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!

 

Decorating Tips for Small Spaces

If you’re in a small cabin or RV for the holidays and still looking to spread the Christmas cheer, we’ve got ideas for you! With some imagination and space-saving savvy your place can be plenty festive with minimal square feet. Making shrewd use of walls, furniture, flat decorations and lights will give your abode a cozy, winter-wonderland type feel. Also, you won’t need to go through the hassle of stuffing an 8’ tree into your house, so you’re already ahead of the game. Take a look at some of these ideas and please let us know what you think in the comments!

Display holiday cards on the wall –

picturewreath

Shutterfly.com

If you don’t have a lot of floor space, you need to use everything you have available. Wall space is great for this, and holiday cards can be made flat. Place greenery around it, and you have a classy decoration!

 

 Make a display with Washi tape –

Washitape.png

Homeyohmy.com

Another flat, space-saving decoration that allows you to get creative!

 

Make a wall decal tree –

RedWalltree.png

Crafthubs.com

I know, we’re really getting into walls here, but if you have limited space, there’s really no better decoration spot. You can find all sorts of Christmas decals here.

 

Buy a half/quarter tree –

treehalf

Hoomrun.com

No, these are not real, but if you must have a tree, they will save a ton of space. Put them in a corner and you won’t have to worry about a messy clean-up after the New Year.

 

Make miniature wreaths –

wreath.jpg

How to do it – https://www.theprettyblog.com/house/rosemary-wreath-diy/

These can be displayed almost anywhere, won’t take up much space and are surprisingly easy to make.

 

 

 Decorate your chairs –

santachairs.png

Makeit-loveit.com

Find out how to make these here, but you can use ornaments, lights or wreaths to spruce up chairs as well.

 

Make glue-gun snowflakes –

Snoflakeglue.png

Pinterest.com

Step-by-step instructions here.  Just like walls, we can also make good use of windows. These are very fun and you can sketch just about anything you’d like!

 

Elevate a small tree off the floor –

Treebucket.png

Elledecor.com

A tree that is too big isn’t only going to take up too much space, it will also look out-of-place. Find a smaller tree and raise it on a platform. That way your tree won’t be intrusive.

 

 Hang ornaments and/or lights from the ceiling –

Ceilingdecor.png

Shelterness.com

One of the spaces often overlooked is the ceiling. You have all kinds of options here (don’t worry if it doesn’t look as good as the picture).  We need all the space we can get, which leaves us with…

 

Decor your door (yes, that rhymes) –

doordecor.png

Goodhousekeeping.com

No matter where you’re spending Christmas, you should have a door (if you’re in an open-air villa in a warm climate, then yes, we’re jealous). This is where you should really spend some time decorating, considering it won’t take up space and gives visitors a festive, cheery feel right away.

Hopefully we’ve helped spark some ideas! Remember to add any thoughts in the comments, and let us know if you have experience decorating a small space.

Merry Christmas!

 

Gifts for Everyone On Your List, On a Budget!

We all want to give the people we love something sincere and meaningful for the holidays. To many, that means waiting in long lines, scouring the internet for the latest and greatest craze and inevitably spending way more dough than you meant to. No fear! We’re here to help you get through the most stressful season of the year on a budget.

 

While we’re often inundated with the idea that the more we spend on a gift the more we love someone, that really isn’t the case. Studies show that experiences bring people more happiness than do possessions. While we could certainly spend a lot on an experience for someone (i.e., booking them a trip), we can also give them something even more valuable (i.e., our time and/or expertise). This also allows us to connect with someone on a deeper level, rather than simply saying “I got you the new iPhone! See how much I spent on you?!”

 

While we all love getting tangible things (and there’s certainly nothing wrong with gifting those), after the initial joy we experience in receiving them they begin to fade into the background. Things become antiquated and fall apart. We start to take them for granted. Experiences, even if they’re bad, can create a great story that gets better with time. Here are a few ideas:

 

Subscriptions, Memberships, Tickets – What do they like? If they’re into the outdoors, maybe you could get them a state park entrance permit. Movies? Netflix can be relatively cheap. Is there a concert coming up? You get the idea. Golf courses, museums, gardens, zoos. There are all kinds of choices here that allow someone to have an experience, and many places run membership specials this time of year (if you’re looking to get something affordable for the whole family, check out MOR memberships at https://midwestoutdoorresorts.com/member-benefits.html. These are great for vacationers, campers, hikers and travelers in general!). Call us today at 800 231 0425 for more info!

 

Dinner Party for Two (or more) – There are plenty of options here, but the idea is that you would cook someone their favorite dinner. It doesn’t necessarily have to be elaborate, but it will give you the opportunity to do something heartfelt that won’t break the bank.

 

Personal Coupons – Redeemable at your convenience! Are you an expert in something unique, or do you know they really want to learn something? You could offer guitar or golf lessons, or even favors or chores (no one likes to shovel snow). While this may seem a little hokey, you’re still offering something valuable: your time.

 

Movie Night – Get your popcorn ready! Invite someone over to watch any movies and/or shows they’d like. You may have to sit through something you genuinely despise, but hey, this is your gift. Make snacks and you’ve got a present on a budget.

 

An Investment or Donation – To clarify, we’re not talking about George Costanza’s Human Fund here. This is best geared toward kids or grandkids, and they might not appreciate it initially, but savings bonds, college savings accounts or a few shares of stock can be relatively inexpensive and will allow kids to watch their money grow. You can also give to someone’s favorite charity, especially if they are heavily involved.

 

Anything Personalized – So I’m bending the rules a bit, but if someone lives far away and there’s no way to spend time with them, you could send them something heartfelt like a poem or art. There are a ton of options online for personalized prints, albums, t-shirts, etc (try https://www.socialprintstudio.com/squares/ for example). You could even fill a grab-bag with funny, cheap knick-knacks and send it to them.

 

There are plenty of ways to do something meaningful for someone without spending a lot of cash, especially if you make them experiential rather than material. Chances are, they’ll like them better anyway. Please let us know if you have any ideas or stories you’d like to share in the comments!

The 17 Best Gifts For the Camper in Your Life this Christmas!

We all know Christmas shopping can be a challenge. Gift cards are great, but aren’t always heartfelt. Everyone loves getting cash, but it can show a lack of initiative. What do you get the person who seems to have everything? It’s usually best if we can narrow down the recipient’s interests and/or hobbies and go from there.

Well, I have some good news! If you have a camper/RVer in your life, there are all kinds of unique gifts sure to please. Chances are, he or she won’t have one of the items listed below. Whether or not you purchase one of these directly, hopefully this will help spark some ideas. Enjoy!

I’ve listed them in order of pricing:

$=$1-20

$$=$20-50

$$$=$50-100

$$$$=$100-200

$$$$$=$200+

$

Eco Firestarters

firestartershttps://www.etsy.com/listing/120677320/eco-friendly-fire-starters-9-unique

You no longer need smelly lighter fluid, try these firestarters made from macadamia nuts! Use in campfires, fireplaces, grills, chimneys, etc.

Inflatable Solar Lights-

solar-lighthttps://www.amazon.com/dp/B00DQ1RDWS//ref=cm_sw_su_dp?tag=duiwath-20

All you need is sunshine, no batteries required! This is extremely lightweight (4.4 ounces) and waterproof.

Disposable Urinals-

urinalshttps://www.amazon.com/dp/B000NV878S//ref=cm_sw_su_dp?tag=duiwath-20

These are a fantastic white elephant gift, but are also great for camping! You never know when you might need one…

$$

Campfire in a Bag-

green-light-fire-baghttp://www.greenlightfirebag.com/

Get one roaring in 30 seconds or less! These light up quickly and last for hours.

Survival Kit-

surival-kithttps://www.amazon.com/dp/B004R1J482//ref=cm_sw_su_dp?tag=duiwath-20

This all-in-one tool fits in the palm of your hand! This has a knife, cords, wires, firestarters, you name it. Don’t be caught in the wild without it!

$$$

Inflatable Lounge Chair-

inflatable-chairhttp://shop.fatboyusa.com/products/lamzac-the-original

These lounge chairs inflate in seconds and can seat two. They collapse into a small package so you can take them camping or to the beach!

Backpacking Food Kit-

backpacking-kit

https://www.amazon.com/dp/B00ABW9BUC//ref=cm_sw_su_dp?tag=duiwath-20

Just add water! These are great for camping, backpacking, hiking or whenever you might need to be prepared for an emergency.

Wearable Futon-

Blanket.jpg

http://www.japantrendshop.com/king-jim-wearable-futon-air-mat-set-p-2540.html

This may be a little gimmicky…wear it like a coat! It looks fantastic for a cold winter night!

UV Water Purifier-

water-filterhttps://www.amazon.com/dp/B003A1MURC//ref=cm_sw_su_dp?tag=duiwath-20

This handheld purifier is reusable up to 8,000 liters, and destroys 99.9% of harmful bacteria. Perfect for a long expedition in the deep wilderness.

$$$$

Portable Solar Oven-

solar-ovenhttps://www.amazon.com/dp/B008S47I8M//ref=cm_sw_su_dp?tag=duiwath-20

Extremely light and packable, this oven sets up and stores in seconds. Cook everything from cookies to pizza!

Jeep/Truck Hammock-

hammock

http://www.jammock.com/

Driving to the campsite without a tent? Sleep in this hammock that can be affixed to the roof of a jeep or the bed of a truck!

Travel Shower-

hot-showerhttps://www.amazon.com/dp/B000X4IAMS//ref=cm_sw_su_dp?tag=duiwath-20

One of the most difficult aspects of camping is keeping clean. Stay fresh with this portable shower that sets up anywhere!

$$$$$

Anti-Gravity Backpack-

backpack

https://www.amazon.com/dp/B00U3O8GRW//ref=cm_sw_su_dp?tag=duiwath-20

OK, so you’re not actually going to defy gravity with this backpack, but it is extremely nice for camping, hiking or really anything outdoors.

Tree Tent-

tree tent.jpghttp://www.tentsile.com/products/stingray-tree-tent

You can’t write about camping gifts without including a tent, and this three-person canvas allows you to get off the ground (where the animals are) and into the safety of the canopy.

Hot Tub Hammock-

hot tub.jpg

https://hydrohammock.com/

Yep, the name says it all. You can take a hot tub while relaxing in your hammock. If there’s a better way to spend time outdoors, I don’t know what it is.

Glamping Tent-

glamping-tent

https://www.amazon.com/dp/B016AC7PUY//ref=cm_sw_su_dp?tag=duiwath-20

Whether or not you’re actually into glamping, this tent is awesome. Really, you could actually live in this thing.

$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$

Invisible Man Kit-

Invisitble Man Kit.jpg

http://www.opticsplanet.com/invisible-man-kit.html

For when you REALLY need to get away…This isn’t necessarily camping gear, but for someone special in your life who’s looking to disappear, look nowhere else.

Hopefully this article helps spark some gift ideas for your favorite camper. If you have any other ideas, don’t hesitate to let us know!

4 Ways Camping Makes You More Thankful!

 

Once a year, I’ll gorge until my pants don’t fit, watch football for 10 consecutive hours and eventually fall asleep in an unflattering position on the couch. This has become my Thanksgiving. In reality, it’s a day that was originally entirely devoted to gratitude.  In that spirit, I’d like to mention a few things about camping and the outdoors that we can reflect on and feel grateful for this Thanksgiving season. Here are 4 ways camping makes you more thankful:

  1. We get the opportunity to be in nature – This is really what camping is all about, isn’t it? Nothing is as humbling as the raw beauty of the natural world. Whether it’s the moon over a lake, a snow-capped mountain or a sun-baked beach, nature has the ability to make our problems feel insignificant and allows us to step away from our egotistical lives. Getting out in nature (even for a short time) is incredibly cathartic, and will improve every other aspect of life.
  2. Camping can be a portal into the past – If we’re tent camping (this is certainly not the only way to camp – glamping, we can hearken back to the days of our ancestors. We can step away from modern technology (even if only for a few hours) and live as our forebears did. Instead of being bombarded by ads, with the glowing screens of four different devices fighting for our focus, we sit around a crackling fire like our ancestors. Our attention spans are becoming shorter and shorter as we are constantly besieged by technological diversion. While technology is certainly useful (I wouldn’t give it up!), it is good to get away every once and awhile and appreciate tangible and natural reality.
  3. We get to spend time with friends and family in a different setting – This is often the main aspect of Thanksgiving we feel thankful for. Camping is no different. Almost all my favorite memories growing up are of camping with friends and family (even if that involved a cabin). We had large family reunions on Lake Superior in Minnesota, and I will never forget eating way too much walleye, skipping rocks into the sunset and seeing moose in the wild with my grandfather. While we were always close, times like those really fortified the bond between us (and made for great Thanksgiving dinner conversations years later).
  4. Camping allows you to learn about yourself – One of the fascinating things about camping is that no two trips are the same. One time, the weather is perfect. The next, it’s a constant downpour. There are no bugs one day, and the next you’d swear it’s a plague. Camping really shows us how we behave and react to good, bad and unpredictable situations. As the quote says, “Circumstances don’t make a person, they reveal them.” Camping forces you out of your day-to-day situation. It makes you adapt to a variety of situations and therefore improves your life in a myriad of ways.

These are just a few things that camping has done for me. Obviously there are many more, so feel free to leave your comments and/or stories below. Hopefully you have a fantastic Thanksgiving and get the opportunity to reflect on what you’re grateful for this holiday season!

A How To Guide For Thanksgiving in Small Spaces

Will you be traveling this holiday season? Are you staying in an RV, cabin or hosting Thanksgiving in any modestly-sized accommodation?  While holiday dinners can be difficult in the most spacious areas, there’s no need to be stressed. Here are some simple tips you can use to throw a fantastic Thanksgiving feast in a small area.

  1. Realize that your friends and family aren’t expecting something out of a lifestyle magazine – While everyone wants to be comfortable, they probably aren’t expecting anything glamorous if they’re eating in a studio apartment or RV. Thanksgiving dinner is generally casual and relaxed, so don’t worry too much about everything being perfect. Keep decorations to a minimum. If you can make people fairly comfortable, they’ll be plenty happy.
  2. No formal seating required – Seating is one of the biggest concerns when hosting a large dinner. Benches and armless chairs are your friends here, if available. They take up far less space and can seat more people. If needed, you can use an ironing board for a serving table or set out floor pillows for extra seating (better to use for after dinner rather than during). You can also try diagonal dining. Setting up your main table diagonally will maximize floor space and give your dinner a non-traditional look.
  3. Let in the light! Naturally light as much of your space as possible to give the space an open feel. Natural light is best, but candlelight also offers a very relaxed atmosphere (if you can, avoid overhead lighting). The more natural light you let in, the better.
  4. Write down cooking times to avoid clutter – One of the trickiest parts of prepping a large meal is the cooking times of different foods. Turkey, of course, can take hours, while certain side dishes may only take a few minutes. If you’re preparing a feast in a small space, it will be extremely helpful if you write down exactly how long everything will take so you can keep pots and pans stashed away until needed. Avoiding clutter is one of your main goals in this scenario.

Your other option is to cook as much as possible before the big day. If you have all of your side dishes ready, making only the main course will be relatively easy. Certain side dishes (cranberry sauce, gravy, potatoes, etc.) will taste just as good if they’re left overnight, but be wary.

  1. Use space-saving accessories – If you have cake stands or tiered plate holders, use them! Stackable trays and serve-ware can keep surfaces free of clutter. Try to go vertical rather than horizontal as much as possible.

Keep it simple, relaxed and don’t stress! – Put on some soft music (quiet enough so the guests can talk) and remember that this is a casual time, and spending time with friends and family is the most important part. Have fun arranging your space! If you follow some of these tips and take a little time for preparation, your Thanksgiving will go off splendidly. Enjoy!

DON’T GET CAUGHT WITH YOUR TOES IN THE SNOW, WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT WINTERIZING YOUR RV NOW.

 

Well, we’ve unfortunately hit that time of year. Camping season is coming to a close, and when the temperature starts regularly dropping below 32°F (0°C), it’s time to winterize. Basically, winterizing entails protecting your RV from freezing temperatures so it’s prepared when the snow melts, the frost thaws and spring flowers start poking out. (Yes, I’m currently listening to The Beatles’ classic “Here Comes the Sun”).Your main goal when winterizing your RV is taking care of the water system. Here is a step-by-step guide so your rig is thoroughly prepared to hibernate through Jack Frost.

 

Before getting started, make sure you read through your owner’s manual carefully to take any additional recommended steps.

  • Drain all water tanks completely –Take your RV to a waste station and drain all tanks.
  • Drain the water from the hot water heater (DO NOT DO WHILE WATER IS HOT OR UNDER PRESSURE)Small lime deposits may come out. This is normal.
  • Drain the pipes –Turn on all faucets (hot and cold), flush the toilet, and turn on the outside shower.You can also use an air compressor to blow out all the pipes (set to no more than 30psi).
  • Open all low-point drain lines –There will be a hot and cold water line.
  • Once all lines are drained, recap, close and turn off all drains and faucets.
  • Bypass the water heater –This isn’t a must, but will save you gallons of antifreeze. If you don’t have a bypass kit, you can get one installed relatively cheaply.
  • Pump antifreeze through your water lines (RV antifreeze is PINK) –Most newer RVs have a valve attached to the water pump that will allow the pump to draw antifreeze directly from the bottle. Turn on water pump, and starting with the closest faucet, open the hot and cold valves one at a time until you see pink antifreeze, then close. Keep replacing the bottle as needed, don’t let it run dry.
  • Open each faucet until each has antifreeze coming out –Also, keep flushing your toilet until you see antifreeze. Make sure you run antifreeze to the outside shower as well.
  • Turn off the water pump –Open a faucet to release pressure, then close.
  • Pour antifreeze down each drain and into the toilet.
  • Make sure if you have an electric heating element on your water heater, it is turned OFF.
  • Make sure all valves and faucets are CLOSED.
  • If you have other appliances (ice maker, dishwasher, etc.) consult the owner’s manual to winterize

 

Tires –

You may want to raise your rig on jacks, but at least make sure you’re parked on concrete or pavement so tires do not sink into the ground.

Batteries –

Remove batteries of any type and store in a warm, dry location.

Propane Tanks –

Fill all propane tanks, and store in a sheltered location.

Not inside the RV.

Electrical System –

Turn off the RV’s main circuit breaker. Block the exhaust pipe with steel wool or aluminum to keep out pests.

Food and Drinks –

Remove all food and drinks as some things can burst and become messy (and attract unwanted visitors like rodents and insects in the spring).

Interior –

Clean stove, make sure to thaw freezer completely and dry. Leave all refrigerator doors open.

Exterior –

Close all roof vents, make sure windows and doors are fully sealed. Cover any holes with screening, and cover vents with cardboard to make sure rodents and

insects can’t get in.

Moisture Control –

Get a container of moisture absorbent and place it on a flat surface inside the RV. This will prevent corrosion and mold.

Weather Protection –

This is a given, but try to protect your RV from the elements as best you can by parking in a shelter or getting an RV cover. Obviously, this sounds like a lot of work, but it will be well worth it when you’re ready to make your next excursion to one of our fine resorts in the spring.

As always, be sure to check your owner’s manual for any additional steps, and happy exploring!

 

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!