Traveling in an RV with your family is a wonderful way to bond, whether you are having a weekend getaway or embarking on a year-long adventure.
But there’s always more to family RV camping than fun and games, and the right preparation can be the difference between making cherished memories or a disaster.
Come along and find out the 30 best RV camping tips for families that’ll help get you ready for your next adventure!
Before You Go
1. Have the right size RV
Nothing ruins a family road trip in a camper faster than having no space to move. Sleeping, eating, bad weather, or bugs will keep you inside more than you may think. Make sure there’s plenty of space for everyone to relax comfortably.
2. Set expectations
Gather your family and discuss general rules for the trip. Who is going to wash the dishes? Who is responsible for keeping the outdoor space neat? When everyone knows and agrees about what you expect of them, there’ll be less complaining and confusion later.
3. Make necessary reservations
Rving is becoming more and more popular every year. Campgrounds fill up fast, especially ones that offer family activities onsite. Make campground reservations as far in advance as possible. “Winging it” does work out sometimes, but when you’re traveling with kids knowing exactly where you’re heading is way less stressful.
4. Go over campground etiquette
Explain the basic rules of behavior so everyone knows how to be respectful of other guests and their campsites.
5. Read over campground rules
Don’t assume every park’s rules are the same because they are not. Read the rules specific to campgrounds you may book. Some may not allow pets or parking of boats or trailers. Still unsure? Place a call directly to the campground and ask.
6. Get everyone’s input
Allow each family member to choose a local excursion or favorite activity. When everyone knows they’ll be doing at least one thing they really enjoy, the trip becomes more exciting. It’s amazing how much more patient my kids are touring a museum when they know their choice to go canoeing is on the agenda.
7. Join family RVing online groups
Use this resource to get up-to-the-minute information on things like the campground pool being shut down for repairs or a little-known local attraction that is a must-do. Post questions about RVing in the area you are planning to visit, and friendly RV enthusiasts will share all the insider information they have.
8. Don’t overlook county, state, and national parks
Visit the National Park Service or state parks online to find kid-friendly trip destinations that accommodate RV camping. My family is a fan of state parks that tend to be quiet and have plenty of trails for walking or biking.
9. Research local wildlife dangers
The excitement of a new destination can quickly deteriorate if the local wildlife could cause a hazard. Learn what critters to expect at each RV stop so you can look out for dangerous wildlife like alligators, snakes, or spiders. Even cute armadillos carry leprosy. The more your family knows, the safer they’ll be.
10. Consider the off-season
If you have the flexibility for your family RV trip, look into off-season times when you can get more bang for your buck. Campgrounds in the South tend to be less expensive in September and October and in April through mid-May. Better yet, the tourists are gone, which means fewer crowds at the campground, beach, parks, shops, and restaurants.
11. Traveling with pets?
Make sure to choose dog-friendly RV parks that have suitable walking paths or fenced play areas. Ask about rules like whether you can put up a dog fence on the patio or how many pets are allowed. Don’t forget pets need their own space inside the RV, so plan for it just as you would for the members of your family.
12. Bring a friend
There are instances where you should consider letting your children bring a friend along on your RV trip. If siblings have a large age gap, they may not want to hang with each other. Only children may appreciate experiencing things with a peer and not just their parents. If your RV is big enough, and you think your child will be happier to have a friend along, do so. Trust me; when your kids are happy, the whole trip is less stressful for everyone!
Recommended Extra Items
13. Large Area Mat
Having a large outdoor mat that you can place outside your RV is a great way to help keep the dirt outside. Additionally, it makes for a great place to set up some chairs and enjoy the outdoors. This is also a great area for little kids to play and it helps to keep them a little cleaner.
14. Disposable Gloves
Bring a box of disposable gloves. They will come in handy in multiple situations but you most definitely want to use them when emptying your grey and black tank. It doesn’t always happen but if some of the waste happens to splash on your hands, you’ll be very glad you were wearing gloves.
15. Small Convertable Vacuum
Bring a small vacuum, like this one. You’ll be happy to have a way to clean up your floors. Additionally, this vacuum can convert into a small hand vacuum. which makes it super easy to clean the seats, beds, and counters.
16. Folding Table
Having a folding table is a great way to help make your outdoor space feel more like a living space. It will also come in very handy when having meals outdoors. It makes it a lot easier to eat outside and spend time enjoying nature.
17. Solar Lights
Solar lights are a great way to light your outdoor living space. Additionally, they help you minimize your electricity use and extend the life of your batteries. We really like these solar string lights. You can hang them around the outside of your awning. They provide a good amount of light without being overwhelming.
18. Containment is key
Adults and kids each need a bin or space to keep personal belongings from going astray. Bins like these are a great way to keep things organized. Label each bin so everyone knows when its time to put things away where it goes. RVs are small, so keep each person’s “stuff” to a minimum. Our family rule is if it won’t fit in the bin, it doesn’t come along.
19. Food storage
I quit overstocking food in the RV before leaving on family trips. Why? First of all, food is heavy — no need to haul extra poundage down the highways. Second, there aren’t many places where a grocery store is out of reach. I like to distract antsy kids by taking them to local stores. They always find them to be unusually interesting, and I let them choose a few items. I typically pack enough provisions to last three days unless we are going seriously off-grid to camp.
Limit clothing and choose fabrics wisely to alleviate unnecessary laundry duties. Bring clothes you can layer up for warmth. Go with fabrics that won’t wrinkle, and you can wear several times before needing a wash. A few outfits go along way as long as each family member brought plenty of underwear.
21. Corral shoes and dirt
Bring a bin that can slide under your RV next to the steps. Keep it outside while at the campsite. Have a good mat to wipe feet, then kick off shoes into the bin before entering RV. This trick keeps the dirt and pile of shoes out of your camper. Push the bin under the camper to keep your campsite looking tidy, and the shoes dry during unexpected rains.
On The Road and Local Sights
22. Obey the seatbelt laws
All seat belt laws apply, even in a motorhome, so don’t let kids run about your camper while in motion.
23. Slow down
Being in a rush will ruin a trip. Accidents with the RV are more likely to happen. Expect problems, because RV trips rarely go off without a hitch, but try not to stress about it. Allow plenty of time to take in unexpected experiences and enjoy the journey with your family.
24. Bring learning to life
Wherever possible, tie in subjects your children have learned about in school with local attractions. Have them look at a real map and suggest routes to get to your destination. Make a note of changes in temperature, foliage, elevation, or even local accents of people in the areas you visit.
At The Campground
25. Set safety in motion
Many people think once they hit a campground its time to relax and lets the kids roam. Sit everyone down and go over safety rules for walks, bathroom/shower visits, pool, playground, etc. My experience has shown that all types of campgrounds can have unsavory guests that get drunk and become troublesome or are just creepy. Always make sure your family members use safety precautions and are vigilant of their surroundings.
26. Divvy up mealtime duties
Set up a schedule so family members take turns choosing and help to prep/cook meals so everyone can have their favorite. Meals in a crockpot, instapot, or grilling outdoors are quick and easy. Let little kids help make fun desserts or use the campfire for smores.
27. Limit electronic usage
Adults and kids should try turning off or reducing the use of electronics like cell phones and Ipads. Save them as a treat for travel or rainy days. Unplugging opens the door to thinking up new ways to entertain the family.
28. Prep shower caddies
Keep all shower supplies (cheap flip-flops, shampoo, conditioner, razors, soap, etc.), in a handled basket/shower caddy ready for use at shower houses to make it easy to grab-n-go.
29. Keep a stash of inexpensive inflatables
I found this tip invaluable in many instances. I pick up float rings and mats on sale at the end of the summer season and keep them in a bin. They are great for pools and beaches but also for chilling around the campfire or for extra bedding on the RV floor for movie night. Invest in a small battery-operated or rechargeable air compressor to inflate and deflate items fast.
30. Campsite parking rule
When moving your RV into or out of sites always pick a safe location for other family members to remain until you give them the all-clear. This trick avoids distractions for the driver or accidentally backing into a child running about the site.
31. Make friends
Encourage social skills by making new friends with fellow campers, which is especially great for shy kids. Chat up neighbors with kids the same age as yours, and soon enough, the kids will interact since you have broken the ice. My kids now seek out other children at every campground and have friends from all over the country with whom they stay in touch.
32. Have decompression time every day
Take 30 minutes or so every day and have each family member spend time reading a book, daydreaming, or grabbing a quick nap. I find this quiet time calms nerves from being in such a close proximity 24/7 and recharges the family for more fun.
33. Test out boondocking
Before you take your family off-grid camping, take part of a day and unplug at your campground (or in your driveway) and let everyone see what camping is like with little or no power. Let the kids see how people “used to live.” Bring out the board games and light some candles. Think up ways to work through daily tasks like cooking or showering. You may find it unbearable, or it can be a fun challenge, either way, it’s a good way to test the waters.
34. Have a back-up plan
You never know when a campground will lose power, a storm floods your campsite, or your RV breaks down. Have a stash of cash and phone numbers of local repair services, hotels, and car rentals in case of emergency. Hopefully, you never need to use your back-up plan, but having one will give you peace of mind.
35. Learn from other campers
I can’t tell you how many times I learned something new from fellow campers. Whether it was an RV maintenance tip, an amazing restaurant, a little known hiking trail, or the best fishing hole, it made my RVing life just a little better. I also learned things to avoid by hearing horror stories about trips gone wrong. Keep an open ear and mind to other camping guests; you never know what you can learn.
RVing with your family provides a chance to strengthen connections by focusing on teamwork and enjoying new experiences. Trips like this create the memories everyone will cherish for a lifetime.
I hope using the RVing tips above make your next trip much more manageable, and it encourages a new family tradition of camping and RV travel!