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

 

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15 Jun

RVFTA #146 RV Road Trip Tips 2017

It’s that time of year, and many folks are hitting the road for the summer travel season. On this episode of RV Family Travel Atlas, we are talking about some ways to stay happy and healthy while getting from point A to point B.

We could all use some fresh ideas to make the journey a little better, so we have compiled tips for staying safe and having a bit more fun, even if you are a prisoner to your kids’ 99th round of 21 Questions.

You might want to throw on a pair of noise-cancelling headphones and try to teleport to the next destination, but we want you to know that the journey really can be a great part of the adventure. So here are some fresh ideas for enjoying the ride…

Segment One: Staying Safe

It’s way more fun to talk about trip planning than safety, but the bottom line is that an ounce of prevention really is worth a pound of cure. Take these precautions to make sure you arrive safe and sound at your epic destination…

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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!

 

10 May

RVFTA #141 To Blog or Not to Blog: The RV Traveler’s Conundrum

On this episode of the RV Family Travel Atlas podcast episode, we are taking a cue from our listeners and talking about a question that we get asked all the time: Should I start my own travel blog to document my RV journey?

There is no easy answer to that question, but since we have gotten so much joy out of our own blog over the last seven years, we decided to tackle the issue in a podcast episode.

Not everything about blogging is easy or enjoyable, which is why many people who start blogs throw their hands up in frustration after just a short while. Having a good understanding of the challenges and rewards of travel blogging might help you make a decision about whether or not you should launch a blog before you hit the road for your RV adventures this season.

Segment One: The Pros, The Cons, and The Myths

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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?

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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02 Sep

RVFTA #104 Road Trip Wrap Up, Part 2

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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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27 May

RVFTA #90: Road Trip Tips!

RVFTA's Road Trip Tips

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05 May

RVFTA #87: Greetings from Charleston, South Carolina!

Greetings form Charleston South Carolina

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28 Apr

RVFTA #86: Planning Thematic RV Vacations

Planning Thematic RV Vacations

On this week’s episode of RV Family Travel Atlas, we are talking about adding thematic trips into your RV travel plans. We all know that Glacier National Park is a must see for any RV traveler. But what about the Lighthouses of Coastal Washington or Civil War Battlefields of the East? Themed trips are a fun way to explore our country’s history and culture, so we are going to help you start planning!

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02 Mar

Trip Planning: 6 Research Tips for Your RV Vacations

We are in serious trip planning mode for the spring season here at RVFTA and if you are a longtime listener and reader, you know that our number one travel tip of all time is to talk to the locals and trust their recommendations.

But that doesn’t mean we don’t do our research ahead of time.

Our current operating method is to arrive at any new destination with an understanding of what it is known for and a list of possible activities that we might enjoy. We also have a loose schedule in our minds since we have discovered it is easy to miss out on great experiences just because you didn’t have a grasp on operating hours or tour times. Our actual itinerary on most trips ends up being a combination of planning and kismet. Finding the sweet spot between these two things is always a work in progress.

So what do we do in advance of any longer RV trip? I recommend using all the usual online tools, then venturing off the beaten path. Here is my general process.

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06 Jan

Holidays in the RV: Reflections on a New Adventure

It is the Twelfth Day of Christmas, and I am ready to throw my Christmas tree out the window.

Don’t get me wrong…I really do think it’s the most wonderful time of the year. But by New Year’s Day, I’m always ready to sweep up the last of the needles and call it quits on the holiday season.

This year, the holidays looked quite a bit different for us. We traveled on both Thanksgiving and Christmas, spending one in the RV and one in a hotel. So of course I have some thoughts and opinions. You have come to expect that from me.

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When Max and Theo were three years old, we traveled south to visit family over the Christmas holiday break. To be frank, it was a nightmare. Instead of enjoying our own family traditions and relaxing, we ended up tired and stressed. The trip ended and we said, No more. From now on we celebrate holidays in our own home.

And we did. Until this year. If you listened to the Thanksgiving podcast episode of Girl Camper, you heard me talk about how we have struggled to answer the question of what holidays will look like now that our extended family has moved far away. We have slowly let go of what a holiday should look like, and have started asking ourselves what we want it to look like.

This year we decided to try camping on Thanksgiving. I honestly did not know how I would like it, but I’m going to cut right to the chase…it was marvelous. The next month, my mother in law offered to send us to Great Wolf Lodge for Christmas…and it was just as awesome.

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So I’ve been thinking: Why did I enjoy holidays away from home so much? Why were these holiday travel experiences different from ones in the past?

Holidays are supposed to be about spending time with loved ones, right? But so often we get caught up in the planning, preparations, events, cleaning, baking, and general running around, and we end up stressed and exhausted.

When we spent Thanksgiving in the RV, 100% of our focus was on spending time together with family and friends. I wasn’t worried about a clean house or making 5 different desserts from scratch. I actually experienced more sustained gratefulness over this Thanksgiving weekend than I ever can remember in the past. We were doing fun things together, enjoying the last of the beautiful fall weather, and gathering with friends who we don’t often see.

On Christmas, we spent the morning at our house, opening gifts and enjoying a holiday breakfast. By noon we were off to Great Wolf Lodge. Again, I didn’t know how I would feel about the experience and again, I ended up feeling an overwhelming freedom spending time with my family instead of worrying about all the holiday busyness that can be so distracting. We were in bathing suits going down watersides instead of sitting around the living room feeling over stuffed and overstimulated. We weren’t installing batteries and breaking down cardboard boxes. We were just having fun.

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Don’t get me wrong, everything wasn’t perfect. I think if we did it again, I might want to develop some roadworthy traditions because I’m sentimental and love that stuff. Next year on Thanksgiving, for example, I would definitely do a campground meal instead of eating out at restaurant.

I was worried that spending the holidays away from our home would leave me feeling unfettered and strange. Instead, I felt more rooted than ever. Because I was completely experiencing the most important part of the holiday season…time with family.

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Happy New Year, and we wish you joy.

~Stephanie

31 Dec

RVFTA #69 Top 12 Travel Highlights of 2015

Top 12 Travel Highlights of 2015

On this week’s episode of RV Family Travel Atlas, we are sharing our top 12 RV Travel Highlights of 2015. And as an added bonus, we have lots of listener highlights to share as well!

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But before we get into that…we have our first big announcements of 2016! We will be attending the Florida RV Supershow in Tampa, Florida from January 13-17th. Stay tuned for more details about a scheduled meet and greet.

In 2015, we spent over 70 nights in the RV, staying in both public and private campgrounds, sometimes tucked away in the woods, other times sprawled out on souped-up patio sites.

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We hiked and biked and kayaked and swam. We rode roller coasters, ziplines, water taxis and ski lifts. It was almost impossible to narrow our picks down to just 12, but we managed.

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You might think that New Year’s is all about the resolutions. But we here at RVFTA believe in looking back and celebrating the best moments in our lives.

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You are listening to Episode #69: Top 12 Travel Highlights of 2015!

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16 Dec

We Want to Hear Your 2015 RV Highlight!

What was your top RV highlight of 2015?

Our New Year’s episode of RV Family Travel Atlas is just around the corner, and we will be sharing our top RV and travel moments from the year: new experiences, favorite travel destinations, and the family moments that made it all worth it.

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We might also throw in a few of our least favorite moments from 2015…just for good cheer.

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It would be awesome to include some of our readers’ and listeners’ top RV moments of the past year also. We know many of you purchased your first rig, upgraded to more fancy digs, or took your campers farther than ever before in 2015. You saw new places and experienced moments that will be talked about for years to come.

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Tell us about it. Send us an email at rvfamilytravelatlas@gmail.com, use the contact form on our site, or just comment below!

Happy New Year and Happy Trails,

Stephanie + Jeremy

RVFTA Podcast Network-2

03 Dec

RVFTA #65 Opting Outside in Washington DC

#OptingOutside in Washington, DC blog

On this week’s episode of RV Family Travel Atlas, we are heading back to Washington DC, one of our favorite urban RV destinations. The combination of outdoor activities and historical interest make this one of the most family friendly vacation spots on the East Coast.

imagesWe decided to join at least a million other Americans on Black Friday who skipped a day of shopping to #optoutside. Instead we chose to enjoy a different kind of mall…our National one.

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11 Nov

Home Again, Home Again: 6 Tips for Unpacking the RV

unpacking the rv

It’s no one’s favorite part about RV travel, but trips come to an end, and unpacking the RV is a reality we must all face. Last spring, on Episode #36 of the podcast, we talked about strategies for packing the RV. That was a very popular episode, and more than one listener emailed us and said, What about unpacking tips, huh? Huh?

Well, we put it off for awhile, because…unpacking.

Sure, it’s necessary. But it’s also kinda sad. The trip is over, all the laundry is dirty, and nobody ate the leftovers from that amazing Dutch oven stew so you have to throw it all out.

So we finally tackled the topic in a mini-segment on this week’s podcast. You can hear us talk through our process by listening to the episode here. But this is a cheat sheet for those of you who like lists…

1.All Hands on Deck.

We have learned it is so important to involve our children in every stage of our travel. We give them jobs when packing, while at the campground, and when we return home. One of the best lessons we can teach our children is that cleaning up is part of having fun. We are also teaching basic life skills. Win/Win.

2. Use the Camping World Pop Up Bins.

Sort camper laundry and house laundry before you even bring it into the house. Do all of your camper laundry–sheets, blankets, and towels–in a load together and then return right away to the RV.

Ready for a renegade idea? Do your laundry before you come home, taking advantage of the campground laundromat. I know that sounds kooky, but I love loading up 3 washing machines and getting it all done quickly, then returning home with clean clothes.

3. Establish a Camper Return spot in the house.

Sometimes items that belong in the RV end up in the house during the unpacking process. Have a designated spot in the house to put any bowls, serving spoons, or linens that need to go back out to the RV. The next time you are heading outside, grab the items and return them to the camper.

4. Restock right away.

Refer to your camper white board, checklist, or phone app to see what you ran out of on the trip. Need shampoo? Put it in the RV right now. This isn’t always possible, but it makes packing for the next trip a breeze.

5. Remove all traces of food and debris.

Some people like to leave their camper pantry stocked for the season. No. Have you heard the stories of squirrels, mice, and ants? If not, just go online and visit some forums. The risk is not worth the convenience. If you want to keep your RV pantry items separate and easy to repack, buy a large tupperware bin, load it with your pantry items, and store in your house until the next trip.

And vacuum. Yes…under the sofa, too.

6. Do NOT sit down before you are done. If you do, game over. You’re toast.

We don’t always follow all of our own rules, but feel so rewarded when we do. And when we finally sit down to relax, we know the only thing to worry about is planning the next RV trip. Game on.