7 Tips from Parents for RVing with Kids
Top suggestions for planning a great family RV trip!

By: GoLife Staff

Taking a summer RV road trip as a family has become an iconic American tradition. Images of s’mores by the fire and spotting wildlife in national parks comes to mind for many. However, traveling with kids can also bring some not-so-postcard-worthy moments as well. 

While there is no way to meltdown-proof your trip, our GoLifers have shared some great tips over the years when it comes to traveling in an RV with children. 

Here are some of the suggestions that have come up most often for having a happier family RV trip:

1. Plan Your Meals (and Snacks!)

Luckily, having an RV means having a kitchen with you wherever you go. However, that doesn’t do you much good if you don’t have the right ingredients and tools to make meals and snacks on the go. And we all know that “hanger” is a real, potentially day-ruining thing – even for a lot of adults!

Photo Credit: Heath & Alyssa Padgett.

Prioritizing food is key when traveling with kids! So, before your trip, consider planning out some meals and snacks to have on hand – especially for travel days. Choose easy options or meals you can make ahead in larger batches to simplify the process. If on a budget, meal planning and prep can also be a great way to save a lot of money!

Stopping somewhere fun for your lunch break – like a park, playground, lake, or historic site – can help break up the driving days a little bit more as well. Be sure to check the map to have some options ready.

2. Choose a Family Friendly RV Park

There are many RV campgrounds that cater to families with events, activities, and playgrounds, or other kid-focused areas. Choosing a place to camp that welcomes your kiddos and offers fun right outside your door can make your trip all that more enjoyable. KOAs and Jellystone Parks are a few go-to options.

You may also want to check if RV parks have a per person fee before booking, since this can add up fast for bigger families (some RVers call this a “kid tax”). Often the family friendly campgrounds won’t have this, but it is always a good idea to check the fine print when booking.

If you aren’t passing by any parks that cater to kids, try finding a campsite that has plenty of room to run and play or is close by to a playground, pool, or park. (Here are some other go-to options.) Boondocking (dry camping in nature) can offer plenty of space also - and is usually free!

3. Pack for Success

While an RV allows for much more room for toys and games than a road trip in a car could, there is still a limit to what your family can bring. Pack intentionally so you won’t be tripping over items your entire vacation, but also make sure some of the well-loved favorites don’t get left behind. Consider letting each person bring a couple favorite items or what they could fit in a small bag. 

If you have an activity you love to do together while traveling, like bicycling o kayaking, make it a priority to fit that in (or on) the RV before you start packing everything else.

The Holcombe family loves to kayak so they always have at least a few on board.

When it comes to clothing, if you are going on a longer trip it likely makes sense to plan a few stops at laundromats along the way to be able to pack more minimally. It also isn’t ideal to be lugging around dirty, sticky kids’ clothes for weeks, so laundry days are probably a must.

4. Make Travel Days Fun

No one likes to be stuck in a vehicle for extended periods of time, especially not children who have energy to burn. Planning to stop every few hours, even to just do laps around the RV in an empty parking lot, can make a huge difference. Having games, movies, and activities on hand is also key.

Some parents have had great success with bringing along a bag of surprises the kids get to pull from every few hours to help encourage them to be patient.

Photo Credit: Tera Wages.

You may even be able to seek out some unique roadside attractions, parks, or nice hiking trails along your route to help break up the drive. With some creativity and research, there are tons of opportunities to incorporate learning into your RV travels as well!

And, of course, don’t forget lots of snacks and plenty of water no matter what you plan.

5. Pick Family Friendly Attractions & Events to Attend

When planning your route, don’t forget to look up any kid-specific activities or family friendly events along the way. You could consider a reciprocal museum pass if your family likes to learn as you travel. Of course, national parks are also popular with travelers of all ages and even offer junior ranger programs for kids – plus, tons of hiking opportunities.

Photo Credit: Brittany Highland.

Especially in the summer, you can also find many festivals and events that the entire family will love. Winnebago’s Grand National Rally is a very family friendly owner event held in Forest City, IA, each summer. And this welcoming owner community is always happy to offer support and encouragement to new RVers. (Read this article about one family’s GNR experience). 

6. Plan Time Off the Screens

Kids of all ages are probably happy to scroll and click their boredom away, and while some time on their tablets to keep the peace on the road may be necessary, the best part of RV camping is getting outside and spending time together. 

Photo Credit: Tera Wages.

Is getting off the screens a goal for your trip? Before you leave, plan out some special activities to do together while camping to make it extra memorable – like stargazing, making s’mores, telling stories by the fire, or hiking nearby. Having some ideas already outlined and any supplies needed on hand will help you meet your goal of spending more quality time together.

7. Prioritize Safety

Whether traveling with a baby or a teen, making sure kids of all ages are safely strapped in during travel is key. Luckily, many RVs now come standard with high-quality seatbelts that can secure a car seat also.

It is also important for kids to know safety rules at campgrounds and other destinations. Have you discussed what to do if they get separated from you? Do you have a first aid kit on board? While it shouldn’t be something that overtakes your trip planning, you’ll be happy you took some safety precautions if an issue does arise. If RVing with a baby, Alyssa Padgett has some fantastic tips for a successful and safe trip in this article.

Photo Credit: Heath & Alyssa Padgett.

Thinking ahead to plan for safety, food, and activities can make a huge difference on a family trip, but don’t forget just to have fun and enjoy the journey together also! Not everything will go as planned, and that’s okay. It’s all part of the adventure and that’s what will make it even more memorable when you look back. 

What’s your favorite family RVing memory? Please share it in the comments!

 

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