the easiest and most affordable way to jump into the RV lifestyle. There are many reasons why a pop up camper is a great way to get your feet wet, since they are so easy to tow and super easy to store.

However, the process of shopping for a used pop up camper can be a bit overwhelming. Inexperienced shoppers often make mistakes that end up costing a ton of money and a ton of time.

Lucky for us the Pop Up Princess came onto the podcast to guide us through the exciting but daunting experience of searching for the perfect used pop up camper. Larissa Richardson has seen a ton of pop up camper remodels, and she knows what she is talking about.

The Hunt for a Used Pop Up Camper

In the first segment, Larissa talks about all the things you need to research and decide before shopping for a used pop up camper. Important points include:

  • Current tow capacity
  • desired features
  • budget
  • deal breakers

Inspecting a Used Pop Up Camper before Purchase

In the second segment, Larissa walks us through her amazing checklist of all the things you should inspect before purchasing a used pop up camper. Seriously, everyone should be armed with this PDF checklist before going to check a rig out. We discuss:

  • roof
  • flooring
  • lift systems
  • canvas
  • electric
  • appliances
  • AND MORE!!!

Words of Experience

Folks who have been following the RVFTA story for a while know that we started out with a pop up camper and made a lot of very common mistakes in our RV journey. In the last segment of the show, we discuss some of our best advice for making sure you don’t wind up with a camper (or tow vehicle!) that doesn’t suit your family or your budget.

We still believe that a used pop up camper is an amazing way to begin your family’s RV adventure. If fact, our number one piece of advice to people sitting on the fence is to find an inexpensive used pop up camper and just give it a try. Even if you HATE it (which you won’t) you will probably be able to sell the camper at the end of the season for at least what you paid.

To see more of our advice on pop up campers, check out:

You can also visit our RVFTA Facebook Group, where lots of friendly folks will answer any questions you have about looking for that perfect pop up camper.

Thanks to our sponsors for supporting weekly content for all our RVing fools:

11 Feb

RVFTA #75: Meet the Crickets!

Meet the Crickets! blog

On this week’s episode of RV Family Travel Atlas, we are introducing you to the Cricket, an awesome adventure basecamp manufactured by Taxa, Inc., a company that is not afraid to think outside the box when it comes to lightweight travel trailers. We interviewed Mike Shepard, Taxa’s East Coast manufacturer’s rep who will help us understand why the Cricket is in a class by itself.

Read More

28 Feb

RVFTA #24: An Ode to the Pop Up Camper

We are really excited about this week’s podcast episode! Our featured segment is an ode to the pop up camper. One of our listeners, Nick, wrote in to tell us exactly why the pop up camper is a PERFECT choice for many families. Nick’s 5 arguments in defense of the pop up were so spot on, we just had to build a podcast around them.

pop up camper allentown KOA

We started out our RV journey 5 years ago by buying a pop up camper, but made the same mistake that many first time buyers do…we paid far too much and then when we wanted to upgrade to a travel trailer, we were under water. So the pop up wasn’t a long term fit for our family, but it may be for yours. Nick’s list is a perfect checklist for our listeners who are trying to decide what to buy. If you want to hear more of our thoughts on the pop up camper you can listen to one of our earliest podcasts, Pros and Cons of a Pop Up Camper.

Of course we couldn’t resist walking down memory lane and revisiting our top 5 pop up camper memories. Although our pop up caused us a lot of trouble, it was also the thing that introduced us to this amazing RV lifestyle. We are forever grateful for joy and adventure it introduced to our young family.

Speaking of pop ups, we were inspired to review the first Maine campground that we ever visited with our young boys. Camden Hills State Park is an absolute treasure and worth a visit no matter what kind of rig you are towing. You can read our original campground review here, and you can visit some of our other Midcoast Maine posts if you need a little bit of traveling inspiration:


Camden Hills



We are also sharing our second walkthrough with a Jayco representative from the Atlantic City RV Show. Megan Hiland took us on a tour of a 2015 Greyhawk Class C motorhome and almost convinced us to ditch our White Hawk and jump into a coach.

All of this…and so much more on Episode 24 of RV Family Travel Atlas: An Ode to the Pop Up Camper!

20 Sep

RV Family Travel Atlas: Our First Podcast!!!

We are so excited to share our first episode of RV Family Travel Atlas. In these podcasts, we will be sharing our thoughts about traveling with kids, talking about our favorite campgrounds and destinations, and answering our readers’ most common questions.

In this episode we talk about how it all started, from the purchase of our first pop up camper to our first campground experiences. We also remember what it was like to get those little campers to sleep in the RV.

Take some time to listen…we would love to know what you think!


20 Feb

Thinking About Buying a Pop-Up Camper? Consider This…

Stephanie and I often joke that buying our first pop up camper was the best and worst decision that we ever made.  When we say that we really mean that entering into the RVing lifestyle was a profoundly awesome decision for our family–but we bought the wrong pop up camper.  We bought a shiny new unit with all of the bells and whistles for over ten thousand dollars–when we probably should have bought a used one for two or three thousand dollars.  Don’t get me wrong–our camper had a bathroom, stereo, air conditioner, large slide out, hot water heater, kitchenette etc, etc, etc, and in many ways it was pretty awesome.


CanonPhotoDump 1009

So what was the problem?  Well, we loved RVing so much that we started to camp a lot, and we started to take longer and longer trips.  After spending 16 days in Vermont and Maine on a four stop trip we realized that all of the setting up and breaking down was eating up a lot of precious vacation time.  Eventually, we decided to sell the pop up camper and buy a travel trailer.  Unfortunately, we owed more on the camper than it was worth. This is common when you buy an RV with a long term loan and sell it too quickly.  Just like with an auto loan, those early payments are mostly interest–and RV values depreciate more quickly than car and truck values.  Live and learn, right?


So that’s why I wished we bought a used one–so that we would have been better prepared for the highly desired upgrade two years later.  You see, an awful lot of RVers start out with a pop camper, fall in love with camping and traveling, and move up into larger units–and that’s why it’s wise to start with a used unit and pay cash–not because you won’t use the camper, but because you will, and you may want to upgrade very quickly.

Two of our friends, who have become our close camping buddies, took this approach when they purchased their first pop up camper.  They found a used unit, in great shape, at a great price.  They also fell in love with RVing, but when they eventually sold their little Jayco pop up after almost two years they actually made a profit.  So, I would recommend that you buy a used unit, or a less expensive one than we bought.  But, as you can see, the memories we made in our first camper were absolutely priceless.


When I was young my grandfather often told me that he did not spend enough time with his children when they were growing up–and he told me not to make the same mistake.  Well, I can confidently say that I am not making that mistake. I think that our decision to purchase a pop up, and then a travel trailer, has played a major role in bringing our family close together over the past four years.

So the best advice I can give you is this: if your thinking about buying a pop up camper but having some doubts, put them aside and buy one.  Here are ten great reasons to take the plunge:

1. Campgrounds are much cheaper than hotels.

2. Campgrounds usually have more family-friendly activities than hotels.

3.  You save tons of money by making your own meals instead of eating out in restaurants.

4. You can put your kids to bed and hang out around a campfire instead of setting up a mini bar in the hotel bathroom.

5.  Sleeping in a pop up camper on a cool fall night is heaven itself.

6.  Your bed is your bed.  A stranger did not sleep in it the night before, and the night before that, and the night before that.  You get the point.

7. Closer and easier access to nature: hiking, swimming, canoeing–all of God’s creation is waiting outside your door.

8.  It is acceptable for children to run around and scream at a campground–at a hotel? Not so much.

9.  If I can figure out how to back the darn thing up, then you can too…

10.  You will meet other campers.  And campers are happy people.  You will be happy, too.







06 Aug

Can We Still Call it Camping? The Trailer Upgrade of 2012

I earned my camping stripes early on as the daughter of an Eagle Scout. Every piece of equipment our family owned was Army issued. My sisters and I slept in an eight-man green canvas tent that seemed to weigh hundreds of pounds. In inclement weather the three of us girls would huddle in the middle, repeating our mantra over and over…don’t touch the sides, don’t touch the sides. 
One time, when I was about eight, my father refused to cancel a scheduled trip to Assateague Island despite an approaching hurricane. The State Park ended up shutting down but that didn’t deter my father; we just stayed at Chincoteague, which for some unaccountable reason was still open for business. He encouraged us to look on the positive side–despite the lack of any services whatsoever, we had the whole place to ourselves! Imagine that.
So you can see why, when Jeremy and I decided to buy a pop-up camper four years ago, I really felt like I was purchasing a luxury good. I thought, I will never suffer again. This has everything a girl could want and more.
Except it didn’t. We have mutually declared the pop-up both the best and worst decision we have made in our short time as parents. It was the best in that it changed the way we interact as a family, bringing adventure, joy, and flexibility into our boys’ everyday experiences. It was the worst in that we were unable to go on a single trip without something going wrong. Every single time we set up or broke down we could count on the hot water heater not lighting or the roof not rising, or the door not snapping in correctly or…you get the picture.
Throw a couple of infants in the mix and it becomes a bit of a challenge to stay cheery, you know?
So when my husband began researching the next big thing, I put up my usual fight. But my heart wasn’t really in it. I was ready for a bit of the good life. I had seen plenty of RVs in our travels and I was ready for the real deal. And now I have it.
It is with some reluctance that I admit to not missing the pop-up even a little. I acknowledge the value it added to our lives, and I even cried a little when we left it at the dealership as a trade-in. But seriously, good riddance: Mama has a stove now.  And an outdoor kitchen. It is not even a contest. 
So now we still get to have all the adventure and joy with just a little less flexibility required. Down the road a bit, if I feel the boys are getting too soft, I’ll just throw them into an army tent outside the camper in the middle of a good storm. Then they will learn to appreciate the luxury of our trailer as much as I do.


16 Apr

The Leaves are on the Trees: Season 3 Opener

Season Opener: Blue Ridge Mountains, North Carolina

At some point this February, my husband set off to retrieve the family camper from South Jersey. We had (once again) dropped the pop-up off for some repairs at the dealership, where it proceeded to stay for the better part of two months awaiting parts and pieces.

At last everything was right as rain and while Jeremy went to pick it up, I did boring weekend chores like grocery shopping and banking.

Well. We just happened to pull back into our driveway at the same time Jeremy was pulling up with the camper. The squeals of delight that erupted from the backseat shocked me because, quite frankly, it is just a pop-up and did we really miss seeing the hulking beast in our driveway all winter? Apparently so. I played along, expressing utter glee (Hip Hip Hooray! The camper is back!) as I ushered the boys into the house.

Do you see the punchline of this story coming? I certainly didn’t.

Here is the thing I discovered as I watched an enormous multiples’ meltdown shatter the peace of our Saturday morning: the boys were not excited that the camper was back. They were excited because they thought we were going camping. Right then. In February.

You try explaining weather and seasons and months and all that waiting nonsense to two and a half year-olds. See how that goes for you. I told them it was too cold for camping. They started to furiously pull out hats and gloves from the closet and insisted that they were not cold. Here all of my propaganda about it never being too cold to play outside came back to bite me big time.

I eventually took them outside and pointed to the trees in our backyard. I told them that we couldn’t go camping until the leaves had grown back on the trees. They had to be very patient and watchful boys, keeping an eye on the trees. I don’t know why this worked, but it did. Theo in particular spent the next week giving me the daily update on the leaf situation. Eventually, the boys moved on and I heard not a peep about the camper through the whole month of March.

So I was pretty excited to tell them last week that we were finally going camping:

Guess what, I asked in that goofy drawn-out singsong mommy voice.
What, they replied, thinking they might be getting something with sugar in it.
We get to go camping this weekend! Isn’t that exciting?
No we not, says my master of the universe toddler.
What do you mean, honey? Yes, we are going camping. This weekend. We leave in two days.
Mommy, we can’t go camping. The leaves aren’t on the trees.

This argument continued as we packed, loaded up, and set off on our journey to North Carolina. Somewhere in Virginia I triumphantly turned to Theo and said, Look! See all those leaves on the trees. I told you there would be leaves.

To which he replied disdainfully, No Mama–those aren’t trees; those are bushes.

Welcome to our third season with the Mouthy Lively Little Campers. Despite the ongoing debate, the camper has already hit the road (and kept us warm through 30 degree nights!). We had a marvelous time hiking, zip lining, and experimenting with bows and arrows. As always, we hope we can inspire you to strap those kids into the car and do some exploring.

Just remember to bring them back home with you.
Happy Camping.