10 TIPS FOR NEW RV OWNERS

Hitting the open road in an RV and exploring America is on the top of many people’s bucket lists. And why shouldn’t it be? Traveling by RV is an incredibly flexible, and incredibly fun way to see our country’s backroads and byways, and its most magnificent places. RVs can also be used as guest houses, home offices, and basecamps for tailgating and day tripping. When you buy an RV the fun does really start on day one, but so does the learning curve. Anyone can own and operate an RV–but there are a lot of things to learn along the way. Thankfully, Go RVing is here to help you learn those things quickly so you can head out there and start exploring with confidence. Here are ten quick tips for new RV owners that will help you conquer the learning curve and take your seat around the campfire under a sky filled with sparkling stars.

 

  1. Should I Buy a Towable or Motorized RV?

The first decision many prospective owners have to make is whether to buy a towable or motorized RV. Ultimately, it’s a win-win proposition, but there are some things to consider. If you already own a capable pickup truck or SUV, you may want to consider a towable, because you’ve already spent a significant percentage of the money you need to spend to Go RVing. If you have two smaller cars that are not capable of towing an RV, then you might consider buying a motorhome. In a general sense, a truck and a towable RV cost about as much as a motorhome.

Airstream and mountains

 

  1. Try to Choose a Dealer that is Relatively Close to Home

It might be tempting to drive a great distance to find the best deal on a new RV, but there are benefits to buying from a dealer that is closer to home. When it comes time to winterize the RV or bring it in for service it is incredibly valuable to have a relationship with a good dealer that is close to home.

Hummingbird

 

  1. Record Your Dealer Walkthrough on a Smartphone

When you take ownership of your new RV your dealer should provide a thorough walkthrough to teach you how to operate all of its systems. It can be a lot of information to digest at once. Make sure you record each part of the walkthrough in separate segments that are easy to find later for reference. Record separate segments for things like dumping your tanks, operating your auto-leveling system, and winterizing your RV.

RV on lot

 

  1. Are You a State Park Camper or Private Campground Camper? Or Both?

It often takes time for new RV owners to figure out what type of campgrounds they like the most. In the broadest possible sense, there are two types of campgrounds–public and private. Public campgrounds are owned by the state, county, or country, and often offer large sites in beautiful settings with few amenities and limited hookups. Private campgrounds are owned by families or corporations and often offer a wide range of amenities and full hookups. Many RV owners like one or the other, but some love both.

Jayco in woods

 

  1. Reserve a Pull Thru Site for Your First Trip

We all need to learn to back up our RV’s as quickly as we can (and it’s really not that hard) but you might want to avoid doing so on your first trip by reserving a pull-thru site. What’s a pull-thru site? It’s a site that is connected by two roads so you can pull in from one road and pull out onto another.  These sites are often not as pretty and private as back-in sites, but they are easier to navigate for a newbie.

Jayco on campground with kids

 

  1. Avoid Driving At Night For Your First Few Trips

For the uninitiated, towing or driving an RV takes some getting used to. It might be wise to avoid driving at night until you get comfortable behind the wheel.  Driving in broad daylight is always a bit easier, and so is navigating a campground and getting situated in your site. Setting up camp in the dark is also more difficult than setting up while the sun is still shining.

Avoid Driving at Night if Possible

 

  1. Divide and Conquer During Set-Up

Setting up and breaking down camp can be a fun part of the process if everybody helps out and completes assigned tasks. Our boys are each given specific jobs when we arrive at the campground and they are expected to complete them before they take off to have fun. They also help pack up at the end of each trip. If everyone pitches in we are often up and running (or kayaking, swimming, or sitting around a campfire) in a snap.

interior of hummingbird

 

  1. Ask for Help At the Campground if You Need It

RV owners are notoriously friendly and helpful people–and many of them are handy too. If you arrive at the campground and need help getting your furnace going or deploying your awning, don’t be afraid to ask for help. Once you become a crafty veteran you will pay it forward by helping someone else out.

exterior storage

 

  1. Join RV Facebook Groups to Get Help

There are dozens (if not hundreds) of RV-centered Facebook groups that can be incredible resources when it comes to answering technical questions and getting recommendations. We moderate The RV Atlas group and make sure it stays friendly, helpful, and crank free. There are also Facebook groups dedicated to certain types of RV’s and even specific brands and nameplates. These types of groups can be lifesavers when it comes to answering specific questions about your exact make and model.

computer screen with facebook group

 

  1. Have a Sense of Humor and Adventure When Problems Come Up

Stuff happens and problems will occur. When they do, it’s important to maintain your sense of humor, and your sense of adventure. Just remember, the things that go wrong become the stories that you tell friends around the campfire. Overcoming challenges also builds resilience and self-sufficiency–two traits that RV owners are known to have in spades.

pets in truck towing RV

 

If you are just starting out on your journey as an RV owner we wish you luck and all of the joys and blessings of the open road.  Adventure is out there waiting for you and so is the RV of your dreams. We hope you get out there and grab them both.

 

Jeremy and Stephanie Puglisi are the co-hosts of The RV Atlas podcast and the authors of See You At The Campground: A Guide to Discovering Community, Connection, and a Happier Family in the Great Outdoors.

8 GREAT LAKEFRONT CAMPGROUNDS WITH GORGEOUS VIEWS

For an RV owner, there are few things better than scoring a great site on or near a beautiful lake.  Whether you love to fish, kayak, swim, or just take in the soothing views from your camp chair, lakefront camping is highly desirable. But that also means that lakefront sites can be challenging to reserve and can require advance planning and research. There are hundreds of great lakefront campgrounds in the United States, so where should an RV owner even begin to look?

 

Well, how about right here!

 

Below is a list of eight great lakefront campgrounds with gorgeous views. All of them are directly on, or steps away from lovely lakes. The time to start planning your next RV adventure is always right now. So let’s dive in!

 

Shelter Cove RV Resort (Odell Lake, Oregon)

The RV sites at Shelter Cove are top-notch. They are quiet, shady, and spacious–and many of them are just steps away from world-class fishing and boating on Odell Lake. During our stay, we rented a pontoon boat from the campground’s on-site marina and headed out onto the lake for swimming and a picnic lunch.  Shelter Cove felt like a dream from a storybook to me. If you have an RV and love to fish or kayak, I can think of no better place in America.

 

Jedediah Smith Campground (Crescent City, California)

The location of the Jedediah Smith Campground is stunning.  Camping among the old-growth redwood trees along the Smith River is peaceful and restorative to the soul. Kids can spend the entire day swimming and splashing in the river while you relax on the shoreline and dive in for a dip if you get hot. The Hiouchi Trail runs along the Smith River and takes you to Stout Grove–an incredible spot for viewing the redwoods up close and personal. It is one of our favorite family hikes of all time. RV sites are not directly on the water here, but they are very close.

 

Holiday Park Campground (Traverse City, Michigan)

Traverse City is an absolute gem, with great coffee shops, independent bookstores, breweries, restaurants, and a hip, cool, and outdoorsy downtown vibe. Holiday Park Campground is 15 minutes from town and has a hipster charm all its own. The setting is quiet and bucolic, and the waters of Silver Lake are crystal clear and warm for swimming. This used to be a seasonal campground for Airstream owners only–with a few rental sites for transient campers. The restriction was lifted many years ago–but there are still dozens of sites occupied by classic Airstreams–which makes for some serious RV eye candy.

 

Old Highway 86 Campground (Table Rock Lake, Missouri)

Old Highway 86 Campground is a gem in the often-overlooked Army Corps of Engineers network of campgrounds. It is situated on a peninsula that juts out into Table Rock Lake so every site has views of the water–and many of the sites (about 75 percent of them) back right up to the water. If you travel with kayaks or SUP’s there may be no better place to camp in the entire midwest. If you don’t have a site with direct water access there is a sandy swimming beach with picnic tables and there is a public dock for launching. Camping just doesn’t get much better than this. Anywhere.

 

Jellystone Lakes Region (Milton, New Hampshire)

This brand new Jellystone Park is located on the shores of Northeast Pond and has two of its own private, sandy beaches for swimming and kayaking. Basketball, volleyball, tennis, and soccer are available for the sports nuts in your family. So is giant chess, if you are feeling silly and cerebral. RV sites near the water are nice–but I also love the wooded and shady sites a little further back.  The world-famous White Mountains are just a bit further north if you want to do some serious hiking or drive up to Mount Washington.

 

Keuka Lake State Park (Finger Lakes, New York)

The campground at Keuka Lake State Park is located in the heart of New York’s wine country and would be perfect for a romantic RV trip without the kids. But if you bring the kids they will have a blast too. The sandy beach and crystal clear waters of Keuka Lake are perfect for swimming, kayaking, and romping around in the sand. The campground is not directly on the water but is just a short walk away.

 

Otter Lake Camp Resort (Pocono Mountains, Pennsylvania)

Otter Lake Camp Resort is a family favorite that many RV owners return to summer after summer. The 60-acre lake is perfect for fishing and kayaking and many of the RV sites are directly on the water. Families that love sports will have endless options here including basketball, tennis, and racquetball. The indoor and outdoor pools are also popular, and so are the themed weekends and organized activities.

 

Mount Pleasant/Charleston KOA  (Mount Pleasant, South Carolina)

This delightful KOA is located on the privately-owned 377 acre Oakland Plantation–whose history predates the Civil War.  We loved kayaking on the lake and spotting alligators resting in the sun along the shore–but we definitely skipped swimming here! Our boys also spent hours swimming in the pool and playing basketball while we were able to relax and read at our deluxe patio site. Proximity to downtown Charleston is very good and there is excellent regional food nearby.

 

 

We hope you find the lakefront RV site of your dreams and get to hit the open road sometime soon! Planning and daydreaming about your next epic trip is always a huge part of the fun! Just don’t forget your sunscreen, okay?

 

Jeremy Puglisi is the co-author of See You At The Campground: A Guide to Discovering Community, Connection, and a Happier Family in the Great Outdoors and the co-host of The RV Atlas podcast.

8 GREAT LOCATIONS FOR A ROMANTIC RV VACATION

Do you have a deep desire to escape the stress of everyday life and #roamoutside with the person that you love the most? Maybe it’s time to plan a romantic RV vacation and reconnect in one of our country’s most beautiful locations. If you do some advanced planning and pick the right spot there’s no reason why you both can’t end up breathing fresh air at the top of a mountain or with your bare feet in a clear mountain stream. The best part might be that each night will end in the comfort and privacy of your own RV, with your own bedding, bathroom and kitchen.

 

If you are ready to plan that long-deserved romantic RV vacation then here are eight great locations that are worth visiting. Because it’s never too soon to start mapping out your next great getaway!

 

Lake Placid / Whiteface Mountain KOA 

This pretty and peaceful campground is located at the base of Whiteface Mountain, just 15 minutes away from downtown Lake Placid and the dreamy waters of Mirror Lake. Epic fly fishing and hiking opportunities abound just minutes from the campground–and more adventurous souls can walk right from their sites down to the Ausable River for epic cliff diving or lazy summer swimming and picnicking.  The campground also has a gorgeous main lodge where you can enjoy coffee and a quiet breakfast on the back deck. During the fall, peak foliage is just as magical and colorful as it is anywhere in neighboring New England. Ask for a campsite near the river for more privacy and seclusion.

 

 

Sandy Pines Campground, Maine

This magical retreat in Southern Maine feels miles away from the hustle and bustle of nearby Kennebunkport. It is perched on the edge of a salt marsh and filled with shady roads lined with beautiful birch trees. The RV sites are spacious, shaded, and perfectly manicured, and many offer privacy and plenty of room for campfires. Get a site away from the pool area to avoid the crowds on hot summer days. Guests can rent paddleboards and kayaks from a local vendor and have them delivered right to the water’s edge. Bring your bikes and you can ride to the beach and spend the day relaxing in the warm sand. But just make sure you grab coffee and breakfast sandwiches at the charming camp store first! Sandy Pines is on point and on-trend for those that like to camp in style.

 

 

Atlantic Oaks, Cape Cod, Massachusetts 

Atlantic Oaks is a simple campground–and it is simply delightful. The location in Eastham, near the Cape Cod National Seashore, is nearly perfect. The campground is also sandwiched between two classic seafood shacks that both offer up excellent lobster rolls and crab cakes. You can’t go wrong at either place. There is also a drive-in movie theater close to the campground if you feel like catching a date night movie. The Cape Cod Rail Trail runs directly behind the campground–and connects to the stunningly beautiful Nauset Bike Trail which will eventually drop you both off on the windswept beaches of the National Seashore. There may be no better place for a romantic stroll on the entire east coast.

 

 

 

The Campground at James Island County Park, South Carolina

The RV sites at James Island are large, private, attractive, and offer full hookups at county park prices. This is an absolutely lovely place to take a bike ride or an evening stroll before settling in around the campfire. The campground is nestled into a quiet section of this vast and entertaining county park where getting bored is never an option. Traveling with a pup? Head to the gigantic doggy park and let them run off-leash and meet some new friends. Downtown Charleston is nearby and it is one of America’s most gorgeous and romantic cities. Take an evening stroll through the historic waterfront district and build up an appetite for the city’s legendary food and drink.

 

 

Anchor Down RV Resort, Tennessee

Located about 45 minutes north of Gatlinburg, this RV resort opened just a few years ago and the word spread quickly. The campground is on the shores of Douglas Lake, and the campsites are becoming legendary. Many have large, custom stone fireplaces with stunning water and mountain views. Prepare a romantic meal right at your site and plan on an evening of quiet conversation as the sun melts into the water.  If you are looking to get wet Anchor Down has all of the resort amenities you could want–including a pool and lake beach with swimming and watercraft rentals. Great Smoky Mountains National Park is also nearby for endless outdoor adventures.

 

Photo compliments of Bill Sferrazza

 

Rafter J Bar Ranch, South Dakota

Rafter J Bar Ranch is one of the most romantic campgrounds in the country. The sites are incredibly spacious for a private campground, and the views of the Black Hills that rim the campground are close to spectacular. The large heated pool and hot tub are absolutely perfect after a long day of hiking or exploring Crazy Horse and Mount Rushmore–and you will love the on-demand outdoor fireplace for warming up right after a swim. The beauty and stoic grandeur of South Dakota’s Black Hills is often overshadowed by points further west–and you rarely hear it mentioned as a great location for a romantic getaway. But that just means there will be more room for both of you to #roamoutside and enjoy the best that mother nature has to offer.

 

 

Flying Flags RV Resort & Campground, California 

Flying Flags offers a luxurious California camping experience that may be unrivaled in the entire Golden State. Their “ultra-premium” RV sites with covered patios and outdoor kitchens are super swanky for those who like to roll in style and their resort-style amenities make it perfect for a romantic getaway. Make sure to sample local wines or a craft cocktail at the Sideways Lounge located right next door at the Sideways Inn–a sister property. You can take your drinks to go and walk right back to your site for a campfire if the evening air is cool. If the weather is warm hit the pool and hot tub area. Flying Flags looks like something ripped from the pages of a travel magazine.

 

 

Salt Creek Recreation Area, Washington State

This stunning and romantic campground is situated on a bluff above the Strait of Juan de Fuca and the vast majority of the sites have views of the sparkling water. The tide pools located just steps below the campsites will keep you occupied for hours if you feel like taking a lazy stroll. But there are also plenty of outdoor activities for thrill-seekers and nature lovers. Whether you love hiking, biking, kayaking, bird-watching, or surfing there is something for you on-property or nearby. Downtown Port Angeles is also close and filled with hip food, coffee, and shopping. Summertime on the Olympic Peninsula is near wild heaven and a perfect place for a great escape with someone you love.

 

 

We hope you find the romantic RV site of your dreams and get to hit the open road sometime soon! Planning and daydreaming about your next epic trip is always a huge part of the fun!

 

Jeremy Puglisi is the co-author of See You At The Campground: A Guide to Discovering Community, Connection, and a Happier Family in the Great Outdoors and the co-host of The RV Atlas podcast.

9 VALUES KIDS LEARN ON RV TRIPS

We started RVing when our first two kids were eleven months old because of our dreams for the future. It wasn’t because we had some parenting vision that involved raising our kids at campgrounds and in the great outdoors. We loved travel. We loved road trips. And we wanted to keep having fun in spite of the drastic changes that happened as soon as our twin babies entered the picture. In hindsight, though, we feel so incredibly lucky that we bought our first RV. We didn’t realize it at the time, but it was exactly the right decision to help us raise our kids according to values that have become very important to us as parents.

 

Even though it wasn’t entirely by design, having an RV allows us to create a life that encourages our boys to grow in many areas that are important to us and develop attributes like patience, creativity, and curiosity. At first, we felt that many of these traits were limited to our actual camping experiences. We would see the boys engage in imaginative play at the campsite in ways that wouldn’t necessarily translate to our backyard. But over the years we have been amazed to watch these traits translate to every area of their lives including school and organized sports. We are so grateful that we stumbled into RV ownership when our kids were itty-bitty babies–their lives will always be better because of it.

 

Here are nine values that our kids have learned at the campground over the past decade. We are confident that if you take your kids camping, and invest in their lives one RV trip at a time, that they will learn these lessons too.

 

The Value of Flexibility

Over the years we have watched our kids become masters of getting the lay of the land in each new location that our RV takes us too. They don’t expect every place to be the same. RVing has taught them to find the best things about any new environment and embrace the fun, whether we are camping in the mountains or at the beach.

 

 

The Value of Sociability

Our boys will make new friends at a campground within hours of us pulling in. They have no problem striking up conversations with other kids at the playground. They know how to organize games and talk to adults respectfully. Some of these things are more complicated this summer because of coronavirus–but we know that better days are ahead and the value of sociability that they have learned at the campground will last them a lifetime.

 

 

The Value of Imaginative Play

RV travel puts our kids in new and different environments where their imaginations can flourish. After we set up camp our kids intuitively head into the woods and find sticks for sword fights, or head to the beach or lake to play in the dunes. Time spent at campgrounds and in the great outdoors has made our kids more creative people. 

 

 

The Value of Physical Activity

There is no doubt that we have a more active lifestyle when we are on our RV vacations. Sometimes that means climbing a mountain in a stunning national park, and other times that means kicking a soccer ball around our campsite. Either way, RV travel inspires us to get outside and break a sweat every single day.

 

 

The Value of Patience

Our boys are normally balls of energy who bounce from one thing to the next all day long. But many parts of our RV travels encourage them to wait patiently for a big payoff. Sometimes that means learning to be patient during long road trips to epic destinations, and other times that means sitting patiently and trying to catch a fish. Either way, we always try to teach them that good things come to those that wait.

 

 

The Value of Hard Work

In our family, we always say, “you gotta pay to play.” RV trips are incredibly fun, but let there be no doubt, there is some work involved. From packing to setting up camp, to breaking down camp, everyone needs to pitch in. We try to teach our kids that the work is a necessary part of the fun–and we think that lesson will stick with them.

 

 

 

The Value of Curiosity

We both love to learn new things and we have always wanted our children to be curious people. That might mean catching crayfish down by a stream or finding the best rocks to skip at the beach. Or it might mean learning about the lobster industry in Maine, or the Civil War in Gettysburg. There is something new to learn everywhere our RV takes us.

 

 

 

The Value of Stewardship

Our RV adventures often take us to national parks and other public lands and we have learned to cherish them deeply. We try to teach our children the value of stewardship–the idea that we are all responsible for protecting these magnificent places and we should always leave them better than we found them. If we see trash on the trail we pick it up, and whatever we carry in we make sure to carry out.

 

 

The Value of a Family Narrative

We had a lot of adventures when the boys were very young that we assumed they would never remember. But that wasn’t the point to begin with. First of all, we wanted to have fun ourselves. Plus, we figured that we were training them up as our little adventure buddies for the future.

 

Well, it is shocking to us how much our kids actually do remember about our adventures. Apparently, a lot of these exciting moments have stuck with them. Of course, we are always retelling the highlights of trips again and again throughout the years, but those adventures have become a part of their identities. They think of themselves as explorers and travelers. They expect us to take them to epic destinations. And we are happy to deliver on that expectation year after year.

 

We hope that you take your kids on epic adventures–and we hope that one day your kids will consider themselves to be travelers and explorers. We are confident in you. We know you can deliver.

 

Adapted from See You at the Campground: A Guide to Discovering Community, Connection, and a Happier Family in the Great Outdoors by Stephanie and Jeremy Puglisi.

TIPS FOR VISITING NATIONAL PARKS

 

From the tiny Hot Spring National Park (a mere 5550 acres) to the unbelievably massive Wrangell-St. Elias National Park and Preserve (13.2 million acres), our nation’s 61 national parks are a wonder of splendor just waiting for you to explore. An RV trip is the perfect way to see these treasures.

 

 

Peer deep into canyons, hike up mountain peaks, walk in the steps of history—whatever your passion, you can pursue it at a National Park Service (NPS) site. Since 1916, the NPS has been tasked with overseeing our public lands, which now include over 400 sites with a wide range of designations, including national parks, seashores, parkways, historic trails, and more.

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