The RV industry experienced another boom year during 2019 and it's not surprising that so many families are turning to this vacation style lately.
After all, a family of four can save up to 27-62% on vacation costs when they undertake an RV holiday.
So if you're keen to try this popular and affordable vacation style, check out our top ten RV tips for an unforgettable family getaway in the great outdoors.
1. Packing for Your RV Adventure
Getting the balance right when packing can be something of a mystery for RV newbies. Some people throw a couple of outfits in a bag and off they go while others wrap and inventory every item.
Ideally, you need to find a balance somewhere in between these two extremes. Here's some guidance to help you get there:
- Pack clothing that children can wear in layers
- Always take extra towels and one or two extra outfits
- Include a basic first aid kit including those items that you use often at home
- Be sure to bring some favorite familiar items like pillows and blankets
- Get the kids involved in packing
- Let them choose a few toys to take along
- Include some games and books for rainy days
There aren't any hard and fast rules for packing perfectly. Stick to these basics and you'll be off to a great start.
After a few trips, you'll fall into the easy rhythm of a system that works best for your family. Once you've found that sweet spot, stick to it religiously.
2. Get Your RV in Order
If you don’t own an RV, it's a good idea to rent one first so you can decide if the RV lifestyle is for you before you buy your own.
One thing you need in a family RV is space. While you probably won't spend a lot of time inside, you don't want to be too cramped when you do.
Enough space for everyone to sleep in comfort is a must. Bunk beds or fold-out beds are perfectly fine for children while you'll want a private bedroom where you can enjoy a little privacy now and again.
A kitchen and a bathroom are vital when you're traveling with children and you can never have too much storage space either.
3. Extra Items
Bring some everyday essentials from home. A slow cooker is ideal for a quick and easy supper after days spent out in nature.
Remember a coffee pot or campfire kettle for making morning coffee over the fire. A rechargeable portable blender is great if you prefer a smoothie to start your day.
An RV with a TV can be a real lifesaver when skies are grey and a large area mat that you can place outside your RV doubles as a playmat.
It also doubles as a way to keep dirt on the outside of your living spaces. A mini convertible vacuum is a win for cleaning up small spills.
You'll need disposable gloves for unsavory duties like emptying your grey and black water tanks.
4. Choosing the Perfect Campsite
When you're traveling solo or as a couple, freewheeling wherever the wind blows is a wonderful way to travel - not so much when you've got children in tow. For family travels, it's best to book your RV campsite well in advance.
The first step is choosing a destination that suits all ages.
You should also look for campsites that are within easy reach of all the things you want to see and do during your trip. Long drives in between stops can get rather trying when you've got active little minds and bodies to consider.
Take everyone's interests into consideration. Would you prefer somewhere with plenty of wide-open spaces, hikes, and trails, or a more sociable spot with lots of amenities like playgrounds and children's activities?
Once you've got a location, search for campsites that cater specifically to RV and travel trailer camping. These places will usually have electrical hookups, water on tap, somewhere to empty your chemical toilet, and refilling stations for gas bottles.
Other important factors to consider include whether the campsites offer the following:
- Level, grassy sites
- Somewhere to make a campfire
- A campfire cooking grate
- A communal wash area
These aspects will affect what you need to bring from home, so be sure to check in advance.
As a final check, reviews about campsites in your chosen area are a great way to find out about other people's experiences. You could also pick up some more tips and tricks for your stay while reading these.
5. Planning Your Road Trip
Plan so that you have enough time to enjoy the sights and activities wherever you're going but also set aside some time for free play.
Bikes are great for active children who want to explore under their own steam, but you should also bring some games for the family to enjoy together.
Outdoor games are great fun and a pack of cards is great for passing the time at night.
If you're bringing your dog along for the trip, remember to bring a leash so they can join in on walks and hikes. You should also pack their basket and blankets as well as all their health certificates, you never know when you may need them.
It's important to consider other campers when you're out and about with a pet, so don't forget to bring some bags for cleaning up after them too.
6. RV Tips for Family Meals
Campfire cookouts are one of the best parts of camping. Try to prepare all of your meals on the fire if you can.
Children can join in cooking some of the items like hotdogs and help make s' mores for dessert afterward. Cooking together over an open fire is one of the best opportunities for family bonding.
Learn how to make some of your children's familiar favorites al fresco, it's the best way to keep fussy eaters fed when you're away from home.
Some of the items you'll need for awesome fireside feeding frenzies include:
- A Dutch Oven
- BBQ tools and tongs
- A heavy-duty grill
- Cast iron or aluminum pots and pans
- Campfire tripod
- Marshmallow roasting sticks
- A round pie iron
- A Folding table
Don't forget that bugs are an unfortunate side-effect of outdoor cooking so be sure to pack a mosquito lamp or anti-mosquito bracelets. Solar-powered string lights are awesome for lighting up your outdoor living areas without destroying the outdoor ambiance.
7. Travel Light
The more stuff you take along on your RV trip, the more fuel you're going to burn along the way. So, it makes sense to trim down where you can.
There are two ways to cut down on excess weight if you'd rather not skimp on a few luxuries, extra clothing, and things for your kids to enjoy.
Firstly, don't carry extra water with you. Empty your RV's tanks before you leave, you can fill them on arrival at your campsite. A gallon of water weighs 8.3 lbs and most RV tanks hold between 20 and 100 gallons of water.
By all means, carry some water for emergencies, but there's no reason to lug full tanks of water to your first stop.
The same applies to your gray water and waste tanks. Emptying them before you leave can shave hundreds of pounds off the total weight of your rig.
8. Set Some Ground Rules
A family meeting before departure can ensure that everyone has a great time during your RV vacation. Set up a roster for cleaning, washing up and other general duties.
Not only will this take a load off the adults, but it's also a good way to teach your children responsibility. Small living spaces get untidy fast, and having everyone on board with keeping things tidy will save you a lot of the stress that comes with clutter.
Every campground has certain rules. Read them out to your children as soon as you arrive and explain the boundaries to them.
These campground rules are set up to ensure everyone has an enjoyable and safe stay, so it's important that your children are aware of them.
Make More Amazing Memories
When it comes to RVing with your family, practice makes perfect. Yet, it's often the imperfections that make for the most memorable camping trips.
The more you head off into the wilderness with your RV in tow, the easier it becomes.
If you want to avoid any unpleasant surprises, the best advice on camping for beginners is to do a trial run. Set up camp in your yard and spend a night there. You'll soon realize which essential items you've forgotten to pack.
Keep reading our blog for more camping and RV tips and tricks and be sure to visit our online store for a host of handy gadgets and goodies to make your outdoor life easier.