Top Things We LOVE For Our Travels
Full Disclosure: These are affiliate links on products we love and use in our travels. Although I started with 20, this may grow a bit as we pick up new favorites along the way!
1. RV GPS:
We started out travels with a regular ole’ GPS, and we got into trouble fast! Navigating a travel trailer is more like a semi, and we needed to know bridge clearances, what the shoulders were like, if there were diesel gas stations along the way, etc. We opted for a Garmin RV one…and shortly after got the Rand-McNally RV option as well. Perks for both. With the Rand McNally, it is easy to see campsite recommendations and anything RV-friendly.
The Garmin is our main choice - it’s easier to navigate and not so complicated in options.
2. ESPRESSO COFFEE MAKER:
We talk a lot about “dummy-proofing” our mornings by prepping the night before. Every time we clean out this stovetop espresso maker, we go ahead and prep it for the next morning. We love the process of hearing it brew, and having that one perfect cup in the mornings to start us out!
Now, for us, we like it fancy. We are vegan at home, so no animal products, but we warm up a cup of almond milk with a splash of maple syrup and froth that baby up for a fancy cappuccino!
And the tamper helps to ensure we have that perfect brew. It’s the little things.
5. SWELL MUGS:
I got my first Swell in a lost and found, having no idea of how great it was. After our morning cuppa Joe, Nathan and I fill these babies up with Green Tea and a few drops of peppermint essential oil. We sip on these the rest of the day for our energy and water intake, and it stays piping hot!
6. INSTANT POT:
Ask 90% of RVers what their top go-to is and they will swear by the InstantPot. I don’t care if you’re vegan or eat meat as your sole sustenance, you will love this baby. Crockpot, steamer, pressure cooker, yogurt maker and more, we use ours almost daily. Our main go-to is for rice and potatoes, but it’s awesome for cooking dry beans as well - you can go from completely dry beans to cooked and fabulous in under an hour! Also wonderful to throw veggies and grains in for a beautiful pot of veggie soup. So many options it’s incredible. I even have a Pinterest Board of InstantPot Vegan Recipes.
Now, when I first got married, I believed every kitchen needed a KitchenAid. Then I started eating a wee bit healthier and not baking so much. Then it was the Vitamix. I have to say this has now moved to right below the InstantPot on necessities, but it’s still pretty high up there! Our favorite uses for it are for making homemade hummus (dried chickpeas cooked in the InstantPot, of course!) and banana “ice cream”!
8. YOGA MATS:
These can be used for a ton! As an assistant at a yoga studio, I gathered a TON of mats from the lost and found. Many found ways to great causes through donations, others found homes with my friends, and I STILL had extras! They have come in handy so many times. I’ve posted here my favorite brand to use for actual yoga - and picked the cheapest of these pricey suckers. However, we have also used yoga mats as extra support under RV mattresses and couches, as cushiony floor mats under rugs (we have bamboo blinds with mats under them so the dirt falls through and it’s easy to stand on), also for kids to tumble around on, to wrap around bikes, etc for travel protection, and so much more.
9. BEACH/CAMP CHAIRS:
There are a gazillion options out there. My favorite one is a discontinued REI one - however here are the things I love - it’s low to the ground - whether it’s to put my feet in the ocean or get close to the fire. It has a drink holder. And LUMBAR SUPPORT. I sit in these babies a lot, so the lumbar support is the biggie! Oh, and it’s foldable for easy storage.
THE TOMMY BAHAMA CHAIR:
The Tommy Bahama one is typically out at Costco, and, although it’s not as cushy with lumbar support, I love that it has a cooler in the back and lies flat for sunbathing.
We love our hammocks and use them all the time! We have two basic outdoor hammocks, and then our sweet Hennessy Hammocks for real-deal overnight camping free from bugs!
WISE OWL BRAND:
We’ve created hammock villages whenever we have trees around our campsites, and honestly, these have provided more play/entertainment than any “toy” we have!
11. Double Hammock With Space Saving Steel Stand Includes Portable Carrying Case:
We love our hammocks. And...we've found that not every campground allows us to hang them in the trees...or even has trees. This hammock stand is lightweight and portable, making it super easy to travel with. This doubles as my office on beautiful days. :-)
12. Aurora 18.5-Inch Steel Gas Firebowl, Rubbed Bronze:
Sometimes bonfires aren't allowed. And sometimes, you want something that just lights up fast. This little firepit has been great for a quick little fireside hangout. It has a locking lid so it travels well, and we've enjoyed having the ease of this for fires without all the prep work and begging for s'mores.
13. COCONUT OIL:
If you’ve seen “My Big Fat Greek Wedding”, you know the joke about how Windex “cures everything”. Well, we’re that way with Coconut Oil - it’s our go-to for dry skin, rashes, cooking, lubing a squeaky door (and…um…anything else that may need, um…lubing), etc
On the same note - our #1 go-to for healing is our only animal product in our home - Honey. We keep raw honey on hand for wounds, and I’m telling you, it’s incredible. One day I walked in from a conference in San Diego to see Nathan all white and covered in sweat. He had just tried to wrap up his finger where he had literally filleted the knuckle of his pointer finger right off. He quickly put honey on it and slapped that puppy right back on. And, get this - you can barely tell he sliced it off. It worked miracles. A month later, same thing - Juliet, our 4-year-old, fell off her two-wheel bike and split her forehead open. She could have used one stitch. Yet in weighing the drama (and pain) of going to a hospital, we used honey and a butterfly bandage. You can barely see the scar. Honey has incredible healing properties.
15. WALKIE TALKIES:
These have been fabulous - we use them while I direct Nathan on backing into campsites, and all the girls have one whenever they are out of our site. This allows them the freedom to run around the campground without us worrying about where they are. These are waterproof, have a long range (although 35 miles is a stretch), and have been wonderful to have on hand for all the places where we are out of cell service.
16. ECHO DOT:
I was anti this for a long time. This spooky little thing in our home listening to everything we say. However, I’d say it’s pretty stinkin’ handy to have around. We ask what the weather is, we play Pandora and just tell it to “thumbs up” a song, we ask random questions, and we set the timer on it all the time. It’s great not having to run over and fiddle with anything and “poof!” music plays! It’s small but packs a lotta awesome.
17. EXO GEAR:
This goes right along with the Echo dot - these are our speakers - at our home, where the trailer speakers aren’t quite high quality, outside, where it doesn’t matter if it rains or it’s a dirty mess, and out and about wherever we feel like playing music. It’s durable and has great sound, and you can pair two together for “surround sound”. Ours we got at Costco and it has a light on it as well - super cool.
18. SOLAR LIGHTS:
This serves no major practical reason, but we love them! It creates a sweet homey feel every evening out our front door, and we love that we don’t have to mess with them at all. I’m posting my Amazon links for all of these, but people - get to an Ikea store. I can’t believe they are going for $50 on Amazon when you can get them for $8-$25 in the store!!
19. CAMELBACK BACKPACK:
These so come in handy for hiking - not just in the woods, but in the city! They saved us in the heat of Washington, DC, and are so much easier than lugging around water bottles for everyone!
20. QUICK-DRY TOWELS:
Small spaces don’t like big towels. Especially when you have a family of five and don’t have a laundry machine to do loads all the time! And…on this note, it’s not only helpful to have quick dry towels, but quick-dry everything! We love quick dry clothes - the girls live in those, which makes it super easy to not always be scrounging up bathing suits - we’re ready for anything, and if they get food on their clothes, we can easily wash it out without having to do a whole load of laundry and/or wait for it forever to dry.
21. SELFIE LIGHT:
Okay, I can’t bring myself to post a selfie stick, but grab one of those. Not for just your own selfie, but because it so comes in handy to take those family pictures at all those awesome places where there aren’t crowds of people to do it for you! I have gotten some excellent family shots from the selfie stick. Now what I will post, however, is a selfie light - I do video conference calls all the time for my coaching and mastermind groups, and the worst is looking at a shadow. I found this little light for $10 and it works great to illuminate your face - for the darkly lit family pictures or for video conferencing.
Okay, so I’m all for second-hand. I’ll post a link to Keens on here, but let me tell you my little secret - FaceBook Marketplace. Pin the area you are in and search Keens. These babies are expensive, yet I have been able to outfit the whole family in Keens for under $20 each. Make sure they are waterproof, and these will be your go-to sandals. We’ve basically reduced our shoes down to a pair of flip flips and these. I always find them at Once Upon a Child and Kid to Kid for the girls, and FB Marketplace always has them for sale as well. Just keep looking and you can get a deal. Or, if you want new, try my link, and know that if you ever have issues with them, contact Keen and they will replace them for free. Yep, great customer service!
Out of all the discount membership options, this is definitely a great one for getting campsite discounts. You can get up to 50% off at campsites, and we use this a lot in between our park campgrounds and Thousand Trails membership. If you use my member ID (R-0291087), you get six months free!
If you are curious if there are other families traveling the States, our best resource is the Full Time Families Membership Site. Click on the graphic above to access the site to see all the benefits of being a member (the biggest benefit for us is meetups, hangouts and rallies, where we meet other families. Our first rally had 85 families - over 160 kids!) There is is also a free Facebook Group you can join to get a taste of it -- you'll see there are many, many people who are interested or traveling already!
Ashley takes families from surviving to thriving by helping them uncover how "the uniqueness in each of us strengthens all of us". She guides parents through identifying their strengths - and also their triggers - to live with intention and not simply reaction to the chaos of an ever-growing family. Through her podcast, blogging, coaching and personality "snapshots", she provides tools and action steps to aid families in creating a life they love to come home to.
Ashley, her husband (and podcast co-host) Nathan, their three unschooling daughters and dog are RVing the States full-time. They focus on authenticity, awareness, and embracing love in the present moment.
Some bonus links we use for planning our trips and navigation -
This is the tip of the iceberg on tips and resources we've found that are great for our gypsy lifestyle. I know this will continue to grow, and you can always reach out to me at email@example.com with your questions!