RVing Kids Making Friends on the Road

“I’m bored!” “There’s nothing to do!” “There’s no one to play with!”
Most parents are familiar with these words. If you plan to live or travel extensively in an RV, you might be worried that these words will be a daily source of stress and anxiety for your family. You’re not alone. The good news is that there are many ways to make sure your kids will make and keep lasting friendships while you are traveling.
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Where to find other RVing families

When my family and I hit the road 6 years ago, we struggled to meet other full-time traveling families for an entire year. I don’t want to sound dramatic, but we went into panic mode, wondering if we had made a huge mistake by becoming full-time RVers. 

Eventually, we discovered that meeting other traveling families was only a matter of being in the right place at the right time. Like most full-time RVers, families have a pretty predictable method of travel. With a few exceptions, you will find most families in warm locations for winter and more northern locations for summer. Certain events around the country, such as the Albuquerque Balloon Fiesta, WinterBlast in Lake Havasu, or AirVenture in Oshkosh, undoubtedly will have families flocking to the area. Major attractions, such as Yellowstone National Park and Disney, are places you will find many traveling families during certain times of the year.

You will also find that the campgrounds you choose to stay in will have an impact on whether you run into other families or not. If you choose a small county park that not many people have heard of or an age qualified resort, for example, your children may very well be the only youngsters running around. Many traveling families choose to utilize campground memberships, like Thousand Trails, because of how cost effective it is. There are campgrounds within these membership systems that are just brimming with families at certain times of the year. 

How to connect with other RVing families

But, how do you find out which areas of the country, and which campgrounds, families are migrating to? This is where social media comes into play.

There are several Facebook groups specifically geared towards traveling families. Its not uncommon to see posts announcing an area a family is headed to and asking if other families are in, or headed to, that same area. Some of these groups are free and member generated. Others are created and run by RVing organizations and are only accessible by paid members.

If you are not a Facebook user, don’t worry. You can also find traveling families on other social media platforms like Instagram. It’s a little more work, but, by searching specific hashtags, you might find other families that are headed in the same direction as you. Don’t be afraid to shoot them a message and see if they are interested in a meetup.

Where to meet several RVing families at once

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If meeting a bunch of families all at once and having a schedule of activities to break the ice is more your style, your family will probably benefit from attending events whose sole purpose is just that.

Xscapers, which is the group within Escapees that caters to working age RVers, has gatherings called convergences. You will often find that, since most full-time traveling families have a parent or parents of working age, convergences will have lots of children running around and meeting new friends.

Nomadic Families, which is also a part of Escapees and caters specifically to members traveling with children, also hosts informal meetups throughout the year.  Attendees are almost exclusively full-time traveling families, and your kiddos will certainly meet many other children at these events.

Look, a sticker! Let’s go say hi!

All of the things I have mentioned so far are intentional ways to put yourselves in the best locations possible to meet other traveling families, but, sometimes, fate will do the hard work for you.

Some of my family’s closest friends were met in the most unusual and random of places. There was the time a total stranger knocked on our door in a casino parking lot. Then, there was the time we just so happened to park next to another traveling family in a tiny RV park in the middle of nowhere and our kids hit it off so fast that they had a tent camp out together that same night. Why did we get a knock on our door? How did we know we were parked next to another full-timing family?

Well, if you’re reading this, you are probably an Escapees member and have an Escapees sticker stuck somewhere on the outside of your rig. Most RV membership clubs provide you with a sticker for that purpose. Some even offer items for sale, such as apparel or lawn flags, that bear the name of the organization. Keep an eye out for those stickers and other items and you just might find that you’re parked next to a friend that you just haven’t met yet! Knock on their door and strike up a conversation.

If your children are anything like mine, once they see another kiddo coming out of a rig that is branded with a familiar sticker, it gives them a great conversation starter and they will likely be instant friends. Let the hole digging, fort building, and board game playing commence!

Helping your RV kids stay in touch with new friends

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Now that your children have made some friends, keeping close with those friends can be a challenge.

Sometimes, your children will hit it off so well with someone else that they don’t want to part ways. If your family has the flexibility to travel with another family for a bit, there will surely be some fun and beautiful memories made.

At some point, though, your lives may temporarily go separate directions and helping your children through the intricacies of a long-distance friendship will ensure that they don’t feel like they lost a friend they just made. Nowadays, our kids are lucky enough to have technology that puts their friends just at the end of their fingertips. With a little help from you, your children can video message, text message, and call their friends.

Don’t forget, kids can also spend virtual time together through social media, online gaming, and watching movies together online in real time, all from the comfort of your couch. If the year 2020 has taught us anything, its that distance can’t keep friends apart. It’s heartwarming to hear the giggles and squeals of your kids chatting up several of their friends on a zoom call, all from different corners of the country, yet sounding like they haven’t spent a day apart.

Does all of the info above sound a little overwhelming? It’s good to know about and leave all options open, but, let’s be honest here, most kids don’t really need that much help seeking out other kids. Many times, my children have watched another RV pull into our campground and remark “there’s kids’ bikes on the back!” or “I saw kids inside!” and then they are off to meet them. Before long, you’ll find your kids will have friends all across the country and the days of wondering how they will ever make friends on the road will be a distant memory.

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Erica Thomas SKP#

Erica Thomas is a stay-at-home homeschooling mom who has been a full-time RVer, along with her husband and 6 children, for 6 years. Together, they have traveled with their RV to 46 states and 2 countries. Erica has hosted a number of events and administrated several Facebook groups to facilitate connecting fulltime traveling families. She is a co-leader of the Nomadic Families Birds of a Feather group which can be found at www.facebook.com/groups/nomadicfamilies .

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