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Which RV Membership is Right for You?

GreenHeartAdventure No Comments

One of the top questions that we receive on the forums is “Which RV memberships do you recommend” and with so many out there offering so many different benefits it can be quite confusing to determine which are the best ones for you.  Hopefully this will shed some light on the top 6 most popular memberships for Fulltime Families and help narrow it down.

Thousand Trails

Website: https://www.thousandtrails.com

Thousand Trails is a membership based campground system with 81 member parks and 100 additional parks available through their sister program, Trails Collection.

Leavenworth Thousand Trails in Leavenworth, WA

Photo Credit: thousandtrails.com

Benefits

  • Free nightly stays at member parks (some charge $3 per night for 50amp service)
  • 81 Campgrounds available nationwide
  • Up to 20% savings at Encore Parks
  • Membership Rebate available for FTF Members

Cost:

  • $575 annually for a single zone
  • $49 for each additional zone
  • $199 for the Trails Collection
  • Additional membership upgrades with extra benefits are available

The Pros to Thousand Trails

One of the biggest perks of the Thousand trails system is the pricing.  After the initial membership cost and annual dues, members can stay at the 81 parks for 2-3 weeks at no cost.  This is why we consider the Thousand Trails system very budget friendly and a good place for many traveling families to rest for a period time after more expensive explorations.

Another wonderful benefit of the system is the convenient online reservations.  You can make reservations 24 hours a day, 7 days a week and can change them at anytime with out a cancellation penalty.  We have found this to be very convenient as it allows us to be flexible but still have reservations, so we are never with out a place to stay.

Our favorite benefit with Thousand Trails though is one that isn’t listed anywhere on their site and that’s the opportunity to meet fellow Fulltime Families!  Many of our families use the system so there are wonderful opportunities for meet ups and play dates while staying in the system. So many use the system in fact, that we have a meet up group dedicated to the Florida parks, simply because in the winter they are hopping with FTFs!

South Jetty Thousand Trails in Florence, OR

Photo Credit: thousandtrails.com

The Cons to Thousand Trails

One con that we hear from time to time is the parks are out of the way or not near a major city.  We have found this to be true in some areas and in others, found them to be in the perfect locations.  For instance, TT Diamond Caverns is located in KY and while it is technically out of the way, it is at the entrance to Mammoth Cave National park.  We really enjoyed our quiet stay there and it made exploring the National park a breeze. Another great location we have enjoyed was TT South Jetty, nestled in a tiny coastal Oregon town, we were just outside the Oregon Dunes National Recreation Area.  TT Williamsburg is also another amazing location, located in the historic triangle in VA, you are close to Yorktown, Jamestown and Williamsburg while nestled in a gorgeous tree filled park.

We have also heard complaints of the quality of up keep at some of the parks and have experienced this ourselves on occasion.  Overall, we feel that the price we pay is on par with the quality we receive. We always have a safe place to stay for the night and we have seen them working steadily at improving the parks since we joined several years ago.  This year we saw them upgrade more sites at TT Orlando to 50amp and add a new pickleball court, work on leveling sites at TT Oaks, new playgrounds and fire pits at others and many other improvements.

The memberships can be confusing!  Over the years, Thousand Trails has had many different membership levels with many different benefits.  This creates a sea of confusion on the internet and even when discussing amongst members. The best way to overcome the confusion is to work with a member specialist who can help you navigate to the best membership for your family.  We recommend working with Alisha Deschene, Fulltime Families dedicated Thousand Trails representative. She can be reached by email alishaplus8@yahoo.com or by phone at 207-270-1121.  Working with Alisha not only guarantees a smooth transaction but qualifies you for the FTF rebate on your membership.

Orlando Thousand Trails in Clermont, FL

Photo Credit: thousandtrails.com

Is Thousand Trails Worth it?

For most Fulltime Families, absolutely!!  Between the benefit of low cost camping, ease of changing reservations and opportunities to connect with other traveling families, it is a no-brainer to make this one of most used memberships in your arsenal.

Passport America

Website: http://www.passportamerica.com/

Discount programing saving you 50% off campgrounds in their network.

Benefits

  • 50% off Campgrounds
  • 1800+ Campgrounds
  • Basic Route Planning to show member parks on route
  • FTF Members receive a discount

Cost:

  • $44 annually
  • $79 for 2 years
  • $109 for 3 years

The Pros to Passport America

The low cost of this program and potential savings are the biggest pros.  With most campgrounds in their network costing an average of $35 a night, this program takes those nightly rates down to $17.50 a night.  This means that the return on investment will be realized in just 3 short nights.

Another benefit to the program is the volume of parks that participate, with over 1800 parks across the US, Canada and Mexico, meaning that there are plenty of places to choose from.

The Cons to Passport America

One of the biggest cons are the rules for the discount are set by the campgrounds.  Some of them are very generous while others only let you stay a night or 2 at the discounted rate or the rate is only available on week days.  Be sure to read the rules for the campground you are looking to stay at, to ensure there are no surprises in cost.

We have heard also complaints of the quality of certain parks.  We find using RV review sites helps us to better pick parks and we have stayed at some really cool and interesting ones, like Faywood Hotsprings, a RV park and Hotsprings resort.

Faywood Hotsprings in Faywood, NM

Photo Credit: Instagram.com/theroaminghome

Is Passport America worth it?

If you are traveling, absolutely!  Since it’s so quick to pay for itself and there are so many locations, we highly recommend it.

Good Sam

Website: https://www.goodsam.com/club/

Discount programming saving you at campgrounds, Camping World and Pilot/Flying J

Benefits

  • FREE SHIPPING at CampingWorld.com – No Minimum Purchase Necessary
  • Save up to 10% Every Day at Camping World SuperCenters! Plus, Members-Only Specials & Double Discount Days
  • Save 10% on Camping World Installation Fees
  • Save $10 on the Posted Hourly Service Rate at Camping World SuperCenters
  • Save up to 10% Every Day at Gander Outdoors Retail Locations! Plus, Members-Only Specials & Double Discount Days
  • Save 5¢ off gas & 8¢ off diesel instantly at select Pilot or Flying J locations
  • Save 10% off Good Sam Campgrounds
  • FTF Members receive a 1 year membership for free

Cost:

  • $27 annually
  • $50 for 2 years
  • $79 for 3 years

The Pros to Good Sam

One thing we love about this program is its FREE for one year when you join Fulltime Families!  And who doesn’t love a free membership! But seriously, the biggest pro to this program are the discounts and free shipping from Camping World as well as the discounts on gas, diesel and propane.  While the campground discounts are nice, your return on investment if you were to buy this one would be longer if you only used it for the camping discounts

The Cons to Good Sam

As we mentioned above if you are only using it for the camping discounts, it won’t save you as much but as travelers the savings on the gas or diesel and the savings at Camping World make up for it.

Is Good Sam worth it?

Maybe, since you receive a free year of it with FTF memberships its worth seeing if it would pay off for your family.  For ours, most years it does based on the shopping discount at Camping World alone.

 

Escapees

Website: https://www.escapees.com/

A support network for RVers

Benefits

  • 10-50% Discount on club affiliated parks
  • 19 Escapee parks that offer low member only rates
  • Discounts on mail service that provides a domicile address
  • FTF Members receive a 1 year membership for free

Cost:

  • $39.99 annually
  • $895 for lifetime

The Pros to Escapees

Many Fulltime Families use their mail service and address as a domicile.  They offer addresses both out of FL and TX and you must be an Escapees member to utilize their mail service.

Other benefits we love are the private Escapee parks, while there aren’t many of them, they are well maintained and we have found the staff and other campers to be very welcoming to families.

The discounts on the club affiliated parks are also a nice perk, just be sure to check with each park as they set their own prices

The Cons to Escapees

Isn’t that the club for retirees?  Yikes! we have heard that one a few times over the years and while yes for years Escapees served mostly those who were retired, they are now embracing the younger generation with their Xscapers club.  Membership in Escapees gives you access to both and the Xscapers are an active group hosting rallies and meet ups themselves.

Is Escapees worth it?

We feel it is, for those looking for a trusted domicile and mail handling but also for those looking for education, weighing services and for the park discounts.  Members of FTF receive their first year free with Escapees

Harvest Hosts

Website: https://harvesthosts.com/

Harvest Hosts overnight stays are a special opportunity to meet people and enjoy wine tastings, farm tours and museum visits.

Benefits

  • Free overnight stays with hosts listed on the site
  • FTF Members receive a discount on membership

Cost:

  • $49 annually ($45 if you sign up for auto renewal)
  • $115 for 3 years
  • $300 for lifetime

The Pros to Harvest Hosts

Gorgeous settings for overnight stays are certainly a big pro for Harvest Hosts.  Instead of camping in a Walmart parking lot for your quick stop over you can settle in between the grapes for a quiet nights rest.  

We also love that we get to support small businesses and learn about their business. We have found them to be very welcoming to our family at all the hosts we have stayed with and loved chatting with everyone we met.

Harvest Host site in Virginia

Photo Credit: facebook.com/theroaminghome

 

The Cons to Harvest Hosts

Harvest Hosts may sound like a dream, free camping and wine tasting, what’s not to love right? Well some of our members have mentioned that having to arrive during the businesses operating hours can pose a challenge on long travel days, if you aren’t an early riser.

Others have mentioned that its not technically free as you are asked to support the business with a purchase.  We don’t really see the con in this as even if you aren’t a wine drinker, most sell other locally sourced products to purchase.  We enjoyed blueberry pie at one, scored some delicious wild flower honey at another and dined at a café at another.

Is Harvest Host worth it?

For our family it has been worth it.  We spent last Memorial day bouncing around California’s wine country, avoiding the crowds and spending time with some amazing winemakers.  FTF members receive a discount off of the annual membership and with the cost around the price of a single night a resort, it pays for itself quickly.

Fulltime Families

Website: https://fulltimefamilies.com

Fulltime Families is the only RV organization dedicated to support Fulltime Families in their unique journeys.

Benefits

  • Private members only forum
  • No Kid Tax (extra fees for children) at 350+ campgrounds
  • Planned events, rallies, meet ups and hang outs
  • Family Finder, locate other traveling families
  • Discounts on accounting, doctors visits, and much more
  • Free year of Escapees and Good Sam’s
  • Discounts on Harvest Hosts, Boondockers Welcome, Passport America
  • Rebate on Thousand Trails
  • Over $1000 in value

Cost:

  • $45 annually
  • $295 for lifetime

Photo Credit: fulltimefamilies.com

The Pros to Fulltime Families

We may be a little biased but for fulltime families the pros of the Fulltime Families Membership is numerous!  First you receive both Escapees and Good Sam memberships for the cost of your FTF membership. This is a $67 value you right there, but then you also receive discounts off of other popular memberships like Passport America, Harvest Host and Boondockers Welcome, plus FTF gives you a rebate when you purchase a new Zone pass or upgrade your Thousand Trails membership with their dedicated TT rep, Alisha Deschene!

Another perk that can’t be translated into a dollar figure is the support that families can receive both in person through the many events they host annual but also online in the private member forums.  In the forums you can pick the brains of those with experience and make lasting friendships. FTF hosts several in person events each year all over the country, from large rallies to smaller hang outs to field trips.  After attending these events most families find that they have made friends for life and have started to establish their mobile neighborhood.

If you can’t make it to an event or if you are just wanting to see if there are other fulltime families around you, we have a tool for that….the Fulltime Families Finder.  You can update your location and share a little bit about your family and then see other members locations. You are always in control of your information so you can share the exact park or just the city you are in and because its only available to other FTF members you don’t have to worry about prying eyes knowing your location.

Photo Credit: fulltimefamilies.com

The Cons to Fulltime Families

Could FOMO (fear of missing out) be considered a con? Perhaps, I know it’s something we experience.  Seeing all the amazing pictures of our friends in other gorgeous locations, knowing that time won’t let you make all the rallies and meet ups (though some of us try really hard) can cause those feelings.  

Or perhaps that you might have to drop your very well-planned route, cancel all your reservation and head in the exact opposite direction to meet up with friends or attend an exciting event.

Is Fulltime Families worth it?

We absolutely believe it is, there is over $1000 in savings if you take advantage of the benefits but even if you didn’t the social aspect alone is worth it we believe.  Finding the connections on the road, meeting a circle of friends who can become your traveling neighborhood, those people you can meet up with every once and while, or caravan with all the time, whatever is your style, is priceless. 

Our visit to the American Girl Place NYC

Kimberly No Comments

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How much would you pay for a hair do, an ear piercing and a special lunch with your special girl… now what if that special someone was an American Girl Doll? Wanna know how much we spent?

Well, the answer’s coming soon, but first a little back story.

I hate American Girl Dolls. I hate what they stand for, I hate how they indoctrinate little girls into a materialistic branded way of life, veiled by fake historic characters and I especially hate how much they cost. I don’t honestly believe there’s a place for one of them in our anti-consumer, rv lifestyle, where we treasure experiences over stuff.

So why do we have one? Because I am a complete hypocrite! Don’t believe me? Keep reading.

Last week, Tonia and I boarded a plane bound for New York to attend the wedding of my oldest friend.

A familiar skyline

A familiar skyline

This trip also provided the opportunity to satisfy my mother’s desire to take her one and only granddaughter to lunch at the American Girl Place in NYC. Knowing of our impending jaunt to this fantasyland of molded plastic, I made a reservation for lunch weeks in advance. It’s not uncommon for this event to be sold out, so if this is something you are interested in, I strongly advise reservations, lest you find yourself with a starving doll and a disappointed little girl.

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American Girl Place NYC

Thursday morning we headed to 5th and 49th street to the mecca of all things AG with Kanani, the 2011 Girl of the Year doll my mother had purchased and stashed away 2 years ago.
My mother had decided that Kanani need not be a full time rver and told Tonia the doll would stay at her house. To assuage the upset, I had agreed to get Tonia an Our Generation doll at Target. With an $18 price tag this is a much more palatable option for me and would resolve Tonia’s issue regarding taking a doll home with her.

However, as we stood in the midst of everything American Girl, the ‘big red bag obsession’ took firm hold in Tonia’s heart and she confided in me she no longer wanted an Our Generation doll, she wanted a “real doll”.

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Meet Saige – the newest full time rving American Girl!

 

Yikes! It was happening right before my eyes! The idea that one 18 inch plastic doll could be more real than another was just the insidious attitude I try valiantly to guard against… or at least I thought I had…

But then I caught my reflection in the mirror and knew the awful truth. There I was in my Miss Me jeans, with my Coach purse and designer cowboy boots. I was really nothing more than an overgrown version of these 6 yr olds running around pleading for overpriced dolls, accessories and furnishings.

In a last ditch effort to impress upon Tonia the implications of owning a $110 doll, I told her that this purchase would necessitate the complete suspension of her allowance for one whole year, while she currently had enough money saved for the Our Generation doll and could continue to accrue her weekly allowance without interruption if she chose to go that path. But it was too late. I had opened the door to Pandora’s Doll House and there was no going back.

wpid-Photo-Apr-21-2013-907-AM.jpg

Thank Goodness these dolls don’t eat, lunch was expensive enough!

After we purchased Saige we headed to the third floor to check in for our lunch reservations. Lunch started with some sweet treats as fresh hot cinnamon rolls were delivered to the table, followed shortly by a veggie and cheese platter.

The menu had a savory assortment of salads, entrees and even some adult beverages.

Not to be left out, the dolls have plates and cups set in front of them, so you can share some of your lunch with them. I think these dolls are all calorie conscious ’cause I didn’t see a single one eating!

After lunch, the cakes (which I must say looked absolutely scrumptious) started rolling in, candles being blown out left and right to that ol’ familiar tune.

Since we were not celebrating a special occasion (unless you consider losing your mind and spending enormous amounts of money a cause for celebration), we were served iced heart cakes, a stick of fruit, and a cup of dirt 😉

These dolls are all starving!

These dolls are all starving!

As the meal wound down, I noticed a large collection of wall flowers. They have a huge assortment of ‘loaner dolls’ on hand, although I could not think of a single instance in which one would utilize this option.. except maybe if you dropped your doll in the sewer on the way to lunch?!?

Next up, the lovely ladies at the hair salon were anxiously awaiting Kanani for a hair appointment and ear piercing.. Yes, you read that right – the doll was getting her ears pierced, or more accurately holes drilled into her head.

Gettin' her hair did!

Gettin’ her hair did!

When we came upon the Doll Hair Salon earlier that morning my initial reaction was “what a clever way to make even more money”, but after seeing the transformations from ‘well-loved’ gnarly-haired dolls to prim and proper well groomed toys, I have to admit I was impressed.

I have spent many an hour on the floor of my camper trying valiantly to unknot the unknottable when Tonia went through her “I LOVE RAPUNZEL” phase and the quality and resilience of these American Girls wigs should be given due credit.

The ear piercing was done behind closed doors, so no one could hear the doll screaming. She emerged with sparkly star earrings and a triple set of mix and match options to take home.

Next stop, traipsing through endless galleries of doll clothing and accessories. With weddings on her mind, Tonia picked a Flower Girl ensemble that ironically cost more than Tonia’s own real life Flower Girl ensemble.

This could double as a 'toad'

This could double as a ‘toad’

Again, I must give credit where its due and although I can not justify the crazy price tags, I can say the clothing is very well made, exceptionally detailed and durable.

The furnishings are completely over the top! I have no idea what kind of square footage the target market girls have, but a 6 foot hot air ballon is never going to fit in my RV!

All told, our time we spent at the American Girl Place in New York City was definitely an experience.

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This bag is almost bigger than Tonia’s “room”

Our grand total was:

Lunch for 3 $125
Saige $110
Hair Style and Ear Piercing $35
Flower Girl Outfit $32
Not including transportation expenses: $302.00

Holy Cow! That’s more than my Coach purse, Miss Me jeans and designer cowboy boots combined!!!

Exploring Tinkertown Museum in Sandia Park, NM with Video

Kimberly No Comments

When you travel full time, you can’t see everything. This is one of the ironies of full time rving.

Don’t they all look thrilled!

Whether its due to finances, weather, crowds, time or just plain overlooking, families need to realize that some things will need to be left for the next trip around.

Count me as one of those friends

 

This was actually a hard lesson for me (the family itinerary maker) to learn.

The excitement is growing

 

When I sat in my house, making list upon list of all the places we’d visit, I thought I’d be disappointed if we had to forego some excursions. And truth be told, I was. In those early months, I was known to pout and carry on when we couldn’t do this, or wouldn’t be able to eat that, etc

Buttons along the front animate the scenes

But somewhere in the midst of year two, I matured (thankfully and possibly somewhat questionably) and realized we don’t have to take every opportunity set before us and chances are we will be here again, some time in the future, and won’t it be nice to have something to look forward to then. Ahhhhhhh!

So what does this all have to do with Tinkertown Museum?

Well, this is one of those places we missed due to overlooking and possibly your family would have no trouble overlooking such a place, but you might regret it!

This scene blew me away

It seems I have a certain gene that loves colorful collections of, what might be called by the untrained eye, JUNK.

Never a truer word!

My husband, bless his heart, lacks the gene and runs around with not one, but two, untrained eyes.

A one man band in a box!

But he’s always very accommodating so when I exclaimed one evening in Texas, “oh no! We’ve been to Albuquerque twice and we completely missed Tinkertown, we need to go back!”. He said, “ok”.

Kids have their own guest book

So back we went, to a city neither one of us are particularly fond of, to see the Tinkertown Museum.

Leave a message in a bottle

It took Ross Ward over 40 years to carve, collect, and lovingly construct the collection on display. His miniature wood-carved figures were first part of a traveling exhibit, driven to county fairs and carnivals in the 1960s and ’70s. Today over 50,000 glass bottles form rambling walls that surround a 22-room museum. Wagon wheels, old fashioned store fronts, and wacky western memorabilia make Tinkertown’s exterior as much as a museum as the wonders within.

Outside you’ll find a unique collection of items Ross and his wife have collected from ghost towns.

When you go to Tinkertown make sure you bring quarters and ask for a scavenger hunt handout, or download and print it from their website.

We all thoroughly enjoyed our time at Tinkertown and we know you will too!

For more of the sights and sounds of Tinkertown, check out our episode of One Epic Adventure.

 

 

I Left my floor in San Francisco

Kimberly 1 Comments

Mark Twain is falsely credited with the witticism, “The coldest winter I ever spent was a summer in San Francisco.”  Well, if he didn’t say it, he should have!

We visited the famed ‘City by the Bay’ in the middle of September, while it’s California sister cities were experiencing a brutal Indian Summer, San Fran was locked in a dense foggy 60 degrees.

The irony of this was the fact that our RV parked on a crumbling ledge (really, there were signs and caution tape and missing chunks of asphalt) overlooking the Pacific Ocean.  Overlooking is quite an exaggeration as we never actually got to see the Pacific from our risky perch, but we did get to hear the crashing waves that threatened to deliver our wheeled home to Davy Jones himself when our parking spot gave way.

A brief moment of clarity

A brief moment of clarity

The first attraction we visited in Frisco was The Exploratorium, which still today, holds a special place in our hearts among Science Museums.  The Exploratorium is hands down THE BEST museum of its kind we have visited in all our travels.

In the 7+ hours we spent their, every single one of our senses were tantalized and challenged.  The kids took part in a Cow’s Eyeball Dissection, Chris was ensconced in a great ball of energy and color, baby DJ explored his magnetic personality and Dominick drank out of a toilet.

eyeball anyone dj magnetic dominicksthirsty

On Day 2, we walked the length of the Golden Gate bridge and then toured Chinatown.

goldengate

From a quick FourSquare search we were able to find a Chinese Fortune Factory.  Having been on my fair share of factory tours, I expected more than the hallway that serves as the main production floor, but that’s really all there was.  A hallway, a couple of Chinese people, some lazy susans and a thousands of round flexible discs being turned into the fortune telling wonders we all know and love.

fortunecookieOn the 3rd day, we all went  to prison.  Of course, I’m talking about Alcatraz which was an awesome tour!  If you’re considering it, I strongly urge you to reserve your Alcatraz ferry tickets in advance.  As a National Park, Alcatraz is free, but there’s only one way to get there, and the ferry is known to sell out on a daily basis.

alcatraz

We loved our time in San Fransisco, but as the title of this post implies, our trip there did cost us our floor.  Several months prior, we had installed a wood floor  (click the link to see the video of that installation), but the humidity of San Fran, wrecked havoc with it and when we pulled out of Pacifica 6 days later, it had buckled and swelled in several places.   Months later, we ripped it out and used it as firewood.

I should also tell you, one of the most awesome places we have found in this country, we found while parked in Pacifica.  Across the other bridge, in Berkley is Adventure Playground.  That place was so awesome it deserves its very own blog post!  So click here to learn why no matter what age your kids are, you should NOT MISS Adventure Playground!

 

8 Great Destinations to Watch 4th of July Fireworks – Guest Post by The Road Trip Teacher

Kimberly 1 Comments
Want to watch 4th of July Fireworks with your Fulltime Families Friends?  Save your spot for our upcoming Hang Out!
This month’s guest post from the Road Trip Teacher blog reveals some of the best places to watch fireworks in the country.  Head on over to her site to get a free copy of her newest Fourth of July Curriculum!
8greatfireworks

The first Independence Day fireworks celebration reportedly took place in Philadelphia on July 4th, 1777, on the first anniversary of America’s birthday. Although this pyrotechnic pastime has became common for many other holidays and special events, there’s still something extra-special about July 4th fireworks. The Road Trip Teacher crew has these 8 great destinations on their leap list for places to celebrate the country’s independence.

 

Fulltime Families Family Friendly Campground Directory Boasts over 340 Campgrounds

Kimberly No Comments

The FtF Family Friendly Campground Directory now contains over 340 campgrounds who will waive the “kid tax” (additional person fee) for Fulltime Families Members, nationwide.

Look for this plaque at Family Friendly Campgrounds across the country

The Family Friendly initiative was started two years ago, in an effort to keep camping affordable for families.  Many times a nightly rate can soar to an additional 25% – 50% when campgrounds charge separately for over two occupants.  The FtF Family Friendly Campground Directory seeks to connect families to the independent campgrounds across the country who value their business and are willing to waive any additional fees.

Chris Savory – FtF Lifetime Member with family of 7
I have to admit I was a little skeptical at first about the FtF campground directory. Not that it wasn’t a good idea, but that we wouldn’t use very much since we usually stay at a lot of Thousand Trails.

However this month we are in a state that has no TT and I was having trouble finding anything under 700 for a month. Finally I was about to give up and then I checked the FtF campground directory. Found one that was about 10 miles farther out from where I was looking so no big deal there. I called and the guy told me it was 450 + 70 flat for electricity. That’s not terribly bad for us.

Then I asked him about any extra costs and he asked how many people we had. I told him 7 and he said one moment let me calculate your extra costs (the charged for anything over 4 people). I told him that I was a FtF member and he quickly said there was no extra charges for us.

So now that I just saved $150 at this campground I’m a believer in the FtF campground directory!!

Thanks Fulltime Families!!

 

A Local’s Guide to the Best of Tucson with Kids

Kimberly 2 comments

Thank you to Tucson (former) local, Jennifer Miles who compiled this list for the World’s Best Roadschool Convention Attendees.

Here’s her suggestions for the best of Tucson with Kids!

Jennifer starred her family’s  favorites. but the others are still “on to the top of the list” for people who enjoy that type of activity.   The ones that say RESERVE YOUR TICKETS EARLY are truly plan ahead and schedule. They sell out early and have limited availability.

In Town
Outdoor/Nature

*Flandrau Planetariumhttp://flandrau.org/ $7 adults, $5 4-15  This one is on the campus of the U of A.  Ranked one of the top 10 planetariums in the US. Have great kids activities.
*Botanical Gardenshttp://www.tucsonbotanical.org/  $13 for adults, $12 student, $7.50 4-12     Some great events like Alien Invasion of the Plant Kind and Butterfly Magic during the week of Convention
Desert Wildlife Museumhttps://www.desertmuseum.org/ $19.50 for adults, $15.50 13-17, $6 4-12
Old Tucsonhttp://oldtucson.com/ $16.95 12 and over, $10.95 4 – 11 Come experience what life was really like in the Old West.
Pima Air & Space Museumhttp://www.pimaair.org/  $15.50 for adults, $9 kids over 6 For those in to planes.  This place is huge.  (Also called the boneyard)
Spring Training – Sadly, there are no games for spring training this year at the Diamondback Stadium but this is one of the highlights every spring in town if you ever come back.  Just for that reason, it’s worth mentioning it.

Outdoor Retail Activities

*4th Ave Street Fair – http://www.fourthavenue.org/fairs/general-information/ Dates are Mar 21-23 this year for those who arrive early. This is a blast and has all sorts of street vendors. It’s the “Big event of the year” in Tucson.
There are always things going on – http://www.visittucson.org/events/calendar/

Indoor Entertainment/Restaurants

*Downtown Children’s Museumhttp://www.childrensmuseumtucson.org/ $8 for over 12 months (second Saturday of the month is $2)  This is a fun one. It’s not huge but they change out the exhibits and my kids will spend hours there.
*Gaslight Theatrehttp://thegaslighttheatre.com/ $18.50 for adults, $16.50 students, $8.50 12 and under RESERVE YOUR TICKETS EARLY  This is a super fun dinner and a show in a “old style theater” Beach Blanket Bee Bop runs Apr – June  Dinner is an extra cost and their Pizza is a favorite.
*Chaco’s Caféhttps://www.facebook.com/ChacosCafe  This is my favorite mom & pop mexican place in the country! Seriously, get the carne asada and the salsa bar! You would never find it if you didn’t know about it.  A little hole in the wall but AMAZING! This and El Charro are downtown near the Children’s Museum so would be a good “museum and meal” day.
*Eegee’shttp://www.eegees.com/ Frozen ices and subs. (Kind of like Subway but the frozen ices are the real reason we go) My kids beg to go here every time we are in town for the frozen ices.  There are multiple locations in town.  And, yes, the ices are such a family pleasure, I actually ranked a Subway-type place, as a must go to.. Crazy!

Trail Dust Town & Pinnacle Peak’shttp://www.traildusttown.com/ city block made to look like a historic town. Free to walk around.  Recommend eating at Pinnacle Peak’s steak house and having someone in the group wear a tie you are okay with losing. Can see dinner prices on the website.  This is a typical steak house with the added entertainment of a “no ties allowed” event if you wear one.  This is one that is always recommended as a Tucson original.  As an added bonus, the steaks are pretty good.
La Parrilla Suizahttp://laparrillasuiza.com/about.html  One of the best Mexican restaurant’s in town. They are a chain but their food is “mom and pop” quality.
El Charrohttp://www.elcharrocafe.com/ downtown if you are at the Children’s Museum
El Paradorhttp://www.elparadortucson.com/  Another “Can’t miss” mexican restaurant in town

In town but a little farther away

Colossal Caveshttp://www.colossalcave.com/welcome.html $13 for adults, $6.50 for 5-12  This one is on the outskirts of town and is a great local cave option.  If you can carve out the time, I’d recommend Kartchner Caverns over this one.
*Seven Falls –  http://arizona.sierraclub.org/trail_guide/hike8.htm  Part of the Sabino Canyon trail system but this is one everyone should see once. Longer hike. It’s almost 8 miles round trip but has pools at the halfway point to cool off and relax.
Sabino Canyonhttp://www.sabinocanyon.com/  Ranges from free to fee Has both narrated tram tours and non-narrated walking trails.  Seven Falls is one of the trailheads in Sabino Canyon, but it’s such a great one I listed it separately.

Out of Town but worth the drive if you are passionate about the type of activity

Mt. Lemmonhttp://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mount_Lemmon, http://www.skithelemmon.com/page2.html  About an hour up the mountain, some interesting things to see and do.  Amazing fudge store at top! (Because chocolate is how we judge everything)
*BioSpherehttp://b2science.org/   $20 for adults, $13 for students 6 – 12 Self contained environment originally used as a lab for sustaining life on another planet.
Tombstonehttp://www.cityoftombstone.com/ A little bit farther away but for history buffs this is a fun experience.
*Kartchner Cavernshttp://azstateparks.com/parks/kaca/ $23 14+, $13 7-13  RESERVE YOUR TICKETS EARLY This cave sells out on a regular basis.  This cave was preserved using the latest tech at the time and is amazing.  We’ve toured a lot of caves and this is still one of our favorites.
Kitt Peak Observatoryhttp://www.pimaair.org/ $15.50 adults, $9 kids If you are up for the drive, their night time tour is the one to go to and is amazing. I’d recommend for older kids really into astrology because of the distance and the late night needed.  RESERVE YOUR TICKETS EARLY

 

Prices subject to change, Please check local venues for current prices and times.

A Tree For Your RV!

Kimberly 1 Comments

Tis’ the season and living in an RV is no excuse for not decorating.

While it’s easy to string lights on the awning and hang stockings from the slide, finding room for a Christmas Tree can be a bit tricky.

Last year I had a 10in pink prelit tree that I loved looking at.  But it took up valuable real estate on my very limited table and was eventually stuck in a corner.

This year I searched for the perfect RV Tree option and found a few.

My ideal tree would fold completely flat!  Sure enough- they make one!

 

but then I saw this one:

 

A tree that only takes up wall space?  I have plenty some wall space to spare.  This could be the one.

A few more clicks, and I finally found the perfect tree for our RV.

Not as big as the first one, but still a good size and I really liked the colors!

So here you have it – the tree in our RV.

How do you decorate from Christmas? Do you have a tree? Does it fold flat?

Give Your Family the Gift of the Miracle of Christmas

Kimberly No Comments

Each Christmas season, we look for opportunities provide our children with gifts of experience, rather than gifts that will take up space in our RV.   To help encourage others to do the same, we publish an annual list of the Top 25 Gifts for the Full-Time Traveling Family.

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This year, one of our most highly anticipated gifts was a visit to the Sight and Sound Theater in Lancaster, PA to watch The Miracle of Christmas Production.  After attending a performance of Johah during the Not Back to School Roadschool Rally this fall, we all had great expectations and again Sight and Sound did not disappoint.

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The stage is quite large and performances immerse the audience in the experience with a full 180 degrees of wonder and delight. This multi-dimensional  show uses many layers of set design to transport the audience to the hills of Nazareth and the bustling chaos of Bethlehem.  The effect is stunning making each and every audience member feel a part of the story.  The angels fly onto the set from above the audience and live animals walk down the aisles of the orchestra seating area to join the actors onstage.

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The Miracle of Christmas is based on the gospel rendition of the birth of Christ with some  minor artistic license for created characters to help bring the story to life.
The story traverses many human emotions; despair, longing, bewilderment, awe, wonder, and joy with tenderness and a dash of comedy bringing a greater level of understanding of all the issues surrounding this miraculous event.   Our family of  6 (including 4 kids ages 5, 8, 11, 12) were completely mesmerized by the sets,  action, characters and story.

This production is wonderful and provides an opportunity for the family to spend an evening together in joyful anticipation of Christmas. For our family on the road, The Miracle of Christmas was the ultimate Christmas gift that required neither wrapping  nor room in our RV. It has also inspired roadschool lessons on this crucial time in history with the overwhelming number of well-known bible figures.

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Homeschoolers Get Behind the Scenes Access

It should be noted that the Sight and Sound Theater to be exceptionally supportive of homeschoolers and roadschoolers, providing generous savings and starting in April the theather offers a special Behind the Scenes Tour where homeschoolers meet with the actors, go on stage, and tour the dressing rooms/set shop, and animal areas.

If you have the opportunity to attend one of their performances, either in their Lancaster, PA location or the Branson, MO theater, you will not be disappointed.

24 Advent Ideas you can do in your RV

Kimberly No Comments

We know you’ve got issues…

Issues on where to put the tree, where to stash the presents and only so much amperage for all those lights.

That’s why we like to make it easy for you!

We’ve compiled a list of 24 Easy /Affordable Advent Activities.  These activities can be accomplished with things you already have in your home on wheels!

Not on wheels yet?  Don’t worry this countdown to Christmas will work for everyone!

Simply fill out this form and we’ll send you the items.

Then, the sky’s the limit…

Keep it simple and use the list as is…

or

Cut the list up and put them items in your favorite advent holder.

or

Go crazy and make this awesome tape tree on one of your walls!

The options are endless, but just like Santa’s Workshop… it starts with the LIST!

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