Wandering Weekends: Upgrading Weekend Trips with RV Comfort
By: Clara Vela
If you’ve ever found yourself saying that “someday” you’d like to go on an adventure, Cory Blackmon knows the feeling—but he says that “Someday” isn’t a day on the calendar. Instead of putting plans on hold, Cory, his wife Brooke, and their two kids Townley, 10, and Beckett, 6, make the most of their weekends with incredible RV trips around the state of Georgia.
We chatted with Cory about why he seizes each day, the joy of RV life, and how to make the most of a weekend adventure.
On how it all started:
I’m a backpacker at heart and Brooke, my wife of 14 years, is more of a condo girl. She’s fine with tent camping for a few nights, but she’d rather do longer vacations at a beach condo. So, an RV seemed like a happy medium. We bought a cheap salvage-title RV off Craigslist just to see if we liked it.
We loved it, and we love the fact that it kept our kids off of the screens. Plus, it gives them some independence and it teaches them how to help out during the weekends. And of course, we love exploring new places and all that fun stuff.
On exploring the state of Georgia:
We love exploring Georgia. Matter of fact, we've only once ever camped outside of Georgia. So, our goal right now is to complete all of the Georgia state parks. And this fall during the Thanksgiving break, we are actually going to do a little South Georgia swing to see four more state parks.
On their home base:
Like most people who RV, we have a sticks-and-bricks home. We also have two RVs. One of the RVs has a permanent site and is completely bought and paid for. And then, we’re also RV ambassadors for Grand Design RV. They send us a RV prototype every six months, and we camp in those and give them feedback. It’s definitely a blessing.
On RV trips with kids:
As a dad, I really want our kids to enjoy our weekend camping trips. They do have a few chores to help me set up. Sometimes they help me put chocks under the wheels or put leveling chocks under one side of the rig. A couple small things, but only for 10 to 15 minutes while we set up, and then I just want them to go play.
We have a set of walkie talkies, and we allow them to get a little bit further away from the rig as long as we can see them. It helps teach them independence. Even if it's a couple of football fields away, as long as we can see them, it’s ok with us. We allow them some good distance. They learn to meet other kids, and they learn to make friends, and they actually learn how to speak to somebody instead of just texting them. I think it's really valuable that they're learning those things at a young age. We're not helicopter parents.
On their growing YouTube channel:
Years ago, I converted some old VHS tapes of old home movies into digital copies. And I ended up discovering a lot of things that I never knew existed. So there were videos of me when I was an infant doing tummy time, and I just thought that it was really cool that we have that on video. And so I told Brooke, “Hey, we need to start filming our adventures.”
But then I’m also part of forums and groups that help folks who are new to the RV world. And since I'm a visual learner, I started making short videos. I’d post them and hope they’d be useful to somebody. And that evolved into me posting more tips and tricks about RV life.
On his favorite thing about RVing:
The kids love to camp, and it doesn't matter if we've camped two or three or four weekends in a row. They’re always just so ready to go. And since we’ve been doing this for several years, they have their favorite places. They have their favorite stories. They have their favorite memories, and making memories is really what we want to do as far as our children are concerned. They benefit maybe more than we do from it. And so I think that's my favorite thing about it: bringing them up doing something interesting, unique, and that they really enjoy.
On his must-have RV item:
A good, comfortable mattress is important, especially from a weekender’s perspective. A lot of our camping is done during the school year and it’s very important for our children to get that good reset during the weekend.
It’s extraordinarily important for us that our children have a good night's rest on the road. We always agreed to invest in really good bunk mattresses for our permanent rig. And it’s made a huge difference. The kids love the new mattresses. Especially since the original mattresses that come with an RV are just awful. With an RV Mattress, the whole family sleeps well and wakes up refreshed.
In our permanent rig, we have the Aurora Luxe for Brooke and I, and both kids have a DreamFoam Essential.
On skipping the coldest parts of the year:
We travel in an RV during the weekends throughout most of the year, but we skip the coldest months. We’ll start the RV year in about February and end in November. We skip December because it’s too cold, and then we skip January because there is a lot of holiday stuff.
On local eateries, grilling outside, and campfire:
Every trip will vary, but we do try to combine every trip with a good local restaurant, usually something that we couldn't get at home. We like to explore local good places to eat that are not a chain. And then we also try to break out the grill or the griddle because a fun part of camping is cooking and eating outside. But it does depend on the weather. We always try to have a campfire unless it's just too hot. The kids really love to sit with us and enjoy the campfire.
On their camping timeline:
On Fridays the kids get out of school at about 2:30 PM and then pretty soon after we’ll head out to a campground. We normally only camp between two and three hours away. So we’re usually at the campground by 7 or 7:30. And depending on what we found for restaurants we may go out to eat. Or, we may just have a sandwich, something simple, we like to do BLTs on Friday nights because that's easy.
On Saturday, we’ll explore. Sometimes we want to stay on the campground if there's not much around. Other times, there's a cute little town nearby, and we'll go antiquing or just goof around town. We’ll come back and hopefully have a campfire and maybe eat at the campsite that night.
Sunday morning, we try to sleep until we don't want to sleep, usually around 8. Then, we’ll take our time and come home. Generally speaking that is what our weekend looks like.
On discovering their home state of Georgia:
Georgia is pretty diverse in its geography. We have the mountain region, the Piedmont region, and the coastal region. Because we’ve traveled the state so much, Townley can relate to all of those regions when they come up in conversation or in her classes. It’s cool that she can gain first-hand knowledge this way.
On the #1 tip for people considering RV travels:
There’s a lot of tips, we have a whole channel, but if someone told me they were thinking of doing RV camping, I’d suggest that they go buy a well-used RV and see if they even like it. You’ll see a lot of RVs that are put up for sale six months after their initial purchase because people weren’t getting any use out of it. Maybe it was too much work or it wasn’t the adventure they were hoping for.
Instead, go to Craigslist or even Facebook marketplace and find a cheap RV to test out. If you don’t end up enjoying the experience, you can usually have a pretty easy time selling it at little to no financial loss.
On the importance of good sleep on the road:
The main reason we have an RV is because we want a comfortable place to sleep when traveling. Otherwise, we’d just sleep in a tent. So we have told people in our YouTube videos (well before our partnership with Brooklyn Bedding) to get a good mattress. Take whatever you like in your home and convert that into your RV mattress. We like Brooklyn Bedding because their RV Mattress collection fits and works with an RV.
I know people who have forced themselves to sleep on the terrible mattress that comes with the RV, and they just don’t ever sleep well. It defeats the purpose in my opinion. So, if I had two suggestions, they would be: (1) Buy a used RV if you aren’t sure you’ll love the RV experience, and (2) Get yourself a good mattress because all of the mattresses that are sold with an RV are terrible.
On not saying “someday” and starting TODAY:
I lost my parents at a young age, and my wife Brooke's father had a major stroke when he was in his mid fifties, a year before retiring. A lot of people say they’ll RV when they retire or they have some other big plans. But our view is that you're not guaranteed retirement. My mother passed away when she was 42 and my father passed away before retirement age. It’s part of our motivation to get out there and travel now. You're not guaranteed anything, so if you're thinking about getting into RVing, it’s like having a kid, you’re never going to have enough money, but somehow you make it work.
My biggest suggestion is don't hesitate. Obviously, do your research and do your homework, but don't just sit there and wait on “someday” because I haven’t ever seen a “Someday” on the calendar.
Thank you so much for speaking with us, Cory! We wish you all the best on the open road.