BYOB (Baby, That Is!) on an RV Travel Adventure

Do you long for the days of road trips in a cramped car with your parents, playing the license plate game, fighting with your brothers, and enduring the excruciating wait for the next bathroom?

Although those car trips definitely had their downsides, the uninhibited family time and the set-your-own-schedule pace of slow travel that we’ve lost in an era of airport timetables and mobile devices can make you a little bit nostalgic for four wheels and wind. You can relive that experience without all the pain in a family RV, the roomy station wagon of the 21st century. And don’t worry – they aren’t just for retired people anymore.

Keep reading for some tips and tricks about planning your own mobile summer adventure:

The Ride

If you’re just testing the RV waters, look for a rental RV in your area. There are plenty to choose from in all sizes. If you know you’ll be traveling a lot, perhaps you’re in the market to buy a new or used RV. For a more affordable option, try a camper trailer that you can attach to the back of your car. The smaller space, just for sleeping, is easy to detach from your car when you want to take a daytrip away from your campsite.

Make sure each family member has a sleeping space they’re comfortable with, and you’ve found yourself a home-away-from-home. Often, an attic sleeping space above the driver or a dining table that turns into a bed will add extra sleep space to the vehicle’s back bedroom.

The mini kitchen, which you can stock with all your favorite snacks, is perfect for cooking. Bring a good skillet and away you go. Be sure to refill the water tank before heading out and each time you leave the campground. There is nothing more frustrating than a sink that won’t turn on or a toilet that won’t flush. 

Drive Time

Spending countless hours in the car provides its own joys and heartaches, but if your kids and their car seats are sick of the cramped back seat of a car or minivan, they will be thrilled to experience the spacious expanses of the back of a motorhome. And while they’re not complaining about their siblings, there is plenty to keep them occupied.

The open road can make for some great stories, so spend your first hours together catching up on favorite moments from previous vacations or making up stories about the landscapes and towns that you’re passing. Create a story together, with each family member contributing one sentence at a time to the story before passing it along to the next person.

Make frequent pit stops to maintain sanity, not just to go to the bathroom. Roadside attractions, lonely diners, small towns stuck in time, and off-beat tourist traps can all create great memories on the road. Now that your kids can take their potty breaks while you are driving, you’ll have a lot more time for these silly stops, so take advantage of them.

Need to quiet things down? Watch the road for license plates and letters. Two of the simplest but most endlessly amusing road games are sure to keep your kids occupied for at least a few hours. The first is collecting the license plates of all fifty states. Your kids will need to watch the traffic and find a car with each of the states’ license plates before winning at this fun and challenging road game. Too difficult? Try the alphabet game, where they’ll have to identify every letter of the alphabet on something – billboards, license plates, bumper stickers, exit signs, etc. – before declaring victory.

Create a map of your journey by copying a section from Google Maps that covers the area you’ll be heading. Mark your start point and your end point on the map and let your kids color in the area you’ve covered as you go. Teach them to read road signs and travel maps while answering the question, “Are we there yet?” before they’ve even asked.

Introduce books on tape. Fill that space between an excited morning and the afternoon nap with a never-before-heard radio drama or book on tape series that your kids will love. They can retire to the back bedroom and enter their own dramatic world – perhaps even falling into a relaxing nap – as they hear stories in an old-fashioned way of tuning in. Meanwhile, that leaves the front seat free for the adults and far from the chaos.

Campground Tips

Most campgrounds have RV electricity and water hook-ups that make it possible for your family to save money on hotels will still sleeping in the comfort of home. Even if you have a tiny shower in your RV, don’t forget that you can still take advantage of the campground’s facilities, too. This might speed up the morning for a large family. Check out GoRVing.com for a list of campgrounds that cater to RV-ers all over the United States.

Planning ahead is essential, especially for summer travel. Make advanced reservations at campgrounds and stick to your daily schedule so you’ll be sure to have somewhere to park during every night of your adventure.

Once you arrive, plug your RV into the camp’s water, power, and sewer lines. Switch your refrigerator to AC mode, and turn off your water pump so you’ll draw water from the connected source rather than draining your pump.

Making Friends

One of the great joys of RV-ing and camping is making new friends. While your family will grow closer on the road, campgrounds give you an opportunity to meet your neighbors and make new friends. Don’t be afraid to invite the neighbors for a burger bash or a trip to the swimming hole. With a little more time on your hands and a lot less stress, this is a family vacation as it’s meant to be.

Planning on taking the family on an RV adventure? What places will you visit, and what part of RV living are you most excited about? Share with us!


Camille Aud
I need one of those modern Airstreams!
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