Tips For Planning Your Family’s RV Travel Days

RV Travel Day With Kids

My husband, Travis, and I have been RVing for almost nine years, and it seems that within those years we’ve gone through so many different phases. We’ve transitioned from a class-C motorhome to a travel trailer, and now we love the comforts of traveling in our 40-foot, class-A motorhome. In between all of the rig changes, we grew our family from three people to four when we welcomed our youngest son, Decklin, to the world in 2016. I would say that, by far, this was the biggest adjustment we had to make as he travels completely different from what we were used to with our first son, Gabriel.

Having small children seems to add an extra layer of stress on almost any situation where you need to get things done, and travel days are no exception. You have to pack up your RV, inside and out, pull in your slides (if you have them), put items away, situate the kids and then keep them properly entertained throughout the day. They will be hungry. They will be bored. And they will need to go to the bathroom—a lot. Being prepared and setting expectations will go a long way for your mental sanity, so I’ve put together some tips we use on travel days that make life a little easier for us. Whether you’re driving in a vehicle or a motorhome, I hope they will help you, too.

Limit Your RV Travel Time

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We’ve found that traveling no more than 250 to 300 miles in one day is our sweet spot. We generally leave our camping area around 9:00 a.m. Then, after all of the stops and unexpected slowdowns, we generally arrive to our final destination by 3:00 p.m. If for any reason we find ourselves traveling further, we arrive exhausted, and the kids tend to go a little crazy from being in their car seats all day.

Plan Your Travel Day Ahead of Time

We usually plan our travel day one day in advance. We check Google maps for the best route to our next destination and how many miles we anticipate traveling, along with estimated hours to arrival (we always add an hour to what Google tells us, because #rvlife). If you’re planning to stay in a campground, it helps to make a reservation, or research your options so you can make a quick decision the next day. The same applies for boondocking. I highly recommend scouting options online using reliable resources such as Campendium.com.

Kids Can Help Pack Your RV

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Kids always want to lend a helping hand, and, of course, they usually want to be doing what you’re doing. I think we can all agree that, while it’s adorable that they want to help, most of the time they’re not really helping. Think through your routine and pick out a few things they can help with and do those first. In our case, I will keep the boys inside with me while Travis packs the outside. I let them help with cleaning up their sleeping area, rolling up our rugs and pushing the buttons to bring in the slides. Once we finish with those duties, they know to buckle up in their car seats, and I’ll finish putting everything else in its place. This allows you to foster their helping spirit while still getting tasks done.

Road Snacks are Important!

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Having healthy snack options prepared ahead of time is always a lifesaver while we’re going down the road. In our case, we have a bin filled with a variety of snack options in a storage area above where the boys sit. If they get hungry, they’ll have options from which to choose. I recommend high-protein snacks if you want to avoid constantly snacking throughout the day.

Plan Your Road Trip Entertainment

Another lifesaver is having games and movies preloaded onto iPads for them to enjoy during the trip and, of course, headphones. We find that, if they are both watching a different movie, it can get loud if they’re not wearing them. If you want to avoid technology overload, there are travel trays you can buy online that attach to their car seat for other activities such as coloring.

Don't Sweat the Small Stuff!

My last piece of advice is to stay positive. Try not to sweat the small stuff if things go wrong during your travel day. From time to time, unexpected mishaps may cause you to run into delays. When this happens, try to step back and remember why you started RVing in the first place. Once you’re soaking in the adventure with your family at your next destination, it will all seem like a distant memory.

This article was originally published in the July/August 2019 issue of Escapees magazine. Your advice for RVing with children could appear in a future “Camping Kids” column! Send tips for organization, storage, safety, socialization or other aspects of traveling with children to melaniecarr@escapees.com.

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Author

Melanie Carr SKP #8

Melanie is vice president of Escapees RV Club and co-founder of the Xscapers lifestyle group. She has been RVing with her husband and two sons since 2011, but was introduced to the lifestyle at an early age through family vacations. 

Wanderlust and travel have always played a large role in her life. 

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