03 May

6 Standout Restaurants in Charleston, South Carolina

6 standout restaurants in Charleston SC

We enjoyed one mouth-watering, belly-filling meal after another during our recent trip to Charleston, South Carolina. And we are still in recovery.

I knew before our arrival in the Holy City that we had to taste all the stars of Low Country Cuisine…think shrimp and grits, she-crab soup, and Charleston red rice. What I didn’t know was that this region has experienced a food renaissance over the last 30 years, transforming itself into a world class food destination. Depending on which local you ask, you will get a completely different top 10 restaurant list. And they will probably all be equally delicious.

So here is a run down of 6 Standout Restaurants in Charleston, South Carolina. To hear more about our whirlwind culinary tour of low country cuisine, listen to the upcoming episode of RV Family Travel Atlas (#87), and look for our article in an upcoming issue of Trailer Life Magazine.

Poogan’s Smokehouse, 188 East Bay Street, Charleston, South Carolina

Poogans Smokehouse Ice Tea

I’ll start with Poogan’s Smokehouse since it was our very first meal in Charleston, and I think it got us so excited about the local cuisine that we didn’t stop eating for the rest of the week. Funny enough, we did not actually plan on eating at Poogan’s. Our itinerary called for a stop at the famous Magnolias, which pops up in virtually every article ever written about the Charleston culinary landscape.

However, we had just completed a two-hour walking tour and our three year old was about an hour past nap time. We took a look at the white tablecloths and listened to the muffled conversation in the Magnolia’s dining room, then headed across the street to Poogan’s.

And boy were we happy with that decision.

The friendly bartender was quick with drink recommendations, and served me the perfect Italian American in Paris, extra tart because I told him I like it that way.

Poogans Smokehouse cocktailThe boys ordered cheeseburger sliders off the kiddie menu, and I’m going to be honest–I was shocked at how flavorful the burgers were. Max and Theo both wanted to order another round…a good sign since they are basically professional cheeseburger tasters.

More recommendations from our bartender buddy led us to order the Pimento Cheese Fritters and Buffalo Pork Rinds. And now I know that all pork rinds should be consumed topped with crumbled blue cheese and pickled celery. Mind blown. The tender pork belly sliders came with a house-made Kimchee that delivered the perfect dose of peppery vinegar crunch.

Poogans Pork Belly Sliders

Smoke BBQ, 487 King Street, Charleston, South Carolina

Smoke BBQ Sign

I’m going to be honest. I ate here twice. The first time was on a culinary tour of Upper King Street, when I was served the very best chicken wing I have ever eaten in my life. Period. The end.

Smoke BBQ Wings

I brought the whole family back the next day because when a person finds perfection in in the form of a wing, the experience must be shared. We also tried the pastrami reuben and Cuban sandwich on recommendation from chef and owner Roland Feldman. If your pastrami can knock the socks off of lifelong New Jersey residents, you’re doing something very, very right.

Smoke BBQ Reuben

We loved the food at every one of the restaurants on this list, but Smoke BBQ is the one that we will dream about on those cold northeastern nights next winter.

Hominy Grill, 207 Rutledge Ave, Charleston, South Carolina

Hominy Grill Chicken and Biscuits

Along with Magnolias, Hominy Grill was recommended to us countless times as we planned our visit to Charleston. This is where we came for the staples of Low Country cuisine, upcycled by the award-winning chef and owner, Robert Stehling. The she crab soup was a family hit, and five spoons emptied the bowl right quick. The shrimp and grits was the other star of the show, prepared with mushrooms, scallions, and bacon.

Hominy Grill Shrimp and Grits

Unless you are asking the boys, who would swear they never tasted anything so good as those boiled peanuts.

We apologize for the mess.

Early Bird Diner, 1644 Savannah Highway, Charleston, South Carolina

Early Bird Diner Chicken and Waffles

While the adults in this family are dreaming about Smoke BBQ’s wings, the boys will be dreaming about the pancakes at the Early Bird Diner. In fact, this is the first restaurant our kids have ever begged to return to on our travels.

You will have to drive out of downtown Charleston and find the Early Bird Diner in a sea of strip centers and car dealerships, but if you leave the area without eating here, you have made a grave error in judgement.

Early Bird Diner Country Hash

The Country Scramble and Chicken and Waffles will teach you everything you need to know about a great southern breakfast. An added bonus is the truly warm and hospitable staff and friendly locals.

SeeWee Restaurant, 4808 North Hwy 17, Awendaw, South Carolina

Seewee Restaurant

Located north of Charleston, the SeeWee Restaurant is recommended in our favorite food bible, Roadfood by Jan and Michael Stern. We ate here after our visit to the Center for Birds of Prey, and you can read about our failed family dining experience here.

Seewee Restaurant Food

It was our children that were the problem, though, not the food. This is one of those places where you would probably be best off ordering a whole bunch of sides and calling it a day. And the fried oysters. And the hush puppies. And the crab cakes. And the…you get the point.

Page’s Okra Grill, 302 Coleman Boulevard, Mount Pleasant, South Carolina

Page's Okra Grill Chicken and Biscuits
If you take a day trip out to Sullivan’s Island, Page’s Okra Grill is a great option for casual dining when sandy and sticky after a day on the beach. We had planned on checking out Poe’s Tavern, which has great reviews and literary allusions (#FTW), but the horrifying parking situation led us to Page’s Okra Grill in Mount Pleasant, which prides itself on being a local’s favorite dining spot.

It might have been a result of too much sun, but this was the first restaurant in Charleston where the food was almost too rich for us. The chicken livers were buttery and delicious, but I could only eat a handful before giving up. My pimento cheese, bacon, and fried green tomato sandwich packed a ton of flavor, but I had to cry uncle after eating less than half.

Page's Okra Grill Sandwich

Thanks to all of our listeners and readers for giving us the inside scoop on where to eat in Charleston. And a huge thanks to Bulldog Tours for bringing me to Smoke BBQ, which has officially ruined every other chicken wing in the world.

Seriously. They are dead to me.

If we didn’t get to visit your favorite spot, don’t worry. We are already planning our Charleston Comeback Culinary Tour. Leave your recommendations in the comment section below!!!!

 

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!

Plus, we are thrilled to offer a special discount for our listeners from the Good Sam Club. For just $25, you can purchase a year’s membership and receive a $25 camping voucher! You have to follow this link to receive the offer.

On this episode, we will walk you through planning a thematic trip, from picking a theme to planning out the campground stops and activities. We included quite a few thematic trips in our book, Idiot’s Guide to RV Vacations, due to be released on May 10th, and we talk about those trips and how they can give you inspiration no matter where you live. Listen to hear our bucket list thematic trips…ones that we will be planning in the future.

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21 Apr

RVFTA #85 Campground Etiquette 101

On this week’s episode, RV School is in session with Campground Etiquette 101. Campgrounds are pretty happy places, but if you don’t have good campground manners, you might get the cold shoulder around the evening campfire. We will give you tips for minding your social q’s and making friends wherever you park your rig.

Our conversation is broken down into three main categories:

  • Shared Campground Spaces
  • Campsite manners
  • Interacting with other happy campers

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21 Apr

Mother’s Day Gifts for the Girl Camper You Love!

Want to get Mom something she will really love this year?

Then let her take a nap for crying all night.

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Preferably without any kids in her bed.

Then–when she wakes up–give her one of the great Girl Camper t-shirts we have available over on Teespring right now. You only have 4 more days to nab one of these:

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I already ordered mine and will be happily sporting it on the Camp Like a Girl trip in West Virginia next month.

Or get all pink and purple and girly with our RVFTA Mother’s Day Tank, only available for 10 more days:

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Don’t worry Dads…there will be a Father’s Day version for you next month!

There is a simple formula here: Extra sleep + cute camping apparel will knock it out of the park on Mother’s Day. And maybe a massage.

You’re welcome.

~Stephanie

14 Apr

RVFTA #84 Becoming a Weekend Warrior, Part Two with Fireside Provisions

Becoming A Weekend WarriorPart Two-2

On this week’s episode we are giving you even more tools to become a fierce RV Weekend Warrior. Our listeners are constantly telling us that they want to camp more. Last week on Episode #83, we gave you 7 ways you could fit in more camping with as little fuss as possible.

Well, this week we are talking about the food. It can be the most time consuming part of a quick weekend trip, but we have ways you can eat well without slaving over a camp stove. First, we will share our 5 tips for making food prep easy-peasy-lemon-squeezy on quick weekend trips.

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Then we have a fantastic interview with Kip Clifton, Founder and CEO of Fireside Provisions, a food delivery service for campers like you who want to make a fast getaway on a Friday afternoon and still eat well at the campground. We are in love with this company, and can’t wait to share an awesome resource for Weekend Warriors.

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12 Apr

Stephanie’s No-Mod RV Makeover

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On Episode #82: RV Makeover 101 with the Pop Up Princess, I shared 5 ways I had given our RV a little face lift this Spring. After that episode aired, I was surprised by a deluge of emails and social media comments asking when we were going to share pictures of the makeover.

Insert long, uncomfortable pause.

I’m certainly not an interior designer, and I’m basically the anti-crafty mom. So while I was happy to talk about my RV changes on the podcast episode, I was sort of nervous about sharing photos. I imagined the response would be: So what? Big deal. You barely made any changes at all!

And then I realized that was exactly the point. It wasn’t a big deal. Everyone can do what I did, and with pretty little effort. I didn’t put a single hole in the wall, paint anything,  or install shelving and cabinets. I just made our home-away-from-home a bit more pretty.

5 Tips for an Easy RV Makeover-3

So here they are. Pictures of my small, no-mod changes that made a big difference for our family. To hear us chat further about the makeover, check out the podcast episode. And a  very special thanks to the Pop Up Princess and the Making Something Happy Etsy shop for all your inspiration!

Stephanie’s Five Tips for a No Mod RV Makeover

  1. Choose a modern design color that pops with your 50 shades of brown. All the brown in our trailer can make it feel closed in and dreary. I decided to add one bright pop color that would flow throughout the whole space: orange. Every room has a different version of orange, which makes it feel varied but cohesive…to my eye, at least!

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2. Splurge on luxurious and fun bedding.

The boys got matching sheets and blankets from the Pillowfort line at Target, and we got a down comforter with a flax duvet and rusty orange sheets. I’m such a sucker for comfortable bedding that I had been dragging my down comfortable out to the camper before every trip. Now we have 100% dedicated camper bedding and I couldn’t be happier!

Jayco White Hawk Bunkhouse

Jayco Whitehawk Master Bedroom

3. Add some pillows and throws.

I hit up Homegoods and Christmas Tree Shops to find some affordable but stylish pillows and throws. I also added one special statement pillow from Making Something Happy.

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4. Put up custom wall hangings.

We ran an RVFTA coloring contest this winter, and our boys created some pretty sweet trailer art. A few Dollar Store frames and a box of Command Picture Hanging Strips, and we had added a lot of personality to the bunkhouse. I also added a family portrait to the dining area. That somehow made it feel a lot more homey.

bunkhouse wall art

Jayco White Hawk Dining Room

5. Tackle an RV flow issue.

Our u-shaped dinette has been the bane of our existence, taking up far too much room and offering too little in return. The back bench of the dinette is removable in our trailer, so we took it out and pushed the table back. That extra couple of feet has been an amazing change in terms of traffic flow. And to be honest, the seating is more comfortable the way we have it now.

Dinette Jayco White Hawk

That’s it. That’s my low-budget, low-fuss, no-mod RV makeover. At least for now. I’ve officially caught the RV decorating bug, so stay tuned for more orange additions in the future…

10 Apr

Celebrating a Birthday at the Campground With Friends…and Bad Weather?

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We used to scoff at camping close to home and would never have celebrated a birthday or holiday at the campground.  But things have changed.  Last year we realized that we could camp close to home and still get the kids to their baseball games (read about it here).  This year we realized that we could camp close to home and have a slam dunk birthday party with family and friends. When the campground calls us, we must go! Even when other responsibilities are calling our names.

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It was such a delightful weekend, even though it was cut short.  But more on that later.  We arrived late afternoon Friday and rain storms with thunder and lightening were threatening. But it was still exciting greeting our RVing buddies as they pulled in and set up one by one.  Sometimes we like a little “weather.”  Keeps things interesting.

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It did rain and it rained hard. But not for long.  After the night sky cleared up we dug into our storage bins for lanterns so the kids could play. Their jammies were already on–but why not be spontaneous and break a few rules? We all know that bedtime can creep a wee bit late at the campground, right?

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As the kids created their own private kingdom of play the adults caught up after a long week at work. The “craic” was good among old friends and among new.

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It didn’t take long for a campfire to be lit and a guitar to be broken out of its case.
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The sounds of music, conversation, and the crackling fire filled the air. It was a pleasant combination on a cool night. One of the kids asked for s’mores and they got them.  Stephanie made some amazing jambalaya from Fireside Provisions. It filled our bellies and was quickly gone. You’ll hear a lot more about this great new company on next Friday’s podcast. Stay tuned.

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The next morning was a bit chilly, and a light rain kept coming and going. But we are raising outdoor kids who own raincoats.  So they took over the campground and created elaborate games with sticks and stumps.

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DSC_3411When the rain finally stopped we decided to head to the water and wet our lines. No luck for Max and Theo–but we are still determined to up our game this summer.

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DSC_3517After a few hours at the fishing hole it was time for the big third birthday party for young Master Wesley.  We were already camping with four other families  but the campground is close to home, so we invited a bunch of other friends too.  It ended up being a real shindig.  There was cake–and even–JUICE BOXES! Something our boys don’t see every day.

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DSC_3540After the kids finished their cake they headed back to the playground. Coats were kicked off and pants and sneakers got good and dirty. Campground dirty. The sun felt warm and the afternoon felt extended and then extended again as if by magic. It felt like it could last forever.

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But of course it didn’t.  The threat of 60mph winds was fast approaching and the adults started to whisper and mumble about leaving early while the kids ran, jumped, and screamed. No one wanted to make the call to leave.  We all waited for someone else to pack it in first.

The sun started to set and it got a bit chilly again.  One of the dads made the call. Time to go. No reason to risk waking up in the middle of the night to the sound of a tree smashing through the RV roof.  We had an amazing trip–even if it only lasted for about 28 hours.  We were weekend warriors, heading home, but not defeated. Not even close.

Want to learn more about maximizing your weekend fun and becoming weekend warriors? Check out this week’s podcast “Becoming a Weekend Warrior Part One.”  In this episode we offer seven great trips for weekend RV trips. Subscribe in iTunes or Stitcher.  

07 Apr

RVFTA #83: Becoming a Weekend Warrior, Part One

RV Weekend Warriors

On Episode #83 we are giving you the tools to become a fierce RV Weekend Warrior. Our listeners are constantly telling us that they want to camp more. So this week we are sharing our best tips for spending weekends at the campground with as little fuss as possible.

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07 Apr

5 More Outdoor Gear Recommendations from the RVFTA Forum!

Outside Gear Bar Harbor Acadia

We are wrapping up our Spring Gear Guide bonanza with 5 more recommendations for the outside of your RV. On Episode #80: 2016 Spring Gear Guide Part 2, we shared all our recommendations for outdoor RV products including propane level checks, sewer hoses, outdoor rugs, and shoes.

Now it’s time to share some great stuff from our forum experts. There are over 250 posts in our Gear and Gadgets forum, and you can scroll through them all here.

Tire Pressure Monitor

People are always asking us if they should get a tire pressure monitor. We love recommending anything that keeps us safer while towing, so thank you to Heather for suggesting the TireMinder TPMS.

TireMinder TPMS

 

Generator

We haven’t yet splurged on a generator, but when Jim asked about them, the Honda 2000i Generator was recommended by Beth and Tatiana for it’s affordability and performance.

Honda generator 2000i

Backpacks

When MusicalKnitterMom asked about lightweight, breathable backpacks, Scott and Chris both raved about  REI’s Trail 25 backpack.

REI Trail 25

Exercise Pen

So far the corkscrew and leash method are working fine for Maggie the Camping Dog, but Gretchen LOVES her new Exercise Pen for Dogs, which allows the pups to hang outside without getting wrapped around the chairs and picnic table.

RV Vacuum

We happen to be in the market for a new RV vacuum, so we were very interested in that particular discussion when it popped up a couple of months ago. Zac recommended going with a small shop vac, which fits nicely in the storage bin and can handle water and small stones as well. Pretty good advice.

It has been a blast opening up the camper and stocking it with tons of new RV goodies for the camping season. In case you missed our other gear guides, check out Episode 79: 2016 Spring Gear Guide, Part 1 and 5 Awesome Gear Recommendations from the RVFTA Forum.

Wanna join the conversation? Head over to the RVFTA Forum, sign up, and give a recommendation for your favorite RV product. We can’t wait to add it to our shopping list!!!

See you at the campground,

Stephanie + Jeremy

01 Apr

RVFTA #82: RV Makeover 101 with The Pop Up Princess!

RV Makeover 101

On this week’s episode we are kicking off the 2016 camping season in style, bringing you a fantastic interview with Larissa Richardson, better known as the Pop Up Princess. Larissa has achieved royal status in the world of RV makeovers, and she is going to give us five tips for making some big changes in your camper.

listen on iTunes

Just four years ago, Larissa and her family decided to take a break from Disney vacations and check out some national parks. After setting up and breaking down the tent a bunch of times, they decided they liked camping but wanted to get off the ground. They found an affordable pop up camper that needed a whole lotta work, and the Pop Up Princess blog was born.

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24 Mar

RVFTA #81: Spring Camping Resolutions 2016

Spring Camping Resolutions 2016

Happy Spring, everybody! Here in the Northeast everyone is opening up the RVs and celebrating the beginning of camping season. And at RVFTA, that means it’s also time for our Spring Camping Resolutions.

We started this tradition last year on Episode #27, and it was fun (and a little nerve-wracking) for us to go back and listen to our resolutions from the beginning of camping season in 2015. We scored ourselves on our progress and accomplishments in the first segment of this show.

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17 Mar

RVFTA #80: 2016 Spring Gear Guide, Part 2

RVFTA 2016 Spring Gear Guide, Part 2

This spring we couldn’t fit all of our gear recommendations into a single episode, so we spread it out over two weeks. If you missed Part 1 with all of our indoor RV products, you can check them out here.

On Episode #80, the Spring Gear Guide, Part 2, we are focusing on the great outdoors. From setting up a comfortable base camp to keeping your trailer safe and secure, we have a whole host of quality products that will make your RV travels even more enjoyable.

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Plus, we are sharing a great interview with Elden Wood, Vice President of Marketing for Truma. This company makes the AquaGo hybrid instant water heater, which provides campers with endless hot water in their RVs.

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15 Mar

5 Awesome Gear Recommendations from the RVFTA Forums

RV interior hybrid

This week’s podcast episode was Part 1 of our 2016 Spring Gear Guide, focusing on great products for the inside of the camper. We thought we would stick with the same theme in our blog post of the week, sharing some of our forum members’ favorite gadgets. Head over to the RVFTA forum to find more recommendations from our resident experts in the Gear and Gadgets and the Camp Food threads!

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10 Mar

RVFTA #79: 2016 Spring Gear Guide, Part 1

RVFTA 2016 Spring Gear Guide, Part 1

It’s finally here! The 2016 Spring Gear Guide got so big that we split it into two episodes. This week we present Part One, sharing all of our favorite new goodies for the inside of the camper. Decorative pillows, appliances, and books…if it promises to make the RV experience a little easier, prettier, or more educational, we tracked it down over the long, cold winter.

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08 Mar

What are You Waiting For? The Scary Leap to RV Ownership

Myrtle Beach Ziplining

I’ve refrained from writing this post for a long time because, contrary to what my husband and kids might tell you, I really do not like telling people what to do. And I hate writing posts that inevitably lead to the each to his own reactions, comments, and feedback. I respect that everyone has their own set of circumstances and reasoning behind life decisions.

But still.

We receive so many emails and messages on social media from people who are saying a version of the following:

I wish we could own an RV. One day we will get an RV. We are on the five-year plan. We are on the seven-year plan. When we retire, we look forward to buying our first RV.  Etc, etc.

And then the story of Driving Miss Norma went ripping around the internet over the last couple of weeks. I had two thoughts:

  1. That is amazing that Norma is living her life to the fullest.
  2. I don’t want to wait until I am 90 to have the time of my life.

In almost every single case, people who tell us they are waiting to get an RV cite financial reasons. It is not in the budget right now. They don’t want a payment. They are saving up.  On the surface, these statements seem completely reasonable and even downright responsible. In fact, I presented them all to my husband over the course of buying our first pop up.

However.

The arguments don’t really fly. Why?

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04 Mar

RVFTA #78: Camping with Family and Friends

Camping with Family and Friends

On this week’s episode of RV Family Travel Atlas, we are talking about Camping with Family and Friends. RVs make it much easier to share vacations with loved ones since communal campfire areas and private family spaces would seem to be the perfect combination.

However, things can turn sour if everyone is not on the same page with planning, food, and activities. Listen to hear our top 5 tips for Camping with Family and Friends.

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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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25 Feb

RVFTA #77: Pros and Cons of a Hybrid Trailer

Pros and Cons of a Hybrid Trailer

On this week’s episode of RV Family Travel Atlas, we are talking about the pros and the cons of a hybrid trailer. Part tent trailer, part travel trailer, the hybrid was a serious contender for our family when we were trading in our pop up camper four years ago. In fact, when we went to make our final purchase, we still weren’t sure which one we were going to pick.Why did we end up going with the travel trailer? Why do many of our listeners love adore their hybrids? You will have to listen to find out!

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23 Feb

Shopping IKEA: Your Budget RV Superstore

ikea

I know when you think about stocking your RV, IKEA is not the first place that comes to mind.

But it should be.

With over 40 stores in the United States, there is probably an IKEA within driving distance of your home. And if you need to purchase products for your RV–kitchen gear, organizing tools, bed linens, and bath accessories–a day trip to IKEA should probably be on your calendar.

Growing up in a (maybe) once-a-year camping household, I witnessed a common phenomena. Whenever a new gadget arrived in the kitchen, the old one would get shuffled off to the camping bins stacked in the garage. That wobbly can opener might not have been good for daily use, but it would do just fine for that one long camping weekend in September.

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18 Feb

RVFTA #76: Camp Photography 101

Camp Photography 101 blog

On this week’s episode of RV Family Travel Atlas, Camp Photography 101, we are talking about upping your photography game. We have gone from a point and click family to one that carts around lenses and tripods.

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