If you’re new to the RV lifestyle, you’ll find that family camping experiences create special bonds and priceless memories that last a lifetime. If your childhood included camping with your family, you know that your children and grandchildren will treasure memories of camping with you!
In planning your camping trip, ask the children what activities they’d enjoy on the trip and what kinds of places they want to see. If they prefer beaches, mountains, hiking, swimming, Civil War sites, national parks, historic monuments, sporting events, fishing, theme parks or anything else, you can plan accordingly. You can have each child choose something that they want to do and involve them in the planning. Then you can research campgrounds that are kid-friendly with activities they will enjoy.
If your children or grandchildren have never traveled or camped in an RV, it may be helpful to spend a night in the RV before you leave home. They can get used to it and will feel more comfortable on their first trip.
When packing for children, it’s good to bring clothes that are durable, easy to wash and dry and can be layered. Take healthy snacks and minimize those that create crumbs and are sticky. Let the children pick out favorite toys and books.
If possible, give each child a place of his or her own in the RV. Also give them each a place to keep their belongings. Teach them to pick up after themselves and put their things away each day. When converting dinettes and sofas to beds, it’s easier to use sleeping bags than to make up beds each day. You can get sleeping bags equipped with removable sheets that you can wash. Or you can attach your own removable sheets inside sleeping bags. If they can manage, the kids can roll up and put away their own sleeping bags in the morning.
You can give the children maps or atlases and teach them to follow your route as you drive. They may enjoy learning about places you’ll pass along the way and how far it is from one destination to the next. A journal or notebook and a camera (even a disposable camera) will give them a way to record their travel experiences, new friends and acquaintances and favorite sights.
While riding in a motorhome or tow vehicle, seatbelts must be worn. The children can enjoy games, music, DVDs, toys, etc. as long as they’re fastened in while traveling. There are many games you can play while en route such as license plate games, alphabet games, geography, etc. It’s good to stop every two or three hours so everyone can get out, stretch and use the bathroom.
When you reach a campground, your children may enjoy helping you set up your RV. It makes them feel good to help. Then they’ll enjoy exploring the campground, going swimming, playing ball, meeting other children, going on a hayride and whatever other activities are available. In the evening, the campground may show movies, have roasted marshmallows around a campfire, sing-alongs, stories, games, etc. It’s easy for the children (and adults) to make friends as everybody is there for the same purpose.
Your children may enjoy sleeping outside in a sleeping bag. A great way to do this is to attach a screened in room to your extended awning. The screened in room also comes in handy when you’re eating or sitting outside.
Some campgrounds have organized activities for children throughout the day. Others are quiet and give families opportunities to enjoy the area on their own. There are many Junior Ranger programs for kids in state and federal parks. These give children a great opportunity to learn about history and nature and to earn a badge.
Go Camping America’s website has a kids corner with games, recipes for kids, information about animals and bugs, safety information and more. It’s a great resource!
Some other resources are:
Many states have Junior Ranger programs. Here is the site for Maryland’s program.
Here is the site for Georgia’s Junior Ranger program. You can search for others on the internet.
Your family will have a great time, you will share experiences that you never would have if you traveled by plane and stayed in hotels and you won’t have to spend a lot of money! Your children or grandchildren will always remember these special times!