Loading the kids up in the RV for a family vacation can sound like the perfect idea and complete chaos all at the same time. How do you get everything organized? Can you make sure everyone is happy and enjoying themselves? How do you keep the kids from being at each other’s throats? These are all valid questions, and while sometimes it can be chaos (in the best way). RVing with the whole family is well worth the effort.
No other vacation will give you quite the same levels of quality time with your little ones, allowing you to get to know each member of your unique family on a deeper level. It truly is a family bonding experience and can give your kids a sense of enjoyment of the outdoors that no other vacation can. While it does require some extra forethought, planning ahead for your RV trip (or full-time lifestyle) with kids can minimize the craziness and maximize the family fun.
Manage Your Expectations when RVing with Kids
First off, you’ll want to set expectations ahead of time with each member of the family. Understand that there will be a certain level of noisiness and lack of personal space involved. In an RV, you can no longer escape upstairs for a few hours of quiet away from your tiny humans – your space is often their space as well. You can help to manage this unique challenge that comes with RVing by setting boundaries with your kids before hitting the road.
If the bedroom belongs to mom and dad, decide whether kids will be allowed to join or if they’ll need to stick to their own sleeping areas. Know your kids personalities, and if you have an introverted child, try to give him or her some space that belongs to them where they can recharge after being overstimulated from being with the family all day – whether it be a tent you set up outside of the RV or a corner of the RV that is their designated play area. Knowing what belongs to who ahead of time can help manage the inevitable conflicts that arise from sharing a confined space.
Efficient packing is key when you are traveling with kids. You don’t want to bring too much that will further cramp the small amount of space you have to share, but you also want to make sure you have backup sets of clothes on hand when the kids get dirty from spending time outside. Make use of every inch of space that you have and decide where everything goes ahead of time to avoid having clothes and toys strewn about without a “home” during your trip.
Choose Kid-Friendly Campgrounds
Families often don’t think of this before they try RVing with kids for the first time, but some campgrounds are more kid-friendly than others. Some will charge you $2-5 per child during your stay, which isn’t much on the surface but can pile up throughout your stay. That “kid tax” is a way of discouraging families with kids to stay there, so you may find far fewer families amongst your campground neighbors there.
There are plenty of places though that welcome RV families and even hold activities and holiday events for kids, increasing your chances of finding other families with kids to make friends with throughout your travels. Do your research ahead of time so you know how much it costs and if there are things like a playground or a body of water on site where kids can play.
Prepare Entertainment when RVing with Kids
Even if you choose the most kid-friendly campground out there, there can be long hours of driving to entertain the kids through and rainy days that foil outdoors plans. This means it’s important to have entertainment on hand to keep everyone from going stir-crazy. Tablets can always provide something to do (and often some much-needed quiet time for mom and dad) but you may want to limit screen time. After all, RVing is all about unplugging, right?
Decide ahead of time what your technology policy is, and plan accordingly. You can also play interactive road trip games as you drive, like finding the alphabet on license plates or counting the farm life or wildlife you drive past. You can also pick destinations with plenty of activities for kids to keep their days full such as Junior Ranger Programs at national parks.
Decide what’s important to you when it comes to food for the duration of your trip. Is your priority seeing as many sights as possible and getting by with quick, easy, crowd-pleasing fast food meals, or is sit-down dinner time with healthy homemade meals of bigger importance in your family? There is no right or wrong way – it just helps to know ahead of time which works best for your crew and to pack (and choose campgrounds) accordingly. Cooking in your RV doesn’t have to be complicated – here are a few ideas for quick and easy camping meals.
Assign Chores and Responsibilities
If you’re planning to RV for an extended amount of time, it’s smart to help your kids understand your RV is going to function as a normal household. With responsibilities for each family member. Decide what chores need to get done and who will do them. Come up with a system so kids can still learn about personal responsibility while you travel.
Planning Ahead when RVing with Kids
RVing with kids comes with its own challenges, but the payoff is well worth it. Learning how to function as a family unit in a small space can produce well-rounded kids with a love of the outdoors and an appreciation of quality time. With the right preparation, you’re on your way to a fantastic family vacation!
Looking for ideas on where to travel? Check out our blog for more of our favorite RV destinations.