Some holiday traditions should be abandoned, like slaving away in the kitchen. What fun is it if everyone else is having a good time but you’re stuck with the cooking? If you don’t enjoy the hassle of making a big holiday dinner in your sticks and bricks home, it’s time to start the holiday season on the road with RVing holiday dinners.
RVing Holiday Dinners are Easy
Do you live in an area with mild weather this time of year? Then pack up the RV and move your holiday season celebrations to a great RV campground. When you move the party to your favorite state or national park it`s like gaining an extra summer weekend at year’s end. As a result, the best part is that RVing holiday dinners are less labor intensive than a traditional sticks-and-bricks feast, but they are just as much fun to enjoy. Here’s how to prepare for your all new custom:
Meal Prep Tips for RVing Holidays
Many traditional holiday meal components like dips, salads and pies can be prepped and even made ahead of your departure. What`s more, once you arrive, a barbecue grill, pressure cooker and cast iron skillet can replicate your favorite holiday meals at the campsite, without any fuss. Use them in the following ways:
Toss the turkey and try Cornish game hens or turkey sausages. Most RV ovens are too small to cook turkeys, so consider grilling your main meat dish instead.
Pre-cook time intensive side dishes like squash and potatoes in the pressure cooker. Make them in shifts then pop them in the oven together.
Cast iron skillets for sides can be placed on a stovetop or campfire. Cook old favorites like green beans or seared Brussels sprouts with garlic in this multipurpose pan that’s a must-have for RVers.
Great Recipes for RVing Holiday Meals
Keep your favorite holiday meal recipes and retire the rest. For some added excitement turn to these innovative RVing holiday dinner recipes spotlighted by RVlife.com food writer and culinary maven, Marian Platt.
“Tis the Season for Pie” gives suggestions for pie fillings you can easily make in the RV. Just pour into a pre-made pie crust and enjoy any of these:
Pear Cranberry Lattice Pie
Sour Cream Raisin Pie
“Eggnog, a Holiday Tradition” puts everyone in the festive spirit with creatively cooked ways to enjoy this popular favorite, including:
Great RVing holiday meals don’t have to be restricted to the Fourth of July and Labor Day. Make the most of your year-round camping climate by adding Thanksgiving and the winter holidays to your annual RV celebrations.
As a professional photographer, I get asked all the time: What is a good camera to buy? What should I get to document my upcoming trip? What do I need to capture non-blurry photos of my kids?
And my all-time most commonly asked question: What do I do with all the pictures and videos I have on my phone? As a pro, I understand the benefits and limitations of cameras very well, but I am not an all-knowing camera salesperson. Instead of trying to pretend to understand your ideal photographic solution, let me shed some light on the differences between each category of cameras, and you can make an informed decision from there as to which camera is right for you.
First, let’s discuss what you need the actual photos for, and more importantly, what you plan to do with them. This will help you to understand what modern tool you need for the job. In the old days cameras were much more straightforward. For the most part, you bought rolls of film, inserted them into your camera and took photos. When you got the photos back from being developed, you either enlarged and framed one or two or even bought a basic sticky album to put them all in. (Or worse yet, you just left them in the envelope they came in from the lab.) That was a simpler time in imagery for sure. Now we seem to be more thoughtful storytellers with our photos and need the right tool to make it painless and simple to operate, manage and distribute all of our work.
Some fundamental questions to ask yourself before picking the right camera.
Am I creating a visual documentary of my travel journey?
Will I be capturing photos only or photos and videos in the same device?
Are the photographs I’m capturing for Instagram, SnapChat, Facebook etc.
How will I carry the camera and how big can it be?
What is my budget for a camera?
Will the photos be brought to an archive system and saved for future use and printing?
Will I be creating a masterpiece for the wall of the RV/Home?
Although diving deeply into this series of questions is an entirely separate blog post, you must first know the outcome of your work to know what tools you need. Let me guide you through the types of tools you can bring with you on the road, and you can refer back to those questions to find your answers.
There are essentially four basic types of cameras.
The first camera is probably the most common one, and that is the camera on your phone. The second is the most common “real camera”, and the one people think about purchasing first – the DSLR camera. The third is the exciting newer genre of cameras that has dominated imagery the past few years – the Action Camera and 360º Cameras. And lastly, the slowly dying breed of cameras called Point and Shoots.
The first camera to talk about is your phone’s. Phone cameras are at best as middle of the road point and shoot cameras. They are of similar quality, but with excellent editing and sharing capabilities (Sharing is SO vital to so many people, and the lack of low overall quality is overlooked for the convenience of shooting and sharing.) Yes, even the newest phone’s camera sensor is not in the same quality league as the sensors from DSLRs and Mirrorless SLRs. Despite their quality shortcomings, their ease of use makes them the go-to camera for millions. Coupled with the speed of sharing and accessibility, they will continue to dominate. The drawbacks to the camera phones are many and begin with lack of true manual control (to override the auto settings), lack of quality accessory expandability (like lenses), and lots of people claim to feel that creativity suffers when using their phone.
How does the camera phone cause lack of creativity? Simply put, the camera phone is so readily accessible, people tend to shoot anything and everything that might spark their interest. So much so, that they are carelessly shooting nonsense much of the time, which ultimately buries their greatest moments deep within piles of garbage pictures.
When we load a memory card into a Mirrorless SLR or DSLR, we are essentially saying, “Ok, I inserted my blank canvas. My camping trip to the shore will be my paintbrush to work with.” When using a DSLR I treat each memory card as if it was a roll of film for that day/event/place only. I then deliberately capture to paint a beautiful story of our trip. One picture at a time I pick and choose what I want to capture and document. For some reason, the act of carrying that camera with me forces me to think one frame at a time and the results show. Something a phone just can’t seem to do as well. (Side note/Pro Tip: I then download that memory card the second I get home and label the folder of images MMDDYYYY_NameofTrip/Event and save it under a folder of the year)
The DSLR and its modern cousin, the Mirrorless SLR, are likely the only cameras you will handle that will genuinely give you that sensation of working with an actual creation tool. The long and short of SLRs are their endless expandability from lens options to flash options to the sheer quality in the files. (What I mean by quality in the files is how clear the images are at close zoom while viewing in the computer) Big camera sensors mean big clean files you can enlarge, enhance & print. You can change lenses that allow you wide-angle viewing as well as telephoto zoom lenses to get you right up close. DSLRs are larger than anything else you will handle, but the quality of file of your once in a lifetime trip will be something that is undeniable.
You have to weigh the cost vs. size vs. personal use of images to know if an SLR is for you. Most all, SLRs now offer incredible video capabilities as well that translate to a powerful multitool for both mediums and increases their value. SLRs have always been the only way to go, and the whole photography industry is watching everything that is happening around the new smaller Mirrorless SLR phenomenon. Only an SLR will allow you to do something like this 30-minute exposure of our camper in the middle of the night.
The incredibly shrinking niche in the photography market is undoubtedly the Point and Shoot marketplace. For all practical purposes, these cameras have always had small lenses and small sensors, and quite frankly, the camera phones of today just outperform that of the traditional point and shoots. One point and shoot exception is the “Tough Waterproof Cameras.” They offer unique differences like underwater shooting and shockproof/drop proof shots. These types of cameras as you can imagine, make exceptional backpack cameras for hikes, beaches, vacations, etc. They are virtually indestructible pocket cameras that aren’t fixed wide-angle/fisheye cameras like action cameras. Point and shoot cameras still have a purpose such as manually overriding the auto settings, long exposures, self-timer, etc, but more and more you will see this segment dwindle away as phones take over their space completely.
Wearable action cameras have been the fastest growing segment in photography for a few years now. These little pint-sized cameras are mostly known for their impressive video capabilities, but quite honestly, I have ALWAYS used them as still cameras. Whether attached to my bike, my backpack or even my dog Cole. (Side note/Pro Tip: I set these little powerhouse cameras to take interval timer photos (once every 5 seconds) and let them shoot away. Then I submerge my family in the scene and act out life as usual.
The result is a memory card full of images, but after I select a handful of my amazing favorites, I delete the rest and enjoy a few fantastically candid scenic photos of ourselves. Action camera benefits are clearly their size, their wearability, and their environmental proofing. Recently, I have been having a blast with my new 360º camera and that market has yet to officially take off.
OR Embed in VR with photo on our FB Iframe Code: <iframe src=”https://www.facebook.com/plugins/post.php?href=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.facebook.com%2Four1chance%2Fposts%2F1934410313269591&width=500″ width=”500″ height=”614″ style=”border:none;overflow:hidden” scrolling=”no” frameborder=”0″ allowTransparency=”true” allow=”encrypted-media”></iframe>
Keep your eyes out for how the cool VR/AR photos and videos will play out over the next 4 years.
So, with all that said, which type of camera is the most important to have?
THE ONE YOU HAVE WITH YOU! I know that isn’t the answer you were looking for but it’s a complex subject. As a pro photographer, I happen to have all of these types of cameras and can honestly say I use them all for each of their individual strengths. Captured with my Phone
No one camera is going to be your end-all, so you have to work within your budget and decide if you want something expandable, self-contained, wearable, etc. Each one is so uniquely different that I feel the need to have all of them to feed my soul as an artist, but of course, I don’t expect people to get all types. (My DSLRs are what I make a living off of so those tools of the trade are unfairly weighted)
I’d love to continue the conversation with you about camera needs, wants and desires. Leave a comment below with some questions or head over to our blog http://www.our1chance.com or on social @our1chance and DM us your question.
There is a growing number of women who enjoy RVing independently, whether because their families are not into traveling, or because they are single, or just for the adventure of being alone in the wilderness. Many women who might consider independent RVing are hesitant to jump in and get started. That is where groups like RVing Women can help.
Janet Miller has been a member of RVing Women for over 15 years. When she found herself nearing retirement, she relocated from her home in Wisconsin to Nevada in order to enjoy the warm Southwest climate.
She had met some friends who traveled in an RV through work and found the lifestyle intriguing. After reading through the RVing Women magazine, filled with helpful and interesting information, she bought a small Class C motorhome and began traveling with her partner on weekends.
After retirement, Janet vowed to attend one of the RVing Women Rallies to see what they were all about and meet some fellow lady travelers. Over the three-day rally, she met many other members, learned a lot, and enjoyed the community and ease of traveling with a group of women. Everyone was very helpful and no question was too simple to be asked. Janet shares,
“The most challenging part of my entry into RVing was learning the in’s and outs of preventative maintenance, and the need to be aware of all systems of the “Motor” part of the motorhome (engine, tires, brakes, shocks, etc.) and the “Home” parts (refrigerator, air conditioning, stove, water heater, etc.) In addition, I had to learn the basic housekeeping associated with Fresh Water storage and exit water storage (black and grey.) Fortunately, I had good teachers either through devouring the Internet, reading Motorhome and RVing Women Magazine and by receiving the help of other RV’ers along the road.”
Since that initial rally, Janet has made it a goal to get out with her RV at least once a month, with a “use it or lose it” attitude to keep her out exploring. There is no RVing women chapter in Nevada, so she joined as a member of the Arizona and Southern California groups in order to attend rallies in neighboring states. Through the years, she has become an active member and is hosting the upcoming boondocking rally in Quartzite, AZ starting January 17, 2019.
Janet finds that the benefits of being a member of RVing Women are largely the safety and comfort of traveling in an all-women group with different lifestyles and life stories are accepted without fear or humiliation—regardless of your experience level.
Single women, widows, divorcees, or those just looking to get away—the common thread is a group of women with a taste for adventure. Some have new, fancy rigs, others have found older RVs that they have creatively and lovingly refurbished to their individual needs and tastes.
Some women are retired, others still working, and some are full-time RVers. Rally attendance can range from 20 to 100 and is largely dependent on the space available at the hosting site. Rally hosts work a year or two in advance to secure campsite areas, permits, and activities. Often rallies are coordinated around another event, like an RV Show, or music festival.
In addition to the rallies, the group often hosts informal “meet-ups” throughout the year, from weekend trips to “rolling rallies” where members travel over many days or weeks as a caravan to enjoy destinations like the Grand Canyon or Yellowstone. These longer trips are great for single travelers who might be hesitant to attempt the journey by herself.
There are 17 RVW chapters across the United States, and members can attend any rally across the US that interest them. Many members travel south for the winter and may join a southern chapter such as the Arizona or Florida Chapters, but return home during the summer months where they might participate in rallies associated with their home state area.
RVing Women also has an annual convention that changes location across the country each year, so that members can attend periodically from all parts of the country. Tours and educational seminars, as well as entertainment and vendor offerings, make this a very interesting event to attend and members often arrive early and stay later to enjoy a 10 day or so experience with their RVW “Convention Friends.”
For more information on the RVing Women Quartzite Rally, click here. For other chapter rallies, visit the listing of events on the left side of the RVing Women web page.
Full-time RVing is certainly not for everyone, but many people dream of hitting the road full-time if life was different. The good news is that this lifestyle is very doable, it just takes some effort, planning, and downsizing. If you think you can’t RV full-time because of these three reasons, think again.
Of course, RVing with kids comes with challenges, but it also has its own benefits. Your little ones don’t always have to run around those pricey theme parks every day. Full-time RVing rather gives you a chance to roadschool and be closer with your children and give them hands-on experience at museums, historic sites, national parks, and state capitals, as opposed to sitting in a classroom all the time listening to lectures or reading about these places in books.
You can find educational books on the areas you’re visiting and teach them life lessons that are not always taught in public schools. In the evenings, they can often find other kids to play with at the RV park or campground, many of which have playgrounds. By night, they can fall asleep watching TV in the camper while the adults are outside around the campfire.
Like at home, RVing comes with plenty of money challenges. Things in the RV are always breaking and they’re almost always going to cost you. However, there are many ways to make and save money while you’re living and traveling full-time in an RV.
Some of your options include remote work online or even starting your own mobile business. Many full-timers also like to stay in one place for a few months for a seasonal workamping job. You could also search for local handyman projects or gigs at nearby events.
If you’re creative, sell prints of photography from your travels or get a booth at local fairs to sell artisan goods like jewelry. Set up an Etsy shop or your own website through WordPress or Wix. Other RVers have found great success in gaining a following on their blog, Youtube channel, or podcast.
It is also equally important to save money as you travel. Instead of camping in RV parks and resorts every night, you can save a lot of money by boondocking for free on public land, or for cheap in county or state parks. Once in a while, stay overnight at Walmart, rest areas that allow overnight parking, or if you’re lucky enough, a friend or family member’s driveway. Rather than spend money on overpriced tourist attractions, try seeking out local parks, hiking trails, and other free/cheap points of interest.
Save money on food by cooking in your RV as often as possible (though it is nice to take a break from cooking sometimes to try the local restaurants). Always search for the lowest local gas prices on Gas Buddy’s website or free app before you fuel up. You can also plan your trip on RV Trip Wizard to track all of your trip expenses easily.
Many people would love to travel full-time but do not want to go alone. While some aren’t comfortable with doing everything by themselves, others don’t mind as it gives them solitude and independence.
There are both men and women who RV solo and plenty of RV clubs and online forums where you can meet and chat with other like-minded travelers. Solo travel isn’t for everyone, but definitely something to consider if you would love to travel full-time and don’t want to wait on anyone else.
You’ve just purchased your first RV, so now it is time to stock your rig with everything you’ll need to get rolling. It’s tempting to head straight to a camping store or to hop online and order EVERYTHING. New grill? Cute pillows from Etsy? All of the camping chairs? Those items are fun, terrific purchases; however, you might want to pause and prioritize before you find yourself dropping $1000 on gear you might not want or need.
The ultimate goal with stocking up is to have everything you will need and nothing you won’t. When we first started RVing, we hauled many of our regular household items out to the RV for each and every trip, and then we hauled those same items back into the house.
Of course, this process got tiresome after a bit. However, it helped us figure out which items we used the most. Those went to the top of our packing list. Over time, we bought dedicated gear that stayed in the RV and continued to use a checklist to repack items as needed.
You can use our complete stock up checklist as a starting guide for your first rig. Over time, you’ll learn which items you can’t live without and which ones you never touch. Then, you can develop and refine your own personalized packing list. Here’s an overview of some of our essential recommendations:
RV Tools and Safety Gear
Tools and safety gear are less fun to purchase than the cute or kitschy camping décor many of us covet; however, these items ensure your safety and security while on the road or in a campground. Put these necessities at the top of your list—or else!
To set up camp, you’ll need the following items:
Sewer hose (the stinky slinky)
Potable water hose
Water pressure regulator
Electricity converters (to move between 20, 30, and 50 amp)
The following basic tools and gear can help you roll safely down the road and repair small problems:
Basic tool box
Tire pressure gauge
Fuse replacement kit
Other overlooked safety gear might include a rechargeable flashlight, a fly swatter, a water filter, and latex gloves. These will come in handy!
Camp Furniture and Outdoor Gear
Once you’ve safely set up your rig, now comes the fun part of turning your campsite into a pleasant outside living space. You can always start with relatively cheap versions of these items and then upgrade over time. After five years of traveling, we’ve become camp chair connoisseurs, with each family member having a favorite style, but trust me, we didn’t start off that way.
Here are some items you might want that will make your campsite even cozier:
One camp chair per person
An outdoor rug
Now, comes the fun part. You can truly personalize your campsite with the following gear:
Pop up shelter
What’s a campsite without a campfire? If you forget to stock these items, you’ll miss out on this revered camping ritual:
Firewood (note: some states do not allow the transport of firewood from area to area)
Lighter & matches
Kitchen (Indoor & Outdoor)
Ah, the kitchen. Some people use camping as a chance to take a break from their culinary duties, while others take pride in becoming the consummate camp chef. No matter which one of these is your goal, you’ll likely need some kitchen essentials.
Of course, you’ll need the basic eating utensils. Consider purchasing unbreakable items, whenever possible. Our rule of thumb is to pack one for each per person, plus a couple of extras.
Plates & bowls
Cups and mugs
Next comes the cookery. Think about the wares and utensils you will need to prepare the types of meals you cook most often. Consider stocking the following:
We don’t store food in the RV when not in use, but these pantry staples can be kept in airtight containers, ready to load:
Salt, pepper, & other seasonings
Oil & vinegar
Coffee (don’t forget the filters and coffee maker)
Finally, you’ll want these miscellaneous kitchen items to help keep your kitchen clean and functional:
Dish towels & washcloths
Can opener & bottle opener
If you’ll be using an outdoor grill, be sure to include the specialty supplies to accompany your grill.
The bathroom is one of the places you’ll want to have well stocked. Health and hygiene are pretty essential! Take care of those with these items:
Shampoo, conditioner & body wash
Toothpaste & toothbrush
Shaving cream & razors
Hand soap & sanitizer
Towels, hand towels & washcloths
Bedroom & Closets
We highly recommend having dedicated bedding for all of the beds in your rig. Bonus points if you have pillows and blankets you can leave in it—those are the biggest pain to haul in and out! Whether you buy new or choose to use spares you already have, here are just a few of the main items you’ll need for your beds and bodies:
Jackets and rain gear
If you have old shoes and spare clothes that can “live” in the RV, it’s nice to leave them packed, just in case you ever take off without these essentials (not that we’ve ever done that!)
Wow! That seems like a lot of stuff. Just remember, you don’t have to pack EVERYTHING on this list. Start small, and add only the gear you think you will use. Once you have a handful of trips under your belt, you’ll develop a rhythm and routine all your own. Soon, you’ll have a good idea of your perfect stock up list. Until then, feel free to consult our Complete RV Stock Up List as a starting point. Then, get out there and make that new rig the cozy home on wheels you’ve always dreamed of!
Getting out into nature and enjoying cooking in the great outdoors is how I want to live. One of the best ways to do that is by RVing! I am so excited to announce that I am teaming up with Go RVing to show how easy it is to cook delicious meals around a campfire while you are exploring nature. Whether you are in a different state or at a nearby campground, RVing doesn’t have to limit the flavor of the food that you eat. Everything I will cook will be simple, easy and delicious. So to kick it all off, I have decided to cook some Campfire Surf & Surf.
The old Surf & Turf is a classic grilling recipe. But for all you seafood lovers out there, why not substitute the heartiness of the steak with a thick piece of salmon? Top that off with some skewered shrimp and veggies. Now you are talkin’ my language!
In my Campfire Surf & Surf recipe, you will first grill up a massive chunk of wild caught salmon over the fire. Seasoned with parsley, garlic, cayenne powder and more to make sure you have a savory and tangy fish. The same seasoning will go on the shrimp as well! This will balance the flavor of the food with the same seasoning on two very different seafoods. The tenderness of the salmon really complements the robust flavor of the shrimp to make sure you get that variety that you are looking for in a combo dish like this. Lastly, you will add some charred veggies cooked on a skillet/plancha over the fire. These veggies round out the whole meal with their salty and charred flavor.
My favorite part about this dish is how easy it is to cook. All the ingredients you can find on the road at any local grocery store! Plus, they do not take up a lot of space in your RV while still giving you delicious food. Stay tuned for more recipes to come while I cook over fire in an RV!
Yields: 2-4 Servings
Cook: 30 minutes
Prep: 15 minutes
Equipment Needed: Fire pit, wooden skewers, cast iron skillet/plancha, tongs, wood, and fire starters.
CAMPFIRE SURF & SURF
1 whole salmon (un-filleted)
1 lb. of shrimp (no shell & de-veined)
2 zucchini (diced)
2 yellow squash (diced)
1/2 white onion (cut into halfmoons)
1 tbsp of dried parsley
1 tbsp of minced garlic
2 tsp of cayenne powder
Sea salt & black pepper (to taste)
Using a fire starter, build your fire and let burn until it coals (about 15-20 minutes).
While the fire is burning, skewer the shrimp & lather both the shrimp and salmon with olive oil on all sides. Season both shrimp & salmon with dried parsley, minced garlic, cayenne powder, sea salt & black pepper.
Once fire is hot, season skillet/plancha with olive oil and start cooking zucchini, yellow squash and onions. Let cook until nicely charred & soft (about 10 minutes).
While veggies are cooking, place salmon on grill skin side down. Let cook for 8 minutes per side. Cook until internal temp reads 145F. PS: You can also smoke the salmon if you prefer!
Lastly, place skewered shrimp on grill and let cook.
On a crisp fall day, I stand on the shore of a lake that is sparkling with a million sunlit stars across it; the warm sun on my face making a noticeable contrast to the coolness of the breeze at my back. The day is a perfect blend of summer shorts and soft fall flannel shirts.
Flattop Mountain and the Bighorn flats seem to stand guard over the abundant wildlife in the valley floors where the golden leaves of the aspen trees are glowing with the backlighting of the sun.
The gentle breezes play along the lake surface, painting strokes of light sparkles as they move. It is the perfect backdrop to a day that breathes the promise of a rugged hike, then warm soup and fresh bread.
Rocky Mountain National Park is the crown jewel of Colorado’s National Parks and Monuments. It is located between Estes Park on the east side and Grand Lake on the west side, about an hour and a half drive northwest from Denver.
As one of the largest and most visited National Parks, averaging over 3 million visitors each year, the park boasts some of the highest elevation of all the National Parks (with over 75 peaks over 12,000 feet), is home to the headwaters of the Colorado River and Cache la Poudre River, and straddles the Continental Divide. The park is open year-round, and at any time of the year a visitor can quickly see how special “Rocky” is.
Rocky Mountain National Park was established in 1915 by Woodrow Wilson as the ninth National Park. Today it encompasses over 415 square miles ranging from 7,840 feet by the east park entrance to 14,259 feet at the summit of Longs Peak.
Over 95% of the park is wilderness, spanning from the lower moosey marshes, over the moraines, to the alpine tundra, and then the high snowy peaks of the Never Summer Range.
More than a third of the park is above treeline (the altitude at which trees can grow). Trail Ridge Road, which allows travel 48 miles through the park from Estes Park to Grand Lake, is the highest paved roadway in America topping out at a driving elevation of 12,183 feet, and one of 11 designated America’s Byways in Colorado.
Trail Ridge Road is not maintained during the snowy winter months but makes for a spectacular summer travel route.
Although the park sees many visitors each year, there is plenty of space to get away from people and enjoy the wilderness. The park affords exceptional access to some of the most iconic Colorado scenery and high alpine ecosystems.
While only 100 miles of roads (28 of those on unpaved roads) are available for vehicle access, there are over 355 miles of backcountry hiking trails! There are 147 lakes and 450 miles of streams, many with fish including the threatened greenback cutthroat trout.
Some of Colorado’s oldest rocks can be found in the mountains of Rocky Mountain National Park, carved into exquisite landscapes by glaciers and rivers. Several small glaciers are still found in the high peaks within the park.
The park is listed as a United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural (UNESCO) international biosphere reserve and globally important bird area. Portions of the park’s montane, subalpine, and alpine ecosystems are managed as research natural areas for scientific and educational purposes.
The park has five visitor centers and four RV-friendly campgrounds that are open usually from late May to mid-September. Backcountry camping is also available year-round. Additional camping options can be found in Estes Park as well as in and around Grand Lake.
Do you read through RV blogs and websites, dreaming about traveling when your kids leave the house? I’ve got news for you—camping in an RV is something you and your kids can do right now.
The RV lifestyle scares away most families with the idea of being cramped into a small space with impatient children or moody teenagers. Still, those brave enough to try it out often discover what other families have been missing. It’s true, traveling with kids can be hectic…or it can be the chance you need to connect as a family.
Choosing a location
When choosing a location to camp with your family, keep in mind the types of activities your kids are wanting to do. Are they aspiring athletes? Nature fanatics? Do they like to swim or ride bikes? Be sure to choose a campsite with plenty to do. Some of the most kid-friendly campsites are the Yogi Bear’s Jellystone Park Camp-Resorts, a campground franchise with 85 locations scattered throughout the U.S. and Canada.
Many of these parks offer waterslides, swimming pools, and bounce houses, not to mention character appearances from Yogi and Boo Boo. Some U.S. National Park campgrounds offer Junior Ranger programs, which may appeal to younger children.
Always be aware of how family-friendly your chosen campsite is. While kids are welcome in some parks, others may find them disruptive. Some RV parks even charge a fee for each child. If you are nervous about disturbing your neighbors, boondocking may be a good option for you. Park on legal dispersed camping grounds, where your kids can run around with plenty of space.
Safety with kids
When driving with kids, safety is the number one priority. Always make sure that everyone is wearing a seatbelt, even when riding in the RV. In some states, seatbelts in RVs are not legally required, but they should always be worn regardless.
Make sure you choose the right size RV for your family. Class C vehicles are safer, but for a family of 6 or more, a Class A RV might be the only option. If little ones need to sleep in overhead bunks, consider bringing along a bedrail. Always keep printed versions of your kids’ medical records with you in case of an emergency.
Keeping kids happy on the road
That said, your kids can be safe while still having fun. Rather than letting children roam around the RV while it is in motion, take breaks to get out and stretch at least every 4 hours.
Try not to do a 10-hour drive all in one day. Instead, break up the trip into one-night stops at campsites where kids can swim and play. If you have infants or toddlers, schedule your driving during nap times. Trust me, you’ll be thankful for the lack of screaming.
Although it’s okay to let your kids watch movies in the car, there are quite a few other methods of entertainment that you might want to try first. Try to involve your children in the travel process as much as possible. Pick up some of those old-fashioned paper maps from AAA and show them how to plot out the trip.
Practice reading signs and billboards along the way, and do your best to answer their questions thoughtfully. Play games like car bingo or make a list of all the states you see on license plates. Listen to music as a family and sing along. Car rides don’t have to be a time to tune everyone out.
If you need quiet time, bring travel trays, paper, and crayons for your little artists. It can also be helpful to put together a “goodie bag” and reward good behavior with a new activity each leg of the trip (think play-doh, puzzle books, or magnet dolls). The kids will have fun, and you’ll get some peace and quiet.
Unplugging from technology
No one wants to go on a family vacation just to sit on their phones all day. Camping trips are about being together without electronic distractions, but if you have teenagers, this can be hard to achieve.
When choosing where to stay, consider a campsite that doesn’t offer WiFi. Better yet, leave electronics at home and plan alternate activities. Even older kids (when coaxed into participating) will enjoy s’mores, campfire sing-alongs, and board games.
No matter how old your kids are, make an effort to spend time with them while camping. Read books about the region in which you’re staying and learn about local wildlife. Bring along outdoor games like croquet or cornhole, and if you have time, make a personalized scavenger hunt to complete together.
If you’re near a lake, take your kids fishing or kayaking. Many National Parks offer family-friendly hikes or geocaching (hunting for small treasures based on GPS coordinates). The Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area now offers a refined form of geocaching called ParkCaching.
On rainy days, take the opportunity to teach your kids a new game, like chess or cards. Spend time as a family and make your next trip one you won’t forget.
Learning on the road
Kids often learn the most by experiencing things for themselves, so why not take advantage of some fun ways to learn during your family trip? If you choose to camp near a city, visit a zoo or museum.
Point out plants and animals while hiking, and don’t forget to let your kids roam a bit. Encourage kids of all ages to keep travel journals or scrapbooks to document their observations. Let them draw or glue in pictures of the trip. For younger children, this is a great opportunity to practice writing, though you may have to help them spell some words.
Full-time RVers with school-age kids may want to look into roadschooling. Like homeschooling, it allows you to develop lessons for your kids, but with the added bonus of incorporating real-world activities and once-in-a-lifetime experiences. Traveling is the perfect opportunity to teach your kids how to be life-long learners.
Keeping it clean
When you’re living in a 400 sq. ft. motorhome, your space is bound to get messy; bringing kids along increases the chance by about a million percent. If you don’t want to lose your children under heaps of toys and blankets, it’s important to stay organized.
It can be helpful to give each child his or her own plastic shoebox to fill with whatever toys, papers, pencils, and stuffed animals they wish to bring along. This sets a limit on the number of toys they are allowed. Another way to free up space is to set up a separate “play tent” outside the RV, where you can stuff all toys, games, and books whenever they’re not being played with.
You also want to make sure that you’re not bringing too much of the outdoors in. Before letting your children inside, make sure all shoes are removed and sandy feet are rinsed. A doormat and a small broom are essential for the prevention of a dirty RV. You may want to invest a sack for dirty laundry and a cheap plastic tray for toys or dishes.
Be sure to involve your kids in campsite cleanups; believe it or not, many children enjoy being new given responsibilities. You can even make chore time into a game—try playing “Simon Says” with clearing the table or have competitions to see who can gather the most firewood.
One of the best parts of a camping trip comes after dark. No trip is complete without a blazing campfire. Use this time to circle up and hold a family sing along with silly camp songs or have a marshmallow-toasting contest.
Kids will love roasting hot dogs on a stick. You can also set aside a special snack to have only during RV trips—your kids will learn to associate this food tradition with family camping and have something to look forward to each time. When putting little ones to bed, maintain the same nighttime routine that you follow at home. Bring along your child’s blanket or pacifier and try to put them to bed around the usual time.
Even after the campfire dies down, nighttime can be a fun time to play with your kids. Reduce stress by buying glow stick bracelets or necklaces; the kids will love it, and you’ll be able to see them.
Lay down and gaze at the stars. There are many astronomy apps that can help you identify constellations. Play glow-in-the-dark bowling with your kids by placing glow sticks inside water bottles and setting them up like pins. You may want to watch a movie together under the stars or catch fireflies in a jar. Camping with your kids is the time to relive your childhood, so have fun.
When bringing along the whole family for an RV vacation, be flexible. Things might not go exactly how you want them to, but that’s okay. Remember—every predicament you get yourselves into, though it may seem like a stressful problem at the time, will become a great story to tell when you get back home.
As our 2-year nomadversary approaches, we have been thinking about all of the lessons we have learned during our time full-time RV living; and boy have we learned some lessons!!!If you have also transitioned from a sticks and bricks home to living in an RV full-time, I am sure you will relate…
We have been very vulnerable in sharing our lives with our tiny humans in a tiny space in hopes of inspiring you to collect more experiences during your time here on Earth, so here we are again being a total open book with our top lessons learned from full-time RV living!
Lesson # 1: It’s Still Life
Just like living in a brick and sticks home, things will happen. We have learned how to just smile and laugh when unexpected things occur.When we took our RV out for a test run a few weeks before hitting the road full-time, our neighbor (who was also full-timing) told us, “Things will happen, learn how to just go with it!” This was his biggest tip to us. I swear the universe wanted to prep us early because that weekend before going back to our sticks and bricks, one of our landing legs did not want to go up!
We have learned that kids leave faucets running, rainstorms cause chaos, and sometimes things just stop working, After every “terrible” unannounced situation life has thrown at us, we have been able to laugh about it and learn a lesson from it as well.
Lesson # 2: Slow Down
We learned this very quickly after crossing the country from Florida to California in less than a week (just writing that makes me exhausted) after only being on the road for 2 months!
After talking to many RVers, they have also learned this lesson the hard way because they have experienced getting burned out.I understand that it is so exciting at first that it’s easy to try to do it all, but trust us, (we learned the hard way) not only is it exhausting, but you do not get to enjoy yourself as much.
When we learned the art of slowing down, we began to remember our experiences more clearly vs feeling like we had run a marathon and every memory was starting to mesh together.It also allowed us to really explore the area we were visiting including the non-tourist attractions.
We also learned the art of not driving 10+ hours in a day, the maximum we ever do now is 4 hours and the least we have done has been 25 minutes.Growing up in NYC, I didn’t realize how much I had been programmed to live my life in a hurry for absolutely no reason and I almost feel guilty that I had kind of rubbed off on my better half without either of us realizing it.So, I am very grateful for learning this lesson thanks to this lifestyle because our kids are learning the art of slowing down as well (#priceless).
Lesson #3: Collect Experiences
Coming from an 1,800+ sq. ft sticks and bricks home where I had been conditioned to fill every nook and cranny just because I had the room I quickly realized this was not possible in our lovely house on wheels.Not only is there not a ton of space, but there are also weight limits in the RV I had to keep in mind.
We have been determined to make every day memorable vs filling ourselves up with junk we truly don’t need.Our slogan “Collect Experiences, Not Junk” came to me on a random night as I looked through our recent adventures at the time and realized how joyous my heart was just from thinking back on all of these experiences.
If it had not been for this lifestyle, I am not sure we would have seen and done as much as we have.It is one thing seeing videos and reading about it and it’s a whole other story living the experience yourself.We have definitely collected more experiences in the last 23 months than most people do in 10 years thanks to RVing.
You can imagine what it’s like to go kayaking in uncharted waters, fish across the country, climb up a 1,300 foot mountain in the rugged Upper Peninsula of Michigan, sit in an actual NASA room, walk through a cave that used to be a copper mine, hike through the Poconos to find a huge hidden waterfall that can only be seen by climbing up the mountain, go swimming in a spring fed pool in the middle of the Rocky Mountains…. but your imagination is nothing like collecting that experience.Doing this with our children beside us has been life changing because we know in our hearts we are helping them realize the power of collecting experiences simply through living.
Lesson # 4: Research RVs
This lesson right here could have saved us a bit of a headache in the beginning.We were one of those couples that dove in head first with zero knowledge about RVs!We ended up picking a fifth wheel (we didn’t even know what that meant) and learned very quickly that the weight was a little too much for our truck at the time.We had already made the purchase, so we ended up having to purchase a truck that handled the weight and that also fit all of us because our truck at the time was only a 3-seater.
I even recommend renting the type of RV you are looking for on a site like Outdoorsy because then you can really get a feel for the type of layout and you will meet the owners of the RV and get to ask them questions too!Quite frankly, if someone had told me this when we first looked at RVs, I would have totally done it! Learn from us: do more research on type, length weight, diesel or gas, etc.
Lesson # 5: Meet Others on the Same Path
In the beginning, it was a pretty lonely journey.Our friends and family did not really get our lifestyle and they did not understand the landing legs, sewer fun times and all the “funny” lessons we were learning.We began to connect with more fellow RVers online (thank you Facebook, Instagram, YouTube and Twitter) and we quickly found so many “crazy” folks like us!
We have slowly began meeting each other in real life and collecting experiences with these folks too! It has made the journey that much more memorable to know that there are folks just like us out there escaping the chains of what we were told our entire lives was “normal.”We love our friends and family, and of course, keep them up to date, but until you live in an RV full-time, you won’t truly understand all the lessons this lifestyle throws at you.
Thank you so much for reading about our lessons learned!We are on a mission to inspire you through our actions to collect experiences of your own instead of junk while living a more intentional life.We would love to hear your thoughts below and any lessons you have learned from living in an RV full-time.
Cooking while camping can seem like a daunting task. Problems like food storage, time management, and limited counter space can make having home-cooked meals seem impractical. Even with access to electricity, you might be tempted to skip the wholesome meals and head to a fast food restaurant.
On the other hand, it’s important to remain happy and healthy on the road. Preparing ahead of time for what you’re planning to cook can turn a slightly intimidating experience into a simple and efficient one.
Spice mixes: Rather than packing loads of individual spices, choose from a few versatile combinations. Taco Seasoning, Italian Seasoning, and Pumpkin Pie Spice are some great options.
Canned goods: Reduce cooking time and improve storage by stocking up on canned beans, tomatoes, and fruit. Cans are cheap and easy to stack—just remember to pack a can opener.
Sauces: If possible, mix up your own sauces and dressings from scratch before you begin a trip. Homemade sauces will taste better and can be easily preserved in mason jars.
Dry goods: Be sure to pack staple foods such as rice, pasta, dried fruits, oats, and nuts, especially if you’re planning to cook your own dishes.
Snacks: Try to find healthy, non-perishable snacks like trail mix or beef jerky. It helps to have something you can throw in your backpack for a hike or day at the beach.
Baking mixes: Instead of filling your cupboards with flour, baking soda, sugar, and other baking essentials, use pre-made flour blends. You might be surprised by how much you can make with a box of pancake mix.
Local foods: Try to find fruits and vegetables at local farmers’ markets or roadside stands. If you’re near a fishing source, plan your meal around freshly-caught trout. Pack non-perishables in your pantry and eat fresh when you can.
Slow cooker/Pressure cooker: Although they consume more electricity than other methods, slow cookers and pressure cookers are convenient for days when you’re short on time. The Instant Pot serves as both, with 9 different settings for cooking meals.
Solar oven: Though it may seem unreliable, a good solar oven can be a worthwhile investment. Even without direct sunlight, some can reach temperatures up to 400° Fahrenheit, allowing you to cook almost anything as well as sanitize your drinking water.
Microwave oven: Though it can take up a lot of your precious counter or cupboard space, a microwave oven offers more convenience than any other cooking method, as it can quickly cook or reheat almost any food.
Aluminum foil: Never underestimate the power of good old aluminum foil. Whether cooking on the stove, in the oven, or over the fire, foil is often a necessity.
Below are some easy recipes to cook in your RV or campsite. Try them out when you’re craving a home-cooked meal, either for breakfast, lunch, or dinner.
Enjoy the smell of Thanksgiving all year round with this easy-to-make scramble. Using nonperishable stuffing mix, you can have it ready to serve it as a savory breakfast, lunch, or dinner in less than 15 minutes. Cook in a cast-iron skillet over the fire or a camping stove, or use the sauté feature on an Instant Pot.
Omelettes are another easy dish that can be served any time of the day. Requiring only a few basic ingredients, you can easily whip it up in a cast iron skillet. Add whatever’s available to you—basil, pine nuts, mushrooms, tomatoes, or cheese.
Spice up your boring sandwiches by throwing them on the grill. Fill your panini with meat, cheese, and condiments of your choice, then brush the outside with butter or olive oil. Wrap the sandwiches in aluminum foil and place on a camping grill with a brick or cast iron skillet on top.
For simple preparation and easy cleanup, cook pasta, meat, and vegetables in the same cast iron skillet, either over the open fire or on a camping stove. Try this recipe for a wholesome spin on macaroni and cheese.
Whip up breakfast for the whole family in just five minutes using an Instant Pot or another pressure cooker. If you don’t have an Instant Pot, oatmeal can be made on a camping stove in about 15 minutes.
Throw together this easy dinner on a night that you’re in a rush. Wrapped in foil, these fajitas can be cooked in an oven, on a grill, or in the ashes of the campfire. The best part? There are no dishes to wash!
For a refreshing lunch, mix up a quick chicken salad using avocado instead of mayonnaise. Since it lacks condiments, this meal saves room in your fridge and is a bit healthier. Serve on hamburger buns, lettuce, or half of a fresh avocado.