Rv travel with kids is a great way to experience new places, learn new things, and make lifelong memories. This was the main reason behind our RV purchase. We wanted to travel the country, and show our kids all that is out there. In addition, once we learned about the National Park Service we wanted them to see as many as possible!
With some planning, traveling with kids can be an unforgettable way to vacation. You can visit awe-inspiring destinations, laugh often, learn new things, and create some special memories with your kids.
After traveling with our children for five years, including three cross-country trips, we have put together this list of 10 tips for traveling with kids. We hope these tips will help other families get out on the road, and make similar memories.
1. Involve the Kids in The Planning
Including everyone in the planning process helps create excitement about the trip. If you are traveling with kids, get their input into the types of things they would like to see. Ask them what they think will be fun, and then work together to make the trip memorable for everyone.
We have learned this is even more important as the kid’s age. We are now traveling with teenagers, and it is even more important that they have some input into the planning. Oftentimes teenagers are going because they have to, and are not happy leaving friends and life behind. If they have some input into what is being done, and what you are seeing, it will give them something to look forward to.
The key is to plan a trip that is exciting for everyone. To do this it is important to include everyone in the planning process.
2. Review Campgrounds Before Making Reservations
When traveling with kids it is important that they have something to do at the campground. This is especially true after long days of driving.
We have all had those experiences where the RV park sounds ok until you arrive. Part of the Rv vacation is to get away and relax. This can be difficult if you arrive at a campground, and are uncomfortable staying there.
After staying at some questionable parks, and our kids being bored, we now tend to use KOA campgrounds. In our experience, they are well-kept and have activities to keep the kids entertained. There are numerous apps and websites that can be used to review campgrounds before hitting the road.
3. Start Traveling Before the Sun
We have learned that on travel days, especially long travel days, it is beneficial to quietly unplug the camper and hit the road before the sun comes up. You can get eight or nine hours of driving in and be set up at the next stop by two in the afternoon. The kids will sleep a good portion of the drive and can get out and be active once arriving at the next stop.
We have learned that the kids need time every day after driving to get out and run around or hit the pool. Happy kids will make the journey happy as well.
This is also great on non-travel days. There is not much time alone when traveling in an Rv with kids. We have found it is relaxing to wake up before they do, and spend time together as the sun rises.
Of course, if you’re on vacation, and opt to sleep in and get some rest that is understandable!
4. Try to Limit Long Travel Days
Those in the RV world have many different feelings about this topic.
Some follow the 330 rule for driving. This idea is to stop when you hit 330 miles in a day, or it’s 3:30 p.m. whichever comes first.
Others may follow the 2-2-2 rule. This theory is to stop every 2 hours to stretch, don’t drive more than 2 hours a day, and when you reach the destination stay for two days.
What we have learned is that, depending on the trip, sometimes long drives are necessary. However, we recommend 400 miles being the most in a day. Even this is stretching it. We have done longer on occasion, but not regularly.
Our strategy is to do 300 mile travel days if we are only spending one night. If we travel 300 miles or more in a day we make sure to stay at least two nights. This breaks up the drive and allows some downtime after long days on the road. Whatever you decide, make sure to not spend so much time driving that you fail to enjoy the vacation.
5. Find Unique Things to Do and See
If you are going to spend a considerable amount of time on the road with kids you need to see some new things. It will be much more enjoyable for them, and in turn more enjoyable for you.
We feel that if you are not going to adventure out and see new things, then you could just stay at the local campground for a few days. Even a quick roadside attraction is a great way to get out of the RV and stretch for a few minutes.
You can read about some of the unique sites we have visited such as the world’s largest pistachio, and a Prada store in the middle of the desert on our Roadside Attractions blog post.
6. Stop for Breaks
This is true for any RV trip. However, even more, important for those long travel days. No one enjoys being cooped up in a vehicle, even an RV, for a long time. This is especially true for young kids.
We will ensure we stop every day to eat lunch and take some time to stretch. We have even started our day early, and stopped for breakfast. One of our most memorable breakfast stops was in Memphis where we ran into Elvis, and BB King.
Oftentimes we will pull over at a Flying J Travel Center, or a Love’s Travel Stop. These often have a large store, clean bathrooms, and often some fast food. In addition, it is a great opportunity to fill the gas tank. In addition, many state rest stops work just as well.
Regardless of where you choose to stop make sure you pull over enough. It’s important to fuel and recharge yourself, and the RV.
7. Always Explore and Learn
This is one of our favorite things to do when we RV travel with kids. It is so important to keep the kids engaged, and interested in the trip. The National Park Service Junior Ranger Program is a great way to accomplish this.
There are over 400 National Park Sites all across the country. Almost everyone offers the Jr Ranger Program. This helps the kids learn about the National Parks, and they are engaged with the activities
Of course, there are many other ways to ensure you explore and learn while you RV travel with kids. We just strongly encourage adding exploration, and continued learning when traveling with kids.
8. Plan for Rainy Days
This is an extremely important tip.
Being stuck inside the RV, with kids, with nothing to do, can put a strain on the entire trip. Unfortunately, we have had a few times when we were confined to the RV for the entire day.
Of course, many RVs have television and this can keep everyone entertained for a bit of time. However, this is what we would do at home. The purpose of Rv travel is to spend time together and build memories.
We have one draw in our RV dedicated to games, and cards. These are great ways to bond with each other, have a few laughs, and even make some memories during the rainy days.
9. Enjoy Some Downtime As Often As Possible
Sometimes it is easy to get caught up in driving, sightseeing, and exploring. Things may get so busy that you forget to take some time to just relax. Therefore, make sure you plan some downtime/
We light a campfire as often as possible, sit around the fire, listen to music and cook up some s’mores or campfire donuts. Some of the most memorable moments happen during this time with our loved ones.
The purpose of the Rv travel for us includes spending quality time with the kids. This is easy to do around a campfire. Regardless of how you do it, make sure to include some downtime with the family. Just some time to relax with your friends, and family, and bond. You will not regret it.
10. Most Importantly…..Have Fun and Document the Memories
This is the MOST important tip of them all. Don’t forget Rv travel with kids is about having fun and creating memories. It can be easy to let the planning, driving, sightseeing, and everything else involved distract you from having fun. If you’re not laughing, and bonding with your family make sure to review our tips again!
In addition, make sure to document your travels as much as possible. Someday they will be great memories, and you are going to want to remember them and share your adventures.
Fortunately, this is easy to do in today’s world with a cellphone camera. Of course, a blog is a great way to document your travels and share your adventures as well. We started CapeRvTravelers as a way to document our adventures, and share them with others.
Most importantly you want to be able to remember the trip, remember the laughs, and remember the mistakes. It is these lifelong memories that make RV travel with kids so special.