At times, the world may seem like a small place, but there’s so much more to it than most people realize. You could spend a lifetime exploring just the vast continent of North America. Its beautiful mountains, plains, deserts, and coasts all offer something unique, not to mention the vibrant cities spread out across the U.S.
Larissa knows this well. She and her husband knew they wanted to show the splendor and beauty of America to their three kids and teach them life lessons along the way. Larissa knew camping was one way of visiting the locations and having the experiences that she and her husband wanted for their family, so they tried tent camping.
The trip went well, but tent camping isn’t for everyone. An RV was their next choice. However, with as tight of a budget as they had to work with, they knew an expensive RV wasn’t in the cards. Also, their neighborhood’s Home Owner’s Association wouldn’t allow them to park a big RV in their driveway.
Larissa and her husband came to the conclusion that a pop up camper was the way to go. They could tow it with the SUV they owned and store it either in their backyard or garage.
Their Pop Up, Its Renovation, and Their Experiences
Larissa and her husband searched for and found a pop up in February that needed a little work for an affordable price. Then they set about renovating it and making it their own. Larissa said there weren’t many online resources out there to help them, so she started her own.
“I figured if I was interested in doing something like that, that there were probably some other parents, too,” Larissa told me over the phone.
She started her blog called The Pop Up Princess and got a good response from readers. She found that her suspicions were right. People wanted to know about pop up campers and how to renovate them. She got tons of questions and comments and was sent pictures from people who had done their own renovations.
Larissa and her family finished the camper in April and were off on their first trip in May. During that time they found what they liked and didn’t like and blogged about their experience. Now the blog is about more than just fixing up the camper.
“Now it’s not just about what we’ve done to the camper, it’s also where we’ve taken it, what we’ve seen, and the sites we’ve liked.”
One thing Larissa said she liked most about the pop up was that it connects her and her family better with nature than a typical motorhome or towable RV.
“It’s almost the best of both worlds because we have our amenities, but we also feel like we’re still in a tent a little bit,” she said. “You just feel more in touch with nature when you can unzip the sides and look out over the forest or the mountains and hear the sounds and smell the smells.”
She made it clear that she has nothing against other types of RVs. Her husband grew up RVing and she said other RV types are fantastic, but that the pop up is just right for her and her family.
Larissa said she loves that the pop up camper is easy to tow and easy to fit into tight campsites. It allows her and her family to visit places they wouldn’t be able to otherwise. She said that they try to do both full-hookup campgrounds and some boondocking or primitive camping on each trip. The campers small size makes this easy.
“If we’re visiting a city, we make sure we’re staying at a place that has full hookup and nice bathrooms to get ready for the day in.”
Traveling Together and Growing Closer Together
Larissa and her husband’s whole mission was to let their kids see new places and have experiences as a family. They’ve traveled all over North America, starting in their home state of Arizona and going to places like Banff in Alberta or Glacier National Park in Montana to beautiful cities like Memphis, Nashville, Seattle, or Vancouver in British Columbia.
She said that camping has been great for her family, too. Larissa told me that traveling and camping with family isn’t always the smoothest, but it’s a great way to grow closer.
“As our kids have gotten older and become teenagers and would rather spend time with their friends than their family on vacation, the trips have brought us closer,” Larissa said. “You know, sleeping in that tight space for three weeks, they might be sick of each other, but they learn to get along with each other better.”
Larissa said she thinks camping has taught her kids valuable life lessons. They’ve learned everything from how to build a fire and how to cook and clean over that fire to what to do if they’re lost in the woods.
She recommends camping and traveling as a family in general. Her own family has benefited from their trips together and Larissa encourages others to get out there, whether you’re in a pop up camper, tent canopy, big RV or just heading out on a day trip.
Larissa said if you’re interested in getting your own pop-up camper, to look for something with “good bones.” Get something with a strong foundation that works well and then focus on making it into your own special space.
The interior and cosmetics can be touched up or renovated easily. What can’t be fixed easily is a leaky roof or a lot of torn or otherwise damaged canvas on the side of a pop up.
If you need more tips and tricks, head over to The Pop Up Princess to see what all can be done. While you’re there, check out Larissa and her family’s latest adventures.