10 Tips for RV Living with Kids
It’s a dream for many – buying an RV for an extended road trip, exploring new destinations and seeing the sights. It may seem like something exclusively for single people or couples. Still, full-time RV life with kids is more than possible – it can be one of the most rewarding, enriching experiences a family can have together. But life on the road with kids does come with some potential pitfalls as well. So how do you make the most of RV living as a family? Here are some of our top tips.
1. Learn How To Downsize
Let’s start with what may be the most crucial tip of all. In almost every situation, your RV will have a significantly smaller living area than the home you and your kids currently share. It may be as little as 10-20% of your previous space in some cases! That means plenty of stuff will have to go or end up in storage, which can be expensive. But downsizing can also be an overwhelming process for some.
The best strategy is to start early. As you spend the months or years preparing to depart on your full-time RV adventure, your upcoming trip should inform essentially all your decisions regarding your stuff. When buying something new, consider if you really need that item or what you’d do with it when you move into the RV full-time. Meantime, approach your current stuff with a critical eye, one room at a time. By beginning the process early, you can take it slow and avoid the stress of making too many tough decisions at once.
KNOW YOUR RV
Are you traveling in a massive fifth wheel with multiple bedrooms and bathrooms? Or are you and the family getting cozy in a smaller Class C or travel trailer? Always keep in mind how much and the nature of space and storage in your RV, which will determine the extent of your downsizing. Other factors like the weight of your personal belongings may also come into consideration in some scenarios.
Don’t let yourself get overwhelmed by trying to figure out everything you need for life on the road at once. Instead, break things down into smaller groups and make lists of the essentials, along with items you’d like to bring along, if possible, from kitchen items to linens to school supplies. This can also be an excellent way to get your kids involved if they’re old enough, having them make lists of the personal items they’d like to bring along and teaching them to prioritize.
Once you’ve begun your trip, it’s crucial to ensure things stay in their places. This is for two reasons – first, to avoid cluttering up your tiny home, but also to be able to find items when you need them. It can be tough with kids prone to leaving things everywhere, but a little effort here will go a long way toward enjoying your life on the road.
INVEST IN STORAGE
One of the easiest ways to stay organized is to spend a few bucks on storage devices and systems that can dramatically improve your RV quality of life. These can range from in-closet systems to provide extra space for shoes or accessories to lightweight and easy-to-stow containers for toys or hobbies. You’re certainly not the first family to try to live in these kinds of small spaces, so chances are there’s a solution out there that will provide some significant help.
2. Bunk Room With A Door
When choosing your RV, picking the proper layout is crucial to making a transition with the family as smooth as possible. One of the ways you can do this is with a bunk room with a door. This allows the kids to have their own space – one where they can even get a bit of privacy behind an actual door, not just a curtain like many bunkhouse-style rigs offer. It’s a simple way to provide them with some normalcy despite taking your life on the road and otherwise close quarters.
3. FIND REMOTE WORK
Unless you’re lucky enough to have already found financial freedom, supporting yourself and your kids is always a requirement, no matter where you’re living. But full-time RV living can make this more complicated, thanks to your on-the-go lifestyle. To make things as easy and stable as possible, look for remote work that you can take care of from anywhere. Jobs range across many different fields and skillsets, providing opportunities for just about anyone. Some may require you to be at a “desk” for specific hours, while others offer even more flexibility in allowing you to work the hours of your choosing. You’ll typically need to have some internet connectivity. However, how powerful and reliable it needs to be will vary depending on the nature of your position.
4. School Your Way
Hitting the road full-time with your kids will naturally require taking them out of their current school. It’s crucial that they continue to learn new things, but you’ll be free to shape the curriculum and school work as needed to fit your life and your values. There are tons of books and online resources to help parents develop a school plan appropriate for a nomadic lifestyle, including networks of other RVing families. You know your kids best, and the freedom to tailor their education to them is exciting for many parents.
5. Teach Kids To Conserve
RV living means getting by with less, in many cases – less space, less water usage, less power. Teaching your kids to conserve is a great way to make life smoother on the road and ensure they become more conscious of their overall impact on the world’s resources. Start early, with easy requests like turning off lights when leaving a room or shutting off the water while brushing your teeth. Minor behavioral changes like these can have a significant impact on how often you’ll need to charge batteries, fill up and dump your tanks, and more.
It may feel like you should be on the go 24/7 while traveling full-time in your RV, especially initially. But not leaving some time to relax can result in a worse time for everyone involved, even if it means skipping an attraction here or there. Downtime is crucial, especially for kids who need plenty of time to rest and play. It’ll allow them to appreciate your travel experiences more while simultaneously helping maintain some sense of normalcy on the road.
7. One-on-One Time
While you may spend plenty of time together as an entire family, it’s important not to forget quality time one-on-one with both your kids and your partner. Relationships need nurturing even in less hectic situations than full-time RV traveling, and it’s even more true on the road. Set aside some time each week for playtime with the kids or a date or movie night with your partner. It’ll help not only your individual relationships but your family’s overall harmony as well.
It can be easy for things to become a little chaotic on the road. Without the structure of parents going to work and kids heading off to school, the entire family can struggle a bit with creating productive and fulfilling days. That’s where routines come in. The simple regularity provided to full-time families by things like eating breakfast together or regular bedtimes or activities can go a long way towards establishing that this is normal life, not one long vacation.
9. Meal Plan
Traveling and RVing can get a little hectic, especially on top of the burdens of working and schooling your kids. But it’s important not to let cooking fall by the wayside and end up paying for expensive restaurants or ordering unhealthy fast food. An easy way to ensure your family always has healthy, well-rounded food available is to meal plan and meal prep. Schedule some time each week to sit down and focus on the food for the days ahead, planning out your meal choices and when you’ll make them. It’s also an extremely helpful way to organize your grocery shopping, ensuring you don’t overbuy or forget key ingredients. If you like, you can even spend a few more hours meal prepping, preparing several large-batch dishes or sides at once. This means that come mealtime, they simply need to be reheated or served!
10. Visit Friends and Family
Even with your family, traveling full-time can feel a little lonely or isolating at times. That’s why it’s especially important to fit in some time for visiting those you care about in between the national parks, big cities, and other attractions. It’s a great way to both help your kids connect and make memories with family and friends and also give everyone a chance to have fun and socialize with people outside your travel group. Plus, connecting with people who live in the places you’re traveling to is one of the best ways to truly get to know a new destination, and it can help provide a place to stay outside of just another RV park.
Enjoy The Journey
When you’re dealing with navigating small spaces or entertaining the kids on rainy days, it can be easy to lose sight of just how incredible the full-time RV lifestyle is. You’re getting to travel around the country, seeing the sights and experiencing the adventure of the open road – and do it all with those you love most. It’s a crazy family adventure unlike anything most people will ever be lucky enough to experience. So, enjoy the journey, and know that by keeping these important tips in mind, your kids and family should too!