Tips for a Perfect Thanksgiving in Your RV


Nadia Bajuelo

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Nadia hit the road full-time in an RV with her husband, Jon, and their 2 dogs. She dreams of traveling the world, creating content that inspires, and hugging a koala bear. She’s been an educator and a marketer for a Fortune 500 company. These days, she works as a content creator and marketing strategist from the road. She writes for various blogs and magazines, also documenting her adventures with Jon at their blog RoamingRemodelers. Until she finds that koala to hug, she’s happy boondocking, visiting indie bookstores along the way, and drinking as much tea as possible.

Looking for new ways to celebrate Thanksgiving? It’s coming up fast. While many people don’t do Thanksgiving while camping, you always can try hosting your Thanksgiving dinner in your RV. 

Read on for our best tips on how to plan the perfect RV Thanksgiving. These tips are great for RVers and anyone looking for new Thanksgiving, or Friendsgiving, ideas. An RV Thanksgiving is so easy to plan, you might just make it your new Thanksgiving tradition. 

Book Your Thanksgiving Campsite in Advance

Believe it or not, campgrounds fill up for Thanksgiving. Camping on Thanksgiving is a thing so be sure to book your site as soon as possible. 

Consider booking your stay for Wednesday through Sunday to take advantage of the time off and relax in the great outdoors for your holiday.

We tend to associate Thanksgiving with the changing leaves, pumpkin spice, and all things fall. If you’re able to travel, for an idyllic Thanksgiving dinner setting, try celebrating at a state park or Corps of Engineer campground in Tennessee, North Carolina, or Georgia.

Most years the weather will be just right and the leaves will still be ablaze with color. Otherwise, try your local state park or campground.

Thanksgiving Dinner: Cater or Cook Ahead

Pumpkin Pie
Image by Element5 Digital on Unsplash

Catering Your RV Thanksgiving Meal

The easiest way to enjoy a traditional turkey and fixings in your RV is to have your meal catered. This way everyone gets to relax by the campfire in the morning, catch the big game, and enjoy their Thanksgiving camping.

Try to avoid tasking one person with all the cooking. Also remember, your RV oven may not be big enough or tall enough to fit a whole bird.

Depending on your preferences and budget try ordering your catered Thanksgiving meal from Whole Foods Market, Cracker Barrel, or Boston Market. Many supermarket chains like Kroger, Safeway, and Publix (for those of you in Florida and Georgia), also offer great options. Believe it or not, some reports have shown these options cost less than making everything from scratch. 

Try to set up your order to be picked up on Wednesday evening so you can pick up your meal on your way to your campsite, especially if you won’t be taking a tow car. 

Cooking Ahead and Reheating

If there’s a famous side dish in your family––the kind where it’s just not Thanksgiving without it–– cook ahead and reheat on the grill, in the microwave, or on the stove the day of. 

You can also roast your turkey at home, slice it up, and then reheat the already sliced turkey in the RV oven. 

If you full-time, you can have the turkey catered, and still make your sides from scratch. 

No matter what, be sure your campsite is developed and has power hookups if you plan on using a non-propane appliance like a microwave or Instapot for your Thanksgiving Day cooking. 

If your Thanksgiving is spent at a National Park, remember most National Park sites are unserviced. Plan on a catering option, and then reheat the meal on your propane RV stove or on a skillet over the grill.

Bring Out the Fall Feels

Thanksgiving table and camper
Image by Nadia Bajuelo

Thanksgiving dinner is a special meal. Just because you’re out camping in your RV doesn’t mean you can’t incorporate fall touches like you would at home.

The easiest way to add a festive touch to your table is a tablecloth. Decorate your campsite picnic table with a fall tablecloth. A white or off-white tablecloth is always a winner if you don’t have one with that fall harvest feel. Add a table runner if you really want to go all out. 

Depending on where you are you can also add fallen leaves or pine cones lying around your campsite site to your table decor. 

If you’re eating inside your RV, fabric placemats might do the trick, especially if your dinette table is smaller. 

You can also hang a Fall wreath on your RV door, or bring a Thanksgiving lawn ornament (think one of those little banners you stick into the ground) to hang by your campsite post. 

Inside the RV, add some fall throw pillows and blankets to seating areas and beds. 

Know Your Game Plan

Football on football field
Image by David Adamson from Unsplash

If anyone taking part in your RV Thanksgiving is a big football fan, definitely plan to have them be able to tune in. 

Some campgrounds will have a cell signal and so streaming services you subscribe to may be a good option (Think YouTube TV, ESPN+, etc.) A cell booster can help if you’re going this route.

You might instead prefer to bring a satellite antenna or HDTV antenna.

One of the most fun ways to tune into the game is to have an exterior RV TV, but an interior TV in the common area works great too

For those of you college football fans, you’ll find a very festive atmosphere at the campgrounds near some of the big college football schools. Bring your fan gear and show your school pride at the campsite with banners, apparel, and camp chairs and make a full weekend out of your RV Thanksgiving. 

If you or your football fan guests prefer tablets to TVs, be sure to have a tablet mount for hands-free watching. 

Even if you don’t have any football fans at your RV Thanksgiving, it’s fun and cozy to plan on some holiday movies after the campfire. 

What to Pack for an RV Thanksgiving

If possible begin to stock your RV a few days in advance. Pack cozy blankets, camp chairs, firewood, and fire starters for the campfire. Make sure to follow fire safety tips!

Be sure to bring hiking shoes, bikes, table games, outdoor games, books, hammocks, and any other recreation favorites. If the weather is nice, it’s a great time for hiking, biking, and other outdoor fun. 

If the weather refuses to cooperate on any of the days during your camp stay, books, movies, and games will go a long way. 

Most importantly remember to fully stock your kitchen with paper towels, coffee filters, aluminum foil, plastic wrap, and containers for left-overs. Stock utensils like forks, spoons, and knives, but don’t forget serving spoons, and other serve-ware.

Plates, mugs, wine glasses, and bowls are a must. A cutting board, skillets, pots, and casserole dishes may come in handy especially if you’ll be making anything from scratch. 

If you’re having a larger celebration or have kids, you might want a cooler for drinks and snacks to keep outside the RV or in your RV patio if you have one. There are options that double as a fridge, to rolling coolers, to traditional coolers. For more helpful tips on meals on the road, check out this guide to meal planning, as well as our Cooking in a Camper series.

Where will you RV this Thanksgiving? Leave a comment below!

Tips for a perfect Thanksgiving in your RV

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