How to get a van ready for a road trip

Preparing the van camper for a road trip is Priority 1 on our to-do list. We have to make sure that the van is road worthy by checking tires and oil. It also entails double checking solar connections and trying to prevent anything that could go wrong.

If you own a vehicle, you’ll want to know about the a alignment surprise that I got at Pep Boys! Getting an alignment and new tires before hitting the road can help with gas mileage and prevent the tire damage that can happen from being out of line.

20190729_152557Pep Boys is one of the few places local to me that can accommodate an alignment on an extended Chevy Express. So, off to Pep Boys it was. Normally the alignment runs $89.99. Plus, the van usually needs to realigned when we get back from our travels. What I found at Pep Boys made my day! I was going to take the regular alignment and think nothing of it. However, the clerk asked me a question that gave me pause.

It turns out that the one year unlimited alignment was on sale for only $30 more than the one time option. This means that I would be able to bring the van in for unlimited checks and alignments for a full year. I signed up for that almost before he had the words out of his mouth!

Next up was to get tires from Sam’s Club. There are two reasons that attract me into tire buying at Sam’s Club. The nationwide warranty and number of clubs in the U.S. increases my chances of getting a tire repaired easily on the road trip. Plus, as part of the Sam’s Club All-in tire installation the tires come with lifetime flat repair, balancing, rotation and emergency roadside tire service! 

All I have to do is keep my receipt. If I need to tap into the roadside tire service all I do is call an 800 number and they’ll take it from there. I am an AAA member but the extra protection gives me peace of mind.

c5d70-aaa2Bweb-logoThe next thing I had to do to get the van ready for a road trip was to upgrade my AAA membership. Somehow we had only gotten the AAA Plus Membership when we renewed. It’s a good plan. You get four 100 mile tows, flat tire service and $1,000 in trip interruption service etc. But, I am prepping for a road trip to Alaska and wanted AAA Premier.

The AAA Premier membership comes with one tow of up to 200 miles and three tows of up to 100 miles. It also has $1,500 in trip interruption insurance, free fuel delivery,  24 hour travel assistance and more. Definitely extra coverage that might be needed for travel in the U.S. or Canada.

Hubby took care of the oil and filter change himself. He also checked all fluids. We made sure I had high quality “bug juice” windshield window washer fluid in the van and extra for the road.

The joke is that the State Bird of Alaska is the mosquito. If you’re heading that way, always be sure to stock up on the strongest window washing fluid that you can buy. Trust me. You’ll thank yourself for it.

Other articles include:
Me, a service dog and a cross-continent drive to Alaska
Harvest Hosts offers overnight camping at unique locations


Please note:
This article is not sponsored by any of the companies mentioned above. Links to those companies that are included here are referral links. If you join AAA South through the link, we both get $20 off the next membership. Join through the Sam’s Club link and we both get a $10 e-gift card. Details are on those respective links. How’s that for cool?

Me, a service dog and a cross-continent drive to Alaska

Yes, it’s happening. My service dog and I are heading to Alaska next month. (July 2019) It’s a bodacious pinch-me-I’m-dreaming kind of move. I’m no stranger when it comes to driving to Alaska. This will be my fourth round trip on the Alcan (or Alaska Highway if you prefer). So what’s different this time?

Always before there has been another adult with me. It was my daughter in 2009, Hubby in 2015 and a friend in 2017. This time I’ll be driving there as a solo female van dweller. Hubby will make the return voyage with me

Along with me and my service dog will be all my insecurities. Until now the fartherest that I have been by myself is to drive to Washington, D.C. from Tennessee. It was a long drive, but nothing like a cross continental drive to Alaska.

My insecurities aren’t just my own. Some are being pushed on me by well meaning others. Only a few echo my own. The most common is what if the van breaks.

That one doesn’t bother me. I have an emergency fund. My AAA membership covers 200 miles of towing. I also have towing on my onsurance. The plan is to find out what prepaid cell phone works and buy one. I also have a CB for back up communication. Plus, AAA has trip interruption and I have travel insurance.

If that doesn’t have me covered for van repairs, then I’d better stay home.

My insecurities are along the lines of…

  • What if I get overwhelmed and have an emotional travel breakdown? ( Call Hubby or find Wi-Fi on the road and call with Skype or Facebook).
  • What if my service dog gets sick? (His Banfield plan comes with 24/7 vet access. Plus, a daughter is a vet tech).
  • What if I get sick? (MDLive is covered by my health insurance and is available 24/7. Walgreens is nationwide).

There’s still this lingering doubt? The uncertainty of driving to Alaska gives pause. There are other “what ifs” floating about.

So, what if…?

I don’t know, but I’m about to find out.

Harvest Hosts offers overnight camping at unique locations

Can you imagine camping in the shadow of a rocket at a space museum? How about waking up to the sounds of farm life? I can, because Harvest Hosts offers overnight camping at unique locations for fully contained RV or van camper owners.

The idea of a Harvest Hosts membership first came up a few years ago. At the time, I was planning a road trip to Alaska as part of a church mission trip. The lure of the open road, the promise of amazing wildlife sightings and the smell of clean mountain air was too tempting to pass up. Planning the road trip of a lifetime is one thing. Affording it is a different matter entirely. That’s where free campsites come into play.

JC1_5765 (2)
Stafford Space Center

My usual free overnight camping spots are a Walmart or truck stop. I will stop at rest areas, but they’re often full at night. Plus, some states are joining Tennessee in strictly limiting the hours that you can stay to two or four. That’s not enough rest for the driver when you’re on a road trip.

Harvest Hosts membership opens up a whole new world of unique lodging opportunities. We’re talking about a network of over 700 amazing host sites that provide free camping for fully contained RV owners. Membership is $79. Save 15% by using this link to register.

Unique sites include vineyards, farms, attractions and museums (my favorite). I will say  that parking next to an airplane at a space center is much more interesting a campground. A vineyard can be a great place to find peace and quiet.

Security is another aspect that drew me to the program. Sometimes I don’t feel comfortable at a truck stop or in a dark corner of a rest area. Also, some local ordinances prohibit parking overnight at Walmart which can really complicate finding a secure place to stay for the night!

In exchange for free overnight camping, Harvest Hosts ask members to arrive during the site’s operating hours and to consider spending $20 while you’re there. That’s not unreasonable. After all, Tennessee State Park campgrounds like Fall Creek Falls can run $32 and the K.O.A. in Pigeon Forge can run as high as $101.00 in peak season.  Grabbing junk food and snacks for two at a truck stop can easy run $25 and a meal at a truck stop restaurant like the Iron Skillet can run much higher.

You can see how Harvest Host sites can save me a few bucks. The $20 they ask you to spend on fresh produce or museum tickets is a bargain compared to the campgrounds and places already mentioned. Plus, you get to wake up to sights like this one.

Postcards from Pennsylvania

April‘s postcards are from Pennsylvania! Patreon postcard subscribers should have received them by now. Where will next month’s cards come from? They could by from any of the following:
New Mexico
Cards will be mailed by May 15. Sign up today. Become a Patreon subscriber today at or sign up for a one-time support at Crabtree
Hint: You may even receive more than one postcard this month. 🙂

Thanks for making our #BeBodacious videos and blog possible!

Other links you may enjoy:
Isle of Skye

A Different Kind of Island Getaway: The Isle of Skye

When most people think of an island getaway, they imagine a tropical paradise where the beach is always just a short walk from their hotel. The weather is always warm, the sun is shining, and a summer subscription box will have the perfect accessories to help you stand out even while you relax.

Sure, that sounds like an appealing way to spend a few days. However, some people want to do more on their vacations than lounge around. Their sense of adventure draws them to non-traditional island getaways, such as Skye.

This island off the coast of Scotland is known for its dramatic combination of impressive mountains and sharp cliffs. It’s the perfect spot to visit if you’re looking for an island vacation that offers more to do than relax beneath the sun.

Interested? Keep reading to learn how to make the most of your trip.

Places to Stay

To fully enjoy your visit, plan on staying in multiple parts of the island during your trip. You might consider starting at Eilean Iarmain hotel. It’s relatively close to the ferry drop-off point, and travel writers have praised its “deliriously pretty” location.

After spending a couple of days exploring the area around the first hotel, make your way to the Skeabost Hotel. This spot offers you a chance to explore acres of wooded areas, while spending your nights relaxing in a luxurious environment that recalls Scotland’s history.

Items to Pack

The weather in Skye can get a little brisk. It’s also prone to sudden rain showers. Even when it’s not raining, expect the skies to be overcast.

In other words, be sure to pack layers for this trip. While most island getaways require bringing along swimwear, visiting Skye is a little different. You’ll want several items to ensure you can easily explore the island. Specifically, bring the following:

  • A durable rucksack
  • Blouse, with capelet to wear over it
  • Tall rain boots

Luckily, you can still be fashionable with this type of wardrobe. You’re going to want to be, too. Skye is a gorgeous place, so expect to take more than a few pictures.


No trip to Skye is complete without stopping to eat at Loch Bay restaurant. This Michelin-starred spot offers a seafood tasting menu that can’t be missed.

When you’re exploring the island, make an effort to see Dunvegan Castle. You’ll quickly understand why people compare Skye to a land out of a fairy tale. The Cuillin Mountains in Sligachan also offer fantastic hiking if you’re the outdoorsy type. If you like spending time outdoors, but don’t like the idea of hiking up a mountain, the stone bridge near the mountains is a peaceful alternative.

Again, the next time you’re thinking about heading off to an island for vacation, don’t immediately settle for the traditional destinations. Skye is a beautiful island that many overlook. Who knows, it may just be the ideal spot for your trip.

This article is a guest post by:
Rae Steinbach
Rae is a graduate of Tufts University with a combined International Relations and Chinese degree. After spending time living and working abroad in China, she returned to NYC to pursue her career and continue curating quality content. Rae is passionate about travel, food, and writing.
Another post from Bodacious Broads Travel Blog that you may enjoy is…
Read more about What is a Bodacious Broad

Be Bodacious Magazine coming this month

Great news! Our Be Bodacious Magazine comes out this month. Available twice a year, the magazine will be filled with tips that travelers can use. Whether you are going to a foreign country or staying closer to home, you will find information that will help you travel better.

Photo by on

The spring edition of Be Bodacious magazine introduces you to YouTubers Amber and John Rivers. They tell us why they chose the off-grid lifestyle and about each other in this interview.

Business and life partners Lyn Lomasi Rowell and Richard Rowell of Brand Shamans are well versed in traveling with kids. They share their best five trips for surviving a road trip with kids in tow.

Looking for a new camera lens? Award winning photographer, John Crabtree, shares his tips for choosing the right landscape lens for your DSLR. He goes through the how’s and why’s to help you make the best selection possible.

Like these? E-book versions of the inaugural edition are free for a limited time. Go to to download or order your print copy here.

Support this blog for free when you buy on Amazon. Just use this link

What is a Bodacious Broad

Answering “What is a Bodacious Broad?

A Bodacious Broad is a woman who exacts revenge on obstacles by finding herself. She is, who she is and she is comfortable with that. You should be too!

A Bodacious Broad is a woman who wears heels and pearls at the office. She kicks the stand on her chopper, roars into the P.T.O. meeting and throws her heart into the cause. She is loyal, caring, compassionate and bold. She has learned that overcoming the obstacles means throwing on her sassy hat and staring the obstacle down until it begs for mercy. That’s who a Bodacious Broad is.

Want to join us? Grab your sassy hat and get ready for adventure! One, two, go!!