Getting ready for a road trip with your kids? Maybe you’re thinking of a long weekend excursion or something a little more ambitious, like an itinerary covering several weeks.
The adventure can be an incredible bonding experience, or it can quickly turn into a test of your patience as kids express their impatience with lengthy car rides and seatbelts. You might wonder how other families manage it, or if you’ve missed some crucial tricks. Fear not; many of the challenges you face can be easily conquered with a bit of advance planning.
Here, we’ve curated a set of invaluable tips to ensure your family camping adventures are as enjoyable as possible. Starting with pre-trip planning, we’ll guide you through strategies for on-the-road sanity and how to maintain peace at your destination.
Benjamin Franklin once said, “If you fail to plan, you are planning to fail.” This wisdom holds especially true for family road trips and campground stays. The trick is to plan ahead, but at the same time, be flexible. Have a Plan B for unexpected setbacks such as weather events, road delays, or disruptions to planned recreational activities. It’s always good to know where you can get service for your RV along the way as a precaution.
Before hitting the road, it’s essential to establish ground rules with the kiddos. When you’re towing a camper, you need to be even more focused than usual on what is happening on the road. That can be easier said than done when the kids are bickering with each other or complaining about being confined in a vehicle.
Children’s Hospital Colorado has some great advice in this post, starting with establishing ground rules before you leave home coupled with appropriate consequences for when they break them. If their behavior is getting out of control, find a safe place to pull over, rather than trying to discipline them while driving.
Ideally, however, you want to stop the problem before it starts. One way to tackle boredom and restlessness is to introduce classic road trip games that the kids can enjoy, with or without adult assistance. Check out this post for ideas!
Make the journey a part of the fun by selecting rest stops that not only allow your kids to expend pent-up energy but also provide educational opportunities. USA Rest Stop Locator, Rest Stops Ahead, Rest Stops Plus, and iExit apps can help you find the next place to stop when someone has to go. Or visit the Interstate Rest Areas or US Rest Areas websites.
Children’s needs differ according to their ages, so base your breaks on their specific requirements. Younger children may require more frequent stops for bathroom visits and leg stretches, while older kids can often manage longer intervals between breaks. RV Magazine recommends planning for three to four hours a day for younger children and approximately eight hours for older ones.
Make the most of these intermissions by taking advantage of on-site play areas or bringing along simple games to keep the kids entertained, such as a ball or ring toss. Campanda suggests having at least one “activity stop” per day, which can be anything from visiting scenic viewpoints and roadside attractions to exploring children’s museums. Build extra time into your journey to allow for these and any interesting locations you see along the way that look worth checking out.
Another way to reduce the “antsy factor” is rotating where the kids are in the vehicle. Make sure each child gets a turn at the window seat or, if age-appropriate, a place up front, and then change the seating arrangement after a predetermined time.
Alternatively, let the kids play navigator. Give them each a map that shows the planned route and encourage them to highlight the highways you’re following.
Destination Rules and Regs
When choosing campgrounds, prioritize family-friendly ones such as those that offer play areas for children. Good Sam, Campendium, Go RVing, and RoverPass are useful sites to help with your research. Campanda recommends contacting the campground to ask what site would be best for a family your size and how kids can play safely in the area.
Then, if possible, reserve your campsite so it’s close to the play area. If your children have particular interests or hobbies, search for locations near the campground where they can explore.
Set clear campground rules in advance, discussing safety precautions with your children. The Southern Glamper, Reserve America and The RV Atlas provide practical advice on common-sense safety guidelines for you to review with your children. Additionally, understand the campground policies and ensure your children are aware of and adhere to them.
Review camper safety rules and explain what the various alarms mean and what kids should do (and not do) if a fire or CO alarm sounds. ducate your children about site safety, instructing them on what to do during severe weather events, accidents, health emergencies, and how to contact emergency services. Teach them basic first aid principles and acquaint them with the location of first aid supplies.
Finally, don’t overbook your calendar. Balance activities with downtime, and strike a balance between engaging experiences and downtime. If possible, maintain consistent bedtime schedules for younger children, reducing the likelihood of crankiness due to exhaustion. When kids are overtired, they get cranky. And that’s no fun for anyone!
Need a camper fit for a family?
nuCamp’s TAB 400 is the perfect home on wheels for family road trips. It houses a hidden bunk — there when you need it and hidden in plain sight when you don’t. The top bunk measures 31 inches wide and 58 inches long, while the bottom bunk measures 22 inches wide and 65 inches long, with the top bunk able to handle up to 200 pounds.
The addition of this hidden bunk in 2023 was a response to the booming RV industry during the pandemic, coupled with shifts in the demographic of new RV customers. According to CEO Scott Hubble, this design change aimed to meet the demands of young families and grandparents seeking a spacious teardrop camper that can accommodate a family of four.
The hidden bunk allows everyone to enjoy their downtime during the day and ensures a good night’s sleep, keeping everyone refreshed for the next day’s adventures.