How I Survive and THRIVE Long Camping Trips with My Kids

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On The Road, In the Know: Strategies For A Smoother Ride With Your Loved Ones

Our love makes every place home

I’m not sure if you’ve heard, but the idea of leaving your sticks and bricks home behind and raising your family on the road has become very popular. Millions of families around the world are living their daily lives on wheels! What keeps these families happy in such close quarters?

Sometimes, finding a meal or activity that all five kids would agree upon was simply a miracle. Luckily, I have navigated this road before you, and I would like to give you some insight to help you keep everyone comfortable and happy as you’re bumping down the road. If you’re looking for tips to help you survive long camping trips with kids, you’re in the right place!

Long camping trips with kids
It’s not just a dream! It really can happen (sometimes).

Dealing with teenager-y smells

When my kids were young, our trips consisted of one of them making it their goal to make the rest of us miserable. Living in a camper with a teenage boy who never changes his socks can be torture! What did we do about it?

Once we discovered where the smell was coming from we made him wash his feet and put on some clean socks! Luckily, I have learned that there are a lot of things that can help with this that will help you survive long camping trips with kids. Here are some tips that I find useful to make our house smell like home again:

  • Essential oils work wonders for eliminating bad odors. You can use a diffuser or you can put a few drops in a spray bottle and moist around the camper. You can buy oils at most food and drug stores.
  • We have found that baking soda works to take some smells like mildew or dampness out of a camper. Sprinkle some on any carpet or upholstered surface and leave for a few hours before vacuuming it up.
  • Activated charcoal will also do a great job of taking the moisture out of the air. You can place bags around your camper to be rid of odors or hang in a mesh bag as an air freshener!
  • You can also purchase Damp Rid which is a dehumidifier desiccant that will remove musty odors from the air. Lots of RVers use a desiccant in their RV while it’s in storage.

>>> READ MORE: Finding and Fixing 11+ RV Odors

From four walls to four wheels – now what?

So you’re ready to start your big adventure! Although, if you can start with a few weekend or day trips, you can feel the waters and work out any wrinkles that may arise. Try these tips:

  • Taking several weekend or even day trips will help get you used to the everyday tasks and maintenance of your rolling home. Chances are, you’ll have more confidence driving or towing your unit too. I thought my husband would grow gray and retire before I got the hang of backing the trailer up! But now I’m pretty darn good!
  • Get to know your rig. On these “practice trips”, discover the functionality of your new home and how things work. Take time to move things around in the kitchen or find the best place to sit and read. Everyone should get to know the unit to be more comfortable when you are living in it full-time. Use the amenities and attachments to be sure you know how things work. And you’ll have time to get answers to any questions that arise.
Backing up an RV can test anyone’s familial bonds!

Long camping trips with kids requires O.R.G.A.N.I.Z.A.T.I.O.N.

Finding a place for everything and every creature is an essential part of making nomadic living work for your family. When I first bought my camper I went crazy with little knick-knacks from our trips. I quickly learned that when we are traveling everything has to have its spot in order to make the trip safely. It’s the same for your family and pets. Here are some tips:

  • Figure out what child would like to watch out the window and who would rather play on the iPad. Where can the dog lay during travel that is comfy but out of the way and still safe? Do you have car seats that need a space to be hooked in? These are a few things to think about.
  • On Non-travel days you should have an order to things and what goes where. Decide what activities happen in certain areas.Ensure everyone has a space of their own where they can keep their own belongings safe and private. And everyone should keep their area tidy (also a lifesaver).
  • Trim off the excess. You will figure out what you need and what you really can do without. Every inch of space is vital. You want to have room for the things and people you love the most. Our youngest daughter’s space was the bunk above our bed, and it was definitely too close for comfort sometimes. This was her safe space though, and she knew it was hers.Everyone needs their personal space, even your pets.

How to find sacred places in small places

Along with having your personal space, you need privacy. The question is, how do you obtain privacy in such a small and confined area? What about keeping some privacy while staying around all these other families?

I can recall one trip when our family met up with my in-laws. It was great and we could only laugh at what the neighbors were probably hearing! All the kids were learning to whittle and had to practice on bars of soap, and we ran out rather quickly. So when our friends came to visit for the day, we had them bring us some more soap bars for the kids to continue practicing. When they drove up to the campsite all of the kids were running around excitedly yelling, “We got soap!”, as if it was something we don’t normally keep around.

The kids were also drinking these drinks that come in little barrel-shaped containers and taste like kool aid, which we had to ration so they wouldn’t drink them all in one day. The drinks were called “Hugs.” The kids had to keep asking if they could have another “hug,” and half the time we were telling them, “No! No more hugs for you today!”. I’m sure the people around us wondered what the story was behind what they were hearing.

We’ve now learned a few tricks since then that help us feel a little more private while taking long camping trips with kids. Here are a few:

Family Privacy

  • Privacy inside your unit is tricky because you are in a tight place.
  • Curtains are always one way to separate areas, and lend to decorating your home! You can also buy the tracks the curtains hang on and put them wherever you need.
  • Set up a tent outside for a private hangout area. We would always use this tactic when our kids invited their friends camping. If you bring a friend, you sleep in the tent! This gives a space for people to go and have solitude, alone or together.
  • Schedule quiet times. Make it a priority. An hour a day where everyone does something they enjoy that is quiet. This way everybody gets a chance to refresh and come back ready to spend time with everyone again!

Outside the Family

  • Window covers are a great step towards privacy, preventing people from seeing in. And you can buy covers that will fit custom to your windows and have blackout material on the backside to keep the sun out!
  • If you have an awning, you can buy privacy screens that attach to the awning. These form a living area and are nice because you don’t feel as if everyone who passes by is peeking in your front window!
  • Don’t be flashy. People will notice if your things are all out. So stay modest and don’t advertise your wares.
  • Even though it is great to meet new people and develop friendships on the road, oversharing will infringe on that privacy you might desire.
  • Do, however, share your itinerary with family members or friends and periodically check in with them during your travels.

Power to the electronics!

Electronics can be free baby-sitters, amiright?

The last tip I have for you is POWER BANKS! Have them! Power banks are portable batteries designed to recharge electronic devices without a wall outlet.

  • Ensure that your power banks are good quality. Sometimes paying a little more does make a difference. It does matter.
  • Have power banks fully charged before you start your travels. You never know when you’ll need one for emergency purposes. Always be prepared and you can conquer anything!
  • Bluetooth mouse and keyboard to avoid cable clutter.
  • WIFI signal and signal booster for best connectivity.
  • Extra computer plug. One stays in the RV at all times, and the other stays in the bag for when I am working “out of office.”
  • A calendar. Believe me, you’ll want it. I find myself asking what day it is more often than I thought I would.
  • Somewhere to put the office away. A cabinet or bin. A place that turns your office back into a living space. Nobody wants work staring them in the face. Put it away and get back to family time!

>>> READ MORE: Best Board Games My Family Loves Playing When Camping!

Whether you have committed to highway homesteading or enjoy being a weekend warrior, there is so much to learn and consider. Having an experienced friend to help along the way is the best! These are my helpful hints to you, my friend. Catch you on the road.

Julia Hodson

I am an experienced RV owner ready to share my stories and expert advice. Welcome!

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