Planning A Camping Trip: RV, RV Rental, Cabin, or Lodge?

The RV Atlas Podcast
Planning A Camping Trip: RV, RV Rental, Cabin, or Lodge?

We’re back! Today, we are kicking off the spring season of the RV Atlas podcast. We have big book news to share, starting with a pre-order promotion from our publisher. Plus, we will give you a behind-the-scenes look at how our book See You at the Campground was born. Finally, we are going to give you a sample from the book–and talk about the four major ways we have traveled over the past ten years and how we make those choices when we plan a camping trip.

Let’s get going!

How to Get See You at the Campground Swag

Not only do we have the new book See You at the Campground coming out on March 3rd, 2020, we now have some official See You at the Campground swag! How can you get your hands on these free goodies? Pre-order the book!

Our friends at Sourcebooks have super cute limited edition mugs and bumper magnets for those that preorder See You at the Campground. To get yours, you’ll just go to one of the retailers below, place your pre-order, and then come back to this post to fill out this form! You’ll have to provide your email address, mailing address, and receipt/invoice number for your book purchase. The free gifts are EXTREMELY LIMITED AND WHEN THEY ARE GONE THEY ARE GONE!

Then, watch the mail for your mug and magnet! It’s that simple. Hopefully you can enjoy a free, hot cup of coffee in your SYATC mug on your next camping trip!

What’s the catch? There are only 50 combo sets available! The good news is that Sourcebooks has another 200 bumper magnets for the next 200 people to sign-up.

What if you’ve already pre-ordered? That’s okay. Look up your receipt and use it to fill out the form.

Podcast listeners have first dibs! We are not releasing this information on our social media channels. Loyal listeners get a one-week head start! So, get out there and get your form in.


Where can you buy See You at the Campground? Here are several retailers offering pre-orders:

A Behind-the-Scenes Look at how See You at the Campground Came to Be

Let’s take a ride in the Wayback Machine, so you can find out just how we got the opportunity and inspiration to write See You at the Campground. 

Way, way a long time ago, we started our blog The Lively Little Campers, which eventually evolved into the RV Family Travel Atlas blog and podcast (which eventually became the RV Atlas, as you know us today). One day, while the podcast was still a baby, we got a call asking if we’d like to write a book about RVing for the Idiot’s Guide series for Penguin Random House.

We were excited for the opportunity to write The Idiot’s Guide to RV Vacations. Since it was not necessarily our dream project to follow someone else’s formula, we had never really had thought about writing a book like an Idiot’s Guide. However, we really wanted to get published and break into the book industry, so tried this format.

Once we confirmed that this was a really legitimate opportunity and not a spam email, we got busy writing what would become our first book. We kind of wrote this first book because we really wanted to get a contract for a second book. Hopefully, something more personalized to us and our experiences.

We felt so lucky to have gotten “discovered” by the editor who found our website. You just never know who is reading those blog posts! We are so glad that the writing represented us well.

The Book Proposal

The Idiot’s Guide to RV Vacations went well. We had our names on a real book that we could hold in our hands! That’s an exciting experience. So, the next step was to get an agent, someone who could help us, hopefully, make more books. Our editor helped us connect with an amazing agent who signed us!

And then…we didn’t write the book proposal for three whole YEARS. We really wanted to write that proposal. We knew we had another book in us, but life happened. We have three active boys, Jeremy was teaching, and Stephanie was growing the podcast and freelance writing into a full-blown business.

We eventually got back in touch with our agent to see if we even had a chance to move forward. Luckily, she said yes! She knew that we had been busy not only with life but with growing an audience for the book. She saw the potential in creating a book with us, so now it was on us to get the proposal done.

Finding a Publisher

Once the proposal was done, it was then out of our hands and into our agent’s hands. She would then do the work of selling the book to a publisher. Luckily, she is truly a wonderful agent, so she purposefully sent our proposal to the right people and places.

Our original plan was to write Hitching Up and Heading Out, a memoir all about our RV journeys. It was designed to have sidebars with specific tips to go with the narrative body. So, we waited…and then, an editor made an offer. We really liked this publisher and would be thrilled to have a book put out by them, but there was one hiccup. This book would not have any art or illustrations.

Sadly, that just didn’t fit with our vision. We could imagine those illustrations in our minds, next to our words. So, we hemmed and hawed a bit while trying to decide. Luckily, our agent kept on sharing the proposal. And lo and behold, she found another editor who was interested in making an offer, just in the knick of time.

The Birth of a New Book

Our agent helped us connect with the editor from Sourcebooks, and from that conversation, See You at the Campground was officially born. The editor had listened to our podcast and truly seemed to understand us. Plus, she saw a vision for taking the narrative story of our RVing journey and helping to make a book that would truly help others start THEIR camping journeys. This new vision broadened from just RVing to all kinds of “slow travels” with kids, including tent camping, cabins, lodges, RV rentals, and more.

While Stephanie was immediately drawn to this more holistic family camping book, Jeremy was a bit of a stubborn mule. Pretty quickly, he got it and realized this was the book that would represent our whole story, since our personal story isn’t just about RVing. We’ve done it all! And, we are so excited to share it all with you!

That same day, we signed with Sourcebook (awesome publishers, by the way). Soon after, we came up with the title See You at the Campground (if you haven’t noticed, we always sign off these posts and the podcast episodes with that phrase). That really captures the essence of what we want to share. We don’t care how you get there or what you stay in, we just want to see you at the campground.

We are both so proud of this book, and that doesn’t come easily for us. While we are both pretty self-critical, this book is just US. It truly tells our personal story of our own struggles and successes, alongside all of the tools you need for your own camping journeys (even if you are a veteran traveler).

A Sneak Peek at See You at the Campground: Planning the Next Camping Trip

Most often we travel in our own RV. We have basically been doing 40-100 nights per year in our our own RV. The high end of that (at around 100 nights) was when we had a seasonal site and and a couple of years where we were gone almost all summer when we were both teaching.

When do we choose to take our own rig?

Taking Our Own RV On A Camping Trip

When we can reach the destination in one or two days of driving–mostly in one day of driving. With our own personal rig we have covered up to Nova Scotia, out to Great Smoky National Park, and as far south as Charleston, SC. That has been our range with our own personal rig, and we are actually pretty darn happy with that! There is so much to see and do in the massive part of the US and Canada reachable from our home base in New Jersey. 

Here are some more specific examples of when we would use our own RV:

  • We love taking a weekend camping trip close to home (up to three hours away or so). This is a great way to enjoy a quick getaway and recharge our batteries as a family.
  • We almost always do a spring break camping trip in our RV, and these trips are among some of our favorite memories. We have done many trips to Charleston and Myrtle Beach. It’s nice to get further south, where the weather is warmer.
  • We try to kick off summer with a HUGE RV trip, which has ranged from one week to four weeks. These have included big trips around New England, out to the Smokies, and out to upstate New York.
When do we choose to rent RVs? 

Our RV Rental Camping Trip to South Dakota

We often rent RVs. Why would we rent one when we own one? One time we have opted to rent RVs is for our annual winter camping trip to Florida (read about our first RV rental HERE). We don’t want to risk encountering winter weather along our route.

Plus, we don’t have a lot of time for travel. Driving down and driving back would take up four days or so of our very short timeframe for this trip. So, renting an RV is the best option. That way, we get all of the fun of Fort Wilderness with less of the hassle. Plus, we got to try out Class C motorhomes!

Mostly, we rent RVs when we want to travel someplace really far away. If we have to spend several days driving out and driving back, it sometimes isn’t worth it. Renting an RV has allowed to get out to South Dakota to see the Black Hills and Mount Rushmore. This was an amazing trip, and we might not have taken it if our only option was to haul our own trailer all the way out there. We booked in out to South Dakota in our Ford F-150 and booked it home!

When do we choose to rent cabins?

Our Cabin Camping Trip to Glacier

We also love to rent cabins for certain situations. Our 26-day camping trip to the Pacific Northwest was Jeremy’s favorite trip. There was no way it would be worth it to take our trailer out there when we could fly there in a few short hours. Yes, we could have rented an RV once we were there, but we didn’t have a tow vehicle. So, we decided staying in cabins at campgrounds would be a fun change of pace. And, it absolutely was!

We were able to try out all kinds of campground accommodations, from a glamping tent right on the beach to a luxury park model trailer. The best part was that we could still enjoy a campfire at night and let the kids run and play. We got to take advantage of our favorite campground amenities, even without our RV. Our spring break trip to Texas and our big Glacier trip are great examples of this kind of travel.

When do we choose a lodge?

Another really cool experience we always wanted to have was a stay in a national park lodge. You’ve probably seen those iconic, beautiful lodges found in several parks. Last summer, we wanted to squeeze a little national park adventure in, so we opted to stay in the Big Meadows Lodge at Shenandoah National Park. Our toy hauler would have been a little big to tow through the park. Staying in the lodge made the park so much more accessible.

Every RV owner should have an NPS lodge experience! We would like to try lodges at GSMNP, Grand Canyon, Yosemite, Yellowstone, and more. That’s our idea of a fun retirement plan.

The Bottom Line

So, the bottom line is that you can get out there and have an amazing camping trip, whether you own an RV or not! Find the options that work for you, and try them out on your next camping trip!

Don’t forget to put in your pre-order for See You at the Campground and get your mug/magnet combo or your free bumper magnet.

See you at the campground!

Stephanie + Jeremy


The RV Atlas Podcast
Planning A Camping Trip: RV, RV Rental, Cabin, or Lodge?

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