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.

 

Whether you choose to visit a park close to home or plan an epic cross-country road trip to hit several sites, these tips can help you make the most of your national park travels:

 

  1. Head to the most popular places EARLY to get parking and avoid crowds!

As NPS sites have become increasingly popular, some have become very congested. However, early risers know that the parks are less crowded and parking spaces are plentiful before mid-morning. We discovered this tip while our sons were young. Since they were early risers anyway, we conformed to their schedules and learned that going early helped us have a better park experience.

 

  1. Visit “off the beaten track” attractions in the afternoon.

Many park visitors go to the most popular sites and nothing more, so expect these to be congested as more and more visitors arrive in the park. The afternoon is the best time to venture off the beaten track and away from the crowds. While these spots aren’t on the top-five lists of most-visited attractions, they still can inspire you to connect with the landscape.

 

 

  1. Choose guidebooks that are specific to your interests.

Guidebooks are especially useful when visiting some of the larger national parks (think Yellowstone), which are chock full of attractions and options. The right guidebook can show you the lay of the land, share the best places to eat in the park, introduce you to the flora and fauna, and help you discover activities your family might enjoy, and more.We especially recommend picking up guidebooks that are specific to your family’s interests. Look for books focused on hiking, birding, photography, etc. in the park you’ll be visiting for a more personalized experience.

 

  1. Consult Park Rangers and Local Experts About Your Plan.

It is always a good idea to stop by the visitor center to learn more about the park before you begin your adventures. You may also find park rangers and regional experts to talk with, and they can give you tons of insider tips. For example, since we are traveling with three young boys, we like to ask the rangers for recommendations for family hikes we all can enjoy, customized to the ages and adventure level of each member of our family.

 

 

5. Look at the National Park’s Program Schedule Online Before You Arrive.

Our national parks provide some amazing programming, and you should check out the program schedule online before you arrive. You never know what you might find! It could be a historical reenactment, wildlife talk, or stargazing event. Park rangers and guest speakers share their education and experiences in a wide variety of ways, all of which are included in your park entrance fees.

 

  1. National Parks are not Theme Parks—Be Careful and Show Respect to Wildlife and the Environment.

While the NPS tries to help visitors stay safe, our parks are wild landscapes. Venturing off the trail or getting too close to wildlife can put your life in jeopardy. Respect the environment and all of the creatures in it in order to stay safe in our national parks.

 

 

  1. Check out the “Every Kid in a Park” program.

Started in 2015, the Every Kid in a Park program provides every 4th grader with a free NPS America the Beautiful annual pass (an $80 value). This gets the child and his/her family in every single NPS site in the nation for free for almost an entire year. If you have a 4th grader, do not miss out on this opportunity!

 

No matter how many parks you’ve visited or how many times you’ve gone to your favorites, there’s still something more to explore in our national parks. We hope these tips help you make the most of your NPS adventures!

 



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CHORIZO & SWEET POTATO HASH RECIPE


 

Breakfast while RVing should be easy, but sometimes it’s difficult. The problem is not because there is nothing to eat, but because there are way too many good options. So why not just make them into one skillet like my new Chorizo & Sweet Potato Hash?

 

The sweetness of sweet potatoes and the spiciness of the chorizo combine to make the most perfect pair in this skillet. You are gonna start by making the chorizo first. Pull them off and then cook the sweet potatoes until done. This is an important step because you do not want to overcook the taters. Sweet potatoes soften really easily once cooked so avoid overcooking them by only cooking for 6-7 minutes.

 

 

Finally, you are gonna add the onions, eggs and goat cheese. The goat cheese is to add that tang the dish needs to fully complete the profile. This is a crazy good breakfast for around the campfire next to the RV. Double the recipe to feed the whole family or keep it how it is and hog it all for yourself. Honestly, it is super hard to beat!

 

 

Recipe:

 

Cooking Details

 

Yields: 2 Servings

 

Cook: 20 minutes

 

Prep: 10 minutes

 

Equipment: Cast iron skillet, cast iron cover, wood, fire starters, heat resistant gloves, cutting board and knife.

 

Chorizo & Sweet Potato Hash Ingredients:

 

  • 3 links of chorizo, sliced

 

  • 5 cups of sweet potatoes, cubed

 

  • 1/2 cup of onion, chopped

 

 

 

 

  • 1/4 cup of goat cheese, crumbled

 

 

Instructions:

 

  1. Using a fire starter and some local wood, start your fire. Make fire a medium to medium-high heat. Place your grill directly over fire and preheat skillet.
  2. Add sliced chorizo and cook until done. Pull off and set aside. Add sweet potatoes with salt and pepper. Cook for 6-7 minutes while stirring occasionally.
  3. Add onions & cooked chorizo to skillet and cook for 2 minutes more. Top skillet with eggs and goat cheese. Cover with a lid or tin foil and let cook for 3-4 minutes or until your eggs are done to your liking.
  4. Pull off skillet, top with cilantro and enjoy!

 



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BEACH CAMPING 101: PREPARING FOR A VACATION IN PARADISE


Our very first RV trip was to the Outer Banks in North Carolina, and we have returned to those same beautiful beaches many times over the past 6 years. Beach camping is an annual tradition for our family. Even though we love hiking in the mountains and kayaking on lakes, there is something about sun, waves, and sand that relaxes and rejuvenates us more than anything else.

 

The key to enjoying a great beach camping getaway is being prepared for the elements. Sand, water, sun, and wind can ruin your camping experience if you do not have the right gear. This beach camping guide will ensure that you can enjoy paradise when you park your RV at the shore.

 

Sand

 


 

Sand has ruined many beach camping trips by getting into every nook and cranny of the RV.  Here are some ways to keep the sand on the beach where it belongs:

 

  • Always pack separate beach and bath towels to avoid bringing sand into the RV. Hang up beach towels outside and bath towels inside.
  • Do not allow any shoes in the RV. Keep a small tub of water by the door to rinse feet before coming inside.
  • Invest in a nice outdoor rug and broom. Sweep off the rug daily.
  • Use the outdoor shower if your RV has one. If not, bring a splitter and attach an extra hose to the water spigot at your campsite for a quick rinse off.
  • Bring separate beach and camping chairs. Once you are showered and changed, you will want to sit around the fire without getting sandy again.

 

 

Water

 

 

If you don’t bring the right gear for splashing in the waves, you may find yourself shopping in one of those expensive sundry stores. Here is what you need to bring:

 

  • Always pack at least two swimsuits. No one likes putting on a wet suit for an afternoon swim.
  • Invest in quality rash guards that will protect you from the sun. They will also ease the sting while you practice your professional body surfing moves.
  • Make sure you pack a clothesline to hang up those wet bathing suits and towels. We adore the ones that attach to the RV.
  • If you have younger children, pack an inflatable baby pool. Often the surf may be too rough or the water too cold for the little ones. Splashing in a baby pool on the beach will keep them happy for hours.

 

Sun

 

 

The sun may feel like heaven when you first arrive, but if you don’t pack the proper protection you might be calling it quits after a few days at the beach. Stay safe and stock up on these items:

 

  • Sunscreen will be much more affordable when you buy it at home rather than in an expensive tourist shop. Make sure you get a water-resistant, high SPF.
  • Make sure everyone in the family has comfortable, breathable hats that can be worn all day.
  • Invest in a pop-up shade room that will offer shelter from the sun while still allowing you to enjoy the view and the breezes.
  • Bring an umbrella or two for shaded breaks while hanging out on the beach.

 

Wind

 

 

Although ocean breezes can keep you cool, often the winds whip up without warning along the coast. Here are some tips for making sure your belongings don’t take flight.

 

  • Never leave your RV awning extended while camping at the beach. We have seen many RVs lose their awnings in a single, sudden gust of wind.
  • Pin everything down. Stake those outdoor carpets, clip on the tablecloth, and put the napkins in a caddy.
  • Beach umbrella anchors are an inexpensive way to ensure you don’t end up chasing your umbrella down the shoreline.

 

 

We definitely pack a lot more gear when we are heading out on a beach camping adventure. But we find that being prepared means we enjoy our time in the sun instead of feeling beaten down by the elements. Once you have your base camp set up, there is only one other item you will need: an ice-cold drink with an umbrella in it.



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I RV SO I CAN MEET LIKE-MINDED, OUT OF THE BOX THINKERS


 

According to Merriam Webster thinking outside of the box is ”to explore ideas that are creative and unusual and that are not limited or controlled by rules or tradition.” This is a HUGE reason why we RV.

Let’s be real anyone who RVs full time is totally an outside of the box thinker. Seriously who chooses to move into an RV and travel around with only the essentials?

 

 

How Is RVing Different While Vacationing?

 

One of the biggest differences about vacationing in an RV is that you have your kitchen, bedroom and bathroom with you at all times. This is a big contrast to flying to a destination and renting a hotel if you’re going on vacation.

The other difference is that you will be emptying out your own sewer, filling up your water, and getting rid of gray water. All of the above stinky things, you wouldn’t have to do if you stayed at a hotel.

This makes the person RVing a total out of the box thinker. They’re not afraid to deal with sewage and the great outdoors.

 

 

How is RVing Different Than a Sticks and Bricks Home?

 

If you live in an RV full time like we do there is a whole lot of out of the box thinking. If you’re still of working age like us this means you also have to work while RVing. RVing full time doesn’t mean you’re on a permanent vacation.

The difference is that you are living in a tiny space by yourself or with your family (we personally have 2 adults, 2 kids, 2 dogs). This makes for a lot of bonding, family time, and exploring the great outdoors. If your kids are of school age like our oldest, this also means roadschooling AKA homeschooling from the road.

We have to figure out where we are parking, what time we’re working, and how long we’re staying at each destination in addition to finding local grocery stores, gas stations, and anything else that we might need. Setting up and breaking down is also on the schedule.

 

 

Fellow Neighbors We’ve Met

 

We have been traveling the country full time in our RV since July 2016 which means that we have had quite a few “out of the box thinkers” as neighbors just like us. We have met people from all walks of life that decided to go against what society was saying we “had to do” and instead do what felt right for ourselves and our families.

We personally tried the big house with the white picket fence, the yard, the man cave, and all the things to fill the home and it simply didn’t work for us. Not that there’s anything wrong with all of that but we felt stuck in a way. We were craving adventure and freedom.

Queue in our RV AKA Big Bertha (40’ Heartland Fifth Wheel).

Our RV seriously transformed our lives and made us appreciate the little things more. We also learned the art of living intentionally and the BEST part? We have met so many others that think the same way as us.

No matter how different our pasts are we share something in common: We went against the “status quo” only in search of fulfillment. In the process, we all had to think outside of the box for everything from how we make an income to how we get our mail.

 

 

When Problems Happen

 

Something that comes with traveling in an RV is that problems randomly happen because a whole tiny home is being moved around. Imagine putting a sticks and bricks home on a set of wheels and moving it? Things will go wrong after a while.

When it comes to fixing problems that happen with an RV such as slide outs not coming in, or landing legs not coming up, the first rule of thumb is not to panic. Panicking will not solve anything and this is what fellow out of the box thinkers understand. Instead finding a creative way to fix the situation and get through the day is first on the list.

Thanks to our “crazy” way of thinking, instead of fixating on the problem at hand with our RV we focus on the end result of getting whatever lemons life threw at us under control. We know that like with anything else once we get to the other side of the situation everything will be fine and someone somewhere else is dealing with something way worse.

 

 

Why Are There So Many RVers That Think Outside of the Box?

 

This is a GREAT question and one that leaves us pondering for a second. Maybe it’s the fact that we are not sitting still as we travel to a new place to park, or maybe it’s the fact that we spend more time with nature and breathing in some fresh air, or maybe it’s the fact that things are constantly changing?

We can’t 100% answer the question above but we can tell you this: There’s more than one way to do things, live life, and be happy.

At the end of the day we (1st Class RV Adventures) RV to meet other out of the box thinkers because they inspire us to continue living the way that works for us.

Whatever it is that makes you happy and feel fulfilled that’s what you should be doing. Find your own “away” and let us know in the comments below how long you have been RVing – WE LOVE hearing from you!



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I RV TO LIVE DEBT FREE


 

Did you know that 63% of millennials that have bought a home to live the American Dream have regrets? 50% of Gen Xers and 35% of baby boomers feel the same way.

It’s no surprise that the biggest reason is the upkeep that comes with owning a home. Many are finding themselves in a financial strain barely able to afford mortgage, utilities, and maintenance.

When we decided to sell almost everything we owned, buy an RV, and live in it full time it was because we didn’t know where we wanted to settle, and we were also on a mission to live debt free.

 

Flashback to the Beginning

 

Because we were renting a home in Downtown Orlando, every time something went wrong or broke down, we simply called our landlord. Every time we told each other, “Oh man, thank goodness we didn’t have to pay out of pocket for that,” it felt like something was happening every single month – from the microwave breaking to the washing machine not working to the oven not turning on and even a piece of the ceiling falling down in the second floor.

We rented that home for over two years and knew that before we purchased a home, we had to be ready to pay for the unexpected. One day something was perfectly fine and the next hour BOOM it was out of order. Can you relate to this?

When our oldest child was born, we were also listening to Dave Ramsey and learning how to get out of debt. The formula we came up with was simple – we had to cut back expenses and bring in more money. We knew that owning a sticks and bricks home was not going to help us get out of debt fast.

 

Starting From Scratch

 

Selling everything and using it to pay things off like our Harley Davidson at the time and leaving our credit cards with a $0 balance was a huge help in the beginning. We began our RV adventures with only 5 bills including our cell phone bills.

We cut back our expenses tremendously because we no longer had a huge rent payment plus electric and water bills to take care of. We did quickly learn that we had to slow down our travels because diesel for our truck added up – QUICK.

After we began to slow down and not go from Florida to California in one week (yes, we made this newbie mistake), what we spent on fuel became more reasonable.

 

 

Sticking to a Pay Off Plan

 

The most difficult part sometimes is having both partners on the same page when it comes to how much to save every month in order to tackle the little debt left. The other difficult part for us in the beginning was our income. We went down from two income streams to one and then that one unexpectedly became nonexistent.

This caused us to have to act fast and thanks to finding a mentor and learning, we were able to overcome this sooner rather than later. We recommend having your income figured out before hitting the road full time in an RV.

We have learned (the hard way) to make sure you have a mentor and a good backup plan in case something doesn’t go as planned when it comes to monthly finances. Thankfully we were able to overcome this because of the very small debt we had left. It also helped us bond and become more of a team.

If you aren’t single and you have a partner in crime, trust me when you both get on the same financial page you can move mountains.

Avoiding the finance talk will not make things easier by any means. Although it can be a difficult conversation, it’s necessary in order to get ahead and out of the debt hole if that’s your goal. I’m not here to say that being in debt is terrible, I’m just speaking from experience that for us being debt free is an easier way to breathe every month.

We also want to teach our children by example and struggling just to keep up with Joneses is not our ideal way of raising them.

 

 

Paying off the RV

 

Currently we are on a mission to pay off our RV. This is something I recommend others to try to save up for and pay for it in cash if you can. Although our monthly payment isn’t high, it’s still a debt we no longer want. Because the payment isn’t high, it makes it easier to send in larger payments to pay it off faster.

This payment is next on our radar before I begin to tackle my student debt.

 

Living in an RV

 

For us living in an RV is making the reality of living debt free much faster. Don’t get me wrong, you can live in an RV and spend way more than someone that lives in a sticks and bricks home if you’re not careful.

It’s easy to overspend when you’re exploring a new area and it’s also easy to overspend in gas or diesel when you’re excited to travel around. Be wise and plan accordingly. There’s no need to rush your travels because each area has so much to explore.

 

Our Lessons

 

A lesson we learned throughout our journey is that we now RV to live debt free. Living debt free is right around the corner for our family. For us the money we are freeing up from paying off debt represents freedom of all the things we can do rather than the things we can’t.

If things get difficult and tight – don’t give up. Take it one step at a time after you come up with a plan. Before making a purchase ask yourself, “Do I really need this?” Every time I want to make an impulse purchase, I think twice about it even if I have the money.

We are thankful that RVing has allowed us to have more control over our finances and has taught us that we had to take control of them instead of allowing our finances take control of us. Slashing our debts to less than half of what we were paying has been life changing.

 

 

Every day we are one step closer to being 100% debt free – we can’t wait. Our story and journey have evolved since July 2016 and all the difficult financial strains we went through have led to me being able to write this today. I am beyond thankful that we chose to follow our intuition and collect experiences rather than junk.

We love hearing from you – please share in the comments section below how RVing has helped you financially. Or has it taught you any important finance lessons? As always get out there to collect all the experiences you can while you “find your away.”



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