How To Grow Your RV With Your Kids

Alison Takacs and her family sitting in front of their RV at their campsite in Dinosaur Valley State Park

Whether your family has been RVing for a long time or is new to the hobby, you’re bound to see a change in your kids over time. Those changes could be physical, like their height as they grow taller, or emotional, like their hobbies and what they consider to be fun. 

Our family started RVing when our kids were five and three, and now they are thirteen and eleven.  And as our kids have changed, so has how we approach RV trips with them. Here are some tips we’ve learned to keep kids interested in RVing over the years, and how you can grow your RV with your kids, not against them. 

Features to Consider

  1. Bed Size

    As kids get older, they’ll need more space to grow. When shopping for RVs, consider how much space your kids will need to stretch out as they grow older, or be aware that you might need to trade up to a bigger RV after your kids hit their growth spurts—this is especially true if your oldest son is almost as tall as you, and still growing! Most RVs can accommodate the majority of people, but be sure to do your research on bed lengths. Double bunks are great options for taller kids and allow them to spread out and have a larger sleeping space. Our kids currently have single bunks, but we know we’ll eventually have to get them something larger later on. 

  2. Space and Privacy

    We all need space away from our parents at some point or another, but this is especially true for growing teens. If your kid’s sleeping space is exposed to the living area, we recommend installing curtains to provide them some privacy. If that isn’t enough, consider shopping for an RV that has separate bedrooms for kids and parents. This could be a bunk room model with a door, or an RV with two full sized bedrooms.

  3. Slide Outs

    Feeling cramped? Consider getting an RV with at least one slide out. This has been one of our favorite RV upgrades since our kids have gotten older. A couple of years ago we transitioned into the same size unit, but with a slide out. This gives us much more room, but allows us to still travel in a small RV. Slide outs can completely transform the inside of an RV and gives you a ton of room to comfortably maneuver around the RV without bumping into each other. 

  4. Bathrooms

    Not all showers are created equally. Consider if your growing children might eventually need a more spacious shower. Some teens might also appreciate a ell lit mirror and need a plethora of grooming accessories, so be sure to look for models with lots of bathroom storage.

  5. Lofts and Playrooms

    Even though we love our small travel trailer, we do think it would have been nice to have a playroom for the kids when they were younger. While they spent most of their time using the outdoors as a playroom, we would have loved to have a space for them to relax when the weather didn't cooperate. Some RVs have loft spaces for kids to enjoy and these are very practical for anyone traveling for an extended period of time with kids. They are a great place for kids to store all of their toys. For families looking for even more room, the back area of toy hauler RVs can convert to a playroom when they aren’t carrying vehicles or toys.

  6. Storage

    No matter what RV you end up with, getting clever with storage will always be essential. We have found that storage in an RV takes more thought than a house. Organize your RV so that kids can access things they use every day in one area and less frequently in another. Storage can vary greatly so be sure to give it some thought when shopping. 

Ways to Keep Kids Happy

  1. Include Your Teens in Trip Planning

    If you aren't already, include your kids in trip planning. They might have a strong opinion of what they want to do or, more importantly, what they don’t want to do on trips. They also might have different ideas of what is fun as they get older. Talk it over with them and make them feel like their wants and needs are an important consideration on RV trips. 

  2. Stay Local

    Even though we RV multiple times a month, we’ve had to adjust our trip schedules for our kids’ extracurricular activities like basketball, swimming, soccer, and karate. Now that our kids are older, sometimes we only take trips for one night on a weekend. Don’t be afraid to stay local if your kids' activities fall on a weekend. The local park 30 minutes away can still be a great escape and a way to fit both your kids' activities in as well as your need to recharge in nature.  

  3. Increase Connectivity

    As a teacher with over 20 years of classroom experience, I’ve seen that kids are on devices now more than ever. They use them to stay connected to each other digitally. When camping, we allow our kids to stay somewhat connected, but not always on devices. Giving them some downtime to connect with their friends prevents them from feeling isolated. If you’re going on a long road trip, be sure to research and plan for days that you’re sure to have cell service or wifi. Our kids are very socially active, so we want them to still enjoy friends on the road—within reason.

  4. Invite a Friend

    Allowing your kids to bring a friend can totally change the dynamic of an RV adventure. When other kids are involved, we’ve noticed that our kids enjoy it more than usual trips. You could also try RVing with other families. Try inviting other friends that might enjoy camping too!

  5. Sports and Games

    Even when they are older, kids still crave attention. Be sure to interact and play games on the road. Play catch, or maybe something more competitive. Older children have crazy hormones running through their bodies and still are competitive. Something we like to do is find campsites that are related to hobbies our kids enjoy. For example, if your child is into basketball, find a campground that has a court. Little things like this can keep kids motivated to spend more time on the road.

  6. Explore Together

    Kids want to discover new things, so empower them by researching new things to visit together. This can be anything like an out-of-this-world space museum or something quirky like a roadside giant pistachio. 

  7. Don't Force It

    As your children get older, everything you want to do might not align with what they like to do. It is important to try and come to a compromise and decide what to do as a family. Because at the end of the day, that is what RV trips are for, spending time together. 

We hope you found these tips useful if you have teenagers or your kids are getting close to their teen years. Have fun out there!

Travel Trailers

Travel trailers are the most popular type of non-motorized RV. No doubt you’ve seen one pulled down the highway hitched to a car or pickup. Travel trailers come in all sizes including tiny jellybean-shaped models with a chuckwagon kitchen in the rear to the massive house-on-wheels with picture windows and a sliding glass patio door.

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