After living in Washington, D.C., for a decade, Sarah decided to buy a Thor Motor Coach RV and hit the road with her husband Ben and their French bulldog Hobbes. They spent a couple of years touring the country as full-time RVers, but have since settled down in Montana and now take frequent weekend trips. Sarah is a small town girl at heart and loves highlighting all of the hidden gems she finds on her website www.wanderingroadblog.com.
How to Host Guests in an RV
(And Keep Everyone Happy)
My husband Ben and I both grew up in Northern California. After a decade spent living and working in Washington, D.C., we realized that our western roots were calling us home. And that’s when we decided to make our drive back to California, courtesy of a new Thor Motor Coach Chateau.
We spent about a year researching rigs. We wanted something big enough to host guests but small enough to fit at any campsite. With RVing, we’ve been more intentional with our time, and for us, that’s meant including family and friends in our adventures as much as possible. It’s become tradition for a couple of our friends to meet us for “Montana Summer Camp'' in the Chateau. Together, we’ve explored so much of Big Sky Country, from adorable and historic Fort Benton, to the epic hikes of Glacier National Park, mermaids of Great Falls, and college town vibes of Missoula. The RV definitely made us cool in the eyes of our seven-year-old niece, too. She has had many sleepovers in the Chateau (she is still amazed at the number of beds that fit into our RV).
Whether you are traveling full-time or planning a weekend trip, including friends and family makes RV adventures even more fun!
How many people can you actually fit in an RV?
RVs come in a number of shapes, sizes and layouts. Our Thor Motor Coach Chateau was a good fit for us because it has a main bedroom, a loft for guests and the option to convert the couch and dinette into additional guest beds. Storage is also an important aspect of RV life that can make it easier to host guests. We appreciate the ample storage in the main living space and under the rig. Some RVs offer bunk beds, outdoor kitchens, solar power, and other features that might be a great fit for you.
When you’re shopping for an RV, think about your lifestyle. Do you plan to travel solo or with a partner? Do you prefer adventures with lots of friends and family? Pets are another consideration––when they fall asleep, some dogs can take up as much space as a fully grown human being (if not more). You can truly find options to fit however many people you plan to RV with. The most people we have fit in our rig for an overnight trip is five, but we could probably squeeze in a couple more if we needed to.
How can you help first-time RV guests prepare for their stay?
For guests who are new to RV life, it’s important to set expectations early. For instance, while our loft bedroom provides a small amount of privacy, it’s not the same as staying in a residential bedroom with a door. Many people are okay with this but tell them before they commit to staying the weekend in case they’re not.
Set your guests up for success in other ways, too. When you plan a trip, talk to them about where you will be camping. Are they comfortable dry camping (aka boondocking) or would a campground with amenities be a better fit? We have some friends and family that prefer private campgrounds and others that love dry camping. If you are boondocking, let them know what that means and how you will conserve electricity and water while off the grid. Be up front about any space limitations. Don’t forget to check the weather, too. One of my personal mottos is, “There’s no such thing as bad weather, only bad clothes.”
What are some considerations when bringing guests along for different styles of RVing?
For some people, an ideal RV vacation means getting away from it all and being surrounded by nature. Others would prefer a campground with running water, electricity and WiFi. Talk to your guests ahead of time so they aren’t surprised by the amenities (or lack thereof) when they arrive.
Camping in a national park can be a memorable family vacation you talk about for years to come. But it also means you’ll likely be more remote and need more travel time between destinations. In contrast, an urban campground may not have stunning campsite views but it can be a convenient home base for exploring a new city.
Talk about schedules beforehand. If you’re a full-time RVer who works remotely, let them know when you need to be somewhere with cell service or WiFi. It can be easy for others to forget you aren’t in vacation mode, especially if they are.
What are some common rules for bringing guests to campgrounds?
Every campground has different rules, so check the rules before you go. Most campgrounds have a limit on the number of vehicles that can be parked at a single campsite. Some campgrounds have limits on the number of people who can stay at one campsite, or may require fees for additional guests or pets.
Teach your guests good campsite etiquette. That means respecting quiet hours, cleaning up after yourself and being a good neighbor. And tell them not to walk across or through other people’s campsites––that’s such a faux pas!
What should guests bring with them? What should they leave at home?
Less is always more when it comes to RV packing. I remind guests to just pack the necessities. If you will be exploring a national park, it’s a good idea to pack comfortable hiking clothes, sturdy footwear, a water bottle and a backpack. Headphones and an extra phone charger can be useful to have on hand, too.
Ask parents to bring a favorite DVD or book for their kids during downtime. If your guests are driving to meet you and have space in their vehicle, ask them to bring an extra folding chair or two for campfire seating.
A few things to leave behind: multiple outfit changes, excessive toiletries and any items you already have on hand in the RV, like cookware and flashlights. Help your guests pack lighter by having amenities ready for them when they get there, like towels, bedding and shampoo. Have an extra pair of flip flops on hand to use as shower shoes in the campground bathrooms. Stock up on compostable paper towels, plates, utensils, and cups to make clean up after meals a breeze.
Check the campground’s pet rules and amenities if your guests travel with a furry friend. Some campgrounds even have their own dog parks. Ask your guest to bring a crate to give their dog a place of their own during their visit. And if you already have a dog in the RV, make sure your dogs are compatible beforehand.
How can you utilize outdoor space to give your guests more room to spread out?
We often treat the outdoors as an extension of our home on wheels. And having some extra space to spread out can be absolutely clutch when you are hosting guests in your RV, both for an overnight stay or just for dinner and a hangout.=
Make sure you have enough seating for everyone. That can mean using the campground’s picnic table, folding chairs or throwing blankets and pillows on the lawn. If your RV has a retractable awning, that can provide shade on a hot day. You can also pack a pop-up tent to take your tailgate to the next level.
Consider lighting for when it gets dark outside: solar string lights or an old-fashioned lantern do the trick. A headlamp or two can make navigating campgrounds after dark safer and easier. For many people, it’s not really camping without a campfire. Be sure to stock up on a variety of s’mores supplies. (Pro tip: Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups make unforgettable s’mores.)
Finally, always check the weather forecast before your trip. If it rains on your parade, have nearby indoor activities in mind. A rainy day can be a great excuse to visit a museum, check out a local restaurant or take a scenic drive.
What are some great recipes for entertaining RV guests?
The good news is that you can cook just about anything in a RV kitchen that you would in a home kitchen. I love Half Baked Harvest and Pinch of Yum for recipe inspiration. I also love to find local recipes depending on where we are, like seafood on the Oregon Coast, Idaho potatoes and chile-infused everything in New Mexico.
About once a week, I sit down and make a game plan for our meals. Smaller kitchen storage space means more frequent grocery shopping trips and smaller packages of food. Also, try meal prepping before your guests arrive. That way, you’ll be able to sit back and enjoy their company without stressing over dinner plans. This is especially important when you’re camping somewhere remote. I recommend investing in some space-saving kitchen gear, such as a cutting board that fits over your sink, nesting mixing bowls and a collapsible colander to drain pasta.
Here are some great recipes for a crowd of RV guests. And best of all, you can use an oven or campfire for many of these.
● Hot Dog Roll Ups - so fun for kids!
Having friends and family join you on your adventures is one of the best parts about RVing! Even with the smaller space and close quarters, there are some simple things you can do to ensure that your guests are relaxed, comfortable and walk away feeling like they had the best time.