It’s a common dilemma: You really want to drive your RV to an amazing bucket-list destination, but you’re petrified of the long car ride with the kids. The bad news is that the stereotype exists for a reason. Kids can be brutal when trapped in a car for extended periods of time. The good news is that we have some simple tips that will help you arrive at your dream location with a crew of happy campers.
1. Develop a routine
If you do not want to spend hours answering “are we there yet,” then make sure your kids have some idea about how long the trip will be and what they can do to keep busy in the meantime. We try to operate in three-hour blocks of time that include the same round of activities. This routine can be anything that works for your family, but we personally do food, music, games, and a movie. Then we stop for a bathroom break and start the whole process again.
2. Pack a picnic lunch
One of the best parts of traveling in an RV is that you have access to your own groceries. Making lunch and dinner for your family will help ensure that everyone is eating healthy instead of loading up on fast food. Believe us, carb crashes and sugar highs are the last thing you want when confined to a small space with kids.
3. Ditch the service plazas and embrace the rest areas
Picnic lunches also allow you to skip the service plazas and pull over at highway rest areas and visitor’s centers. Here you will find much cleaner restrooms along with picnic areas and grassy lawns. Instead of forcing your kids to sit and eat at a stop, throw out a ball and let them run around a bit. It will do wonders for everyone’s mood.
4. Keep the activities low prep and high interest
The Internet is full of some pretty complicated ideas for keeping kids busy in the car. We keep it simple by using printable bingo boards and activity sheets that slide inside clear sheet protectors. Then we use dry-erase markers and old socks for erasers. This travel activity pack can be assembled once and used over and over again.
5. Build anticipation and deliver a payoff
Attitude matters, so treat car rides as an exciting event getting your family closer to an awesome destination. Maps, brochures, and kids’ atlases are all great ways to build anticipation for a new destination. We also make sure to have a fun activity planned upon arrival, even if it’s just a swim in the campground pool or s’mores on the campfire.
A little bit of planning and tweaking can make road tripping with kids a bearable, if not enjoyable, part of your RV journey and ensure that you arrive with happy campers.