When you’re living and or traveling in a van, you’re going to need storage. If you’re like us, you’ve cut down on almost everything but the essentials. And yet you still want a little extra storage for van life. While visiting my parents, the three of us put our heads together to create a cool Van Life DIY Storage Pocket! It’ll increase your storage without impacting how you use your van.
We chose upholstery material which is a little more heavy duty than normal cotton. It’s more durable and you’re going to need that if you’re living and traveling in your van.
Decide what size you want your pocket to be.
We wanted our finished pocket to be 26″ long x 7″ deep. We based this on the size of the door in our Dodge Ram Promaster City. To learn more about our van’s conversion kit go HERE.
Add three inches to however deep you want your pocket to be. So for example, if you want your bag to be 7 inches deep, then you want to cut 10 inches of fabric. No matter the depth, add 3 inches. Add 4″ to the length of the fabric to take into account the side seams. You will need two pieces of fabric, each 30″ x 10″.
Measure, mark and cut your fabric.
Turn the fabric front side down and mark on the fabric with a marker to get 10 inches. Do the same for your length at 30″. Cut along the marks to get the two rectangles of fabric.
Be careful not to mark up what’s below your fabric!
Sew your fabric together.
Place the two pieces of fabric, top sides together, so they match. Sew the bottom seam with a double stitch for added durability.
Sew the two side seams, a double stitch, keeping the pocket turned inside out.
Iron and pin.
Now with the raw top edge turn the fabric down 3/4 inch and iron to create a neat edge. Lay the 3/4″ elastic on top of this turn down and pin it in place. Place straight pins every inch or two to hold the elastic in place.
Pins keep everything in place.
Sew both sides of the elastic onto the fabric.
Sewing both edges of the elastic also sews the seam together at the same time.
Sew at both the top and the bottom.
Turn down again.
Turn the elastic down another turn so that the inside seam of the pocket shows the fabric rather than the elastic. Sew a single stitch on the bottom edge.
Turn the pocket right side out.
Divide into four pockets.
We divided the large pocket into 4 separate pouches. We wanted them big enough to store a contact lens bottle of solution, a cell phone and charger, and other random stuff.
Measure the length of the finished pocket and divide by 4. Measure and mark on the pocket. At each mark, sew a single stitch vertically from the bottom of the pouch up to the bottom edge of the elastic.
Measure out the pockets for your bag!
Cut slits for rope.
Lay the pocket flat on your work surface. At the top two corners you will cut a small slit through the fabric. The slit should be just longer then the width of the rope you will feed through. Be careful to cut through only the outer piece of fabric and not the elastic strip inside.
Thread your rope.
Cut two pieces of rope, each 24″ longer than the length of the pocket. Feed each piece of rope through either side of the pocket by hooking the rope onto a safety pin and and working it from one slit to the other. Pull the rope so there is 12″ extra on each end.
Install the hooks on the door of your van.
We used Command Designer Hooks (plastic hooks with adhesive tape on the back that hold up to three pounds) because we didn’t want to drill holes into our metal doors. You can also try using velcro or sewing magnets into the corners of your pouch.
They’re super sticky so make sure you know where you want them.
Tie knots in the rope pulls.
Hold up your pocket by the rope pulls to see where you need to tie knots in order to attach to the hooks. We tied our rope onto Closed S Hooks 1 1/8 inches, and then slipped this ring onto the plastic hook. Viola!
You can still open and close your door!
DIY Van Life Storage Pocket Recap
If you’re looking for a do-it-yourself way to improve your van life storage, give this storage pocket a shot. If you don’t have a sewing machine, no worries, this could be done by hand, it would just take a bit longer.
Not too long ago we were visiting Caroline’s family in Austin and her sister in law Jill had made some banana bread. It was delicious! When we finally had to push off, she sent us back on the road with some. It kept us going for many, many miles and so we’ve nicknamed it “Vanana Bread.” Once we got home, we asked for the recipe because we think it’s the perfect road trip snack! Here it is!
Banana Bread Ingredients:
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup (1 stick) of butter
1 1/2 cup flour
1 tsp. baking soda
1 1/2 tsp salt
3 ripe bananas
1/2 cup sour cream
1 tsp vanilla
1/2 cup chopped nuts
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
Grease your pan.
Mix the butter and sugar until it’s light and fluffy.
Add eggs and beat them.
Whisk flour, soda and salt together in a bowl.
Add contents of bowl to butter mixture until it’s combined.
Add bananas, sour cream and vanilla.
Stir in nuts and pour into pan.
Bake for 70 minutes.
Let cool for 10 minutes.
Take the loaf out of the pan to finish cooling!
Ready to hit the road!
Banana Bread Recipe Recap
Not only is this treat delicious warm right out of the oven but it’s also super tasty when it’s at room temperature or served with a scoop of vanilla ice cream on top. We also think it’d make yummy french toast. Oh and it goes great with coffee in the morning and rum at happy hour! It’s no wonder it’s become one of our favorite van life snacks.
We hope you enjoy our instructions on how to make banana bread. If you make this easy banana bread recipe, please let us know! We’d love to hear what you thought. Do you have your own recipe that you think we should try? If so, please let us know in the comments below.
Since my parents got a place in Bethany Beach back in 1997 I’ve been eating my way around the beach. There’s more to beach food than just crabs, though I’ll have you know the crabs are some of the best you’ll find in the world! Whether you’re coming for the weekend or visiting for a bit longer on vacation, give this list of the best places to eat at the Maryland and Delaware beaches a look. After all, if you only get a few meals here you want to make sure you make them count!
Best Places to Eat in Bethany, Dewey, Fenwick Island, Ocean City and Rehoboth Recap
How many of these places have you been to? Did we miss anything? We’d love to hear from you! Please let us know if you think something should be added to this list of the best places to eat at the Maryland and Delaware Beaches! Oh and curious how to eat like a local? Hop on over HERE.
Summer time in the Mid-Atlantic means a trip to the beach! My family vacationed in Rehoboth Beach, Delaware when we were small. In 1994 my parents purchased a plot of land in Bethany Beach, Delaware and built the home that they now live in full-time. It’s a fun place for the whole family to gather. There’s so many fun things to do! We’ve come up with a list of our favorites: 53 fun things to do in Ocean City and the Delaware beaches.
Go surfing at the Indian River Inlet in Delaware
Hit the beach! That’s what you came for, eh? There’s miles of coast to choose from.
Go surfing at at the Indian River Inlet. It’s one of the best places in the area for longboarding.
We’ve stayed on a number of farms in our van life travels. Almost all of them we found on Hipcamp. Some of the places we’ve camped have been hobby farms and some of them have been working farms. As a result we’ve had the chance to meet some of the sweetest animals. Some of them are pets, some of them are work animals and some of them are being raised for food. All of them have been sweet. Meeting new animals has been one of our favorite things about van life. You never know who or what is just around the bend! Here are some of our thoughts on farm stay camping tips.
Secure your van.
We’ve made the mistake a couple of times of leaving all of our doors and windows open at a farm only to be surprised when we then realized a goat has climbed in the back. If you don’t mind this sort of thing, leave ’em open. Otherwise, keep ’em shut because you’ll have cats and other new friends coming to say hey pretty quickly.
Check to see if they have roosters.
It’s pretty cool to wake up when the rooster cock-a-doodle-doo’s but it can also be a bit much to hear them all day long if you’re not used to it. If roosters are on the property, bring earplugs! Though they make for some great photographs with their colorful plumes and strutting, they can be awfully loud so come prepared.
Roosters are better than alarm clocks!
Ask before you touch.
Though it might seem okay to pet animals that seem friendly, it’s always a good idea to ask before doing so. It’s a way of showing respect to both the animal and the host. Get permission and then if they say it’s okay, pet away!
Look at the eyes on this dog! So sweet.
Watch out for the electric fence!
Touching an electric fence probably won’t kill you but it sure as heck will wake you up! Look for the wires and do your best to avoid this at all costs! YEOWCH!
Beware of the electric fences!
Shut the gate behind you.
Common sense says that if you open a gate, you should shut it behind you. But sometimes in a new place you can forget common sense because you get so caught up in the experience. Just remember that animals without secure boundaries can be a danger to themselves and others, like motorists, if they get out. Keep the gates shut and keep ’em safe.
Aren’t they cute?!
Wear old shoes with closed toes.
You know where we’re going with this one don’t you? Keep your feet dry and poop free by wearing boots or shoes instead of flip flops! Also, if you’re going to be around larger animals, this is to keep your feet safe just in case they get stepped on. We’ve actually visited a couple of farms where the host has asked us to put shoes on because their insurance policy requires it.
Got any snacks for me?!
Keep food out of your pockets!
Most animals have an awesome sense of smell, even better than our own, and they love food. Keep your food out of their reach. They don’t always know what’s best for them. Some human foods can make animals sick.
Never know who you’re gonna meet and the new friends you’ll make.
Be mindful of your waste.
Your food waste and your human waste. Obviously unless the farm has a dump station which most don’t, you shouldn’t empty your black tank there! Many of the farms we’ve stayed at have a composting toilet so if it’s there use it. And keep in mind that a lot of farms might prefer that your food compost doesn’t go in the composting toilet. Either pack your food compost out with you or find out where the farm compost is located.
Van Life: Tips for Staying at a Farm Recap
As you might guess, the basic rules and tips for camping apply to farm stays as well. Only build fires in designated areas, try to leave the place better than when you left it, keep the noise down, etc. To read more about Campsite Etiquette check out our post HERE. Heading out on your first adventure and not sure what to bring? We’ve got you covered with a Summer Road Trip Packing Guide.
Been to a good farm lately or looking to stay at one? We’d love to hear about it. Please leave your comments below!
Spring is here and summer is coming. Which is awesome in a lot of ways: longer days, warmer temps, and a lot of winter training begins to pay off in races. But to be sure that you are ready for the change in seasons, check out our top tips for running in the heat.
If you’ve got a race coming up in the middle of the summer, you’re going to need to acclimate. It takes most people anywhere between eight and 14 days to acclimate (think: decreased heart rate, decreased body temperature, increased sweat rate, etc.). They are all adaptations that your body makes in response to working out in the heat. Which means if you’ve been doing most of your training in an air conditioned room on a treadmill, you’re going to have to spend some time outdoors getting your body ready.
When it comes to running in the heat, try to be flexible with the time of day that you run (early mornings or evenings). After all, it’s difficult to get motivated to lace up when it’s noon and the sun is at it’s peak. In addition, try to be flexible with the kind of workout that you do. If your training plan is calling for a long run on a day that’s sweltering, consider adjusting your schedule so as to do it on a day with some cloud cover and or lower temps. Or, just slow your pace down and train within safe limits.
Running in the Everglades!
Hydrate before you start working out
If your urine is dark yellow or brown, you’re probably dehydrated. Make a point to drink throughout the day, especially before and after workouts, so that your urine is light in color. It’s not a bad idea to keep a glass of water by your bed as well (especially if you’ve had alcohol or caffeine throughout the day.)
There’s all kinds of ways to carry fluids on a run these days. Everything from packs with bladders, to hand-helds, to belts, to vests, etc. Pick one that works for you and take it with you. It’ll help you not only go longer but stay safer on runs in the heat. If you don’t want to carry anything with you, be sure your run has some water fountains along the way or stash some beforehand.
Drink sports drinks
Water is great but on longer runs you may want to consider a sports drink that has electrolytes in it. Drinks like Gatorade, have not only sugar in them but sodium and electrolytes like sodium and potassium that can help you replace what you lose in your sweat. If you’re going to be working out in the heat, for longer than an hour, or at high intensities, a sports drink might be a better call than just plain water.
Watch your caffeine and alcohol intake
We love coffee and beer and wine and liquor. But both caffeine and alcohol are diuretics which will cause you to urinate more than usual. Doing so can lead to dehydration. Be sure to replace lost fluids anytime you’re drinking coffee, soda, tea, liquor, beer, wine, etc. Happy hours are always a lot of fun but if you have an important workout planned for the next day and it’s going to be hot out, think twice before you put these things in your body.
IPA’s or water …
Head for the trails
Ever gone for a run in the summer on the road and felt like it was literally throwing heat up at you? It is. Do yourself a favor and hit the trails. Many of them offer natural shade and can feel ten to fifteen degrees cooler. Bonus points for finding a trail that’s near a stream or lake when you can jump in and cool off post-run.
Protect yourself from the sun
Lather up in sunscreen of at least SPF 30 and wear a visor or hat to keep the sun off your face. Also consider sporting some sunglasses. If you don’t wear either regularly, they make take some getting used to, but they’ll prevent you from soaking up dangerous and harmful rays. Another thing to try out is a Buff which you can wear around your neck and keep wet. It’ll keep you cool and also keep the sun off your neck.
Choose your clothes wisely
Reach for clothing and gear that’s moisture-wicking, lightweight and light in color. There’s tons of great choices that have mesh, vents, synthetic fibers and more that are designed to keep your core temp as low as possible. Some people like to wear as little clothing as possible on hot days but remember that in doing so you’re exposing your skin to the sun. If you want some recommendations on some running gear, look HERE.
Getting a run in near Dunedin, Florida!
The summer is also a great time of year to try new things like cycling, swimming, kayaking, surfing, pool running, stand up paddle boarding. The list of activities is almost endless. Chances are you’ll never break up with running, but choosing different activities might help you find something new to love, help break up the monotony of running, strengthen different muscle groups and keep you out of the heat on days when running feels like a chore. We’re getting a bike rack put on our van soon so we’ll be able to bring them with us on our trips from now on.
Know the signs of heat exhaustion and heat stroke
Listening to your body is one thing, but paying attention to it is another. Be sure that you are aware of the signs and symptoms of heat exhaustion and heat stroke. Stop if you experience dizziness, confusion, a headache, nausea, poor balance and a lack of sweating. Any and all of these should be taken seriously as your body is trying to tell you something. Failure to listen to the warning signs can be dangerous, and in some cases, fatal.
Tips for Running in the Heat Recap
Though running in the heat can present some unique challenges it can also be a great confidence booster (especially if you’re training for a fall race and can expect cooler temperatures). With a little bit of planning and flexibility, working out safely in the heat and running in the spring and summer months can still be fun. As always, be sure to check with your doctor before deciding to start up a new exercise program or routine.
Is van life all gorgeous sunsets, sweet camping spots and pretty pictures showing your feet? Nope. Not exactly. Here’s the truth about van life that you probably won’t see on Instagram. It’s not meant to get you down, but to open your eyes to the realities of a life on the road. If you’re considering ditching your house for a home on wheels, give this a read: What no one tells you about van life.
Finding free parking isn’t as easy as it sounds.
We actually end up sleeping in Wal Mart parking lots more than we thought we might. They’re level, in tons of cities and give us access to food, bathrooms and water. They’re also loud and bright which means we don’t always sleep all that well. We’ve stayed at some really sweet campsites but the costs add up. Most campgrounds are anywhere from $20-40 a night and it’s hard for us to justify the money since we’re on a budget. When we started out we thought we’d be able to find quiet roads and parking lots and lots of good BLM space but the reality is that most of the cool places have signs that don’t allow for overnight parking. Or they’re not level or they’re not safe. Or we’re in the wrong part of the country. We do have a couple of really great memories from stealth camping but these are the exception rather than the norm.
And then every now and then you find a spot like this!
You’ll have to figure out what to do with your stuff.
The process of downsizing and minimizing that we went through in order to live a life on the road was pretty intense. In about a year’s time we either donated most of our clothing to Goodwill or sold it to Second Gear in Asheville. We also parted ways with trinkets and mementos that we’d be hanging on to for years. None of it really sunk in, however, until I sold my car. I got a couple thousand dollars for it but for some reason, selling it felt like the last bit of my old life. Like I was somehow selling more than my car, I was selling stability; getting rid of the person I used to be, so that I could become lighter, freer and more easily able to travel. It was definitely a process but now that it’s done it actually feels pretty amazing. And not having to pay money for a storage unit each month is pretty awesome. To learn more about how to downsize, click HERE.
Living in a van is actually pretty gross.
Though we wrote a post about How to Stay Clean on the Road we have to admit that a lot of time we’re gross! Stinky! Covered in a film of camp funk, van junk and sweat … okay, you get the picture? If you are the kind of person who needs to shower twice a day and absolutely must wish their hands every time they pee, this might not be the kind of life for you.
The lows are really low but the highs are really high.
We’ve heard several other adventurers describe some of this journeys this way. I think it’s just part of living a life on the road. Especially if you have an older vehicle. We experience this a lot less frequently now that our van is new. But we’ve had plenty of experiences where we just saw the most epic sunset, ate the most amazing meal or run the prettiest trail only to then realize the motorhome won’t turn-over.
Homesickness is real.
Though traveling around is awesome, you’re bound to, at some point, miss your home. Or your friends. Or your favorite coffee shop. Heck, maybe even all three. Though we’ve met a ton of really cool people, most of the time the interactions are fleeting. And that can leave you with a sense of not having a community or being part of a community. Which in turn can lead to feelings of homesickness. It usually passes pretty quickly but if you’re not expecting it, you’ll be in for a real surprise when it hits.
The weather will have a big impact on your experience.
This one was a surprise for us. We both love sunny days (hence why we spent a good chunk of the winter in Florida) but we were unprepared for how the rain and cold would impact us. And the heat. Anything from 50-70 degrees is perfect but anything below or above that starts to feel a little stressful when you’re traveling in a van. Especially when you only have two windows and minimal insulation. We’ve found that when it comes to sweating or freezing, Caroline would rather sweat and I would rather freeze. So … we’re considerings places with milder temps lol.
You will have moments of doubt and worry.
Vehicle problems, poor weather, lack of a plan, disruption of a plan, logistical hassles, parking tickets … there’s enough reasons out there to give you some serious moments of doubt. We’ve had a couple moments when we wanted to throw in the towel and just go back to a normal life but we’ve always rode it out together and thankfully always ended up wanting to continue with our travel. Financial worries tend to be the worst. Be prepared for them, know they will come up and give yourself some time before making some drastic changes. At the very least, sleep on it before you make a big decisions. And get used to eating Instant Lunch haha.
You’ll always need to find power, water, gas and food.
Depending how much and how often you need these things depends on your rig. Some vans have refrigerators, microwaves, water tanks and even ovens! Ours is pretty basic in that we keep our food cool with a cooler, we store our water in jugs and water bottles and we’re constantly needing to recharge our laptops and cellphones in other people’s outlets. To see what our most used gear is, check out our piece on our Top 9 Van Life Essentials. These daily needs keep us on the hunt for water fountains, gas stations, grocery stores and outlets for sure but it actually does get a little easier once you get into the rhythm of the road.
The costs are real.
Yes, your vehicle is now your house, but it still costs money to keep it running. Insurance, maintenance, oil changes, fuel … it all adds up. And it can be more than you might think. We’ve started to try and do less driving each day to cut down on costs and make sure that when we’re freelancing, we’re picking jobs up that make sense (in other words: not driving miles and miles for very little money). It’s not something we like to think about, but the harsh reality of van life is that it’s not free. Be sure you have a plan for making money while you’re on the road.
Most plans never go EXACTLY as planned.
If you’re nimble on your feet and flexible then you’re off to a good start. We’ve found that most of our trips, heck, most of our days, rarely go according to plan. Though we often set out with a rough idea of what we want to do and where we want to go, things change. Roads are closed, things break down, we can’t find food, there isn’t a gas station for miles, no cell service…it’s variables like these that keep us on our toes and sometimes make us feel like we want to pull our hair out. Other times, the plan falling through is a good thing because we discover a new beach or trail and realize that it really is about the journey and not so much the destination.
What No One Tells You About Van Life Recap
On the flip side of leaving your home in pursuit of adventure, there are so many things to love about it. You’ll find a new found sense of freedom. Your days will be unique and full of new experiences. You’ll meet new friends! If you’re able to lean into the uncertainty of this kind of life rather than have it freak you out, you might just find that it’s addicting and that you can’t ever go back to a “normal” life.
We’ve just signed on for another year on the road and are currently planning our trip.
Well the cold weather has finally pushed out and it seems like summer is just around the corner. We’ve put together a summer travel packing guide so that you can do a little less stressing before your next road trip, vacation or getaway. Are you ready?! C’mon, let’s go!
Road Trip Essentials:
First off, decide whether you’ll be sleeping in your car, in a hotel, Air BnB’ing it or camping. It’ll impact the kinds and types of gear that you pack. We most often sleep in our van and so have listed here a bunch of gear related to that. We’ve also decided to include some of our favorite camping gear. To learn more about van life specific gear, click HERE.
Contact Lens Case and Solution
Miscellaneous Summer Travel Gear:
Camera Gear (To learn more about the photography gear we use click HERE.)
Lighter or matches
Coffee Accessories (Click HERE to see how we make Awesome Camp Coffee.)
Fins / Snorkel / Mask
Skateboard / Surfboard
Wetsuit / Rashguard
Summer Packing Guide Recap
Are you headed to the beach or the lake this summer? Taking a trip to the mountains? Wherever you go, we hope it’s awesome!
Some things to consider regarding our packing guide:
We are traveling in a Ram ProMaster Van with a Wayfarer Conversion Kit. If you have a bigger rig you’ll obviously be able to bring a lot more stuff. If not, you may be forced to downsize and declutter like we did. Read more about our downsizing process here.
There’s just two of us. We cut down on the number of things we bring on trips because we can share almost everything except shoes. Oh and because we don’t mind getting a little grungy (read here about how we keep ourselves clean on the road) we’re able to travel with less than most!
Traveling in the summer allows us to bring a lot less gear than other places and other seasons.
All packed and ready to go but still need a couple of suggestions on where to go and what to do? Click here to see our list of must see and do National Parks! And here to see one of our favorites places on the west coast.
What do you think about our van life summer road trip packing guide recommendations? Still find yourself wondering what to pack for a summer road trip? We’d love to hear from you. Please leave your comments below!
Camping and cocktails? Yeah, why not?! Though we bring beer most of the time on our trips, every now and then we really crave something with a little extra kick. Lately it’s been bourbon and whiskey. We’ve compiled three of our favorite and best camping cocktails. Each of them includes 4 ingredients or less which keeps it simple when you’re on the road and space is limited.
1/4 cup boiling water
2 ounces of whiskey
1/2 of a Lemon
1 tablespoon of honey
Grab a camp cup and squeeze a half a lemon into it, using your hand as a ladle to catch the seeds. Drop the lemon carcass into the bottom and add a tablespoon of honey, as much whiskey as you’re up for, and then top it all off with boiling water. If you are feeling seasonal, add a cinnamon stick or slice of fresh ginger. This is our go-to for cold weather camping as well as when we’re feeling sick on the road.
2 ounces of bourbon
1 teaspoon of sugar (or a sugar packet or sugar cube)
2 dashes of bitters
A lot of times at camp we drink our whiskey neat, often just from the bottle. Or if it’s hot out, on the rocks (we love a big ice cube that doesn’t melt fast but ice is not something we always have access to.) When we want to get fancy, though, we make sure to have ice on hand as well as bitters and sugar. Freaked out about what a dash is? Technically it’s an 1/8 of a teaspoon. Huh? Yeah, we get it. Don’t make it too complicated. We usually measure our dashes with our tastebuds. When in doubt, add more booze.
Place the sugar in the bottom of your glass and add the bitters on top. Put a splash of water in as well, and then muddle them together until the sugar is dissolved. Gently crush the sugar granules with the back of a spoon. Fill your glass with ice and cover with bourbon. If you have any citrus on hand, a peel of orange or lemon will give a nice nose to your drink.
2 ounces of whiskey
2 ounces of ginger ale
1 lemon slice
Love bubbles and liquor? Us too. This is one of our favorite happy hour drinks because it’s super easy going down. It’s also really refreshing after a long day in the sun or if you’re going to start drinking early.
This is an easy one to make. Pour the whiskey in your preferred camping cup, followed by the ginger ale. We like ours as a 1:1 ratio, but if you want a lighter drink add another ounce or two of ginger ale. We like to squeeze the juice of lemon into the drink, but if you just prefer the look of a cool slice of lemon with a little scent of brightness as you drink it, just lay the slice on top. Cheers!
Tips for making these at camp
The hot toddy obviously uses hot water, but the other two are, in our opinion, better with ice. That of course means having a way to keep ice. If you’re going to be car camping, this is fairly easy. Just load up your favorite cooler and then keep it in the shade. If you’re going to be backpacking, it’s going to be a bit more challenging and you’ll have to decide whether hauling ice in a thermos is worth it or not. For those of you willing to make sacrifices because you’re in the woods, just know that they don’t taste terrible without ice! We’ve had them on several occasions like that and while it’s not our favorite, it’ll do in a pinch.
In addition, though you probably wouldn’t want to hike a whole bottle of bourbon into the backcountry because of weight considerations as well as having to pack it out again, but you could easily bring it on a weekend car camping trip.
You could also pour some contents into a lightweight flask and hike it in. If you’ve ever had a really good drink in the backcountry, you’ll know why we’d go to these lengths.
Camping Cocktails Recap
With only a couple of ingredients, these cocktails are pretty easy to make, even when you’re camping.
Have you tried any of these easy camp cocktails? If so, we’d love to know your thoughts on them! Please leave your comments below.
We manage to get a run in at least 5 days a weeks, even when we’re traveling. Caroline has been running since 1998 and I’ve been at it since 1994. It’s very much a part of who we are. Recently we’ve been asked by several different people: What keeps us lacing up our shoes? It’s a good question and one we ask ourselves frequently. In this post we talk about our top tips and strategies for running motivation.
If you want to start running more consistently, you’re going to have to plan for it. Try making it a part of your day rather than something that just “happens”. Prioritize it by carving out time for it, just like you would the other things that you deem important in your life: meeting with friends, doing your homework, getting groceries, etc. We love running in the morning so that it doesn’t get away from us. A lot of times it means the alarm goes off in the dark, but not much feels better than completing a run by 6:30am and knowing that if nothing else you achieved that.
It’s okay to prioritize yourself by going for a run.
Get yourself some GREAT gear.
Make an investment in yourself and your health by getting yourself into some great shoes. And socks. And a sports bra, etc. No, we don’t think that the clothes make the runner, but they can certainly make the experience more enjoyable. And if you look and feel good, chances are you’re going to keep coming back for more. We have an entire post about some of our favorite running gear HERE.
Don’t have the gear you want? No worries. You don’t have to purchase it all at once. In addition, you can use the allure of new running gear to help motivate you. (We’re big fans of second gear stores as well. Just make sure that if you’re getting second hand shoes they have plenty of cushioning and support left in them.) We all hit slumps in running. When it’s happened to me I start eyeballing shoes that I like but don’t allow myself to purchase them until I log enough miles so that I’ve “earned” them. Sounds cheesy, but I was also able to be motivated by household chores with stickers when I was a kid. If this sounds like you, try this little trick on yourself. Shop online, put things in your “cart” or actually go to a running store and find something that you like. Then set a goal that you can work towards and reward yourself when you make it.
Part of running consistently is playing a little trick with your mind. One that requires you to tell yourself that opting out isn’t actually an option. When you silent the voice that says “It’s too hot, I’m too tired, let’s go later, I need to do the dishes, etc.” then you’re winning the mental game. If no is not an option, you’ll figure out a way to get out there.
You can do it!
Sign up for a race.
If the thought of racing sounds really intimidating, we hear that. It can be. But it can also be a ton of fun and a great way to help you get a little more serious about your commitment to running. After all, spending money on a race motivates a lot of people to train. You’ve invested and no one likes seeing money go down the drain. Plus, it might also give you the structure you need to stick to an actual training plan and help you take your running to another level. If you’ve been racing for a while and aren’t feeling the motivation that races used to give you, consider signing up for a different distance or picking a race in a new city. Hawaii anyone?!
Make it social.
We do about half of our runs solo and half of our runs together. In the beginning, running together wasn’t always easy. We’re slightly different paces (Caroline is faster) and have slightly different styles (Caroline likes to run a certain course and used to do the same loop every day. I prefer to never run the same course and make it up as I go along.) Still, we’ve come to really enjoy each other’s company on days when we’re both dragging and are low on energy. Plus, it’s a fun way to explore a new city together. We have a pact that if it’s a day we’re supposed to run and one of us isn’t feeling it, the other will find a way to help get their butt in gear. This has sometimes looked like one of us handing the other their shoes and turning on their GPS lol.
Though some say that you should never run with music (heck, we’ve even written a post about why you sometimes need to unplug from devices) every now and then it’s just the thing you need to get you moving. Pick tunes that are upbeat and fun, just be aware of your surroundings and if you don’t feel like you can do that, head for the treadmill.
Change things up.
If you run the same loop every day, think about busting out of your rut. It could be that you’re still very much in love with running but your mentally fatigued at the thought of doing the same course over and over again. If you’re REALLY dragging and have been running different routes, try driving to a really special or unique area: a National Park, a trail close to home, a beach, anything that will help recharge your love of the run.
If a run on the beach isn’t a way to break up the monotony of a treadmill we don’t know what is!
Tweet, Instagram or facebook about it. Let the people in your life help cheer you on. My parents aren’t runners but they’re some of my biggest champions and when they know I’m training for something, they make a point to ask me about it. Somehow just knowing they would ask me about it kept me accountable and got me out the door for a long run more times than I can count. If you’re training for a big race, or looking to achieve a new running goal, why not tell a couple close friends or family members and see if they don’t help you rally when you just don’t feel up for it.
Keep a log.
Another thing you can do to keep yourself motivated is to keep a journal or a log of your running. I’ve got some log books that go back several years. I used to record distance, heart rate, time, route, weather, how I felt, what I ate, what I saw. I look at them now and wonder how I had the time to jot it all down. Still, when I was really serious about racing they helped keep me honest and allowed me to track my progress which was motivating. Everyone loves to see that they’re improving and of course, blank spots on the page keep you honest about what you’ve been up to. Even if you’re not training for a race, it can be rewarding to look back on a year and add up all your miles.
Remember that it’s easier to maintain than it is to regain.
One of the reasons we consistently find a way to get out the door is that we’ve both gone though periods of not being able to run (mostly due to injury). And climbing back out of that fitness hole can be downright brutal. We’ve learned that it’s easier to maintain fitness than it is to regain it. If you find yourself injured, do what you can to keep moving whether or not that’s a cycling, swimming or even getting on a rower or elliptical. Your body will thank you later when you are able to pick back up.
The first step is lacing up your shoes!
Running Motivation Recap
We’ve been running long enough now to know that we always feel better after a run. Every single time. Doesn’t matter how much we don’t want to lace up our shoes, or how much the first mile sucks (and the first mile often sucks!) we always feel better. That takes a while to learn.
We hope this post helps the new runner out as well as the seasoned marathoner who has been at this for longer than we have. What tips or tricks do you have for staying motivated to run? We’d love to hear about them. Please leave your comments below!
Did you know that Florida is home to some of the coolest places to swim in the country? It has over 1,000 known springs in the state, some of which are just a trickle of water but others which are much, much bigger and provide unique recreation opportunities for both locals and tourists. We snorkeled in each of the springs listed below but keep in mind that if you are into SCUBA diving you can do that at many of them as well. Below are our top picks for the Best Springs in Florida!
Admission to most of the Florida State Parks is $6 per vehicle or $2 for pedestrians and cyclists. If you’ll be visiting a lot, consider getting a Florida State Parks annual pass.
This was the first spring that we visited. We went into it without any expectations other than the lady said the water temperature is about 69 degrees year-round. The spring has some wading and swimming areas and a platform that you can jump off of which was really fun. We learned later on that it’s the deepest spring in the world and that they’ve filmed several movies there. It wasn’t very busy on the day we were there but we’ve heard that in the summer it can get super busy.
We went in both the head spring and the blue hole. They were both amazing. The head spring is easy to access, it’s literally right off the parking lot. The blue hole isn’t too far either, just about a half mile down a pretty, shaded sandy trail. There’s steps that lead down into both so getting in is no problem. We both got a little freaked out at the Blue Hole because of our fear of alligators but we got in anyway. The water was the most beautiful color and as clear as could be. We swam over the deep part and let the current push us gently back towards the steps several times.
There is a large swimming area at this spring as well as a place for boaters to moor up and hang out. It was crowded on the Saturday in March that we visited, tons of kids and parents. If you’re looking for a chill, quiet spring, this is not it. But it does have a fun sort of anything-goes kind of vibe to it. Lots of people picnicking, radios playing all kinds of music and of course people playing in the water.
This spring is literally like something out of a movie. It’s paradise! You have to walk a short trail to get to it but it’s more than worth it. We went snorkeling and couldn’t get enough of the spot where the water comes pushing out. There’s a force to it that is fun to swim around. We saw some fish, too! The water is really clear at this spring and the visibility is excellent. Oh, it’s also easy to get in and out of thanks to a couple small sandy beaches.
We visited this spring on a day when it was thundering and lightning and couldn’t get in the water. We did, however, make some time for walking around and wow, the springs here are gorgeous! There’s also a lot of colorful, beautiful plants like the one on the trail above. You can rent canoes and kayaks here at the springs. If you want to go tubing, you can rent those about 9 miles up the road and then float on back! Rainbow Springs is also Florida’s fourth largest spring.
The Best Florida Springs Recap
If you’re looking for some fun in Florida, we highly recommend checking out some of the springs listed above. I’m sure there are some awesome ones that we didn’t list here and we’re eager to get back and explore more of them! Do you have a favorite that we should know about? If so, which one?!
Curious about our snorkel gear? Head on over to our Gear Guide to see what we’re using in the water these days.
You can’t control the weather, but you do have a good bit of control over your campsite. First off, to be clear, we’re not talking backcountry camping. That’s a whole different category of camping. We’re talking about car camping and camping out of your van. Places where you can pull up and basically unload all of your gear. State parks, National Parks, Hipcamps … you get the deal, right?
In this post we talk about some of the best things you can do to ensure that you have a great experience instead of just a mediocre one. Included are our top tips on how to pick a great campsite.
What are the activities like at your campsite?
Chances are that if you like camping then you also enjoy spending time outside. For many of us, the activities in the area are the reason we’re even camping there. For us, one of our favorite activities is running. We spend several days a week logging miles. (Recently we’ve been in Florida. Read more about our favorite places to run in Florida by clicking here.) When picking a campsite, we give a look at the nearest trails and if they interest us, we book! We’re also really drawn to the water. When trying to pick a great campsite, think about what kinds of activities you’ll have access to. At some campsites you can literally hit the trail just a few feet away from your tent or van. At others, you can fish just feet from where you’re making a fire.
Research and book online.
The internet has really leveled the playing field as far as access to information. Back in the day maybe you would have asked a friend who knew someone who knew someone about a great spot to camp in a particular state. Now, you just have to jump on Google and within seconds you’ve got a ton of information. Use it to your advantage. Many spots are still first-come, first-serve but some of them you can reserve online. We often don’t know ahead of time where we’ll be so more often than not we hope that a space is open but when we do have solid travel plans we almost always try to book ahead. If you’re using Hipcamp, it’s almost a sure bet when you visit a site that’s been previously visited by a Hipcamp Field Scout. There will be a little blue check next to the property as well as some photos that will help give you a sense of the place before you book.
Stay away from highly trafficked areas.
Places like the bathroom, the entrance to the campground, playgrounds, etc. will by default generate a lot of foot and vehicle traffic. Do your best to pick a spot away from these places. Otherwise your vacation might end up feeling more like rush hour and that probably is the last thing you want to experience while camping.
Avoid being next to the dumpster.
Make that the dumpster AND dump station. Though it would seem convenient, the last thing you want to experience is the frequent odors of old trash and whatnot. Plus, your chances of running into camp critters goes up when you’re near the trash.
Look for water.
Water really impacts our experience at a campsite. For one, it’s something we’re almost always in search of. If your campsite has water, it’s a surefire way to improve your experience as you’ll be able to refill without much effort. If it’s a primitive campsite, bring jugs and be prepared.
What about electric?
In addition to water, we’re also almost always in search of power. We need it to charge our cameras, laptops and phones. It’s hard to admit but when you’re living out of your van you’re basically jumping from outlet to outlet. If you’re going to be camping for more than 24 hours, consider putting electric as a priority. If you’re looking to go off the grid for a bit, forget about electric and enjoy your time away from the rest of the world. We can’t always do this because of work obligations but we love it when we can. We actually wrote a post about How to Unplug and Make the Most of Your Adventure.
Does it have a fire pit?
And when you finally turn your devices off and make yourself a drink or crack a beer, you’re going to want to make a fire. At least we do. It’s one of the things we look forward to the most when we’re camping. There’s something relaxing about it – doesn’t matter what time of year it is. In our eyes, the best campsites always have a fire pit or at least allow you to make a fire.
Consider the sun.
The sun can be both friend and foe. If it’s wintertime, you probably want to find a place that’s getting a lot of sun. If it’s summertime, lots of trees and shade are probably your best bet. When booking online, get as much information ahead of time. Most campsites have basic maps that will allow you to at least figure out where the sun will rise and set in relation to your spot. If you’re booking in person, do a quick drive-through of the park and see if you can’t find one with optimal sun.
How to Pick a Great Campsite Recap:
The next time you go to choose a campsite, keep all of the above in mind. In addition, be mindful of holidays, especially three day weekends. Campgrounds are typically super busy on those days and it can be a very “social” experience. This is great if this is what you’re looking for. It can be disastrous if you’re wanting some time in the outdoors. Be sure to book ahead on those weekends and be prepared for lots of people.
Wifi: Some campgrounds have wifi and some do not. If you’re needing a connection, it’s best to check ahead. We carry our own hotspot to avoid being completely dependent on others. To learn more about our hotspot read our piece on Van Life Essential Gear and The Best Van Life Gear Under $50.
What do you think about our post How to Pick a Great Campsite? Did we miss anything? We’d love to hear your thoughts as well as some of your top tips for having a great time in the outdoors. Oh and if you liked this, be sure to check out Campsite Do’s and Don’ts.