Many parents have fond memories of camping and exploring the great outdoors as children, and they look forward to passing their passion for travel along to their kids – and renting an RV is a great way to do that. Bringing your children along on your adventures does require some extra planning and preparation, as they are likely to have special needs that your average adult traveller doesn’t. With that in mind, we put together a list of tips on keeping your family trip safe, comfortable and enjoyable for travellers of all sizes.
Include the kids in planning
For kids – especially older kids – who have never been camping or RVing before, getting buy-in can sometimes be a challenge. Getting them on board with the idea of an RV trip is much easier when you ask them what they want. Include your children in research on potential destinations and help them come up with a list of attractions they’d like to experience. Take some time with your little ones to browse websites and blogs about the cities and parks you’ll be stopping in on your travels. Build anticipation of the trip by talking about the sights and experiences they can look forward to.
Seatbelts on, everybody
If you’re travelling in a motorhome, it’s just as important (if not more important) for kids to buckle up as it is in your car or truck. Never let them move about the vehicle while it’s in motion.
People tend to think of motorhomes like buses, but motorhomes are not built to the same standards. RVs have a longer stopping distance, manoeuvre differently and take longer to avoid road hazards than smaller vehicles.
If you are bringing young children along, be sure to ask in advance whether there is a forward-facing seat with a seatbelt appropriate for use with your car seat or booster seat. It’s best to bring your own as you know how to fasten it correctly, and know the fit will be correct. If you are arriving at your point of road trip departure by plane, know that most airlines will let you check a car seat with your luggage, free of charge.
Try shorter travel days
Cruising down the road with the breeze in your hair and your tunes on is a road trip fantasy for many adults, but kids tend to have a lot less stamina for travel than their parents.
Long travel days can be tiring, confining and uncomfortable for even the most patient young ones. 3-4 hours a day is the most you should ask of younger kids, though older ones may be able to last up to 8 hours. Plan your travel schedule with a slower pace in mind to allow plenty of time for snack stops, stretches and potty breaks. If kids are becoming fussy and starting fights, it may be easier to stop and let them burn off some energy, or distract them with an unscheduled roadside attraction break, than to drive through the whining.
Choose family-friendly campgrounds
When it comes to your campground, there are definitely some places that are more kid-friendly than others, so do your research in advance.
On days with good weather, your kids are going to want to explore outside so make sure the campground has fun and safe outdoor activities for them. Look for campgrounds with pools, games areas and playgrounds. Seek out those near parks, especially those with climbing gyms, mild hiking trails, bike & skateboard parks and other child-friendly attractions. Many tourist areas have RV parks that are close to popular attractions such as mini-golf courses, museums and aquariums (and many of these activities are great on rainy days too).
Before you book your site, read online reviews to find out the experiences of other families with kids – was the campground welcoming, safe and clean? When it comes to bedtime, campgrounds with nighttime noise restrictions are your best bet for a peaceful sleep.
Plan your meals & snacks
If there’s one thing besides sleep deprivation that will send kids into tantrum mode on a trip, it’s low blood sugar. Keep your RV and your day bag packed with healthy snacks to avoid hangry meltdowns. Consider planning and shopping for quick and easy-to-make meals in advance, and eating on a schedule to keep little bellies full.
Of course, it’s important to leave room for special treats! If you’re going to eat at restaurants on your trip, read some reviews in advance. That way you’ll discover if your chosen venue is a family restaurant or more adult-oriented, and whether it offers kids’ menus, crayons and paper, booster seats, and other kid-friendly amenities.
Don’t forget one of the biggest joys of camp cooking – wiener roasts and smores! Kids love sticking food on sticks and watching the flames lick at their food. You might have a few pieces of food lost to the fire, but isn’t that part of the fun? Before sparking up your cooking fire, make sure you check for campfire bans in your area. Remember to never leave kids unattended near a fire, and be sure to fully extinguish the fire before you head inside your RV for the night.
Bring the fun with you
There are going to be times on your trip when your kids are going to have to wait, and kids are notoriously bad at that. On long drives or rainy days, make sure you have enough indoor entertainment options to keep them busy. Travel games (like travel bingo) and board games are classic choices. A deck of cards can be used for many games and takes up very little space. Curling up with a hot chocolate and a pile of books is a perfect way to spend a rainy day. Many RVs also offer entertainment options like built-in stereos or TVs perfect for kids music and movies.
Remember the 3 S’s: space, storage and safety
Space: Compare the floor space available in your chosen RVs. On rainy days, you’ll appreciate having rented something with plenty of space for kids to move and play. Separate rooms or divided sleeping areas are also very useful for helping your children get to sleep more easily – and having a separate master bedroom is likely to make life better for you.
Storage: Look for something with lots of interior storage: essential for stocking your RV with all the diapers, toys, snacks, games and outdoor toys you’ll need for your trip. If you’re renting a motorhome, find out if your rental agency offers bike racks.
Safety: When travelling with precious cargo, safety is the most important feature. If you’re renting a motorhome, make sure there are working seatbelts available for everyone, and look for optional safety features like a rearview camera or electronic braking system. Ask if the RV has a working smoke detector and whether it has a carbon monoxide detector, fire extinguisher and first aid kit.
With these tips in mind, you should be set for a memorable vacation that parents AND kids will enjoy.
Additional Links & Resources
Pacific RV prides itself on being a family-friendly rental company, and we take your family’s fun and safety seriously. If you are planning a trip out our way to Vancouver Island, here are some resources and links that can help make your trip extra awesome.
Park Sands Beach Resort RV Resort Packages (perfect for families)
Park Sands Beach Resort is a quiet, family-oriented campground and RV park, situated on the sandy shores of Parksville Bay, in downtown Parksville. Families have been coming to the resort for generations to enjoy one of the best vacation beaches in the area. The resort is right next to Parksville Community Park with its 39 acres of green space, boardwalks, picnic shelters and lots of recreational activities such as a huge playground, beach volleyball courts, skateboard park, lacrosse box, tennis courts, horseshoe pits, outdoor theatre, food trucks and more! It’s also just a few minutes’ walk to downtown Parksville with its charming shops, cafes and restaurants.
Our comprehensive resort package includes a stay in one of our 3 extra roomy, clean, new-model RVs with lots of sleep space for everybody. These RVs sleep up to 10, although the resort caps occupancy at 6. All three of our trailers have a separate master bedroom so parents can have their alone time.
The trailers are stocked with all the cooking and cleaning supplies your family will need. Included with the trailers are bedding and towels – even beach towels for your beach-time pleasure – as well as extras like a BBQ, propane campfire, 20 lbs of propane, and camp chairs for everybody. They are regularly checked for cleanliness and safety and come with smoke detectors, fire extinguishers, carbon monoxide detectors and first aid kits.
More about the Park Sands Resort:
Fun things to do with your kids in Parksville:
The best parks and beaches in Parksville:
Unique and fun attraction 20 minutes from Parkville: