Maximize Storage in your RV

Planning a summer roadtrip? Looking to fit your family in a small space for a weekend, week, or longer? Our experiences in RV living for the past several decades have granted some perspective about how to make the most of your storage, your living space, and your sanity when you downsize.

Plan, plan, plan! Start planning your travel or vacation in advance of your travel date. Know what you intend to do on your trip. If you don’t ride your bicycles at home, you may not suddenly become a cyclist on a camping trip. Do you have a plan to store your canned goods. What about other non perishables? Will you have access to laundry services where you’ll stay? Think about rain patterns, weather, and warmth!

Only keep things that serve a purpose. In such a small space, there simply isn’t enough room for a lifetime of belongings! Keep what you need for daily life or the possessions that mean the most to you.

Keep it clean and clutter-free. A tidy home always seems bigger – even if it’s only 400 square feet! Smart storage solutions also can help you maximize your space.

Multipurpose. Look for furniture pieces that do double duty in your RV, such as ottomans with storage inside or a sleeper sofa! Modify existing fixtures with the help of a contractor who can help you maximize what storage you have and make even more.

Be prepared to be unprepared! Research the nearest grocery stores/big box stores/or Amazon delivery options at the RV park or resorts you’ll travel to. Know that some areas don’t have great cell signal or internet – and be prepared to make do with what you have for 24 hours at any given time.

Stay excited! Travel, even in a small space, even with your entire family, is exactly the sort of memory-making we suggest “‘MOR(e)” of! Midwest Outdoor Resorts is here to help you make the absolute most of your memories, your experiences, and your time with family in the outdoors!

Van Life? Real Life.

If you spend any time on social media sites like Pinterest or Instagram, you know the photo: A couple of craft beers in artistic cans and a few hand picked wildflowers sit on the adorable fold-down table inside a Scandinavian inspired vehicle. The curtains and pillows are earthy and subtle, accented by a gorgeous wood interior – and just blurred out of view are unwearably fashionable hats, a vintage camera, artwork, and rope for climbing. The surfboard is always a mint condition singlefin and there’s always an acoustic guitar.

Van life, or, as we should say #vanlife, has hit its stride as a 2020 trend – while many people tired of staying home, the allure of an open road and a safe little luxury home to travel in was at a peak. The reality of living in small spaces with a partner or a family is slightly different than the pinterest-shots – but we believe that you can absolutely make your best memories while in an RV or van. Here’s a few things to keep in mind:

Pack for Real Life:

You’ll need more than two outfits, more than 2 perfectly matched plates, and plenty of storage that’s functional, not just beautiful. Remember that your vacation, trip, or life are really lived – not just photographed. Ensure you pack functionally, with intention.

Expect the Unexpected:

You may lock yourself out, find yourself in two weeks of rain, run out of gas on the side of the road, have a mattress choice go horribly wrong, or a host of other less-pinnable problems. The truth about any adventure is that the unexpected makes the stories worth telling. Our friends at LOST Travel have an entire podcast about travel gone wrong (link here: https://lost.travel/quarter-hour-podcast)

Document the Memories:

Even if everything goes wrong, or if the paper plates aren’t as picture-perfect as you imagined, take the photos and keep a journal. Some of your most meaningful conversations, funniest anecdotes, and memorable sights may take place while you live a real life in a van or RV for a weekend, a week, or more.

Encourage Others:

Part of exploring a campground, National Park, open road, or new place is staying open to meeting others. And when you do, stay positive! Encourage those you meet to try out their own adventure. While RV or van life may not be for everyone – the lessons of staying flexible, making do with less, and finding joy in the journey translate no matter the situation!

If you haven’t joined Midwest Outdoor Resorts for a camping or cabin adventure, we encourage you to check us out. We have vintage trailers, tiny homes, and RV spots in midwest states with beautiful views and awesome communities.

This Weekend, Try Soo Line Trail Campground!

Winter is what we make of it. It’s often difficult to escape the drab monotony of never-ending snow, small windows of daylight and clenched fists on icy roads. If we let it, winter can really get to us mentally, physically and emotionally.

 

Maybe we don’t have the money to get away and take the family on a two-week vacation to the Bahamas. We might not have the time for a road trip to California. If so, we need to embrace winter rather than escape it. If we can leave the day-to-day toils of home-life behind, even for a weekend, it can give us the rejuvenation we need to make it to spring.

 

It may be time to check out Midwest Outdoor Resort’s (MOR) Soo Line Trail Campground. This is the only MOR getaway that is open on weekends in the winter. Located in Onamia, MN (about 90 miles Northwest of the Twin Cities), minutes from Lake Mille Lacs, the Soo Line Trail Campground has plenty to offer, even during Jack Frost.

 

Lake Mille Lacs –

 

Lake Mille Lacs offers fantastic fishing (especially Walleye, Northern Pike, and Bass), no matter the season. Rent an ice fishing house if needed, or explore one of the many charming towns around the lake. Onamia is the gateway to Lake Mille Lacs, and offers the jumping-off point to great snowmobiling on the Soo Line Trail. There is plenty of hiking, cross-country skiing, snowshoeing and even kiteboarding in the area as well.

 

Grand Casino Mille Lacs –

 

Grand Casino Mille Lacs is dubbed “Minnesota’s Most Liked Casino,” and for good reason. Offering plenty of entertainment year-round, Grand Casino Mille Lacs offers entertainment from boxing to concerts to comedy. Of course there is gaming and excellent dining throughout the casino as well.

 

Mille Lacs Indian Museum –

 

If you’re looking to shop, the Mille Lacs Indian Museum Trading Post “interprets the contribution of the Ojibwe people to the culture, history and contemporary society of Minnesota and the nation.” While the museum is unfortunately closed until April 1st, the Trading Post is open from 11am-4pm Wednesdays through Saturdays and offers large exhibits, as well as jewelry, books, music and even wild rice. The Trading Post also has its own interesting history.

 

Or you could just stay in…

soo_filmstrip

There’s nothing wrong with just wanting to relax. The Soo Line Trail Campground offers a unique blend of amenities that allow for a fantastic getaway without breaking the bank (or giving you frostbite). With comfy overnight suites with free Wifi, a large clubhouse including a convenience store, game room and library, you don’t necessarily need to leave the resort to leave the stresses of winter life at home. A weekend getaway with your family or significant other might be just the fuel you need to make it all the way to spring.
As always, happy exploring!

 

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 (https://vacationmor.com/2016/12/09/gifts-for-everyone-on-your-list-on-a-budget/) 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.

 

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!

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!