RV road trips are a great and affordable way to travel! You can take the whole family, have all the comforts of home, and there are so many family-friendly camping destinations to choose from.
But the truth is, long drives and travel days can be pretty tiresome. Rainy days at the campsite can leave kids whining and bored. We’ve got all the tips you need to survive long RV family road trips so you can enjoy the ride, arrive at your destination safely, and have a fun vacation the kids will talk about for years.
1. Safety Check
Be sure to pack a roadside emergency kit, check your tires, and walk around and inspect your RV before you hit the road. If you’re not sure you’ll remember all the checkpoints, book an appointment at a Camping World service center to have qualified technicians give your rig a once over.
Leave information with a loved one regarding your route, estimated arrival day and time, and anything else relevant to your travel plans. Keep in touch with that person throughout your trip to inform them of your location, and any change in plans. It’s common to lose cell phone service as your driving along and if something were to happen, you’d want to make sure someone was aware and could send help.
2. Know Your Route and Stop Frequently
The biggest time and stress saver for your RV family road trip will be mapping out a route. You want to be focused on the road as you’re driving, not glancing at a map or questioning your turns while hauling a long RV. Popular cell phone navigation apps may not take into account weight limits, low clearance bridges, hairpin turns, and other factors that are critical for safe RV travel. A good road atlas or GPS will help you avoid roads that could be tricky for RV navigation. The Good Sam Trip Planner App is designed to route RVer’s on big-rig-friendly roads. Take the headache out of finding your route and automate it with this easy-to-use app. Schedule your gas stops, rest stops, and plot out your campgrounds for extended road trips.
It can sometimes be hard to pull off every 2-3 hours when you’d rather keep going and get to your destination sooner. But, you don’t want to push it too much, which can lead to burnout and exhaustion. Allow yourself breaks to step out, get fresh air, and recharge as often as possible. It’s a good idea to take shifts driving. While driving doesn’t seem like that much work, it can wear you down quicker than you realize. You don’t want to risk falling asleep or mentally checking out and losing concentration while on the road.
3. Plan and Prep Meals and Snacks Ahead of Time
It’s tempting to load up on junk food to help make the drive more enjoyable and pass the time. It’s also convenient to get fast food while on the road. While you can definitely enjoy these foods from time to time, it’s a good idea to bring along healthy snack options to avoid a sugar crash. Be sure to drink plenty of water too—stay hydrated.
When it comes to meal planning, there’s nothing you can’t cook in your RV kitchen or on an outdoor gas grill that you can’t cook at home. Meal plan ahead of your trip to take a huge stress factor out of your family RV road trip. Pre-chop ingredients for chili at home and keep fresh in your RV refrigerator. Then, dump all ingredients in the slow cooker and hit the trials. Return to an RV full of the savory smell of soup. Fewer runs to the grocery store means more time to have fun together as a family.
Help kids feel comfortable in a new environment by keeping their meals and diet familiar. At the same time, don’t be afraid to create new tasty traditions for your family road trips, like roasting marshmallows over an open fire and crafting gooey s’mores for a rare after-dinner sweet treat. It’s these quality time memories that will have the kids begging to hit the road again once they’re home.
4. Exercise or Stretch During Breaks
Go for a walk or run every chance you get while on a long road trip, especially if the trip is a couple days long. Moving and stretching your body is important to avoid cramping, soreness, or stiffness.
You don’t want to show up to your vacation with an achy body and not be able to fully enjoy the activities you’ve planned. Moving your body can also help you stay alert and energized so you can power through!
5. Gas Up Often
Don’t let your tank go much below half a tank. We become so accustomed to driving our cars until we’re close to empty, knowing we can usually find a gas station within a few miles.
However, driving long distances, you’re likely to pass through rural areas where gas stations can be harder to come by. You also can’t rely on your vehicle’s typical fuel consumption. Driving at varying speeds, up and down grades, and pushing against the wind can greatly impact your gas mileage. Again, you can’t guarantee that you will have cell phone service either, so running out of gas could mean you’re stranded until someone stops to help.
6. Try Not to Drive Past Dark
Many people think that driving at night is best for road trips because there’s less traffic, and the passengers can sleep to pass the time. However, driving tired is dangerous and dark roads mean reduced visibility. Wildlife also tends to be more active at night and harder to spot on the side of the road, increasing your chances of hitting an animal and causing an accident. It’s important after a long day of driving to rest and get a good night’s sleep so don’t hesitate to pull over and catch some z’s.
7. Give Yourself an Extra Day or Two
Don’t cut it close by assuming your road trip will be as long as the GPS suggests. Tack on at least one extra day to your agenda. Weather can interfere with travel, things could go wrong with your vehicle, or you could come to unexpected road closures or other delays. It’s better to have extra time than stressing about being behind schedule and rushing, which is never a safe way to travel. Road trips are much more enjoyable when you can take your time.
8. Think About Entertainment
To keep kids entertained on long drives, or on bad weather days, bring elements of home with you. What does that mean? Bring games that you play at home with you in your RV. After the sun goes down, cozy up in the RV for a family game night. If video games help your kiddo wind down, an hour or so of game time at night before bed will help everyone feel a little more relaxed.
For long car rides, don’t be ashamed to let the kids indulge in extra screen time. The most important part of the drive is for the driver to stay focused on the road. If kids are screaming, crying, or whining, it can pull focus from driving.
Whether you listen to an audiobook, sing along to your favorite tunes, or play the classic road trip games, you’ll want to find ways of keeping everyone in the car occupied. Don’t forget your furry family members too. Give them bones and toys to avoid boredom. Nothing makes a road trip feel long like being bored or having cranky passengers!
9. Don’t Overload Your Schedule
It might be tempting to cram the schedule to make the most of your time, but when traveling with kids it is important to schedule in free time too. Kids can quickly become cranky after seeing several monuments and museums back to back. Aim to visit one big attraction per day. Schedule in some “free,” days where the kids can play and explore at their leisure. It may seem like you’re throwing away valuable education time, but kids learn a lot playing by themselves and with others. It’s important to let them recharge to avoid crankiness and tantrums.
10. Enjoy it!
Sometimes it’s more about the journey and not just the destination. Allow yourself time to pull off, enjoy sights and detours, take photos, and make the trip memorable. Your vacation should start the moment you get in the car, not when you arrive.
We hope these tips prepare you to have a safe and enjoyable road trip with Happier Campers in tow! Let us know if we missed any tips in the comments.