The 5 Best Costa Rica Surf Camps by Josh Vignona

Travel blogger Josh Vignona coasts through the 5 best surf camps in Costa Rica and where to hang ten pura vida style.

Tropical temps and amazing waves have sealed Costa Rica as one of the top surf spots in the world.

And as this popular destination has become synonymous with 360s and hanging 10, it’s also transformed into one of the best places to refine your surfing skill and take your wave game to the next level.

Josh Vignona looks at the 5 best surf camps along the Costa Rica coastline and where to capture the “pura vida” spirit when shredding through your next surfside adventure.

Josh Vignona Ocean

There are plenty of surf camps in Costa Rica, but only a lucky few make Josh Vignona’s list as the best to catch some waves and hone your surfing acumen:

1. Dreamsea Surf Camp

Location: Tamarindo, Costa Rica

Dreamsea Surf Camp Tamarindo - Josh Vignona

Like many of the best Costa Rica surf camps, Dreamsea is located in the town of Tamarindo, strategically positioned at the North end of CR’s beautiful Pacific coast.

Situated in a 15,000 square meter plot of jungle, Dreamsea surf camp combines expert surfing instruction with luxurious accommodations to deliver a one-of-a-kind experience. 

Surfers of all ages and skill levels flock to Dreamsea not only to learn the art of the board, but to lose themselves in the abundant natural beauty and wonder surrounding the local area.

Rates/packages: Private Dreamsea surfing and glamping packages range from $499 to $1560 per week. As Josh Vignona knows, each package includes daily surf and yoga lessons, meals and luxury tent lodging.

2. Surf Simply

Location: Nosara, Costa Rica

Surf Simply in Nosara - Josh Vignona

Nestled along the North end of Playa Guiones beach, Surf Simply in Nosara provides short-walk access to some of the best Pacific coast waves Costa Rica has to offer.

As Joshua Vignona knows, this streamlined 5-star Costa Rica surf camp delivers detailed surf coaching sessions that break down every aspect of surfing technique to really up your game. 

And Surf Simply guests receive much of their instruction within a state-of-the-art,, LEED-certified resort with comfy accommodations, a pool and hot tub, a shared living & dining area and more.

Rates/packages: Simply Surf all-inclusive packages are available for individuals, couples and groups and range anywhere from $6,500 to $77,064, depending on your needs. Each package includes full accommodations and three delicious meals a day.

3. Iguana Surf Camp

Location: Tamarindo Costa Rica

Josh Vignona Costa Rica Surf Camp

Want a surf experience everyone can enjoy? For the best family surf camp adventure in Tamarindo, Costa Rica and a truly inspired all-ages surf adventure, Josh Vignona recommends no camp more than Iguana Surf.

Headquartered in the spacious beachfront setting of the Iguana Surf Beach Hotel, Iguana Surf offers the best family surf camp packages in Costa Rica, customizable and complete with the one-on-one lessons your young surfers need to sharpen their shredding skills.

Iguana Surf provides friendly, focused surfing instruction as well as an array of amenities, including a variety of add-ons to amp up your next Costa Rica surfing vacation.

Rates/packages: Iguana Surf offers a full menu of the best family surf camp deals in Costa Rica. Package prices start at $269 and most include surf lessons, accommodations and video analysis.

4. Witch’s Rock Surf Camp

Location: Tamarindo, Costa Rica

Witch’s Rock Surf Camp Josh Vignona

Positive vibes and amazing waves abound at the Tamarindo, Costa Rica surf camp Witch’s Rock, a fun, friendly destination to learn how to board, kick your feet up and access some of the most popular surf spots the country has to offer.

As Josh Vignona knows, Witch’s Rock Surf Camp offers surf programs for boarders of all skill levels, as well as a beachfront hotel and home base from which to eat, drink, surf and hang out with compadres all day long.

Whether you’re traveling solo or with the whole gang, Witch’s Rock offers one of the best surf camp experiences you’ll find anywhere in Costa Rica. This includes unlimited surfboard rentals and air-conditioned ocean-view accommodations within just steps of unbeatable wave-filled coastline.

Rates/packages: 7-night beginner packages at Witch’s Rock start at $1,183 and include lodging and daily surf lessons. Advanced surf programs begin at just $1301.

5. Peaks n Swells Surf Camp

Location: Puntarenas Province

Rounding out Joshua Vignona’s best surf camps in Costa Rica is Peaks n Swells, located near the southern point of Nicoya Peninsula near the village of Montezuma.

Guests of Peaks n Swells stay in comfortable beachfront villas near some of the most consistent surfing breakpoints on the globe. This provides access to exhilarating surf and high-performance surf lessons delivered in optimal break conditions.

Peaks n Swells also puts you near Cabo Blanco Nature Preserve, a sea turtle sanctuary and numerous snorkeling and boating opportunities, ensuring you get the complete Costa Rica surf camp experience.

Rates/packages: Peaks n Swells offers Custom, Classic and Surfer Girl packages between $2,850 and $3,150 per person. Each program includes lodging, lessons, meals and daily yoga sessions.

Happy Surfing! – Josh

Josh Vignona Costa Rica Sunset over water

Joshua Vignona: A Day of Deep Sea Fishing and Adventure in Key West, Florida

Joshua Vignona arrived at his Key West cottage at around 6 am, leaving just enough time to do a brief tour of his rental before heading to the southeast shore. 

New to the island, Vignona didn’t want to be late for his first meeting with Captain Chip, the seasoned salt and chief guide aboard the Key West deep sea fishing charter Ebb & Flow.

Vignona rushed out the door and hailed a nearby cab. Excited to hit the open water and test his mettle against the incredibly acrobatic Sailfish, Josh hopped in the car and buckled in. Two months of intense planning and eager anticipation were about to come to a head – and deliver an adventure he wouldn’t soon forget.

Gearing up for a great day of Key West deep sea fishing

Joshua Vignona wasn’t new to the sport of deep sea fishing. But launching a boat and casting into the deep blue waters of Key West was somewhat unfamiliar territory.

Luckily, Captain Chip had been sailing the Florida Keys for upwards of 30 years. An accomplished boatsman and deft fishing guide, the Captain quickly put Vignona and his fellow passengers at ease, confidently directing the flow of coolers, equipment and other accessories onto the 40-foot vessel as the six-member boarding party found their seats and set to embark. 

Settled in alongside two of his closest friends, Joshua Vignona soaked in the sun and slowly breathed in the warm ocean breeze. After some final preparations and a brief lecture on boating basics, Captain Chip ordered the Key West deep sea fishing charter out to sea and toward the Gulfstream. 

“Let’s go snare up some sailfish bait!” shouted the Captain as the boat motored southeast and into the early dawn.

A stop for bait before the big one

It was about 9:30 or so when the Ebb & Flow began to slow, cruising to a halt near what Capt. Chip dubbed “the bait stop” at the edge of the reef. With the boat firmly anchored and the warm coastal sun beating down, the Captain and his crewmates began preparing a few small poles to reel in blue runners, a favorite of local Sailfish and essential to ensuring a successful Key West deep sea fishing adventure. 

Vignona and friends were each provided a pole and shown where to drop the first cast of the day. It wasn’t long before the blue runners made their presence known, tugging on the chum-laden lines and creating a flurry of on-board commotion that seemed to fill the ship’s bait-holds in record time. 

“Phew!” muttered Joshua Vignona, pulling in his tenth runner in just under an hour. “We really hit the jackpot!” 

Another hour flew by when calls of “Reel up!” and “Lunch!” bellowed from the Captain’s deck, providing a much-needed break between the morning bait-cast and the voyage’s ultimate goal: sparring with the vaunted Atlantic Sailfish.

Sailfish, ahoy!

Passengers and crew swapped sandwiches and stories as the boat puttered beyond the reef. 

As lunch wrapped up and equipment was secured, passengers were ordered to take their seats and hunker down for the short journey ahead. With everyone in place, Captain Chip let out the throttle, pushing the Ebb & Flow to solid cruising speed as Key West quickly disappeared beyond the distant horizon. 

The day’s deep sea fishing adventure was on. Excitement began to build as the sports-fishing schooner slowed to a crawl, trolling across a seemingly random spot amid the expansive, endless array of Atlantic Ocean whitecaps.  

“There! See those dorsals?” yelled the Captain, pointing to several large fins jutting from the surface. “I think we’ve found our spot, gentlemen!”

With an active school of Sailfish now in full view, Joshua Vignona and his shipmates were quickly handed poles, each with its own blue runner wriggling from the end. One by one, Vignona and friends cast their lines into the deep, bracing for that first big bite.

Deep sea fishing: a catch to remember

“Whoa!” shouted Joshua Vignona. “I think I’ve got one. Look!” 

About 20 yards from the stern arose a large, brown-speckled sailfish, leaping nearly four feet above the ocean as Vignona’s pole bent sharply downward. Fueled by adrenaline but sharply focused, Vignona pulled up on the handle and began to reel in the line as the giant billfish made yet another jump at the clear blue sky. 

“He must be eight or nine feet!” shouted the Captain, watching in awe as Vignona maneuvered his pole and pulled in the catch with precision, even as the massive fish fought tooth and nail to break free. 

“Way to go! You got ‘em!”

Vignona reeled the Sailfish closer and closer to the boat’s edge, pulling and reeling and battling for more than 10 minutes as the giant Atlantic Sailfish was heaved onto the deck for all to see. Fighting to the end, the giant blue and brown fish flitted, flopped and swatted as it was hoisted into his arms. 

“I can’t believe it!” said Vignona, all smiles as the hook was removed and the fish was released back into the warm ocean waters. 

Measuring in at 105 inches and over 100 pounds, Vignona’s catch proved the largest of the day, capping off a truly memorable Key West deep sea fishing experience

Maximizing Productivity: My Home Office Redesign

Josh Vignona provides an inside look at his home office redesign and different ways to maximize productivity in your custom workspace.

Like many, Josh Vignona found the recent move to a full-time work-from-home schedule a little challenging. 

But after a bit of reorganizing and a few tweaks to his home office, Vignona discovered how to turn the remote-work doldrums into a dynamo of productivity and make the most of each new day. 

Josh Vignona home office
Welcome to my home office! – Josh Vignona

Josh Vignona: Maximizing productivity through home office redesign

With the back bedroom cleared out, the desktop cleaned off and the wi-fi signal holding strong, Josh Vignona has his home office equipped and ready for action. 

Yet, something was wrong. After 3 or 4 days of home office teleconferencing and sorting through daily tasks, things were starting to pile up. Focus was slipping, projects were falling behind and productivity just wasn’t where it was during the 8-5 grind. 

Vignona began searching for a solution. And what he uncovered was the power of home office redesign – how a few small changes can make a big difference for your workday and your work-at-home mindset. 

How to organize a home office

As Josh Vignona surveyed his surroundings, the first thing he noticed was, well, a great big mess. And with papers, wires and candy wrappers strewn across his desk, Vignona decided the first thing to be done was to organize his home office and return some order to his workday. 

To get things in working order, Vignona began to:

  • Establish an organizational system, including buying a file rack, filing cabinet and trash container to place items throughout the process. 
  • Clear off the desk, putting papers in organized files, errant trash in the basket and office supplies where they belong.
  • Get rid of unnecessary items, including outdated magazines, bent-up paperclips, broken office equipment and other things that no longer have utility.
  • Reduce cable clutter, such as by replacing wire-based keyboards, printers and electronic equipment with wireless devices whenever possible.
  • Keep daily accessories within reach, such as calendars, books, pens or tape he used on a regular basis.
  • Move personal items like picture frames and souvenirs into places that don’t take up valuable desk space. 
  • Declutter his computer and reorganize needed files into easy-to-find locations that can be accessed whenever needed. 

5 home office organization ideas 

As he organized his office, Vignona came across 5 simple but brilliant ideas for maximizing his office space.

1. Desk shelves

Desk Shelves Josh Vignona Home Office

By placing his PC and monitor on small shelves, Josh Vignona was able to free up valuable real estate for other much-needed items.

2. Floating bookshelves 

With a sleek floating bookshelf positioned next to his desk, Josh effectively reduced the desk clutter caused by books and picture frames without placing them out of reach.

3. Whiteboard/corkboard combo

Whiteboard Cork board Combo Josh Vignona Office

Vignona installed a whiteboard/corkboard display above his desk to keep upcoming events, notes, reminders and other essential items off the desk but in plain sight. 

4. Plug tags

Labeling cords with tags ensured Josh would never unplug the wrong thing again and made it easier to move wires around whenever needed. 

5. Office supply organizers

diy pen holder josh vignona office

With a few old coffee cans and a little paint, Josh Vignona turned everyday household items into truly inspired home office organization ideas for holding pens and managing everyday supplies.

How to set up a home office 

As he organized his home office, Vignona came to realize the nearly endless possibilities available to customize your personal space. 

Josh Vignona Selfie with Friend at Office

He also discovered that to set up an office that truly fits your personality and needs, you first need to:

  • Find the right location. When rooting out office space in your home, it’s crucial not only to consider what spaces are available, but which provide the best opportunity for setting up a permanent workstation, maximizing comfort and getting things done. 
  • Locate near natural light (when possible). Studies have shown that working in areas with natural light sources can lead to higher levels of morale and productivity. When possible, perch your desk near a window that’ll shine some light on the subject. 
  • Clear the area of clutter. A key element of office organizing, decluttering the space you’ve chosen provides a better idea of the surrounding dimensions and how to situate your office furniture to maximize its potential. 
  • Have access to high-speed internet. Fast internet is essential to home office productivity. Wherever you build out your workstation, be sure your connection is clean and not subject to potential interruptions throughout the day.
  • Choose the right desk. The desk you need is based on your work area, your line of work and personal preferences. It’s not always easy to choose the right desk, but considering your options carefully before buying is essential to getting the most from your space and your day. 

Check out this short video for more DIY home office ideas:

How to decorate a home office

Need some ideas for decorating your office?

As he set up his space, Josh Vignona came up with some killer office decoration ideas that’ll really round out your work area.

  • Add a plant or two. Perched near a window, a nearby shelf or the corner of your desk, a small cactus or snake plant featured in a modest clay planter is a great way to add some life (literally) to your space.
  • Hang a few prints. Need a backdrop for those midday video meetings? Find a print or two to achieve an aesthetic that will impress – and provide something enjoyable to turn to when you need to break from the screen.
  • Bring the room together. A colorful floor rug accenting the walls of your space can really tie your home office together, bringing each element into a more harmonious flow and providing a sense of calm to an otherwise active workstation. 
  • Think “you”. An avid reader? Try a small mobile bookshelf. Fond of nature? Hang a tiger print above your desk. Whatever your interests, be sure to adorn your space with imagery and items you actually enjoy and reflect your personality. 
  • Be “camera ready”. Fake video-call backgrounds may seem like a lot of fun. But in reality, they often create a host of issues that affect call quality and even authenticity, rendering some video meetings virtually ineffective. 

Putting some extra thought into creating a camera-ready background for video sessions can help improve the tone of your calls and ensure you’re making the most of each new connection. 

Josh Vignona with colleague

Office décor for men

Looking for an item or two to “man-up” that remote-work environment?

Josh Vignona looks at a few products to flesh out the man cave hidden in your home office sanctuary:

1. Michael Scott Print

Michael Scott Print home office

This tongue-in-cheek print offers a whimsical flourish to any basement or bedroom-based workspace.

2. Desktop Toolbox

Desktop Toolbox Josh Vignona

An authentic replica of a real garage toolbox, this deskside implement is a fun way to organize basic office supplies and keep that surface clean.

3. Foot Hammock

Foot Hammock

Need a break? Put your feet up on this comfy foot hammock, installed easily on nearly any shape or size desk or table. 

How to be productive working from home 

Redesigning your home office is a great way to maximize productivity while working from home. 

Here are a few more ideas for making each moment count and knocking out projects faster than ever.

Start early. Getting a head start on that next task, project or presentation helps your workday begin on the right foot, wearing away morning time hesitation and setting a powerful tone that keeps you going strong.

Pretend you’re headed to the office. It may seem silly, but maintaining the same routine as you would when heading to the office (alarm, coffee, getting dressed, etc.) helps provide focus and keeps you moving in the right direction.

Expand your horizons. You may have a great home office, but stepping away every now and then and conducting meetings on your porch, living room or backyard can provide a refreshing change of scenery that helps reset your mindset.

Avoid social media. Make a point to avoid social media and fidgeting with your phone throughout your day. Schedule phone-free blocks each day to limit daily distractions and get things done. 

Thanks for reading!

Please share your additional ideas in the comments below. – Josh

Your 2020 Summer Guide to Camping in Florida

Camping in Florida this year? Josh Vignona guides you through the best campsites, camp gear and coffee-making tips for your next outdoor adventure.

From beautiful sunny beaches to thick inland forests and serene lakeside settings, Florida offers virtually no end of opportunities to roll out the sleeping bag and enjoy the great outdoors. 

But with so many state parks, habitats and adventures to choose from, weekend warriors and week-long vacationers may have a tough time knowing where to get started – or how to get ready for their first camping in Florida experience.

As resident and tent-pitching trailblazer of The Sunshine State, Josh Vignona offers helpful tips on where to set up, what to soak in and how to make your 2020 Florida campout one for the ages.

Josh Vignona Florida
Josh Vignona

Camping in Florida: Your 2020 Summer Guide

Between the Panhandle and the Keys lies countless miles of open space, state parks and resorts in which to sleep under the stars. 

And to start your next summer camping in Florida trip on the right foot, here’s a brief look at:

The best camping sites in Florida

Josh Vignona offers 10 of his favorite camping destinations in Florida, including:

Top spots to throw a tent 

1. Fort De Soto Park (St. Petersburg)

Comprised of five interconnected islands, Fort De Soto Park offers more than 1,100 acres of waterfront, wildlife and recreational opportunities the whole family will enjoy. 

One of Josh Vignona’s favorites, Fort De Soto is home to more than 238 camping sites, beautiful sandy beaches, a lengthy multi-purpose trail, multiple swim areas, two fishing piers and thousands of bird and animal species sure to occupy your time and make your tent camping in Florida experience one to remember. 

2. Juniper Springs Recreation Area (Silver Springs)

Located in the Ocala National Forest, Juniper Springs provides a truly historic tent camping opportunity amid hundreds of bubbling springs (big and small) in a thick canopy of oak and palm trees. 

Activities like swimming, paddling, hiking and canoeing are popular here, while each Juniper tent camping site is within just minutes of an array of hiking and fishing opportunities. 

3. Manatee Springs State Park (Levy County)

Fishing, diving and paddling are just a few of the available activities within walking distance of your Manatee Springs campsite, nestled in the heart of the Northern Florida wetlands and along the banks of the age-old Suwannee River. 

And if you choose to pitch a tent in the Springs during the mild winter months, you may even witness the spectacular migration of the West Indian manatee, the park’s namesake.  

Great sites near the sand 

Looking to get a little camping in while soaking up the sun? Throw a little sand into your 2020 Florida plans with these popular beach camping spots:

Grayton Beach State Park Florida
Photo Credit: https://mobilerving.com/camping-in-florida-grayton-beach-state-park-23497

4. Grayton Beach State Park (Santa Rosa Beach)

No Florida camping checklist is complete without a short stay at Grayton Beach, where pristine sandy beaches and pleasant Gulf breezes provide the ideal setting to relax with your loved ones. 

With the 100-acre Western Lake (paddling and fishing), miles of trails and a rustic but comfy campground (cabins and tent camping) nearby, Grayton Beach offers a complete coastal camping experience with something for everyone.

5. Anastasia State Park (St. Johns County)

Over 1,600 acres of unspoiled beach and tidal marsh ecosystem await visitors to the Anastasia State grounds, home to one of the important and diverse bird nesting areas in the state. 

Whether it’s a stroll along the beach or paddle-boarding in the beautiful Atlantic Ocean, there’s plenty to do throughout Anastasia’s more-than-4-miles of coastline, located just minutes from your campsite. 

Video Credit: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DEu4bbCOl10

6. Turtle Beach Campground (Siesta Key)

Whether you’re roughing it or parking the RV, the tree-lined Turtle Beach Campground provides unparalleled beach camping with direct access to one of the highest-rated beaches in Florida and across the country. 

Just a trolley ride away from Siesta Key, a weekend stay in Turtle Beach also provides the one-of-a-kind opportunity to see green and loggerhead turtle nests during the summer.

7. Bahia Honda State Park Campgrounds (Florida Keys)

As Joshua Vignona knows, Bahia Honda is the premier Florida Keys camping destination, providing unbeatable year-round camping, fishing and snorkeling in one of the most breathtaking settings in the state, if not the world. 

Bahia Honda campsites are surrounded by azure waters filled by tropical fish, making site reservations a hot item among campers and travelers of all types. 

Josh Vignona Wattpad
Josh Vignona

Where to hook up your hammock without hurting your budget 

Here’s a few free camping in Florida ideas to brighten up the 2020 season:

8. Wood Lake Recreation Area (Apalachicola National Forest)

Available on a first-come, first-served basis, primitive camping sites in Wood Lake Recreation Area put you in the heart of abundant national forest lands (Apalachicola) and just a short drive from the Ochlockonee River. 

While primarily a hunting camp during the general gun season, Wood Lake offers a great way to save money and get away from it all in 2020 and beyond. 

9. Davenport Landing (Ocala National Forest)

Tucked within the Ocala National Forest area just north of Orlando, Davenport Landing provides three free Florida campsites along the Ocklawaha River, a former stop of steamboats and attractive opportunity for the intrepid waterway paddler. 

Though sites are few and hard to come by, Davenport offers a picturesque setting and tent camping experience that make it worth the wait.

Video Credit: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=t36p-GY9YbM

10. Potts Preserve (Citrus County)

Between the Ocala Forest and the Gulf lies the protected wetlands of Potts Preserve, a serene inland tableau providing campers extensive access to backcountry hiking, biding, canoeing, boating, birding and more. The Preserve is next to more than 9 miles of multi use trails and offers access to equestrian-only campsites. 

Notable camping in Florida mentions include Hatbill Park in Mims (near Space Coast), Dead River Landing Recreation Area (Ponce De Leon), Fort Pickens Campground (Pensacola), Florida Cavern State Park (Mariana) and St. George Island State Park, to name a few. 

What to bring camping in Florida

When camping in the Sunshine State, having the right gear is essential. Joshua Vignona looks at what to bring camping during your next Florida adventure:

1. Proper clothing

2. Sun gear

3. Camping supplies

4. Recreational equipment

5. Swim trunks

1. Proper clothing

Regardless of where you’re going in Florida, you can pretty much rely on a warm climate, making items like shorts, t-shirts and open-toed shoes essential things to pack. Still, rainy days and evenings often get pretty cool (and fill up with bugs), making items like jeans, long pants and long-sleeved shirts must-haves for any Florida camper. 

And with so many miles of hiking trails, beaches and other terrain surrounding campsites across the state, bringing a good set of hiking shoes and water shoes is always a good idea, making it much easier to traverse and explore new places without melting your feet. 

2. Sun gear

They don’t call it the Sunshine State for nothing. Wherever you plan on going, having a comfortable hat (or visor), sunglasses, sunblock and other protective sun gear with you at all times is an absolute must, ensuring your family can stave off the sunburn and stay protected in the often intense Florida sunshine.

Portable water bottles also make good sense when it comes to staying hydrated and energized for that day-long kayaking excursion or trek down the beach, a what to bring camping essential allowing you to soak up the rays and keep up with the kids without risking your health. 

3. Camping supplies

Tents, sleeping bags and cookware are important things to bring camping no matter where you stake your claim. But as Josh Vignona knows, there are certain supplies key to making beach and tent camping in Florida as enjoyable as possible. 

  • Tarps. Bringing along a tarp or canopy is essential for creating a much-needed shady respite from the brutal summer sun. 
  • Larger tents. Bigger tents provide more elbow room and airflow that helps keep things cool during those muggy Florida nights. 
  • Cots. By elevating your body off the ground, a cot provides additional ventilation that can make sleeping in the woods a little more comfortable. 
  • Animal-proof containers. Keeping pests like raccoons and Florida black bears from invading your campsite means storing food in safe, animal-proof containers throughout your trip.
  • Camp stove. Camping stoves provide an incredibly handy cooking option when fire restrictions are in effect.
  • Fresh water. Many places to camp in Florida don’t have a clean water source, making fresh water or a water purification system a must-have. 
  • Bug spray. Florida is famous for its bugs. Keep the mosquitos and lake flies away means having plenty of bug spray at the ready. 

4. Recreational equipment

Are you into watersports? Like to cycle? Want to drop a line in?

Bringing the right recreational equipment ensures you’re prepared for whatever your Florida camping destination has to offer – as well as to avoid the costs fishing, snorkeling, paddleboat and canoe rentals that can really add up fast. Whatever you choose to bring camping, having the right rec. gear handy makes doing what you love that much easier. 

5. Swim trunks

Whether you’re near the beach or in the woods, camping in Florida without a pair of swim trunks can leave you, well, hung out to dry. Whether it’s a pool, freshwater springs or the Gulf of Mexico, swimming opportunities abound across much of the state, making it important to pack swim gear no matter where you’re going. 

Now that we’ve looked at the basics of what to bring camping in Florida, let’s look at another crucial part of the campout experience:

How to make coffee while camping - Mugs together Josh Vignona
Image Credit: https://enjoyjava.com/how-to-make-coffee-while-camping/

How to make coffee while camping

While there are many ways to make a cup of coffee while camping, Josh Vignona prizes one method over all the rest:

The pour-over. 

To make coffee while camping with the pour-over method, you’ll need:

  • A lightweight or compact pour-over stand (found in many coffee shops)
  • A cloth or paper coffee filter
  • A coffee cup
  • A metal kettle
  • Your favorite coffee

To make pour-over coffee while camping:

1. Fill your pour-friendly kettle with water and heat on stove or campfire.

2. Attach the pour-over stand to the top of your cup (most stands fit easily over metal camping cups). 

3. Place filter in stand and add the desired amount of coffee grounds.

4. Once heated near boiling, slowly pour water over grounds in a circular motion (avoid dribbling).

5. Enjoy your morning brew!

Josh Vignona on Behance
Josh Vignona on Behance

As Vignona knows, the pour-over is a simple and easy way for coffee fans to make a great cup of joe while camping. It’s also one of the best methods for camping groups between 2-4 people.

How to stay warm camping

Josh Vignona provides tips to keep your family warm while tent camping:

  • Layer up. Don’t wait until the sun drops to add another layer. Before you feel that outdoor chill, throw on an extra shirt or long pants. Doing so greatly reduces the time it takes to hold in warmth and stay comfortable camping well into the evening. 
  • Wear thermal underwear. Thermals (long-johns and thermal tops) are the secret to staying warm in cold-weather camping conditions. It may seem ridiculous, but that silly underlayer is a crucial layer of protection when tenting in the early spring or late autumn months. 
  • Use a hot water bottle. Sleeping in a cold tent can be miserable. But as Josh Vignona knows, a hot water bottle placed strategically near your legs can do wonders for warming up your bag and getting some much-needed shuteye.
  • Use a smaller tent. While larger tents are best for staying cool, the opposite holds true for a smaller tent, which can help you stay warm camping simply by providing a much smaller area to heat up. 
  • Insulate the floor. It may seem odd, but fitting a carpet, rug or other layer for the bottom of your tent is a great way to insulate your sleeping space and keep things warm the whole night through. 
  • Take extra blankets. Bringing along a comforter and/or extra blankets helps you stay warm camping and feel well-rested the next day. 

While staying warm isn’t always the main concern while camping in Florida, temperatures and rainy conditions often fluctuate unpredictably, making it important to be prepared and take the right steps to stay safe and comfortable whenever possible. 

Josh vignona and books from a little free library
Books from the Little Free Libraries are GREAT! – Josh Vignona

What to do while camping

Of course, planning things to do while camping depends mainly on where you’re going, how long you’re staying and which activities you enjoy the most.

That said, some of Josh Vignona’s favorite things to do while camping include:

  • Sitting around the campfire. Trading stories and laughs around an old-fashioned campfire is a camping tradition largely without equal among campers and RVers across the country. 
  • Hiking local trails. Among the favorite activities enjoyed by Vignona while camping in Florida is exploring local trails in search of breathtaking views, wildlife and terrain. 
  • Watersports. Boating, kayaking, canoeing and tubing are just several of the many activities to consider and enjoy during your next camping adventure. 
  • Fishing. Whether it’s dropping a line from the boat or relaxing on the shore, fishing is one of the most popular things to do while camping in Florida and elsewhere.
  • Swimming. Dipping your toes in the nearby pond, inlet, campground pool or coastal water is always a hit among families camping across the Sunshine State. 

Thanks for reading everyone! – Josh

Joshua Vignona Swims with Sharks During His Latest Florida Aquarium Adventure

Joshua Vignona looks back at a recent trip to The Florida Aquarium, including his thrilling adventure swimming among the hundreds of fish, stingrays and tiger sharks at The Aquarium’s Shark Swim experience. Vignona’s memorable Aquarium visit and coral reef swim experience provided opportunities he won’t soon forget.

Read Josh’s Full Story

A Scene-Stealing Travel with Kids Experience – Part 3: Touchdown

Joshua Vignona enjoys little more than the chance to travel with his kids and share in a new family adventure. In a new post, Vignona recalls a recent trip to Disney World and how a delay on the runway turned his two young children, Kim and Jimmy, into stars of the tarmac – an experience his family will remember for a lifetime.

Coronavirus Staycation Ideas from Travel Blogger Josh Vignona

Travel blogger Josh Vignona offers fun staycation ideas for making the most of your coronavirus stay-at-home experience.

With the coronavirus putting the kibosh on cross-country road trips and overseas vacations (at least for the time being), creating new adventures can sometimes be, well, a bit of a challenge.

But while keeping things interesting in this “new normal” may seem an uphill battle, a spark of creativity may be all you need to turn the stay at home blues into a fun new experience.

Travel blogger Josh Vignona has a few staycation ideas for spicing things up and making the most of your quarantine routine.

But first…

What is a staycation?

Made popular during the late 2000s, the term “staycation” refers to any length of time a person or family vacations at home (or close to home) rather than spending their leisure time elsewhere. A hybrid of “stay” and “vacation,” staycation is commonly thought of as a cost-saving alternative to the traditional family vacation, the opportunity to trade such expenses as dining out, hotel stays and airfare with the budget-friendly behaviors as preparing homecooked meals, sleeping at home and taking only limited trips to local destinations.   

But as Josh Vignona knows, a staycation these days is anything but a way to save money or maximize your travel budget. And with coronavirus stay at home orders in effect across the country, staycation ideas for making the situation a little more bearable, interesting and even enjoyable, are more important than ever.

Josh Vignona: Coronavirus staycation ideas

While the outbreak affects us all, its impact varies depending on your household and overall situation.

To Josh Vignona, this means providing staycation ideas and advice tailored to help people in different living arrangements – and sharing in the trials and tribulations of a truly unprecedented moment in modern history.

Vignona offers a few coronavirus staycation ideas for reducing stress and adding a little fun to the homestay experience:


Coronavirus staycation ideas for individuals

If you’re living on your own and need some staycation inspiration, here’s a few ideas to get your wheels turning:

1. Get inventive with the menu

Most people have a favorite dish they can whip up on their own, something that makes for a quick meal, snack or comfort food on short notice.

But with options more limited and a little more time on our hands, now may be the perfect time to mix things up and experiment with the menu, broadening our culinary horizons and turning each new mealtime into a tantalizing new adventure.

If you choose to get inventive with food prep, Josh Vignona recommends starting small, adding a new side dish or a little more spice before swapping out ingredients entirely. Once you’ve got a handle on what you like and what to avoid completely, find a recipe more in-line with what you like and give it a shot. Repeat as necessary.

2. Sharpen a skill (or learn something new)

With social media, the news and a hundred other things vying for our attention every day, it can be hard to stay focused, much less productive.

And if you’re looking for a way to use your time more wisely and make your staycation pass by just a little bit faster, learning a new skill may be right up your alley.

Identifying skills you’d like to learn (or improve) and devoting time each day to online courses, tutorials and blogs on that subject can be a great way not only to feel more productive, but also to experience the sense of achievement that comes from completing such a pursuit.

3. Schedule regular video chats

As Josh Vignona knows, one of the biggest challenges brought on by stay at home orders is staying connected – keeping in touch with the friends, family and colleagues who define our lives and shape our wellbeing.

Josh Vignona - Chatting via Skype
Josh Vignona – Chatting via Skype

And while not a new staycation idea, scheduling daily or weekly video chats with loved ones can be an effective way to combat the impact of extreme social distancing and make the current situation a little easier.

Video chat platforms like Skype, Zoom, GoToMeeting and Google Meet offer opportunities for people to stay in touch, share ideas and maintain connection through these uncertain times, providing an important, ongoing reminder that no one is doing this alone.  

4. Refresh your favorite room (make it yours)

Have a favorite spot at home? Want to make it even better?

Freshening up that office, nook, patio or basement lounge can be a fun DIY project. It can also be a great way to add some much-needed personal flair to the room you use the most.

Josh Vignona - DIY Office Space Staycation
Staycation DIY Office Space by Josh Vignona

And if that second bedroom or basement area are rooms you’d rather forget, the coronavirus staycation may present the right opportunity to clean and repurpose the space, transforming that unused area into the place you want to be the most.

Among the staycation ideas for individuals currently out there, a room refresh may be one of the best for brightening your stay-home environment.


Coronavirus staycation ideas for couples

Whether you’ve just moved in together or have shared the same home for 30 years, Josh Vignona has some fun staycation ideas for spicing up your stay at home experience:

1. Bring the beach vacation home

Missing out on that long-planned romantic getaway?

Bring the beach home to you!

While it may not be the same as lounging poolside in a faraway destination, adding some exotic flair and beachside atmosphere to your surroundings may do wonders to lift your spirits, creating an experience you can both enjoy.

Create a beachside playlist. Find a recipe for fish tacos. Mix up some margaritas. Add a few tropical flourishes to the dining room table.

Whatever you do, transforming your home into your dream destination can be a fun, whimsical way to breathe new life into your backyard staycation. 

2. Cook romantic meals together

Staycation or not, cooking can be a truly rewarding opportunity to bring couples closer together.

Whether it’s preparing your favorite dish or taking a dive down the culinary rabbit hole, working as one to create meals for two makes for a shared experience you won’t soon forget.

And once you’ve established a consistent meal-prep routine, you and your spouse can brainstorm even more creative staycation ideas that turn each new dinnertime into an anticipated delight. 

3. Host a themed movie night

As Josh Vignona knows, setting aside a night or weekend for cinematic escape can provide some much-needed relief from the staycation blues.

And by adding a theme to the mix, you can take your movie game to the next level, creating a full-on event that turns Film Friday into something extraordinary.

From thrillers and rom-coms to sci-fi and shoot-em-up sequels, you have no end of options for cozying up on the couch, loading up the popcorn and losing yourselves throughout your stay at home experience.  


Coronavirus staycation ideas for families

Need a few staycation ideas the whole family will enjoy?

Josh Vignona offers some ways to liven up your staycation and make it a truly family-friendly experience:

1. Have a campout!

Just because you’re stuck at home doesn’t mean you’re stuck inside!

Whether it’s in the middle of the backyard or the end of the driveway, pitching a tent and setting up your camping gear is an excellent opportunity to bring that wilderness trip home – and turn your backyard staycation into one they’ll never forget!

Planning an at-home camping adventure is an activity to tell spooky stories, share some laughs and bring everyone together under the stars.

2. Stage your own field day

Got some athletes in your family? Need an excuse to get the little ones some exercise?

Either way, setting aside a day or weekend for a little family-friendly competition can be the perfect way to keep the clan active, healthy and soaking up the sunshine. Not only that, but staging your very own backyard staycation Olympics provides everyone the chance to burn off excess energy and show off their skills in a safe, fun and stress-free environment.

Awarding makeshift medals and prizes to the winners may also provide the motivation you need to nudge kids off the fence and into the action.

3. Turn game night into Tournament Tuesday

Josh Vignona knows that even a few family game nights can test the patience of the most passionate board game enthusiast.

But when you take a leap and transform game night into Family Tournament Tuesday, you instantly become known as a staycation innovator- celebrated in the halls of stay at home family entertainment for all eternity.

Well, probably not. But by pulling out all the stops and making a bracket-based tournament using everything you’ve got (cards, board games, video games, etc.), you can add a level of creativity and excitement that’ll have everyone all-in right from the get-go.

4. Make a day to go it alone

Hanging out with family can be fun and fulfilling. But getting a little “me time” in every now and then can be a great way to take a break, recharge the batteries and come at things from a fresh perspective.

And while you’d like to get the most out of each day with your loved ones, sometimes a little separation can go a long way to maintain family harmony.

It may seem one of the more unusual family staycation ideas out there, but scheduling some time each day or even a full day every week to “doing your own thing” can help put things in perspective – and ensure everyone can regroup and participate in activities on their terms.

Happy Staycation! – Josh

A Scene-Stealing Travel with Kids Experience – Part 2: Flight 501

In a recent post, Joshua Vignona looks back on a memorable “travel with kids” trip to Disney World and how a delay before takeoff turned into a show-stealing experience for his two young children. Learn how two precocious travel travelers (Kim, 8, and Jimmy, 6) became stars of Flight 501 and transformed a preflight nightmare into a runway extravaganza their fellow travelers won’t soon forget.

A Scene-Stealing Travel with Kids Experience – Part 1: The Pickup

Joshua Vignona packed up the car and traveled with his kids to the airport a little early that morning, hoping to get settled on the flight and get his family’s very first Disney World vacation underway as quickly as possible.

“Daddy, do you think they have tigers and goats at the animal park?” said 6-year-old Jimmy, eagerly looking up at his father as they stood in line to board. “I bet they have tigers and goats and lions and EVERYTHING!”

What is Business Casual for Men?

Self-described style guru Josh Vignona looks at what business casual for men is, where it comes from and how to dress to impress throughout the workweek.

By Josh Vignona

When you hear the phrase “business casual,” are you instantly overcome by feelings of confusion or even dread? 

You’re not alone. 

As ideas about business casual attire and the modern business dress code continue to evolve—sometimes on a weekly basis—many professionals are finding it harder than ever to keep up. 

And because there’s not a universal definition for men’s business casual or what constitutes an acceptable outfit, knowing how to dress for your next interview or meeting can get frustrating in a hurry.

Below, self-styled business casual guru Josh Vignona offers some clarity on what business casual is, how it got started and how to build the business casual for men outfit you need to dress like a pro. 

Josh Vignona: What is business casual for men?

Broadly speaking, business casual for men refers to a style somewhat less formal than traditional office attire (suits, ties, dress shoes) but still acceptable within a professional office environment. While men’s business casual can mean different things to different companies, regions and industries, there are generally agreed-upon standards that set it apart as a distinct mode of modern dress.

Business Casual Breakdown - Josh Vignona
Business Casual Breakdown – Josh Vignona – Image Credit

Josh Vignona offers some of the more basic rules defining modern men’s business casual style:

  • It’s more “business” than “casual.” Things like t-shirts, shorts and sandals are comfortable but too far on the casual side to make the cut.
  • Suits are too stiff. While it’s better to err on the side of caution, wearing a full suit and tie is a little too business-y for the casual office convo. 
  • It depends on your office. What works for one company may be a fashion faux pas for another, making it crucial to know what’s appropriate before setting your wardrobe. 

Where did business casual come from?

For decades, suits and ties were the style-killing norm pervading offices and workplaces across the country. It wasn’t until the mid-to-late 1960’s that “business casual” got its first real breath of life—a spark of hope that has since set ablaze the office dress code status quo and forever altered how corporate cultural norms.  

It’s a luau!

“Aloha Friday”, a now-common tradition of celebrating the end of the workweek by wearing more casual attire on Fridays, initially grew out of an effort to promote Aloha shirts.

A Hawaiian t-shirt company needed a lift. And in 1966, they found it in the form of a disruptive but brilliant ad campaign, one that not only made Hawaiian shirts and “Aloha Fridays” a staple in offices and work environments across the country; it laid the groundwork for what is now the predominant style of business wear around the world.

Aloha Short Sleeve - Josh Vignona - Business Casual do's - 7 for all mankind
Image Credit: Aloha Short Sleeve 7 For All Mankind – Business Casual Do’s – Josh Vignona

Khakis join the party

Josh Vignona - Business Casual - khakis
Business Casual Outfit by Hogtownrake – Single Breasted Blazer with popover shirt, cotton pocket square, khakis, and brown tassel loafers

By the early 1990s, Aloha Fridays had reached the mainland and morphed into “casual Fridays,” a trend catching the eye of Levis execs and spurning a high-dollar ad push for the company’s recently acquired Dockers line.

It wasn’t long before Dockers and khaki pants overall carved out their niche in American office culture, further shaping the business casual movement stretching the definition of appropriate office attire.

Casual wear takes off

Josh Vignona - business casual Image credit: https://connecteam.com/business-casual-dress-code/
Josh Vignona – Business Casual – Image Credit

The acceptance of khakis throughout the halls of American Officedom opened the floodgates for high-end clothing brands, unleashing a torrent of sports jackets, polo shirts, chinos and other items onto the casual wear marketplace. Companies like J. Crew, Ralph Lauren and Brooks Brothers were at the forefront of the business casual awakening and played a pivotal role in its early evolution. 

Defining the business casual dress code for men

As mentioned earlier, each company has a slightly different idea when it comes to men’s business casual attire and what’s appropriate for the workplace.

That said, there are some basic dos and don’ts of business casual style for men that tend to apply across the board, and which Josh Vignona knows may provide some helpful guidance the next time you’re aiming to make a great first impression:

Business casual “dos”

  • Quality-made fitted blazers
  • Long-sleeve button-down shirts, preferably cotton
  • Cardigan or other fitted sweaters, always with collared shirts underneath
  • Trousers (khakis or chinos), slacks or fitted denim pants of the best quality
  • Neutral colors, nothing flashy or overly-distracting (at least when you’re new)
  • Straightforward patterns that don’t challenge the eye
  • Dress shoes, such as wingtips or loafers

Business casual “don’ts”

Josh Vignona - Business Casual Don't
  • High-end suit jackets (avoid fancy, designer jackets when possible)
  • T-shirts and polos
  • Baggy sweaters (Insert “complete look” of someone who has business casual confused, wearing some of the items bulleted; put this image on the left side)
  • Any type of shorts, jeans (street-style, casual, etc.) or athletic pants 
  • Bright colors, at least until you have business casual down pat
  • Loud or “busy” patterns begging for attention
  • Slip-ons, sandals, sneakers or other casual footwear

In a nutshell, avoid the suit, but steer clear of the jeans. Clear-cut fashion choices that blend and conform rather than rebel (and err on the side of formal) represent the basic ethos of men’s business casual style and put you in the best position possible. 

While business casual isn’t nearly as rigid as the traditional suit-and-tie get-up, there are a number of must-haves and no-no’s to follow when gearing up your business casual outfit. As Josh Vignona knows, staying within those lines shows you’re prepared and taking the office dress mandate seriously.  

Business casual outfit examples for men

By now, you probably have at least a slightly better picture of what men’s business casual means and what boundaries define the office casual dress code.

To move things along even further, here’s a look at a few things you can use to assemble your next business casual outfit—and transform yourself into a master of modern office style.

Men’s Business Casual: The Jacket

Every men’s business casual wardrobe begins with a good jacket, a nice blazer or sport coat tailored to your unique shape and body style. With blazers, you have a range of materials and styles to choose from, but the best bet is likely a classic single-breasted look made of lighter wool, which will help ensure your comfort the whole year round. 

With business casual jackets for men, Josh Vignona recommends sticking with darker, more neutral colors like gray, navy or black and avoiding overly garish extras, such as gold buttons or unnecessary trim. If you choose a sports coat, try to go with something subdued and with subtle patterns that don’t detract from the piece as a whole. 

Men’s Business Casual: Shirts

Typically, the best business casual shirts for men are cotton, long-sleeved, button-down numbers made in lighter, more non-offensive shades of light blue, white or pink. While you may gain the confidence to explore brighter colors and different patterns down the road, sticking to tasteful, low-key shirt styles is the best way to start on a good foot and avoid clashes right out of the gate.

A simple white or light blue Oxford is a good place to start when building out your business casual wardrobe. The toned-down look of a clean, unpretentious long-sleeve can really accentuate a quality blazer and provide an impressive contrast to other pieces of your ensemble. 

And if you’re instead opting for the no-blazer look (something more and more men are turning to these days), choosing to forgo the jacket with a button-down cardigan or fitted sweater to complete your outfit, sporting a collared shirt underneath is definitely the right way to go. 

Men’s Business Casual: Pants

Simply put, the men’s business casual style offers almost countless options for pants. From trousers and khakis to corduroys and dress pants, choosing high-quality, well-matched business pants for your business casual wardrobe brings a level of sharpness and sophistication that can really push your outfit to the next level. 

Slim, fitted trousers or slacks provide a great way to offset your blazer, while a neutral-colored pair of khakis or chinos can deliver a natural aesthetic that won’t steer you sideways. And as Josh Vignona knows, an ideally paired corduroy pant in lieu of khakis can be an effective way to retain the business casual motif and stay comfortable during the cold winter months, ensuring you’re never trading safety for style when the weather goes south.

Men’s Business Casual: Shoes

There’s quite a bit of leeway with men’s business casual shoes, a level of flexibility and options that allow you to really get creative and add a touch of sole (sorry!) to every outfit in your business casual collection. 

Of course, you can always anchor your office style with a classic pair of derbies, oxfords or polished penny loafers. But with shoe and boot options like monk straps, chukka boots and more—and a variety of interesting, business-friendly colors like oxblood, burgundy and chocolate—there’s never been a better time to have a little fun and find the men’s business casual footwear that better aligns with your personal style.

Men’s Business Casual: Accessories

What’s the greatest thing about business casual for men? 

That ties are optional!

Now, this doesn’t necessarily mean you shouldn’t ever wear a necktie. But if and when you do, says Josh Vignona, you now have more options than ever when it comes to materials, colors and even designs that’ll work in a business casual work environment. 

And with increasingly flexible attitudes about what’s acceptable business wardrobe, business casual accessories like leather bags, paisley scarves and wristwatches offer a slew of great choices for adding a killer finishing touch and putting your office ensemble over the top.

What about business casual for men in the summer? Do the rules change when it gets hot? 

Business Casual Summer - Josh Vignona
Business Casual Summer Look – Josh Vignona – Image Credit

Many organizations won’t budge a whole lot when it comes to men’s business casual summer wear, often because it simply takes too much effort to manage shifting standards and make changes in the middle of the year.

But if you’re in a workplace that’s a little more flexible, Josh Vignona offers a few tips for adapting your style and maintaining your cool in the hot summer sun:

Lighten up 

When temps start to rise, changing to lighter colors, fabrics and construction can be a great way to maximize comfort without losing your sense of style.

Go denim 

Cooler than a wool blazer, a well-made denim jacket is a summer-beating business casual stand-in that’ll make you the talk of the 2:30 meeting.

Ditch the accessories 

Leaving the tie, cufflinks and other style accessories at home means less to carry around through the hot summer sun.

Go jacketless

Forgoing the jacket for a light sweater or cardigan can help you take the heat off while holding onto your fashion cred around the office.

There you have it! Thanks for reading and catch you next time. – Josh Vignona