There’s nothing as liberating as roughing it in the wilderness. And for those of you who just load up a tent, grab some firewood, and stroll into the woods, more power to you. But for those of us who prefer a little less “rough” in our roughing it, here are a few tips and tricks to make the great outdoors a little more comfortable.


Keep the bugs away

Mosquitoes are the worst part of any camping trip. The whining, the itching, the constant slapping at yourself when all you wanna do is just sleep… Well, we’ve got your back. There are actually a lot of things you can do to keep the pests to a minimum!

Choose unscented hygiene products. Yup, bugs love all that nice-smelling perfume, vanilla hand soap, and cherry-scented body lotion. Also, make sure you choose a waterproof bug spray, especially since you’ll be relying on it almost exclusively on a long hike or while spending time outdoors with the family, so the last thing you want is to sweat or splash it off your skin. Waterproof is the way to go.

You’re gonna want to choose a campsite that’s generally unappealing to mosquitoes. We’re talking high and dry, my friend. Mosquitoes love a wet environment, so stay away from any boggy, misty or swampy areas.



Invest in a bug net that works for you. James Menta from Eagle’s Nest Outfitters recommends the Guardian Bugnet since it’s pretty lightweight, easy to put together, and comfortable to breathe under. Lastly, bring some fresh sage to throw on the fire. The scent should keep the mosquitoes away for hours.

Bring fresh sage like these smudge sticks to throw into the fire. This old camping trick should help keep your whole site bug-free.


Stay warm and dry

It’s a well-known fact that the campfire is the heart of every campsite. Don’t be left out in the cold because you’re unprepared. Keep a few household items handy so you can start your fire under any circumstances.

If you’re staying at a campground, only use the designated fire ring or fireplace, and if you’re camping in backcountry, make sure you have a fire permit.

Always have dry tinder in your pack to get your fire going on wet days. Dryer lint tucked into empty egg cartons with paraffin wax is a classic fire starter. Vaseline worked into cotton balls is another great lightweight alternative. To keep a fire going, if you have an alcohol-based hand sanitizer, squeeze some onto damp wood to keep it burning long enough to dry out. And if you’re really in a pinch, duct tape or Doritos are also highly flammable.

To dry your shoes overnight, stuff them with newspaper or dry clothing. The moisture will be absorbed and you can start fresh in the morning!


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The only thing better than a day at the beach is spending several days at the beach. Surrounded by surf, sand, and sunshine, what could possibly go wrong?



As wonderful as RVing on the beach is, it doesn’t come without its hurdles. If you’ve ever tried to get comfortable on sheets covered with sand you know what I’m talking about. Still, whenever possible, I try to book an RV site directly on the sand. To me, there’s nothing more relaxing than a beach holiday.


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The majority of RV interiors have been designed with organization in mind. There are usually ample cabinets, dressers and compartments under the furniture. Not to mention the storage bays accessed from the outside of the RV. Even with all the space, a little extra organization can go a long way. Not only will you make the most of your space, you won’t have to worry about finding this or that thing or battling clutter (trust me I know about this one!) because everything will have its place.


So let’s go through the RV room by room and talk storage solutions and organization. I’ll share my real photos here and some things I’ve learned from the RV community at large. Of course, I’d love to hear about your storage solutions in the comments below!


Kitchen/Living Area


In most RVs the kitchen and living area is combined into one space. Our kitchen and living area is the heart of our RV. It’s where we gather for food, conversation, games, and entertainment. Often Brent or I will prepare food while the rest of the family sits and chats with us. Having this area organized not only makes food preparation easier, it contributes to a warm and welcoming space the whole family can enjoy.



While our RV came with plenty of cabinets, much of the space inside the cabinets was wasted because there weren’t shelves, just a big open space. Adding an extra shelf or two greatly increased the space and makes it easier to put things away.


LEFT: We added a wire shelf to give us more room in our kitchen cabinets. (Note: We’ve been using Corelle dishes for 4 years on the road without any breakage.)
RIGHT: C. Baksteen uses plastic baskets with handles to keep cupboards clutter-free and keep things within easy reach. No more digging in the back of the cabinets for her!


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It was a beautiful day as we drove north on the 101 freeway towards Santa Barbara. The rugged sandy bluffs rose high along the California coast while the sunshine sparkled across the waters of the Pacific Ocean. Thing 1 and Thing 2, then 8 and 5, were trying to sit patiently in the backseat as we drove towards our campground. This was our first outing in our new-to-us folding camping trailer.

To say my heart was happy would be an understatement. I was giddy with excitement. I couldn’t wait to start making fun family camping memories. Brent and I already had so many from when we were kids and we wanted to give the same thing to our boys. Not only that, we were ready to relax for the weekend after a long week of work. We were ready to kick up our heels, sit by the fire, and maybe go on a few hikes in the Los Padres National Forest.

An hour later we arrived at our campsite and the boys jumped out of the van. They were busy checking out the campsite when I noticed Thing 2 wasn’t wearing shoes.

“Put on your shoes, honey. There might be something sharp.”

“I don’t have them,” he replied playing in the dirt.


No shoes?

Of course, he has shoes. What sort of parent forgets shoes when they go camping? I started searching the van but no luck. In our excitement to hit the road for our first camping experience, we had let him run out the door happy but barefoot.


Determined not to let this ruin our weekend, we headed up to the camp store. There we bought a pair of flip-flops that he could wear to protect his feet. We may not be going on any long hikes over the weekend but they would be perfect to wear to the swimming hole on the Santa Ynez River.

Wondering if there are things to do (besides remember your child’s shoes!) to make your first time out in your new RV go more smoothly? Read on!

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We’ve logged more than 70,000 miles in our truck as a family over the last three and half years. However, our road trips didn’t begin when we hit the road full time in our RV. When the boys were younger we had a folding camping trailer and it wasn’t unusual to take 8 hour drives to camp under the majestic redwoods in the Sierra Nevada Mountain Range or head across the desert to visit family in Arizona.


It may be faster to travel by air, but there is no doubt that it’s more economical and, certainly, more fun to travel by road especially when you have your home with you! The trick for pleasant road trips is keeping boredom at a minimum. No matter what stage of life your family is in you’ll find ideas here to make the road fun for everyone.

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