Family RV Road Trip Traditions
Tips for growing closer while on the road together.
By: David & Karen Toste 

Toste family taking selfie in front of blue water and mountains

Traditions can define a childhood. They are something to look forward to, an opportunity to connect and make up the fabric of our memories. Traditions take on many forms in families - holidays spent with family, summer vacations, or a simple activity at home. And their origins are often stories in themselves. In our family, there is one specific tradition that we hold very dear -- the road trip.

As second-generation RVers, some of our fondest memories growing up were road trips with our families. The time we drove up the Oregon coast when we forgot all of our cassette tapes and were forced to listen to Bryan Adams 'Summer of 69' about 200 times. Or a road trip to the lake and enjoying summer nights that seemed to last forever.

Fast forward to today and, needless to say, we are a road trip family. Through our adventures, we hope to instill in our kids a sense of wonder at the world around them, and a fondness for exploration and adventure. While that is the end goal, the moments we share and traditions we have created along the way have made the journey a whole lot of fun.

Pick a Place (Together) and Start Planning!

David and the kids looking at map

Our First Road Trip Map shortly after purchasing our Winnebago Vista in 2015.

One of our favorite road trip traditions takes place before we even get on the road. We grab our trusty map, select a destination and make our plan! Excitement and curiosity fill our kids' faces as we talk about where we're headed and what we'll see along the way. How many states will we cross? Will we see any bears? There's an old saying that waiting is the hardest part, but that doesn't mean we can't have fun letting our imaginations run wild as we plan.

Bear walking in woods

We did see a bear at Kootenay National Park and it was everything we could have hoped for!

Choose the Right Music for the Road

The music we listen to on road trips has become the soundtrack to our memories (we talk a lot about this on Instagram @thecampingplaylist). With that, we take playlist creation very seriously. We think about the cities we'll pass and search for artists from areas we'll be driving through, or find songs with themes related to our journey. Making this process a family affair has allowed our family to discover some new music together, and to share some of our old favorites with our kids.

Vista parked at campsite next to picnic table

Make the Journey Fun

#thingsRVerssay: It's not about the destination, it's about the journey!

View of Mount Shasta from driver's side mirror of Vista

Mount Shasta -- Road Trip from Shasta to Crater Lake - 2017.

We recently embarked on a 17-day road trip across the Pacific Northwest and Canada. 2,500 miles, 4 states, 2 countries, and 2 provinces. We can say now that it was a huge success. However, it did come with several 7-8 hour travel days. These long driving days can be challenging for our kids -- ages 6 and 8. But, by creating a few traditions for the journey itself, even they have come to appreciate the journey.

Driving day schedule written out on paper

Schedule for one of our 7+ hours driving days.

Some of our favorite traditions while on the road are:

  • Creating a schedule like the one above, with activities to break up the day. This was suggested by a friend who is a teacher and honestly, it was a game-changer on our last trip.
  • Stopping every 3-4 hours and allowing the kids to get out and stretch their legs. And if they've been on their best behavior, we'll often let them pick out a treat at a truck stop.
  • Stocking up on a variety of small surprises -- we call this the 'Bag of Tricks' -- that the kids can pull from when the boredom really starts to set in.

You'll find more on this topic in an earlier article, Sanity Saving Tips for RVing with Kids.

Visiting with Loved Ones

Road trips are a wonderful way to explore the country, but when you can incorporate visits with family along the way, it's a win-win! Another one of our traditions has been to use our road trips as a way to stop and see the family and friends we're not able to see on a regular basis. Can we make our way through their town on the way to our next stop? Can we meet in the middle and enjoy a day or two together?

Three kids sitting next to Lake Minnewanka

Our kids spending quality time with their cousin at Lake Minnewanka.

While road trips have been a fantastic way to see some iconic sites, they have also allowed us to spend time with some of our favorite family and friends. On our most recent trip, not only did we get to have a few days of rest while visiting family in Idaho, they were also able to rent an RV and have it set up at our next campground. This made for some extended family time and moments our kids will cherish for years to come!

Epic Explorations & Special Moments

Some of our traditions are big. For example, we try to do something epic and iconic on each of our adventures. Last summer, it was canoeing on Lake Louise in Banff, Alberta. And some of our traditions are small, like telling jokes or ghost stories around a campfire, or taking an evening walk around a campground.

No matter what shape they take, these traditions have been such a special part of our RV lifestyle and something we hope our kids will carry with them as they make their way through life.

Toste family self with Lake Louise behind them

Family selfie at Lake Louise. Follow Karen & David and their family's adventures on Instagram @thecampingplaylist.


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