8 Things We Have Learned About Living in an RV with Kids

Noisy. Messy. And a once in a lifetime experience.

Bryanna Royal  |  04.18.2017

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!

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  1. Whitley Noble Posted on 07.09.2018

    How to you financially support your travels and your families needs? I really want to do this with my family but that would require my husband leaving his job he hates and the loss of our only income

  2. Tyler Posted on 06.09.2018

    I am curious to know how taxes work when you live in an RV full time. I am active military and my wife and I want to set ourselves up for my retirement in 4 years. we have a 12 and 10 year old looking to buy a toy hauler / bunk house. basically would stay at an RV park full time but how does that work with an address as you file your annual taxes.

    1. Brooke Baum Posted on 06.11.2018

      Hi Tyler, One of our full-time RVing contributors recently explained why they chose Florida as their domicile state. Reading this article about that process may help answer some of your questions: https://winnebagolife.com/2018/01/why-we-chose-florida-as-our-domicile-state

      Best of luck in your RVing journey!
      -GoLife Editor

  3. Josie Aviles Posted on 04.29.2018

    We moved from Tennessee to California & we are basically starting over again. We are currently living with a family member until we can find a rental place or buy an RV. We can’t afford to buy a house right now so I was thinking of buying an RV for a family of 7 & live in it until the house prices drop. I like the idea of RV living because if we don’t like the place we are at we can easily drive to another place. My question is how well does the water pressure for taking a shower & also for the plumbing? I think it’s a great idea to live in RV to save money but my husband doesn’t think it would be a great idea since we have 5 yr old triplets & two teenagers. My husband wants to rent a house & I want to buy an RV to live in temporary until we can buy a house.

  4. jane Posted on 04.22.2018

    I’m considering going full time with 3, soon 4, kids just not traveling constantly. Mostly stationary.

    Have you had any issues with children services giving you flack for living in an RV?

  5. Laura Posted on 03.19.2018

    For the most part, CPS can’t take your kids JUST because you are living in an RV, there has to be another reason. Living in a van means you probably didn’t have running water or a toilet and that could raise some red flags. I only ran into one family who lived in an RV who had issues with CPS but that was because they were running from an open case that happened while they were still in a house. The accusations were pretty serious and the mother had some very obvious mental illness and she was dry nursing her 5-year-old.
    The people I came across who had issues with CPS were usually living in a van or tent with no running water. You can’t have any skeletons in your closet when you decide to do the RV life, there’s no place to hide secrets.
    If other campers see abuse, educational or other neglect or drugs, they are going to call. Most campers seem supportive of the RV life and won’t bother you unless they really see something.

  6. VH Posted on 01.23.2018

    I found her blog for those who were interested: https://www.crazyfamilyadventure.com

  7. Jessica Posted on 11.30.2017

    Honestly, I never thought the noise issue. Great post!

  8. Melissa Barnes Posted on 09.17.2017

    I live in Ga and have an open DFCS case because my son and I stayed in a van. I wanted to buy an RV however I do not know how legal it is to stay in an RV, Im unsure about how I will argue that it is a perfect alternatuve to staying in a van. Do you have any advice on how I can get clearance from DFCS so that my son and I can stay in an RV legally do you know anyone I can talk to about it.

  9. Ana Matthews Posted on 09.03.2017

    This is so inspiering! Our family is convering a cargo trailer. How do you sleep 5 in your camper? What kind of camper is it?

  10. Stephanie Carlo Posted on 08.27.2017

    I loved reading this, ty! My husband and I have been thinking about this with our 3 kids who are 6, 2, and 4 months. Can you tell me what homeschooling method your using? He’s a builder and I just sold my salon so we would be doing this to get to travel and stack some cash. I love the idea of doing this while homeschooling because they can see it, instead of hear about it thru school. I did a lot of traveling growing up my husband has not, so we are both really into this idea. Any pointers with two in diapers?

  11. Teresa Posted on 08.25.2017

    Do you have a blog? I would love to hear more about life on the road with kids. I’m trying to talk my husband into doing something like this. We don’t currently have kids, but are trying. He is hard to break out of his comfort zone, but once he’s out, he loves it. Your story sounds so interesting and I would love to read more about your travels and living on the road with 4 youngsters.

  12. Christa Thomas Posted on 08.09.2017

    Hi! My husband and I want to go from living in a home to rving around America. Mostly because we want to find where we want to settle down to have and create a sustainable farm but we really would love to have adventures and explore as well. We have three kids 7,4, and seven months. Our goal is to have an rv and sell all our things or most by July of next year. The only thing we are wondering about at the moment is how you fund living this way? Do you have a business that allows traveling? Also do you ever set up a tent for your older kid to be able to get away and have a quite place? One more question is schooling. I do unschooling but was curious what you do for school? Thanks!

  13. Annetta Posted on 06.24.2017

    I have read a lot of these kind of site and I was wondering if any of you make time for bible study and do you find different churches to attend. We live in a camper full time for freedom from all the bills you have with living in a big or little house. I have three girls and we stay in one place for the most part. We are in a park with mostly pipeliners and it’s hard to keep the girls quite but I also don’t want them on their phones and tablets all the time can anybody help me with ideas

  14. Bryanna Posted on 06.14.2017

    We just wrote a new post about car seats in our RV! Check it out here: https://winnebagolife.com/2017/06/buckling-up-kids-in-an-rv

  15. Wanda Posted on 04.23.2017

    I also would like to know how you use the kids car seats. Do you have the dining table or couch in your unit? Do you use some type of tray for them to use their iPads?
    What type of internet do you use?
    We have a FR Solera which is very similar to the WB View.
    We have grandkids 8 and 5 years old.
    Our coach has the dining table.
    Any info would be appreciated.
    Thanks and happy RVing.

  16. joan sohlstrom Posted on 04.23.2017

    I’d like to know about the seat belt situation for car seats also. My husband is worried about safety for our grandchildren when traveling…

  17. David Karol Posted on 04.22.2017

    Outstanding and such a super attitude and outlook! Quite refreshing.

  18. meme wagner Posted on 04.22.2017

    Corrections to last post. Did you have something special installed or is the view just properly configured for your needs. Our extra seat belts are on a side facing couch with no rear tether bolts for the child car seats. We are traveling with a toddler and an infant right now

  19. meme wagner Posted on 04.22.2017

    Would love to hear how you deal with four kids and car seats. We have a Winnebago tour which is set up for four passengers and haven’t figured out how to put the car seats in there according to regulation for our two grandsons. Did you have something special he installed or is the view just configured properly for your needs. Our extra seats are on a sofa with no back to Heather bolts and the seats would be facing sideways which is not ideal for children any tips would be appreciated