Those of you who have been following this blog for awhile heard from me last year about the excitement that occurs when our camper comes “home” for the summer from its winter storage place up on some land we have in northern Wisconsin. It’s not that I like to have an 18 foot trailer parked in our driveway preventing any access into or out of our garage. It is what the camper being “home” represents in terms of my time. Every time I look out our kitchen or sunroom window and see it sitting there, waiting, I am reminded of the wonderful times we have had traveling. It is like being on vacation without ever leaving home.
Well, in a few weeks the camper will be coming home; albeit a bit later this year due to our oldest daughter’s wedding which will occur June 24th. We will need the extra parking spaces for visiting and overnight guests so the camper will have to stay “up north” a little longer this year. But we have wonderful adventures planned for it in July.
To that end, I want to write a bit about getting the camper ready for its journeys for the year. Oh, you all have heard from many of my other colleagues about the important things you need to do to get your camper, RV or trailer ready for the summer. Therefore, I am not going to talk to you about blowing the antifreeze out of the lines, charging up any batteries, powering up the fridge so when you load food into it, it stays cold, filling propane and water tanks, or making sure you have sufficient air in the tires. I am talking about a few little “extras” that can make your journeys even more enjoyable this year. Extras such as:
1—Implementing new storage ideas—Many of my colleagues have made terrific and clever suggestions about how to improve RV storage. Putting one of these new ideas into practice can make a world of difference in your comfort and your trip. Pick one you’d like to try or an area you’d like to improve and start there. Next year, you can choose another.
2—Stash away a few extra and unexpected treats in your cabinets or your freezer. Then, on rainy days or at those times when everyone seems to be having a bad day, a little treat can brighten everybody’s day and mood. Be sure it is something they will not expect but will enjoy.
3—Stash a book or two in a hidden place that you can read aloud with the entire family. Depending on the ages of any children you will be traveling with, any of the Harry Potter series will delight nearly any age above about six and any of the Twlight series books tend to be a bit hit with tweens, teens and adults. We spent many road miles taking turns reading chapters of the former over a number of summers. Each of our children is now an avid reader.
5—Look over any notes you have made from last year’s journeys. If you note any reference to “it would be really nice to have a ____________…”, add it this year before you leave home. We have made notes such as this for many years and they have been profoundly valuable!
6—Finally, even if you aren’t a note keeper, invest in a Travel Journal to contain these bits of wisdom on the road. We had always kept notes of our travels, usually on looseleaf, but they would then get scattered among other things and be impossible to find to look back on. In 2003, while on a trip out to Montana, we happened upon a lovely book store and stumbled upon an actual “travel journal.” It even had an inspirational quote on the cover, “It is only in adventure that some people succeed in knowing themselves—in finding themselves.” It spoke to each of us.
Being a writer anyway, I immediately realized what a wonderful idea this was; and to have a lovely book to record these notes in was perfect. We are currently on our third travel journal and have a lasting chronicle of our journeys that all of us have looked back upon a number of times. It is also lovely after the children are grown and on their own, to have those conversations at family get-togethers, “When did we go to…” You can simply check and share all of the details, with both old and new members of the family, fondly remembering the trip.
If you take just one of these ideas seriously, I cannot encourage you strongly enough to adopt the last one. A travel journal is a wonderful place to record not only memories, but also food and fuel consumption, mileage and time traveled, monies and expense information, a multitude of data to make planning future trips even easier. The memories are just an added benefit!
For more information about camping with your family, check out Woodall’s camping articles.