The trails are alive with food! Sometimes, it just takes a keen eye to locate it. Fruits like blackberries and apples are pretty easily identified, while mushrooms, for instance, require more rigorous identification before eating. It is always best to have a field guide for the region you are visiting in order to identify edible plants in the wild and many are available for purchase online or to check out from your local library. When staying at National and Regional Parks, be sure to check in with rangers and campground hosts about collecting edible plants in the wild. Here are a few universal plants in North America that you may come across, and taste, on your next hike.
Dandelion – The humble dandelion can be eaten entirely, from flowers to leaves to roots. Young leaves and flowers can be added to salads or eaten raw, while older leaves and roots taste best boiled.
Cattail – This easily identified marsh plant is another plant that can be eaten nearly in its entirety. Young shoots just appearing out of the water are great chopped and steamed like leeks and have a wonderful nutty flavor. Roots are a little fibrous, but can be peeled to the soft, white inner core, chopped, and fried like potatoes. Be careful to inspect the water source where the cattail grows and avoid plants growing in polluted water.
Wild Onion – If it looks and smells like an onion, it can be eaten like an onion. If it does not smell like an onion, leave it be. Related and smaller garlic and chives can be used in the same way and can add some wonderful flavor to any foraged plant on this list.
Purslane – If you are a gardener or tend to your lawn at home, you are probably already familiar with this widely available “weed”. It can be eaten raw or cooked and is a wonderful addition to other mixed greens collected on the trails. Purslane is high in beta-carotene and omega-3 fatty acids and grows low to the ground like a miniature succulent.
Milk Thistle – Milk thistle leaves take a little work to prepare, but the resulting cooked greens are both nutritious and delicious. Use gloves or a bandana to collect the leaves from the plant, cut the spines from the leaves, and boil for an easy meal with other greens, roots, or fruit.
Boondocking is not for everyone. It takes resilience and an open heart to rely completely on yourself and what you have within your RV… no hookups, no wifi, no facilities, and often no other people. Some national and regional parks offer a happy midline between basic amenities and “roughing it”, and are a great way to see if boondocking is for you. The key is knowing what is available in the surrounding vicinity should you need things like food, water, or additional shelter. Here are several locations to consider trying out this unfettered approach to camping.
Canyonlands National Park – Utah
Besides being one of the most breathtaking parks you will likely encounter in the United States, Canyonlands consists of miles and miles of back-country camping for both tents and RVs. Nearby Dead Horse Point State Park has simple pull in camp spots with no hookup and no water, but with a nearby visitor center on site.
Imperial Sand Dunes BLM Land – California
Located in the Southeast corner of California, Imperial Sand Dunes has been a snowbird RV destination for years. You will encounter many other RV enthusiasts here, so plan on being surrounded by many others with their sport ATVs and dirt bikes. There are no hookups or facilities, but overnight camping is permitted and amenities are nearby in Winterhaven, CA and Yuma, AZ.
Big Cypress National Preserve – Florida
Big Cypress has many “front country” pull in campgrounds with no hookup and no facilities, as well as miles of backcountry preserve. Visitor and welcome centers are limited in the park, but offer enough amenities if you find yourself in a bind.
Since its release on Netflix, “Tidying Up with Marie Kondo” has become a buzz in households across the country. The KonMari Method espouses downsizing clutter, keeping only those household items that spark joy, and efficiently organizing to save time and space. The great thing about the KonMari Method is that it can also be applied to how you clean and organize your RV.
First of all, you will want to deep clean your RV. This is most easily done by removing everything that is inside of the RV, including everything in drawers, cabinets and storage spaces. Keep like things together in stacks or in boxes, but remove them all from the RV. After all things have been removed, start by cleaning all surfaces, appliances, drawers, and shelves, starting from the ceiling of the RV and moving down. Finally, vacuum furniture and floors, and then mop. Voila, a clean palette to start from!
At this point, you’ve seen which cleaning products work best for you. Restock on everyday products for your RV and keep a list of what those products are so that they can be purchased and stored in your RV. Start with the cleaning products you just used. Add consumable items to this list as well, like toilet paper, paper towels, dish soap, shampoo, and cooking oil and spray.
Next up, go through the items that you removed from the RV, one by one. Does the item have utility or “spark joy” for you? Can it be replaced with something newer or more utilitarian? Is there another tool or item that would work better? Perhaps your spice rack needs an overhaul with newer, fresher herbs and spices. Maybe the dollar store set of holiday hand towels in the bathroom could be replaced with something a bit more luxurious. Donate the items that you no longer use or need in your RV and replace them with items that will be a joy to use on your travels.
Finally, organize for tidiness and efficiency. Washable plastic bins and trays are inexpensive and can help keep items separate in drawers and cabinets. Closet and pantry organizing systems can be installed to maximize useable space. Other RV organizing hacks can be found on the internet, like this article. Keep like items together and within reach for the spaces in your RV where they will be used.
We know what you’re thinking. Bringing the kids with you on an RV trip just seems more like a hassle than a good time. Let us assure you that is not true. Like any camping trip, there are going to be ups and downs. How many of the “downs” do you really commit to memory though in comparison to the “ups”? Chances are, not many. The truth of the matter is that bringing the kids along for the trip is actually a great idea for several reasons.
First and foremost, family time is at a premium when camping in an RV. Distractions are often at a minimum, or at the very least can be mindfully controlled. Electronics can be left out of the equation except for during the drive, when a little distraction is a good thing. After arriving at a destination however, the real fun begins. Expect a little crankiness and attitude at first, but watch how quickly it begins to settle.
Children are natural explorers and adventurers. Placed in the relative safety of a campground, they can experience some of that on their own, with a light watchful eye from parents and guardians. Many of the places you go may even have youth programs and sponsored educational activities like guided hikes, art and history presentations, wildlife viewing, or astronomy outings. Invest in the inquisitiveness, creativity, and independence of your children while they are young and they will grow to become healthy, happy adults. As an added bonus, they will likely meet other kids and develop great friendships.
RVing with your kids also means not only having full charge over meals, but also enlisting their help to prepare and serve them. You get to chose the menu instead of whatever might be available at the amusement park or arcade. S’mores and fresh baked chocolate chip cookies are always a treat at the end of a day along with some stories and jokes around the campfire, but you can opt to leave the corndogs and mac ‘n cheese out when preparing lunch.
Finally, camping with your children assures that they will get plenty of exercise and fresh air. They may get to try new things like kayaking, rock climbing, or mountain biking, and don’t forget all of the hiking too. With more and more stimulation from television and video games these days, it is important that kids also get enough exercise, sunshine, and fresh clean water and air.
One of the greatest joys of being on an RV excursion is how it brings us closer to the natural beauty of the world we live in. For some, that means simply going on a hike with a spectacular view as a destination. However, none of us are unfamiliar with the thrill of encountering wildlife along the way. Indeed, some of us camp for no reason other than to see spectacular wildlife in their natural habitat. By following some of these tips, you can make your wildlife viewing excursion even more successful.
The general rule of thumb for viewing wildlife is three-fold… be patient, be early, and be quiet. You will want to arrive at your viewing destination in the early morning, in most cases before dawn. Once there, you will need to find a comfortable place to be still and quiet. Don’t forget that wildlife often strive not to be found by predators, meaning they will remain hidden until things are quiet and peaceful. Waiting for that right moment can take a while, sometimes up to an hour. Do not give up! Wildlife viewing in itself can be like an act of meditation.
Come prepared with field guides so that you are able to identify the wildlife that you encounter, or anticipate natural habitat where specific wildlife might be found. Pay attention to edge spaces in particular, such as where forest gives way to meadow or a stream cuts through a canyon. Using binoculars or a telephoto lens on a camera is a good way to approach these habitats without being noticed by the local fauna.
Learn to interpret various animal signs, like tracks, markings, or droppings. These can lead you to areas where herd animals like bighorn sheep or bison congregate. Move slowly, quietly, and deliberately while tracking and keep an eye out for viewing areas where you can remain out of sight from approaching animals.
Many rules of etiquette also apply, like leaving pets at home so as not to ruin other wildlife viewers’ experience. Additionally, leave things that make noise behind, like cell phones and iPods. Some wildlife have such a keen sense of hearing that even headphones with music can scare them off. Respect private property and sensitive habitats, as setting foot in these areas can disrupt the natural habitat of the wildlife you are seeking.
Lastly, be sure to bring a journal to document your excursion and the wildlife you encounter. While a photo can sometimes be captured successfully (be sure your volume is turned off if using a cell phone), a journal entry is always effective for capturing how you felt in the moment.
What is Workamping? The term was coined in 1987 by Workamper News to describe anyone who works, volunteers, or runs a business while on the road camping in a tent or RV. Some would question why in the world someone would want to take a relaxing escape like camping and mix it with the one thing most of us are trying to get away from for a little while… the daily hustle of our jobs. The answer to the question is really quite simple though. Workamping gives you the freedom to make your getaway longer and more sustainable. You get a new environment to live, work, and play in whenever you want to change, and an income that makes it possible to stay on the road.
Workamping can take on many different forms, from internet based writing jobs to campsite hosting to a temporary work position at a store or restaurant in a small town for the summer. The possibilities are really quite endless. The one thing that the jobs often have in common is freedom of place: being able to visit and work from any place you’d like for as long as you’d like.
Workamping typically does not require a full-time 40 hours per week for work. If it did, you might find yourself working more than enjoying your new environment. Workamping is also probably not going to be a lucrative career choice to build a 401K and retirement benefits. What Workamping does offer is enough stable income to live modestly and comfortably. In many cases like campground hosting, benefits might include a free campsite for the duration of the work agreement.
What do you need to get setup? A really good way to get started is to ask yourself what things you are both good at and enjoy doing. If that is knitting for instance, perhaps your trip can coincide with well-attended craft shows along a route to several destinations you would like to see while traveling. If you have the benefit of family traveling with you, then a partner can drive while you do your knitting. If freelance writing is more your thing, search for jobs that have flexible deadlines based on number of items written and make sure that your campsites have wifi enabled service.
For more inspiration getting started with a new job on the road, check out Workamper News where you can sign up free for information on Workamping delivered right to your email inbox.
Ever planned a last minute RV trip and wondered from the onset if it was going to work out? Maybe you have your days planned out with a route and several parks, beaches, and other destinations to hit along the way, but figure you will just cross your fingers and research camping spots along the way. As many RVers have learned, even the best laid plans can sometimes go awry. Construction along your route, major festivals drawing large crowds of other campers, or bad weather that forces a stop sooner than you had planned. How can one plan for the unexpected when the entire point is just a little rest and relaxation? The answer might be a whole lot simpler than you think: an RV Travel Membership.
RV Memberships can offer many small benefits to make traveling a whole lot easier. With participating campgrounds listed along with amenities and reviews from other member campers, you will find up to date information about what to expect in your camping experience before you arrive. Most memberships also offer significant discounts on your stay compared to non-member campers. Other perks sometimes offered are support and social networks to meet other RVers, discounts at travel centers and fuel stations, late and early campsite check in, online travel guides, and member only rallies. Specialized RV Memberships may even offer mail forwarding services and specialized job centers for finding temporary work while on the road.
A quick online search will place you in contact with many of the more popular memberships, including Passport America, Harvest Hosts, and Escapees. From there, you can browse the benefits offered and choose which membership is best for you. Reviews from other RVers are also not hard to find online and can offer some great insight into the benefits and drawbacks of each club.
Most memberships cost less than $50 annually so don’t be afraid to sign up to try one or two out and then drop the one you don’t need. Most memberships pay for themselves in discounts on a single trip. Don’t let the “unknowns” deter you from making your next trip. Try a travel membership and see how these tools can take the stress out of expecting the unexpected.
We all have our own reasons for getting away from the stress of everyday life… the repetitive nature of our work, the chaos of a city commute, challenging relationships with difficult people in our lives, just to name a few. But more than just an escape from the people, places, and things that heighten our stress, travel is important therapy for a healthy and balanced life.
First and foremost, travel gives us a change in perspective. Many times, our stress comes from a place of not being able to see the forest for the trees. Get away from the environment that is challenging you and perhaps you’ll see that those people, places, and things that leave you feeling anxious, depressed, bored, or angry actually have more to do with your own thoughts and emotions than they do with life going on around you. Step outside of that for a little while and you may be surprised what you learn about yourself.
Traveling takes us out of our comfort zone and places us somewhere where things are not nearly as predictable, and that builds character. Sometimes, it comes in the form of navigating harrowing roadways in Baja California and finding a pristine cliffside restaurant in a forgotten town overlooking the Pacific. Sometimes it’s a wrong turn on a hiking trail in a National Park and discovering the best photo of your entire trip with not a single other hiker in the shot.
Observing cultural diversity in the places where you travel and building an understanding of those cultures within your own life experience is invaluable. You may find yourself learning about cuisine that you never dreamed existed or experiencing local music and art that speaks directly to your heart and soul. You may even find yourself learning new languages. And a bonus that you may not have thought about is that all of these experiences look great on a resumé if you intend to bring them forward into your everyday work life. If nothing else, you will gain stories that your friends and family will be eager to hear about upon your return.
Finally, the happiness, adventure, and peace of being that you experience in travel becomes infectious; for people around you of course, but also for your self. It’s just like when you were a child, getting over your fear of that big roller coaster, stepping off your first ride, and declaring with innocent joy, “let’s do it again!”
Planning an RV trip can sometimes be a bit of a headache. For pet owners, one of the road blocks most often encountered when planning a vacation is “who will take care of the dog while we are away from home?”. But you’re bringing your home *with* you… so why not bring the dog along too? There are many benefits to bringing your dog on your next RV trip. Here are several that you may not have considered.
You’ll have no need to invest in doggy daycare, which can become expensive. Instead, invest in caring for your pet in your RV with items like a bed, a kennel if needed, staked tie outs, compact storable fencing, and other items for your dog’s comfort and protection on the road. It is a one time investment instead of day-to-day, plus you’ll gain the happiness of having your pet with you.
Having a dog about can keep wildlife like deer, raccoons, opossums, and squirrels from getting into your campsite to forage. Of course, if you want these creatures about, you can always put the dog inside.
Speaking of putting the dog inside, even the smallest dog makes for an effective alarm system to keep unwanted visitors from lurking about your campsite. While campsite theft is not something we like to spend a lot of energy thinking about, it does happen from time to time. A barking dog that alerts you and all of your neighbors is an effective deterrent against would be thieves.
Finally, including the dog in your trip is good for both you and your pet. Dogs are very social animals and being apart from family can be very stressful for them. Instead, bring them along for the adventure and bonding. You will enjoy having your best friend with you too.
Are you new to RVing? If so, chances are that you’ve noticed a certain lexicon of words and phrases that other RV enthusiasts throw about regularly. Do you not want to appear like a newbie, but have no clue what people are talking about? Look no further! Here is a crash course in RV terminology 101.
Dry Camping – Camping without hookups for electricity, water or sewage.
Boondocking – Dry camping in remote areas, typically with no fees associated for camping.
Moochdocking – Dry camping for free on someone else’s property, like a driveway belonging to a friend or relative.
Gray Water – Wastewater that goes down the sink, shower or bath.
Black Water – Wastewater and waste that goes down the toilet.
Shore Power – Electrical hookup for power, often in the absence of water and wastewater hookup.
Full Hookup (FHU) – A campsite that has RV hookup for electricity, water, and sewage.
Converter – A device that changes 110v AC power into 12v DC power.
Inverter – A device that changes 12v battery power to 110v AC power.
Dinghy or Toad – A vehicle that is towed behind an RV.
Dry Weight – The weight of an RV without any fuel, fresh water, waste water, propane, passengers or supplies.
Dual Electrical System (DES) – An RV electrical system that runs both hookup electricity and/or self-contained battery or generator power.
Dump Station – Location where gray water and black water tanks can be emptied.
Full-Time (Full-Timer, Full-Timing) – Living full-time out of an RV.
Generator – A power supply that is run by gasoline, diesel, or propane to provide self-contained 110v AC electrical power to an RV.
Honey Wagon or Honey Dipper – A mobile service that will empty black water and/or gray water tanks from where you are camped if sewage hookup or dump station is not available.
Hula Skirt – A skirt installed on the rear bumper of a motorhome to prevent debris kick-up while driving.
Kingpin – A device that connects the fifth wheel to a towing vehicle.
Reefer – Slang for refrigerator.
Rig – Slang for RV.
Self-Contained – An RV that is able to supply water, drain, and electrical needs without hookups.
Snow Bird – Someone who travels in an RV to warm climates during winter months.
Toy Hauler – An RV capable of indoor storage of all-terrain vehicles (ATVs), motorcycles, golf carts, or other large recreational equipment.
Winterizing – The process of making an RV safe for winter storage.
Workamping (Workamper) – Working remotely to operate, contribute to, or volunteer either on-line or on-site, while living and traveling in an RV.