New Year’s Resolutions: Travel More

One thing is for certain: no one who entered 2016 will depart it the same way. It was a tumultuous year, with unprecedented political turmoil, beloved celebrity deaths, the largest mass shooting in U.S. history and the Zika scare. There were also positives: the Cubs won their first World Series in 108 years, the U.S. high school graduation rate reached a record high,  unemployment went down to 4.6% and the National Park Service turned 100.

There’s no doubt 2016 will be looked on as a historic year. As we take another trip around the sun, many of us will promise at the outset to get healthier, happier and wiser. Most of us will also fall flat on our promises. Instead of making a bunch of impossible resolutions, why not narrow them down to one so we can get the benefits of all three?

We’ve written about the differences between material and experiential gifts before ( and why experiences make people happier long-term. New Year’s resolutions are about giving a gift to yourself, and there’s no better gift than adventure. Let’s resolve that 2017 will be the year we travel, broaden our horizons and leave the burden of work and home-life behind, if only for a little while. If time and/or cost is a concern, there are certainly ways to budget and plan your travel. Contact us at Midwest Outdoor Resorts for more details.

Leave No Vacation Days Behind –

According to the U.S. Travel Association, in 2015 55% of Americans didn’t use all of their allotted vacation days, leaving 658 million said days unused. While much of this is due to fear of getting behind on work, not being promoted, etc., if we allocate our time and plan accordingly, there’s no reason we can’t use them to travel. Look for slower periods and/or plan in advance so you can delegate some responsibility ahead of time. Work-life balance is essential to your well-being, and time off plays a large role. Use it.

Make Your Own Itinerary –

A big fear of travel, especially when going with friends or family, is that you won’t be able to experience the things YOU want to do.  Maybe you’re not a fan of art museums, or you don’t really care to see a certain landmark. So what? If your idea of having fun is sitting by the lake, let it be. Of course, if you’re traveling with others, you may need to make some compromises. Just be sure to carve out some time for yourself.

Leave Expectations at Home –

So you’ve planned perfectly. You’ve arranged every last minute of your week-long trip.. What happens if it’s pouring rain on your hiking day? Or the museum you want to see is closed for renovation? While we certainly want to have time set aside for things we want to do, it’s important to be open to the fluke circumstances travel inevitably brings. The more authentic and participatory our vacations are the better they will be. This means talking to others, unplugging from work and being up for anything that comes our way. Getting out of your comfort zone and experiencing destinations for all that they are is what makes travel worthwhile.

Go Solo –

Even if it’s just for a long weekend, try taking a trip by yourself. We’re not trying to cause any rifts here, and depending on where you go you’ll want to take extra precautions, but traveling alone is a great way to recharge. When you’re by yourself, you’ll have an opportunity to interact with your destination and its people in ways you wouldn’t be able to otherwise. If you must travel with a significant other or friend, give yourselves one day or at least a few hours to be alone. You won’t regret it.

In 2017, let’s resolve to go on that short weekend road trip we’d usually skip. Let’s resolve to see a few of America’s National Parks. Let’s resolve to plan at least one long vacation to somewhere we’ve never been, and let’s resolve to leave work life behind for awhile and gain some perspective. There’s no better gift we can give ourselves.


Our Top 4 Tips to Beat Holiday Stress

Merry Christmas! Hopefully, those two words still bring you a childlike sense of wonder and joy. Remember when the holidays were fun? School was out, you were anticipating what Santa might bring (and in my case, contemplating if you’d been truly good or bad), the sledding hill was packed and all the holiday burden was on the adults. It was truly the best time of the year.
Once you’re older, however, it’s easy to get overwhelmed. We have an increased sense of responsibility, especially if there are relatives visiting or we’re hosting a dinner. This often leads to not-so-healthy stress management habits like overeating and overdrinking as we jump from one holiday party to the next. Doing this season after season can lead to the holiday blues, where we begin to feel anxious, angry and even depressed during Christmastime. Fortunately, it doesn’t have to be that way.
Below are some tips to help get you through this and future holiday seasons. Follow these, and you’ll soon look like those happy-go-lucky people in Christmas commercials.
Do Less, Enjoy More–
See if you can turn down a couple of events. We’re not advocating sitting home alone all December, but when you have your office Christmas party, your friend’s ugly sweater party, recitals for the kids and are still having crazy Uncle Johnny over for Christmas dinner all in the same week it’s a bit much. Don’t be afraid to turn down something you’re not interested in or that’s not important. The main idea here is not to go overboard to please everybody.
Shopping –
You don’t need to seek perfection here. In fact, the best practice is to simply ask people what they want before you buy anything (especially other adults). This way, you’re not giving anything they don’t want and you don’t have to waste time scouring the far corners of the earth for something. Also, budget early, shop early and stick to it (we’ve got some budget gift ideas here). Set a date to have all shopping done, say December 10th, and you won’t have to worry anymore.
Try Something New –
Have you ever wanted a warm Christmas vacation? Tried cooking something other than ham or turkey or going out to eat? Invented your own family tradition? The more we can get away from the monotony of the season the better. A trip to California or making a meal from another culture (check out some recipes here) might be just the break you need. This is especially true if you’ve done the same thing year after year and are really stressed or dreading the holiday season.
Cope –
So you’re definitely stuck at home this year, you have relatives storming in and everyone expects you to be an excellent host. No matter the situation, we can always find simple ways to relieve stress. Taking a little chunk out of the day for ourselves is important anytime, let alone around Christmas. Volunteering and exercising (even if it’s just a 30-minute walk in some much-needed sunshine) can offer big benefits in a short amount of time. If you’re religious, finding the spiritual significance of the holidays and going to your place of worship can help feelings of isolation and loneliness. As difficult as these things may seem when you’re stressed, they will quickly brighten your overall mood and allow you to actually enjoy the season as it’s meant to be enjoyed.
If you can abstain from perfectionism, budget and shop early, stave off monotony and find ways to exercise and get some sunshine, you can bring back the Christmas joy you had as a child. Feel free to add any comments or experiences you might have with holiday stress, and Merry Christmas!


Why you should be planning your Glamping Vacation Today!

Envision yourself hiking in the deep wilderness of Minnesota, trekking through the land of towering pines, pristine lakes and black bears. You’re in the midst of raw and organic wilds, taking in the atmosphere only the Upper Midwest can provide. You stumble on an untouched lake, so crystalline you can see the pebbles and fish underwater. This should be a euphoric moment, enveloped by unblemished nature and its everlasting serenity.

Instead, the kids start to complain. You’ve travelled a long way, and are far from anything that defines an amenity. There is no cell service, no Facebook, no bathroom, and it appears a thunderstorm is rolling over the horizon. You and your family will soon be drenched, and you and the kids do NOT want to sleep on the ground tonight.

Introducing Glamping: AKA glamorous camping. This clever portmanteau is a new take on an old concept: being as comfortable as possible while also enjoying the outdoors. It’s saying, “Sure, we can roast marshmallows, but why don’t we do it over the firepit on the porch?”

Glamorous camping got its roots in the Middle Ages, when kings and queens travelled to other kingdoms and battlefronts with many of their home palace’s provisions. They set up palatial tents complete with servants, artwork and fine beds and linens. Later, when African safaris were the rage with wealthy Brits and Americans, they refused to give up their domestic opulence and instead brought along their familiar comforts like electricity and champagne.

Nowadays, glamping is a global trend that allows people from different walks of life to experience the enjoyable aspects of camping (time with family, enjoying scenery) without the unfavorable (raccoon in the tent-unless it’s Rowdy-, insomnia).  Various glamping lodgings, including cabins, cottages, villas and yurts also have a large range of prices that can accommodate most travelers.

While it may not appeal to the more bucolic among us, glamping offers a chance to experience the outdoors while allowing us to keep in touch with modernity. It is alluring to the overloaded vacationer who can’t get all the way away from their desk, as well as the novice camper who is easing their way into the craft.  Let us know your glamping adventures, and if you don’t yet have any, it’s probably time to give it a try!


Fort Hays Chuckwagon Supper & Cowboy Music Show

The Black Hills are rich with authentic Cowboy history. This area has touted the name ‘Wild West’ for over a century and if you are looking to have yourself a rootin’ tootin’ old fashioned adventure you have come to the right place. The Fort Hays Chuckwagon is just up the road from Rushmore Shadows resort and is serving up cowboy cuisine and fun family entertainment. Ft Hayes Cowyboyshow

I had the chance to visit the Fort Hays Chuckwagon Supper & Cowboy Music Show this past week and was eager to see what all the excitement was about. As you drive up the hill and into the parking lot you will feel as if you have driven right into the Wild West of this region’s past. Fort Hays is home to many attractions including the movie set of, “Dances With Wolves.” Here you can visit an old west town, experience rope making, watch a unique penny press, and so much more. A & J Ft. hayes

Enjoy delectable cowboy fare up to three times daily. Choose from a delicious pancake breakfast, cowboy lunch, or a chuckwagon supper.

My husband and I, along with a group of our friends are from the Black Hills but had not had the chance to catch the Cowboy Music Show. So we saddled up for the Chuckwagon Dinner last week. Ft. Hayes Dinner Plate

As you enter the rustic building that houses the dinner and show, the aroma of traditional and delicious cowboy fare fills the air. We grabbed our tin plates and cups and headed through the line to be served by authentic cowboys and cowgirls.

You choose your meat options (BBQ beef or Chicken), then you are encouraged to hold on tight as the server smashes your baked potato down onto your tin plate. “It tastes better that way,” he laughs. As you make your way through the line you’re are given delicious homemade applesauce (my personal favorite), buttermilk biscuits, spice cake, coffee, and the best lemonade I’ve ever had served fresh into your tin cup. Ft. Hayes Emily & Angie

The dinner was delicious and followed by the Cowboy Music Show. We couldn’t keep our eyes off the incredibly talented musicians as they tackled artists from Johnny Cash to Mozart. We cheered for the fiddler as she took on, “The Devil Went Down to Georgia” and won the competition against herself (Playing both Johnny & the Devil’s parts). The Oompah of the polka made us want to dance, and we laughed as Elvis entered the building. Ft Hayes Oommpah

If you are looking for a fun cowboy adventure for your entire family, you won’t want to miss The Fort Hays Chuckwagon Supper & Cowboy Music Show. We give it a big, “Yee Haw!”

And, it’s just a few miles up the Road on Hwy 16. Next time you stay at Rushmore Shadows make sure to visit Fort Hays!

Unforgettable Yellowstone RV Trip

YellowStone Pic 1I recently spent some time helping one of our members plan an RV trip to Yellowstone and Glacier National Parks all the way from Minnesota. We went back and forth on the details changing things here and there for about a month before deciding we had his trip all planned out!

It was such a cool experience for me that we decided to write about it in our newsletter.Screen Shot 2015-04-09 at 10.18.47 AM

Well, I wasn’t the only one who thought that it was cool! I’ve had several members call in since asking for help planning their own trips to Yellowstone and Glacier National Parks.Screen Shot 2015-04-09 at 10.15.17 AM

A trip out to Yellowstone is a great way to take advantage of Good Sam and Good Neighbor Park options that can be found via your Coast to Coast membership.Indigo Yellowstone

Whether you’re coming from Minnesota or Colorado or even if you want to see Canada on your trip too, we can help you find places to stay along the way! Feel free to give us a call so we can chat about your upcoming trip and get you pointed in the right direction!


This is the link to the Yellowstone in an RV article that helped me a bunch on these trips. –INDIGO

Escape The Winter: Mazatlan With The Family

Andrea DreamingIf you are like me the longer the winter gets the more I longingly stare out the window–humming John Denver’s Sunshine on my shoulders and dreaming of a sunny beach with a lounge chair with my name on it.

If you are a member with us, this doesn’t just have to be a dream! You can hop right from fantasy to sandy beach and all for a minimal cost.

 Mazatlan, Mexico is a beach lovers dream vacation. With over 12 miles of continuous beach you can relax, enjoy water sports, picnic, and so much more. For the more adventurous you won’t want to miss Diver’s Point. Here you can watch divers jump from high atop the cliffs into the 6 foot deep Pacific Ocean below them! This show is FREE to the public! But if you enjoy the performance, don’t forget to tip–that is how the talented divers make their living!Diving

You will also want to visit El Faro- Mazatlan’s Lighthouse. El Faro is one of the tallest natural lighthouses in the world. Here you can explore long walks and hikes along the coast. You will want to stay until sunset to experience the beautiful colors of the sunset along the water.Screen Shot 2015-03-06 at 2.27.02 PM

Aside the beaches and other natural wonders, Mazatlan offers fun entertainment for the whole family. Visit Mazatlan’s aquarium and you will experience the “largest seawater fish tank” in Latin America. Here you can swim with the sharks, enjoy the sea-lion show, and go snorkeling in the Manta Ray Tank!! Talk about adventure!

 Even more exciting than all of this, right now with Hopaway Holiday you can book a 2 Bdrm condo that sleeps up to 6 people for $399.00 for 7 nights. That’s $57.00 a night for 7 nights starting April 12th!!

If this sounds great to you, give us a call today in Member Services and we can help make this dream vacation a reality for your family! Remember you can always stay at work and make money, but you can’t always make priceless memories!!







Member How To Videos

How To'sHere in Member Services it is our job to help you navigate your MOR membership. From logging in to Coast to Coast and Hopaway Holiday and checking out the MOR website to planning a getaway, we are here to walk you through it all!

Of course, we know that some of you prefer to teach yourselves so that’s where all of the how to videos come in!

Andrea or I will walk you through a click by click play of how to use your membership. You’ll find these how-to videos under the Membership tab on our Midwest Outdoor Resorts website.

We add more often so stay tuned, and as always, if you don’t see what you’re looking for, call us or shoot us an email for a personal tutorial!

Trip Plus: Discounts and Coupons

Screen Shot 2014-12-03 at 9.34.31 AMOne of the many nifty parts of your MOR membership is access to Trip Plus- discounts and coupons. This neat little feature is a great money saver wherever you may go! You can find local deals as well as deals on major attractions such as discounted Disney World Tickets. These are accessible through the Coast to Coast website. To view them, log in to your Coast to Coast account at Once you are in, they can be found on the right had side of the page under Member benefits. Click on the Trip Plus-discounts and coupons link. You can search by zip code, city and state, or by national brand. The options for savings are nearly endless! They even have a mobile app that you can download from the App Store or Google Play so that you can take these deals with you! Make sure you check out and take advantage of this wonderful part of your Midwest Outdoor Resorts membership! You can also check out the How To Videos section of for a video on how to access these awesome deals!

Fun Camping Gear

When many people think of camping, they think of roughing it in a tent in the woods. Camping certainly still can be like it was back in the Boy Scout days, however there have been many new inventions and innovative ideas in the world of camping.

Screen Shot 2014-12-02 at 3.19.30 PMFinding fresh water can be a hassle when out in the woods or on the road in remote places. One of my favorite new gadgets is the Camelbak All Clear UV Microbiological Water Purifier. This fancy water bottle has a UV light lid that purifies water in 60 seconds once activated. You can use this on almost anything from lake water to questionable hotel tap water. The UV cap is good for 80 purification cycles and comes with a normal lid and a USB charger. This nifty water bottle carries a $99 price tag but as a loyal Camelbak user, I could easily justify the cost for the availability to have fresh water anywhere. This would be a great bottle to travel with too so that you can always have fresh clean water whether you are in the woods or if you are overseas.

Screen Shot 2014-12-02 at 3.21.18 PMThe Coolest Cooler is pretty nifty as well. This is no average cooler but one with almost any feature you could think of! It has a blender, a Bluetooth equipped wireless speaker system, a USB charging port, tie down straps, extra large wheels for easy transport, a bottle opener, an interior light, and built in plate and knife storage. This cooler really is the coolest! You can find this neat gadget on Kickstarter and make it yours today!

Investing in a solar powered charger is becoming more and more common these days. With all of the new capabilities of smart phones and other electronic gadgets, we tend to use up battery life Screen Shot 2014-12-02 at 3.23.13 PMquicker than ever, especially when we are away from an outlet. Solar chargers have become more efficient and affordable in recent years and are such a valuable tool to have at your disposal. You can search for and compare these online.

The NOCO GB30 UltraSafe Lithium Jump Starter is a portable charger that can jumpstart your car! It also includes an LED flashlight and can charge your phone and electronics as well via a USB port. This awesome gadget can be yours for $159.95 and will make you worry less about having to call someone for a jump. Keep one in your emergency kit and never be without power again! This is a must have for any adventurer!

These are just a few pieces of fun camping gear. Check out our Pinterest for more inspiration and #FunwithMOR