RVing with kids is fun, stressful, exciting, noisy and quite the adventure! We have been living in an RV with our 4 kids for the last 3 years and there are quite a few things that we have learned. Some things we expected and weren’t that different than living in a house, but a few were a surprise to us.
1. Adjusting to new parenting challenges
When we made the decision to travel full-time in our RV, we definitely had visions and thoughts of living a life of being on vacation full-time. Umm…yeah, not quite. Living in an RV full-time with kids doesn’t mean that, all of a sudden, things go perfectly and there are never any problems with the kids.
I will say, in some ways it’s easier being together all the time, because everyone knows each other really well. This leads to each of us knowing what sets the others off and how we should handle that.
At the same time, being together 24/7 is a challenge, too. It’s one of the reasons we chose to live this way. But, as you can imagine, it poses its own issues since there is no pushing anything under the rug. All issues, hard feelings and frustrations need to be addressed quickly or they just continue to grow and grow, and that doesn’t work in such close quarters.
I like that this is part of the whole experience and I hope this will lead to us always being a close and open family who are all willing to share their opinion. We’ll sometimes disagree, but we try to figure out a solution that works for everyone.
2. Noise is going to happen
When you have 4 kids there’s a lot of talking, screaming, laughing and just overall noise. When you are in a house, your neighbors are a little ways away from you and you probably have insulated walls. In an RV, not so much.
We have come to the conclusion that if people are coming to an RV park or campground they know that things will not be quiet. And there are times when we will just be loud. It’s a thin line between being respectful to our neighbors and also letting our kids be kids.
We try to gauge the campground we are at, and who our neighbors are, before deciding where that line’s going to be. But, it’s always nice when a family with kids pulls in next to us!
3. Where we stay matters
Before RVing full-time with kids, I had no idea that some places charge what we call a “Kid Tax,” meaning that you have to pay extra for each kid that you have. This can range from $2 to $5 a day or a set weekly fee per extra person. That quickly makes the cost of our stay increase. So we try not to go this route.
If there is a Kid Tax, it’s usually a good indicator that they would rather not have kids there. And, believe me, we don’t want to be staying anywhere that doesn’t want kids! So, normally, we pass and find something else.
Boondocking on BLM land or areas like that is a great option for us since we usually have a lot of space around us and not as many rules and restrictions. However, this also means that the other campers there may be up partying all night! It’s a give and take, and as long as our expectations are in place, we are good.
State and National Parks usually lend themselves to being more family friendly, too. The other campers there seem more laid back and accepting of families and kids. I don’t know exactly why, but it’s definitely what we have found.
Plus, anywhere with a playground, laundry room, pool or lake, and room for the kids to run is a BIG plus! This can make or break the week. (Read more about picking the right RV park when traveling with kids).
4. Giving up the need for privacy
Privacy – we don’t have any. We knew this coming into it and were prepared for it. But I can definitely say there are times I miss my big Jacuzzi bathtub and being able to sneak away upstairs, shut the door and take a bath while Craig watched the kids.
Yes, Craig and I still find time at night for each other when the kids are sleeping. But throughout the day, everyone is up in each other’s business. We are okay with this. It works for us and we are all used to it by now. And everyone has found ways to find their own little space either in their bed, outside at the picnic table, or wherever they can find it.
5. Our kids are really cool
As I mentioned above, we are with them 24/7, so that means we get to see them meet new friends, interact at the playground or pool, experience new adventures and face fears. We feel so lucky that we are here to see this all first hand.
I really think it has helped us learn who our kids are as individuals and people. It also allows us to be here for them when they have a question or problem they need help figuring out. We give them as much space as we can, and as they get older they are venturing out more and more on their own at the campground, museums, etc. But it has been great to be such an important and big part in their lives and to continue to spend so much time with them.
Seeing our kids try something new for the first time or try something that they were afraid of at first is another perk of living this lifestyle. Traveling full-time, we are coming across these situations on a pretty consistent basis and it has been awesome to watch out kids grow into confident adventurers!
6. We love getting to see and experience new places
When you live full-time in an RV, you don’t just go to the RV resorts and the big towns, but find yourself in random locations around the country you probably never would have visited on a family trip. I like this as an individual, but also think it has been great to expose our kids to so many different ways that people live around our own country.
They have seen what it’s like living by the mountains, by the beach, in the middle of nowhere, and in the desert. How cool is that! It’s also helping all of us figure out what environment we like to live in, and luckily we all seem to like similar things so far!
7. Travel day prep is key
I have one thing to say for travel days: Tablets. Yup, not even going to try to pretend that we don’t let the kids play on their tablets or watch movies the whole time we are driving. We do and don’t feel guilty about it.
Sometimes we have to travel many hours a day and having tablets means that for the majority of the time everyone is happy and content. We will take it. As parents, you’ve got to pick your battles!
8. This is an awesome lifestyle
This is an amazing lifestyle to live with your kids. There’s lots of downtime to just hang out and enjoy each other and tons of adventuring and exploring. Overall, it’s an awesome way to deepen your family bond! After 3 years of living this way, we have always been able to figure out how to make it work so everyone can enjoy this journey we are on!