To be honest, I never gave much thought to camping or RVing. Sure, as a child I would notice the decked out RV’s with party lights strung festively across the awnings and think it looked cool, but never actually considered RVing myself. I grew up with resort parents, who strongly believe that a vacation is all about relaxation, no manual labor. My dad doesn’t even like to order crab legs, even though he loves the taste. “I don’t want to pay to work for my dinner,” he says. It is safe to say that the topic of RVing with kids never came up in my house growing up. Then one day my sister presented us with an interesting proposition, “Let’s get a family RV.”
At first, I was a bit apprehensive. Our whole cast of characters in one RV? It sounded rather chaotic, but my sister reminded me that our lives were already chaos. She was right. With all the small children in our family, it seemed like the perfect time in our lives for such an adventure. Never one to turn down a chance at travel, we went for it and took our chaos on the road starting the summer of 2012.
Two years later, getting that RV was the best decision we made. It has quickly become our family’s favorite tradition with our babies constantly begging for more trips. Our kids even request RV trips as a substitute to birthday parties. See Cuddle Bear’s Birthday at Newport Dunes, Here.
I am truly grateful for the countless family memories and bonding that RVing with kids has facilitated. Even my parents have come to love our RV trips, because of the ample opportunity to spend quality time together. With nearly one trip a month for two years I’ve learned quite a bit, becoming a little expert. Here is what I’ve learned about RVing with kids.
At a Glance...
Drop your Bags
I recently published an article in Cigar & Spirits Magazine about luxury RV’s. There is no such thing as “roughing it” with these glamorous recreational vehicles. In fact, I’ve stayed at hotels rougher than most of these RV’s. But, that kind of comfort comes with a high price tag. Now, we don’t roll in one these bad boys (yet), but found one that fits our families’ needs and budget just fine.
The great thing about recreational vehicles is that they come in many styles and price ranges. We needed to be able to sleep a large group of people, but many luxury RV’s are geared towards year round living. Most of the space goes towards large living spaces, which didn’t work for our needs. It is important to research RV companies and check out RV shows to find the right RV for your family.
Rent a RV. You don’t have to buy an RV to experience comfortable camping. In fact, companies like Camp ‘n Style and Luv 2 Camp will deliver, set up and take down a rental RV for you. They even supply cooking materials. The rates vary depending on trailer size. My girlfriend uses both companies regularly and is always a happy camper.
HotMama Tip: Packing
Before you drop your bags, you have to pack them. Packing for camping trips is tricky especially with kids. Be mindful that most of the time will be spent outdoors, so pack lots of backup clothes (kids and camping is messy business) and consider hot days and cold nights. Needless to say, I really over pack for RV trips. Also, bring blankets for outdoor use only. There is nothing worse than snuggling up to a blanket that smells like bonfire smoke. Yuck.
Get your Grub On
This family loves food and when we are camping we like to really put it down, so meal planning is crucial. We take the meals pretty seriously and this usually requires my mother, my sister and I to sit down and make a solid plan over shots of tequila. We go over our itinerary and decide what meals we will be having at the site verses going to restaurants. Yes, even when we RV we still like to treat ourselves to meal or two in town.
Our first night is set up night and we have learned that we don’t like to cook on the first night. The few times we have attempted it we ate too late. Hello indigestion and grumpy kids. Now, our first night is pizza night. Set up, relax and then dinner is delivered.
I’m not going to bore you with by describing everything we eat, but what I will say is to keep it low-maintenance with simple ingredients. When RVing with kids, keep in mind that they are playing outside all day and they are going to be ravenous. It is crucial to have easy things you can throw together quickly. We like to alternate cooking with assemble-only meals. For example, some mornings we set out bagels and other morning we cook a breakfast burritos.
When we do cook, we divvy up the responsibilities so the burden of preparing a meal is lessened.
Hmmm? Where is a great spot for a cocktail on an RV trip? YOUR RV SITE! Obviously, it is important to B.Y.O.B. We make sure to stock our RV and coolers full of drinkable delights so we can mix up our morning mimosas and Bloody Mary’s, gulp down our afternoon beers and sip on our whiskey and rum night caps.
Of course, we pack plenty of H20 for hydration as well as milk and juice boxes, because the kids got to have fun too. Bringing your own refreshments, kind of goes without saying since most of the time is spent at the campsite. My advice to bring more than you think you’ll need, because it goes surprisingly fast on our trips. We usually have to make at least one beer run.
Just because you’re RVing doesn’t mean you are anchored to your site. Many camp resorts have on-site bars which is a fun way to meet other campers. It is also fun to explore the city or village in which your campsite is located and pop in to local establishments for a drink. We pretty much have a favorite bar everywhere we camp, giving us chance to see the town.
Our kids love to be play outside, but at home they don’t get as much time outdoors as they would like due to busy work schedules and inconvenient play areas, but RVing allows them to be outside for a whole weekend, swimming, hiking, running, splashing and burning up energy. They are happy, hungry and tired. Play. Eat. Sleep. It is great, because this HotMama can enjoy a little happy hour of her own.
Before I book a spot for the first time, I really study the map, look up images of lots and even call the RV resort for their opinions on available spaces. RV resorts are usually very diverse and all lots are not created equal. When RVing with kids you want to find a space that is safe and comfortable. This HotMama wants plenty of space for kids to run and play safely, beautiful surroundings and conveniently located to on-site activities. Sometimes you can’t have it all, but it worth the effort to try. This is a vacation and it is important to enjoy your spot.
Research campgrounds that are family-friendly. Many RV sites offer plenty of on-site activities such as, day time crafts, mini-golf, pools, Karaoke, dance parties and even holiday festivities. Know when things are happening, because they definitely add a certain level of excitement to camping trips.
Finding RV resorts in cities and towns that you want to explore makes for a very exciting weekend. When we camp at Mission Bay (link here) we like spend our day enjoying the different areas of San Diego (link here), like Old Town (link here), Seaport Village (link) or the Zoo (link). It definitely adds variety to your camp trip and everyone will be excited to gather around the campfire after a busy day of site-seeing.
That’s a Wrap
RVing with kids has been such a wonderful experience for our family. I went my whole life without ever having the desire to RV, but now I can’t imagine my life without it! It has afforded us priceless quality time together. It has given us amazing adventures. Most of all, RVing has given our kids memories that will last a life time.
Other helpful posts:
- Big Bear Shores RV Resort: HERE
- Newport Dunes : HERE
- Vail Lake Resort: HERE
- Mission Bay RV Resort: HERE
Have you ever been Rving?
What tips for Rving families can you share?