For Point Pleasant Borough residents Stephanie and Jeremy Puglisi, camping is not just a hobby. It is the center of their lives, their work and their family.
The couple’s second book, “See You at the Campground,” puts their zeal for the outdoors to paper. Published in March, this general interest book helps families get started with camping, discover new campsites and make memories around the campfire.
“The book is specifically designed for people who have never done this before, and we break down all the different ways you can go camping whether it by RV, cabin camping, glamping or tent camping,” Jeremy Puglisi said.
With 15,000 copies sold, the book has topped the Amazon charts for budget travel and was picked up nationally by Target, Barnes & Noble and hundreds of independent booksellers.
The couple gained inspiration for the book from their years of camping and exploring national parks across the country.
They were introduced to camping after their twin sons, now 11 years old, were born: They rented a pop-up camper for weekend trips after unpleasant hotel experiences. The couple, which now has a second son, age 7, fell in love with the campground experience.
The family of five has traveled to campgrounds in 24 states. They’ve become familiar with the mountains of Glacier National Park in Montana, the ripples of the ocean at Acadia National Park in Maine, and the hiking trails of Olympic National Park in Washington, the highlight of a 26-day road trip inthe Pacific Northwest.
“We’ve always liked to road trip, we’ve always liked to hike, but this really took it to the next level for us,” Jeremy Puglisi said. “Our boys have grown up climbing mountains in Glacier National Park and kayaking in New Hampshire. It’s made all of us more adventurous. We all push our comfort zone out a little bit.”
“It really did change the dynamic of our family,” Stephanie Puglisi said. “When we’re at the campground, we’re naturally all more connected and spending time together. The campground itself is a really special place. Whether you have an RV or a tent or want to rent a cabin, you should really experience what that’s like with your kids.”
A focal point of their book is how traveling has been a learning experience for their three sons. One chapter talks about the gifts camping has given them — traits like flexibility, curiosity and confidence.
“They’re public school kids, but then they have this whole other education they get when we take them out on the road on the weekends and in the summertime,” Jeremy Puglisi said.
Most of the book’s content overlaps with their podcast, “The RV Atlas.” Twice a week, the couple talks all things RVing — including destinations, gear, camp cooking and family travel.
The podcast, which has about 3 million downloads, features a range of voices from campers all across America, as well as Canada and Iceland. The Puglisis consider themselves an audience for their own show, continuously finding inspiration to add new locations to their travel bucket list.
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While the coronavirus pandemic has put somewhat of a halt to their travels, forcing them to cancel a trip to the Grand Canyon, nothing could infect their enthusiasm for the outdoors.
“This is the summer for shorter trips and closer adventures,” Jeremy Puglisi said. “We’ve been loving the beach and the Jersey Shore and surfing. We’ve been kind of rediscovering our own backyard. We’re always trying to find the balance between home and travel because we are deeply rooted in our home and our community.”
However, the pandemic unexpectedly contributed to the success of their second book.
“The book kind of died in April because no one was going anywhere or thinking about traveling,” Jeremy Puglisi said. “But then in May, as everyone started to realize they can camp and social distance and RV, the book took on a whole new life.”
“Apparently, it was well timed,” his wife added, laughing.
In fact, they just finished writing their third book in April, a 50-state reference guide to the best campgrounds in the country. The book, “Where Should We Camp Next?,” contains their top picks for campgrounds in each state and recommended activities such as hiking, national park adventures and scenic drives. They are anticipating a March 2021 release, just in time for camping season.
Their first book, “Idiot’s Guides: RV Vacations,” was released in 2016.
The camping connoisseurs are taking a break from writing for a while, but that doesn’t mean they will stop sharing their traveling tips and experiences with new audiences.
Stephanie works as the head of content for Roadtrippers and Togo Group, a platform for road-based travel and outdoor tourism. Jeremy recently resigned from his job at Hillel Yeshiva High School in Ocean Township, where he taught English and film for 20 years, to pursue his dream of working full time in the travel space.
For years, they’ve known the challenge of balancing travel, working full time, writing, podcasting and parenting.
“One of the things that’s really important to me as a mom is that I really grow and change along with my kids as they get older,” Stephanie Puglisi. “A lot of our passions have been very organic and in response to who our kids are as people. Our boys have been active since day one, and that’s just a part of their personality. And that aspect really pushed us into the lifestyle we have.”
Although the Puglisis have spent countless hours on the road, they are just getting started in their traveling adventures — after all, they have half the country left to look forward to.
Melissa Badamo is an intern at the Asbury Park Press. Reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org.