Happy Family Camper Hacks

  • Getting ready to camp

    When it starts getting warm outside, it means it’s time to start getting the camper ready for the first trip of the season. This year our first trip will be to North Bend Park near Boydton, Va. It’s a pretty desolate area, so we need to make sure the camper is fully stocked with food, activities and anything we might need in the wilderness.

    The first thing I do is print out our handy check list for inside the camper. I know there will be at least 17 comments about something I’m missing, and I welcome that, but these are the “inside” items we can’t seem to live without.

    I also *try* to wash all of the floor mats. Usually, the sheets are clean and stored so I don’t have to worry about those. The weekend before we go, I try to make all of the beds. I used to do it when we arrived at the site, but arrival time can be hectic.

    Another big prep item for every trip is the menu. I try to create a menu plan each time we head out. Once I have the menu ready, I can create the grocery list.

    I generally create a list of items to buy and a separate list of items to bring from home. If we are camping often, I will get a set of condiments and typical camping items just for the camper, but with prices sky high right now, we aren’t camping quite as much.

    Once I do my shop, I load items straight into the camper and try to organize them in these clear bins. They can be pricey, but they really do make life easier. We also use stands and stacking bins to maximize space. I love the clear bins so much that I’ve started using them in the house.

    From there, it’s all about the clothes. I usually get a clothes basket and pack for everyone at once. It saves on the 20 trips back and forth.

    I hope some of these ideas are helpful for your next trip. Let me know what you do to get ready to camp in the comments below!

  • Devils Backbone Basecamp campground review

    We recently visited Devils Backbone Basecamp and had the best time. The campground is in Roseland, Virginia and just a few miles away from Wintergreen and the Blue Ridge Mountains. The electric and water RV spots do fill up quickly and it’s very busy on the weekends. We made reservations for October in January, so definitely plan ahead.

    We made the trip without kids and visited several wineries and breweries over the weekend. I will put a full list with links below. We always recommend Veritas and Afton Mountain, but I would definitely add Thatch to that list after this trip. We did try the Brewpub restaurant and it was delicious. The nachos were out of this world. Again, definitely make reservations because it gets very busy.

    There are several options of places to stay at this campground. They have electric and non-electric sites as well as tent and Hipcamp sites. I didn’t realize it when we were there, but they even have a tent city area for AP Trail thru-hikers. They can stay one night for free.

    One thing to note, water lines in the RV spots are lined up best for even-numbered spots and you have to run the lines under your camper for odd-numbered sites.

    As I mentioned earlier, the electric sites do fill up fast, but it seems like there are always non-electric sites available. In the future, we may try those spots for a last-minute visit because we can use the gas heat and a lantern for light at night. It wouldn’t be too much of a problem. It’s also cheaper!

    Wineries and Breweries:

    Hazy Mountain Brewery and Vineyard: This place was new and looked like something out of an Italian vineyard. The view was absolutely stunning and worth the trip. The wine wasn’t great, but they are new and still growing their own grapes.

    Afton Mountain Vineyard: This is one of our favorites for the great wine, amazing views and room to move around.

    Veritas: This place is beautiful and the wine is great, but it gets insane on the weekends. I would recommend a weekday visit if possible.

    Valley Road: This was our first time here and it had a very fun, hip feel. The wine was good, but the varieties might not be what you are used to. Just try a flight and see what you like best.

    Brewing Tree Brewery: This place was the biggest surprise. The drinks were good, but the atmosphere was out of this world. Behind the building there was a spot for great live music, but even further through the woods and down a massive hill, there was a second shop right on a creek. I bet they have some killer parties down there!

    Thatch Winery: This place had a very laid back, but professional vibe. Comfortable seats and couches on a back deck with sparkling lights overhead. It really made you feel like you were in the woods. A bit classier then the others.

    Here’s a quick safety tip before attempting to visit this many wineries in one weekend. Limit your drinking at each location, even if you have a designated driver. I missed out on the dinner of a lifetime one year because I was sick from wine hopping all day. This time I made sure not to have more than I needed of each one and I was just fine!

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  • Massey's Landing RV Resort and Campground Review

    We had a wonderful time at Massey’s Landing in Millsboro, Delaware. It is definitely a resort-style campground and that’s exactly what we were looking for during this trip. 

    I spent more time than I’d like to admit in the swim-up bar and I loved that there was an adult section as well as a kid-only section. It might the first time I’ve ever been in a campground pool and not gotten splashed, that is until I ordered a special drink that ended with me getting doused with very cold water.

    The way this campground was set up made it very convenient to get around. Most of the activities were located in the middle which meant you really didn’t need a golf cart if you strategically picked your location. If you want to spend more time at the beach, pick a spot near the beach. If you want to spend more time in the family pool, pick a quiet spot on the other end. 

    There were a number of activities including movies, crafts, games and a daily kid’s camp. We were very impressed with the staff and helpful nature of everyone at this campground. We might have accidentally taken the wrong golf cart home from the pool one afternoon and the employee who knocked on our door was very nice about getting it back. I mean, they all look exactly the same. 

    We also thoroughly enjoyed our time at Rehoboth Beach and Funland. We visited Ocean City later in the week and I actually preferred Rehoboth. It was less crowded and a little cleaner. The kids are already begging to go back. That’s how you know it was a good time. I highly recommend planning a trip to Massey’s Landing as soon as you can! 

  • We share camping hacks on WTKR's Coast Live

    We had the amazing opportunity to share our favorite camping hacks on WTKR’s Coast Live ahead of Memorial Day weekend. See the entire segment on WTKR

    We talked about our favorite lighting hacks, easy ways to get a fire going, keeping the bugs away, meal prep and our favorite campfire desserts! Check out the video and let us know when you give these ideas a try! 

  • Yogi Bear's Jellystone Park: Camp Luray Review

    If I didn’t know any better, I would think that Yogi Bear’s Jellystone Park: Camp Luray was created by a kid who knew how to have fun. This campground is the ultimate place for children of all ages. From the giant waterpark to the zip line and putt putt course, there’s something for every kid to love. 

    We stayed in a Mountain View Red Carpet site and loved the easy access to the playground right across the street and the open field behind it. 

    Many of the amenities were closed because of COVID, but we were still able to have great time watching the kids live their best lives! 

    If you’re anything like me, you want to see what your spot looks like in real life. See our extended review that shows as many spots as we could fit.


    In addition to the park, we really enjoyed our time on Skyline Drive. We had a great time hiking on the Appalachian Trail and taking in the scenic views. 

  • Steak bites

    We love a good steak on the grill, but when you are camping, it can be hard to cut a steak on paper plates or with dull knives. For that reason we decided to give steak bites a try and we haven’t gone back. When you cut the steak into cubes you can get that delicious caramelized flavor on every side of the steak. You can also prep it ahead and freeze which makes life even easier.


    • 2 steaks (I used boneless ribeye because it was on sale, but you could use any cut)
    • 1 tbs. steak seasoning
    • 1 tbs. veg oil
    • 1 tbs. worcestershire sauce
    • 1 tsp. balsamic vinegar
    • 1 tsp. garlic salt
    • 1 tsp. pepper
    • 1 tbs. butter

    To prep, cut beef into 1.5 inch cubes and mix with the rest of the ingredients except for the butter. From this point, you can freeze or marinate in the fridge. When you’re ready to cook you can put everything on the grill and cook for about 5-6 minutes, flipping every minute or two. I like to finish by melting the butter on top and mixing one last time. For a side, you can add a baked potato or mix with pasta. We used the last of our pre-made penne.

  • Cape Hatteras KOA Campground Review

    Here’s an updated review for one of our favorite campgrounds, the Cape Hatteras KOA Resort in Rodanthe, NC. If you’re looking for the perfect beach campground, this is the spot. 

    You can’t beat the beach access and even though the campground was full, it really didn’t feel that crazy. 

    Aside from the beach and sound, there are so many amenities for families. Our kids enjoyed the pool, hot tub, arcade, camp store, playground and jumping pad. One thing we forgot to mention in the video was the nightly train ride throughout the campground. That might have been the highlight of the trip! 

  • Long-Weekend Meal Planner

    We do a lot of long-weekend camping and while it’s only a few days, we still like to mix it up with the food. This meal planner was made specifically for a beach trip with great local seafood, but if that isn’t available where you are going, you could always bring frozen shrimp and make a different type of taco! 

    Breakfast: bacon/pancake sticks
    Lunch: Ham and pimento cheese sammies
    Dinner: Shrimp foil packets (corn red potatoes)

    Breakfast: Egg and sausage rollups
    Lunch: Shrimp salad sandwiches (from leftover shrimp)
    Dinner: Fish tacos

    Breakfast: Sausage and egg sammies
    Lunch: Hatch chile wraps from Trader Joes
    Dinner: Pork BBQ (make ahead and freeze) and potato salad (from leftover shrimp boil)

    Breakfast: French toast casserole (make ahead)

  • French Toast Casserole

    I started making this french toast for Christmas morning breakfast, but it’s so easy that I now make it whenever I have leftover french bread that’s about to go stale. It’s inspired by a Pioneer Woman recipe, but I change things up every time. For camping, I like to make it ahead and freeze in a small tin loaf pan. If it’s a bigger group, I make two. 
    • 1 loaf of french bread cut into cubes (best if it’s a few days old)
    • 1 cup of heavy cream (I only had 1/2 cup so I mixed it with 1/2 cup skim milk and it was fine)
    • 1 tsp of cinnamon
    • 6 eggs
    • 2 tbs. sugar
    • 2 tbs. maple syrup
    • 4 tbs. butter
    • 2 tbs. flour
    • 1 tbs. sugar
    • 2 tbs. brown sugar
    One of the most important things about this recipe is to let the bread dry out before you make it. If you skip this step, it won’t be exactly right. Still delicious, but it won’t have the perfect consistency. I like to tear the bread into quarters and leave it out for a day. When it feels firm, I cut it into cubes. 
    When that’s done, mix the eggs, cream, cinnamon, sugar and syrup in a big bowl. Then, submerge the cubes in the liquid. From there you can put it in a tin loaf pan and cover. I like to let it sit in the fridge for a day before I freeze it. That ensures the bread soaks up the liquid. 
    While it’s in the fridge, go ahead and make the topping, which you can also freeze. Cut each tbs. of butter into 4 cubes. put it in a bowl and mix with flour  and both sugars. You can use a fork or a pastry cutter to really mix the ingredients then put it in a bag and freeze. You want the butter to be pea-sized. That said, I have taken the lazy route and mixed it together in a ziploc with my hands. It turned out just fine. 
    Make sure to take it out of the freezer one day before you plan to cook. If you forget, it’s fine, it will just take a bit longer. I even like to take it out of the fridge an hour before baking so that it’s not so cold and put the topping on top. 
    We have an oven in our RV, so I put it in there at 350 for about 30-40 minutes. If you don’t have an oven, you can certainly put this on the grill or even in a water bath in your dutch oven. Just fill it up about an inch with water and put it on the coals with the lid on. Keep an eye on it. You’ll know it’s done when you push on the center and it’s slightly firm. We like to serve with syrup and whipped cream! 
  • Fish Tacos

    Every time we go to the beach, we look forward to the fresh fish we can find at local seafood markets. And of course, if you have the skills, you can catch the fish yourself! For this trip we were in the Outer Banks, so we opted for fresh caught Mahi and Tuna. We also made a few of the toppings before the trip which really cuts down the prep work. 


    • 1 tuna filet
    • 1/2 cup pickled red onions (make ahead)
    • 4 tortillas
    • 1 scallion chopped
    • 1 tbs. blackening or seafood seasoning
    • 1 lime
    • 1 cup of cabbage slaw – you can make your own or buy the bag and bring what you need
    • 1/2 cup chipotle cream (make ahead: sour cream and 1 tbs. chipotle in adobo)
    • 1 mahi filet

    The first order of business is cubing the fish and marinating in your preferred seasoning. I like to cook it this way because you get more flavor in every bite. 

    Once the fish is grilled, warm up the tortillas and plate the fish in the middle. I like to cover with the cabbage slaw, sprinkle of lime juice, scallions, pickled onions and chipotle cream. 
    I make the pickled onions before we leave and store them in a jar. They make everything taste better! It’s just finely sliced onions, 1/2 cup of white vinegar, 1/4 cup of water and 1 tbs. of sugar. I also make the chipotle cream before we go and store in a sandwich bag. It’s just 1/2 cup of sour cream and 1 tbs. of chipotle in adobo. I freeze what’s left in the can for a later use.