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Looking to become a full time RV family? Great choice! Family RV living allows you to go to new places and experience new things, all while becoming closer as a family.
That said, there are definitely some things you’ll want to know before jumping into fulltime RV living. Below are our top tips on full time RV living for beginners. These tips were chosen specifically for those looking to try family RV living, so those of you with kids will find them particularly helpful.
Give Yourself Space
This first tip comes into play before you’re ever on the road—that is, while you’re still shopping for your home-on-wheels. You know by now that all RVs are small—at least relative to houses and most apartments—but some are much smaller than others, and if you’re going to be living in your rig with kids you are going to want more space than what a van or small trailer can offer.
Generally, we think fifth wheels are the best choice for family RV living because they tend to offer the most space. That said, larger class A motorhomes, class C motorhomes, and even bumper-pull travel trailers can be found, and many are plenty big enough for a family.
Just make sure everyone has their own bed and that there is enough room to spread out. A great way to do this? Go through the motions of day-to-day living in every RV you are seriously considering. Really get a feel for what the space is like to live in, especially with people moving around one another.
Doors are a Must-Have
Besides space, you will also want your full time RV family rig to have doors. Believe it or not, there are a good number of RVs out there that do not have doors on the bedroom spaces. This is an issue when your kids need to go to bed before you do. It also makes it difficult to find privacy when changing clothes or when you just need a break.
Therefore, we highly recommend making doors a high priority during the RV shopping process.
Use the Outdoors
Honestly, no matter how big your RV is, you’re likely to feel cramped at times. For this reason, we highly recommend making the most of your outdoor space by investing in outdoor furniture, using your RV awning, setting up a Clam tent, and generally ensuring your campsite is comfortable enough to spend time in.
Once your outdoor living space is set up, you can use it for the kids’ playtime, as a place to work, or even as a place to enjoy dinner together without feeling squished.
Choose Toys Wisely
Your kids will want to have some toys, and really, they should have them. However, we recommend being very selective about the toys you bring in. Open-ended toys such as blocks and play silks are ideal, as they can be used in a variety of games. We also like small toys that are easily stored, outdoor toys that can be enjoyed on your site, and consumable playthings such as Play-Doh and bubbles.
Find Ways to Organize
It can be hard to keep an RV organized even when kids aren’t involved. When you’re a full time RV family with all the accompanying toys and kids’ clothes added to the mix…well, you can imagine how things become even more cluttered.
As you’re moving into your rig, find ways to organize toys, clothes, dishes, and food in a way that makes sense to you. Use existing cabinets and drawers and organize them using containers. Over-the-door organizers work well for toiletries and small toys, and stuffed animal hammocks are ideal for stuffies, dolls, and more.
Get creative and see what clever RV storage ideas you can come up with, but be sure everything is secure so nothing goes flying while you’re driving.
When you have kids, stuff seems to accumulate quickly, especially when holidays and birthdays roll around. For this reason, we recommend planning on a big purge every six months or so.
Set aside a couple of days and use this time to get rid of things that are no longer being used and reorganize areas of the RV that just aren’t working well for you.
…But Learn to Love the Mess
Unfortunately, no matter how much you limit the toys, no matter how much you organize and purge, there is always, always going to be some sort of mess in your home when you’re family RV living. Small spaces get messy fast, and when you’re in your tiny home all the time, it’s going to be nearly impossible to keep up with the messes.
For this reason, you will probably have to learn to embrace a little bit of mess instead of letting it drive you crazy.
Talk About Conservation
Nobody wants their kids to waste water or electricity, but when you live in an RV, this becomes even more important. You see, most RVers find themselves in sites without sewer hookups from time to time. Not only that, but many even choose to camp off-grid without any hookups at all!
When camping without hookups, conserving water and electricity is a must. Therefore, every full time RV family will need to teach their kids to remember to turn off lights, as well as how to wash up with as little water as possible.
Teach the Kids to Help
Another thing you’ll want to teach the kids? How to help out around the RV. Of course, most kids have chores around the house, so why wouldn’t RV kids have chores around the RV?
Chores could include the usual things like cleaning up toys or wiping down the bathroom sink, but they could also be things like helping pack up on travel day or even helping dump the tanks.
Always Have a Meal Plan
Hungry kids are cranky kids. Unfortunately, there isn’t a whole lot of room for food in an RV fridge. Additionally, RVers often find themselves out sightseeing or driving from one campground to another at meal times. Often, this leads to eating out, but we all know that eating out is expensive and most families can’t afford to eat at restaurants every day.
The key to solving this problem? Meal planning. Always have a plan for meals. Plan to head to the store every few days to restock the fridge. If you plan to be out on a certain day, plan to pack lunch. Have quick, easy meals handy for travel days, and make use of time-saving tools such as an air fryer or Instant Pot.
Make Your Schooling Fit Your Life
Most people who choose family RV living also choose homeschooling (aka roadschooling). If you have no experience with even “normal” homeschooling, jumping into roadschooling can definitely feel overwhelming.
The number one thing to keep in mind? Homeschooling does not have to look like traditional schooling!
From virtual school to all-in-one curriculum bundles, and from project-based learning to full-on unschooling, there are a huge number of ways to go about educating your kids on the road. Try not to get too wrapped up in labels or whether you’re doing things “right,” and instead focus on figuring out the kind of schooling that best fits your family, keeping in mind that this could change over time.
Note: Some states make it easier to homeschool than others. As a roadschooling family, you might want to consider domiciling in one of these states.
Wrap Your Travels into Your Studies
You’d have to be crazy not to use your fulltime RVing adventures to educate your kids. We highly recommend making a point of visiting educational attractions such as national parks, museums, and historic sites along the way.
Consider reading a bit about each of the places you’ll be visiting as a family, and encourage your kids to dive into interesting topics that come up during field trips. Use programs such as the Junior Ranger Program and docent talks to expand upon the educational aspects of any place you visit.
You could even create entire unit studies about certain areas of the country, or relevant time periods for historic sites you come across, or whatever! Roadschooling is flexible like that.
Find Friends and Keep in Touch
Everyone needs friends. Therefore, it is crucial that you find friends when family RV living. Ideally, you’ll find families that mesh with your own family so that the adults and kids alike will have somebody to hang out with.
The best way to find full-time RV family friends? Join Fulltime Families! From there, plan to attend an event—or head to either Florida or South Texas for the winter—as you’re sure to find several Fulltime Families members there.
However you go about finding your RVing friends, be sure to keep in touch through social media and plan meetups whenever possible. Some families even choose to caravan with each other.
Join Thousand Trails
As we just mentioned, many Fulltime Families members like to hang out in Florida and South Texas in the winter (for weather reasons, obviously). A huge number of these are staying in Thousand Trails campgrounds, both during their winter stints in the south and as they travel to other areas of the country.
For this reason, it’s a good idea to snag a Thousand Trails campground membership. Not only will this allow you to meet up with friends more easily, but because there are always families in Thousand Trails campgrounds, you’ll probably even make new friends by staying in this campground system.
Let the Kids Help Plan
When possible, let your kids help you plan your travels. Ask them where they’d like to go, what they’d like to see, and what kinds of things are most important to them. Weaving everyone’s preferences into your travels will help keep the whole family happier on the road, making it easier to keep up your family RV living lifestyle for longer.
Make Travel Days Short and Sweet
Long travel days and kids do not go well together. For this reason, we highly recommend limiting your travel days to 200–300 miles and planning to stop every two hours or so. Many families also prefer to avoid back-to-back travel days. Of course, having plenty of things for the kids to do as you travel is also a good idea.
Take It Slow
When you first get on the road, it can be tempting to go, go, go. After all, there is a whole lot to see out there, and only so much time to see it.
That said, traveling too quickly gets tiring before too long, and those who try to keep up a fast pace are likely to burn out. This is even more true when you’re trying to keep up with work, roadschooling, and household tasks on top of traveling and sightseeing.
To avoid this travel fatigue, we highly recommend traveling slowly. Stopping in each place for a longer amount of time allows you to really get to know the area. It also gives you time to keep up with day-to-day life and helps make RVing a little more affordable by giving you access to weekly or monthly campground rates, not to mention cutting back on monthly fuel usage.
There you have it, our top tips for family RV living. Use these tips and you might just find yourself enjoying fulltime RV living for years to come!
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