Bring On The Adventure

Later this month we, these five kids + me + Aaron, are heading out on an adventure in a RV for Spring Break. 

The photo you see above was our first all-together adventure over two years ago - everyone is quite a bit taller and smarter and sillier and better acquainted. 

We decided, this being our first RV outing, to not go too far. We'll be keeping it within Oregon and hitting up two different state parks on the coast. We've got our spots reserved and have started thinking about meals and snacks and activities. 

Having new experiences is one of my love languages and this has been one we've been talking about for awhile. 

So in the spirit of planning and thinking ahead and organizing and wanting to have some good ideas in place before we head out, I'd love to hear any ideas or tips you might have for traveling with kids in a RV. 

Menu ideas? Craft ideas? Games? Scheduling the day?

Related Posts

Sign in or sign up to comment.

81 thoughts

  1. Gypsy_Chaos says…
    03/10/2015

    Aspects I learned are critical to fun vacations start with "Consider the personalities". I learned a written full plan worked best because not everyone likes the same things. So, DH tolerates the water activity because he knows tomorrow we'll visit some relic; this goes for everyone. With ad hoc planning, we end up doing more of what Dad wants, leading to grumpiness. "On the fly" may not work for everyone; I've got two that can't do sudden changes so I figure out a way to provide transitions.

    Consider how each one recharges. Introverts NEED time alone; extroverts NEED people from whom they suck energy. (Why yes, I am an introvert. "Murder, death, kill" crossed my mind on vacay with a very extroverted person. Until I realized the issue and spoke up.)

    Stop every hour. It helps preserve adult legs and gives kids time to spill some energy.
    Have kids put one complete outfit including undies and socks in a Ziploc bag. Grab and go to get dressed, place for dirty clothes to be stashed. Bring extra socks! We always identify a drop n go laundry. It's worth the money to let someone else do the job! And the space saved by bringing less clothes is great.
    Bring extra hair thingies; the elves take them.
    If cell service is iffy, use airplane mode or your batteries will drain super fast.
    Consider treating RV as a place used only for getting from point A to point B, minimal cooking, and sleeping - especially if the campground has handy bathrooms and showers. Bring sheets for kids to sit on the ground, chairs for adults, screen unit if bugs are bad, pop up 'roof' thing for shade; whatever makes sense for the area.

    All the food suggestions are good; I've eaten every one over the years. One of my favorites is baked apples. Shove whole apple on a sturdy green twig. Roast over coals ala marshmallows. Once done - a judgment call - peel the skin and roll the apple in cinnamon sugar. (I love the sound the steam makes as it hisses from tiny tears in the skin.)

    Most importantly, remember that civilization is nearby, no matter how desolate it seems at the campground. If it's forgotten, or you run out, whatever - shrug and make do or go buy it. But triple verify you aren't forgetting the wine!

    Reply 0 Replies
  2. Kristin_A_ says…
    03/11/2015

    I am sure you will guys will have a blast! We got our kids a fun new game recently called Spot It. It was an instant hit and fun for all ages. Small, too, so not a lot to lug around. I even threw it in my purse when we went out to eat the other day and the kid played while waiting for our meal.

    Reply 0 Replies
  3. welobellie says…
    03/11/2015

    this sounds so fun and awesome and I hope you folks have the best time!!

    Reply 0 Replies
  4. abragg79 says…
    03/11/2015

    Growing up, we'd go on 2-3 week long camping trips during the summer in our camper. Some of my favorite memories. During the day, dad would fish and sometimes my,mom, brother and I would go along. Others, we'd drop him off at his designated fishing spot for the day and then go exploring. Checking out hiking trails, local towns, panning for gold. And the others, we'd stay at or near the campsite - playing games, reading, exploring nearby, using our imaginations.

    At night, once Dad was done fishing, we'd have dinner (either at the campsite or once during the week, we'd eat "out" in one of the nearby towns). Bedtime was pretty early but I definitely recommend flashlights for people who may want to stay up and read or play card games. S'mores fixins are a must.

    I definitely recommend a couple decks of cards - regular and specialty (like UNO), maybe a board game, have the kids bring their favorite books, journals, etc. coloring books for the smaller ones (and even the bigger ones). We always like to bring baseballs and gloves. But, really, not too much....

    As far as scheduled activities...honestly? The best part of camping for me was the fact that there was nothing set in stone. Mom and Dad had general ideas about possible activities but we just let the day progress. Some days the kids might just want to hang around the campsite and that's OK. Also, don't be afraid to let them explore on their own a bit. Not too far, of course, but the adventures my brothers and I would go on without our parents...tame as they may be....are some of my favorite memories.

    Most of all, have fun!!!!

    Reply 0 Replies
  5. Jaevans says…
    03/11/2015

    Scavenger hunts, geocaching!

    Reply 0 Replies
  6. pnwdutchgrl says…
    03/11/2015

    My tips are more practical and safety related. A lot of great tips here about camping. It's my experience that camping, as in with a tent, is totally different that with a RV. An RV has so many technical difficulties that can happen where with a tent you just set it up and you're done.

    Ali, you don't write what kind of RV you are renting? Is it a motorhome? Class B or C? It is a 5th Wheeler or a travel trailer? Each has it's own specifics.
    Whatever it is, make sure you both know the in and outs of connecting the black, gray and water tank. Nothing spoils a vacation quicker that problems in that area. Have you made sure when you made reservations that you have hook-ups? I know most state parks have some but a lot have limited hook-up, especially full hook-ups, meaning water, electricity and sewer. Some only offer water and electricity and some only water which means you have to find a place to dump your black water tank.
    If you do not have hookups make sure to teach the kids to be conservative with the water. Especially a black tank( your sewer) can fill up really quick with 5 kids and 2 adults. Make sure you know how to empty the black tank, watch some youtubes, you don't want accidents with the tube coming loose etc.
    Also know if your fridge goes on gas and on electricity. Ours does and most if them now do. Again if you do not have hookups make sure you have a generator on board otherwise neither if the electrical gadgets will work. Plus it can get chilly at night It would be great if you could run the heater for a while in the evening and morning.
    Another thing to be serious about is escape routes. If there should be a fire everyone should know what to do because you only have a couple of second to get out. An RV is not a house, they always advice you to practice at least one time how to open up the widows so the kids can get out, but especially at the higher area of the RV, getting through a window can be difficult. My tip is to use a blanket or a sleeping bag on the bottom of the window so you do not hurt tummies and legs on the sharp aluminum stuff.
    Bathroom is really tiny and with 7 can become a mess pretty soon. To avoid fights it would be a great idea to give every child and adults a towel in a different color so when the green wet towel after a shower is again on the floor you know who the offender is.
    Make back up plans for rainy days, I hope you have wonderful weather but we have been in the coast with storms and it can be rough. Some parts at the coast do not have celluar signal. Yachats comes to mind.
    There is an app for iPhone in the store called Coverage it lets you exactly see where you will have basic coverage to LTE from the 4 networks. It's very handy if you need to make a call or look at Google maps and you see that you have to drive a few miles to have coverage again.
    Speaking about Google maps, do not solely depend on them. If you have no power or no celluar your Google maps won't work. Always make sure you have an old fashioned paper map with you!
    One last thing, ig you happen to have a walky talkie/two way radios, take it with you or lend one or buy one. It comes in handy when you have to park the RV, always have to back in and you are out in the back directing Aaron and yelling not to hit that tree but he can not hear you, one if those things come in handy. Lots of RVrs use them. Later when you are out in the forest and you don't see each other a walky talkie thingy comes in handy again plus kids certain age love to place with them! Make sure you have those with rechargeable batteries. We just got a pair and they are about 40 USD. We bought the Midland brand. If you have questions let me know!

    I found a list with apps for camping and cooking http://appadvice.com/appguide_ipad_client_view/camping-cookbooks

    Reply 0 Replies
  7. LoriAnde says…
    03/11/2015

    Try "geocaching" all those kiddos are at a great age. If you google it you can read about it and get the goods. Like a super fun scavenger hunt that even the adults get to play along. Highly recommend! Oh and pocket tacos- just build a taco right in the little individual Fritos bags. Kids think it is fun.

    Reply 0 Replies
  8. flibbertigibbet says…
    03/11/2015

    I recommend little butterfly nets. They double as scoop nets for the water and bugs both. A few books to identify things they find would be good. Our DNR has little booklets for kids and adults for free or almost free. Definitely stop by any info centers along they way. They will be your best travel companion. Most importantly, have fun!

    Reply 0 Replies
  9. cruisin_ali says…
    03/11/2015

    Hi Ali, I have so many fond memories of camping with my parents. Definitely memories that last forever. Here's some of my thoughts for you: enjoy !
    1. Spider hot dogs!.. ok this may sound weird but, instead of roasting hot dogs on the fire the boring way, before poking it, slice each end of the hot dog in 4 about 1/3 of the way up (from each side). don't slice through, each end should be dangling. poke your stick in the middle of the hot dog (which should still be whole).. as they roast on the fire, the "dangly legs" actually curl up and when done, they look like spiders and taste great!.. my Dad started this while telling us a ghost story one night. We didn't realize what he had done to the hot dog at first but it ended with squeals of excitement at the end!
    2. my mom was really conscious of waste, so we didn't throw out plastics (plates, cups, etc) we were 4 kids and we each got to go to the dollar store and bought (before hand) a plastic cup, plate and cutlery in the color of our choice. (every kid a different color). She bought the wash basin from there as well. Every kid was responsible to clean their own plates/cups and it was easy to know "who" didn't do their own dishes! teaches responsibility and clean up in a fun way!! - doing the dishes in the wash basin was done outside - rain or shine under the tarp or awning. keeps people out of the RV :)
    3. now this is a must for us camping.. we didn't do smores - we did banana boats! you need foil, bananas, chocolate chips & mini marshmellows (or large ones cut). Basically, you peel only one "peel/side" of the banana but not all the way off as you will need it later. You then scoop out 1/2 to /3/4 of the banana out(don't discard). Place chocolate and marshmellows in the hollow of the banana. Place scooped banana back on top. Cover with the peel that was peeled back and wrap in foil. (every well).. place in hot coals of the fire for approx. 15-20 mins. (depending on how close you have it and how hot the coals). pull out of the coals when done and let cool a little. It may look a little weird (but it's dark) so nobody cares!.. then eat the banana gooey-ness right from the foil packet with a spoon.. kind of like a warm banana split!
    4. all time favorite tradition.. to give my mom a little break in the morning, the tradition was "last one in the lake/ocean" BEFORE breakfast had to do all the dishes. This would get the kids out of mom's hair in the morning while she got things ready for breakfast & got us "wet"/cleaned before breakfast! win-win.. other than Dad had to go in the water!! sorry Aaron - but new traditions are worth it!! we are in Canada - so you can imagine sometimes it felt like a "polar" dip - but that just added to the excitement!
    Enjoy your trip - can't wait to hear all about it!

    Reply 0 Replies
  10. judyn says…
    03/11/2015

    So many great memories of camping when my kids were littler! One activity that we liked to do was leave something for the next campers to find. We brought google eyes, feathers (or found them) pieces of felt, little pompoms and glue. The kids looked for pinecones or rocks, then made little critters out of them. When we left that site, they hid it in a not-too-hard to find spot for the next group. I remember how excited they were the first time they ever found a treasure like this! Have a great time!

    Reply 0 Replies
  11. sarahbluhm says…
    03/11/2015

    Recently drove cross-country camping with our 3 boys (including Sandy Beach State Park and Fort Stevens, both in Oregon).
    From my experience….
    Have reasonable expectations. Clothes will get wet & dirty, supper will get burned, the weather may turn bad, and what you do - will make or break the trip. Relax. Let the stories write themselves.
    Give them jobs, so you aren't doing all the work and getting frustrated and remember their way can be just as good as your way.
    Be proactive to hungry + tired = hangry.
    Have an agenda, as in today we will see/do this and that's it. NO over scheduling and be prepared to change and be spontantous.
    #1 - your undivided attention will be the thing they remember most!!!!!!!!!! sitting around playing games, around the fire, mad libs, abc games, and you don't have to go electronic free to have a great time. Movies outdoors are fun, too.

    Reply 0 Replies
  12. Loydene says…
    03/11/2015

    I have no experience - totally by choice!! - with camping, but I do have experience with National Parks. As said above, the Junior Ranger programs are generally good and fun for the kids. BUT each National Park has a stamp for their Park -- sometimes more than 1 style -- free for stamping. Their paper choices are sometimes very limited. They also sell a National Park STamp Passbook -- you can keep it and fill it with the various National Park stamps over time. The visitor center in National Parks is *usually* good. Of course, some are better than others, but always worth a look see and "potty break". In addition to the books, movies, DVDs, maps, etc., they are loaded with toys and other purchasing opportunities, so have some rules in place (about behavior and souvenirs) ahead of time! The National Park Rangers are generally pretty fun and interesting people and usually LOADED with information they are happy to share. Our National Parks are a great resource

    Reply 0 Replies
  13. jjcorrigan says…
    03/11/2015

    Baby wipes and disposable gloves (for when you have to empty your tank) are a must. I have a hamper that I take with balls, gloves, frisbee, jump ropes, etc. When we get to the campsite, it goes out and everyone can easily put things back in it so they aren't left behind. Also makes it easy to store overnight (mine goes in the shower) if you need to because of bears and raccoons. Also, take extra toilet paper but talk about not using much b/c that fills your tank fast too. So much fun!

    Reply 0 Replies
  14. Melodysan says…
    03/11/2015

    Have a wonderful trip! The thought of you loading up the RV and heading down the road brings me such a flood of memories. Our two children (both in college now) grew up spending most summers in our (small - class B which is van size) motorhome. We would usually be waiting outside their school -- fully loaded and ready to hit the open road -- on the last day of school! Then, we'd travel all summer -- sometimes not returning home until the day before school was starting again. By the time they were out of elementary school they had been to all 50 States and many of the National Parks. Honestly, we couldn't afford that motorhome. We took out a 15 year loan to pay for it (but paid it off in 9!) Here's the thing, though - we often look at each other (my husband and I) and say that was the best decision we ever made. Fast forward to spring break of this year and... guess what? Our daughter is coming home from Boise State and what does she want to do? Take the RV to nearby Utah and visit as many State and National Parks as we can in a week; hike, enjoy the great outdoors, etc. I can't wait to load up! We try keeping our "stuff" to a minimum -- but one thing we always have on board is microwave popcorn (oh, and bug spray! and a clothes line to hang between two trees for wet towels). Have a great time!!

    Reply 0 Replies
  15. wookiemouse says…
    03/11/2015

    So excited for you guys! We are headed out with our RV for a 4 day Spring Break trip this Saturday (then an 18 day trip, covering the entire state of Colorado, this summer). I echo what others have said - keep meals simple. We grill a lot, most dinners. Crockpot meals are also a great option (especially overnight oatmeal for breakfast!). Bring appliances from home, ones that can multitask like electric griddles. They take up counter space but you can cook everyone's meal at once for pancakes and eggs and you can store them when not in use. Bring more snacks than you think you need, especially fruit - my kids go through twice as much when we're camping, for some reason. You may also want to bring water flavoring - whatever your fav us, since camp water isn't always the best and your RV may not come with a filtration system. I second geocaching! Always a hit, but make sure to get a GPS unit instead of relying on your phone (we hardly get signals in state parks), Garmin makes a great one. I also like giving my kids disposable cameras on our hikes, I love seeing things from their perspectives. In the RV, we always stock travel games (chess is a hit) and puzzle books (mazes, dot to dot). Things that will keep them quiet in the mornings if they wake up too early. Also bring a few balls - tennis, football, soccer - there are always kids at the campsites who will want to play outside, or just your kids with each other. With the RV itself, definitely go over it thoroughly - know your height, weight and length limits (some overpasses and bridges are restricted; the Good Sam website has a free trip planner that you can plug in this info and your route and it will tell you if it is safe.) Make sure you know how to operate the basic functions, especially fuel and sewer. Get a set of walkie talkies for the campground so a partner can assist you getting into a tight campsite. Bring a level with you if your RV doesn't come with one, as well as boards for leveling. Also get a small thermometer for your oven, if you plan to use that - a lot of the gas ovens can be really off. And never travel late in the day - you always want to set up camp in early afternoon at the latest, before folks get tired and cranky and you still have plenty of daylight. I am a planner by nature, so if there is something in the area we want to drive to see, I will plan that (especially if there are only certain days/times it is open), but otherwise, I have a general list of things we can do and we just follow that based on weather and how we feel. Definitely check out the campsite web pages ahead of time, you can print out trail maps and the like. It will be a learning experience, but always fun!

    Reply 0 Replies
  16. KirstenJ says…
    03/11/2015

    Two things - one I recommend and one I can't believe my parents did.
    1. I cherish this little memory of arriving at a campsite and helping Daddy get our roasting sticks.
    2. My brother and I always had our own mini fires - right beside the fire pit we would burn these mini tinder fires for hours. Little pyromaniacs. I guess my mom was too busy with my baby sister to care and Dad was a bigger pyro....

    Reply 0 Replies
  17. denise_sanner says…
    03/11/2015

    we love camping. two games that we keep in our camper are: http://www.amazon.com/Wham-O-Mini-Frisbee-indoor-outdoor/dp/B000OWL0X0 and http://www.amazon.com/Kan-Jam-Llc-KanJam-Ultimate/dp/B00NP9PN32. Both the Frisbee golf and the Kan Jam do not take up much room, are great for on the road, great for those fabulous beach adventures, and also for the back yard too. walking tacos are a great, quick, and easy lunch. just pack some small bags of doritos, cook up some taco seasoned meat prior to your adventure, and have the fixins on hand. eat them right out of the bag. yum. enjoy the adventure...i can't wait to see the blog post when you return. xo

    Reply 0 Replies
  18. papergoddess says…
    03/11/2015

    Aw, I love reading everyone's camping memories. Stirred up mine. We did a lot of camping when I was a kid (in a truck camper) & that's actually how we went to Disney World.

    We also camp on the beach, but at night would drive to the parking lot where we had our tradition of Dad making stromboli and playing 500 Rummy. Yea, I was playing that when I was like 6 years old!

    Hmmm..tips? I was thinking for that group, maybe glow sticks or a mini flashlights for everyone would be good? If you are staying in a campground where you will be using their shower facilities I recommend flip flops, those towels with elastic to stay on, and a little plastic carrier for your shampoo/soap (Just like in college). Usually the whole shower area gets wet, so you don't want dry clothes around and def want to protect your feet from floors!

    I'm not sure how it would work, but I do a lot of cast iron cooking now...thinking there must be some awesome cast iron recipes for an open fire?!

    I can't wait to see your trip documentation!

    Reply 0 Replies
  19. pinksoup says…
    03/11/2015

    Seems everyone has a lot of fun ideas. My only advice is this: Make a chore chart. When everyone knows what days they do what, camping will be more fun for all. Even for you. You do not want to get stuck with all the chores (and there are lots of them) while everyone else is off having fun. My Mom did this for us 6 kids and I did it for my 4. And it made chores fun because we did it together and it was part of the camping experience rather than an interruption.

    Reply 0 Replies
  20. cinback says…
    03/11/2015

    I highly recommend Geocaching! Go to geocaching.com for more info, but essentially it is using a GPS (you can use your iPhone) to track down a hidden 'treasure' while on a hike. Buy a few small dollar store items such as bouncy balls, jacks, keychains, plastic animals, hair clips, etc. When you find the geocache and open the box there will be similar items inside. If your kids like an item in the found box, you replace it with one of the treasures that you brought. The kids love this. On a bigger note, the thrill of the hunt was always so much fun for my girls. When they were older we let them navigate us through the forest. We now remember a lot of our camping trips by the geocaches we did. It was so great on so many levels.

    Reply 3 Replies
    1. bdaiss says…
      03/12/2015

      I commented on geocaching below as well! But one note: if you're in an area with little to no cell signal, your iPhone will not work for geocaching. We gave our 8 year old son a Magellan eXplorist (specifically made for geocaching) for his birthday. It was only about $100 and it's great! It's been dropped, kicked, bounced off boulders and all sorts of other adventures. It's simple enough the kids can use it. If you use a handheld GPS rather than your phone, you will need to download the cache coordinates before you head out. We usually put about 50 on at a time for the area where we'll be and then pick and choose once we get there. Also, if you don't get a full membership, it's helpful to print out the kind of cache, any hints, and the description before you leave. (I have also put them in a file on my phone. Less to keep track of, and I can still get to it when there's no signal.)

    2. tccba says…
      03/12/2015

      Geocaching would be huge for this group! Take a regular GPS and print out the ones you want to find on your route before you go. Take swag to leave as well.

    3. TORRSMOM says…
      03/12/2015

      TOTALLY recommend Geocaching. It's an activity we've enjoyed with our blended family of varied ages! I also would recommend wine for the adventure...but that probably goes without saying.

  21. Scrappyksr says…
    03/11/2015

    Three things: batteries (and even more batteries), plenty of chargers, and TABLETS. Invest in some cheap tablets that you won't be terribly upset if they get damaged or lost and make sure everyone has their own headphones. These come in handy when they start getting on each other's nerves and need some separate space. Especially helpful when they are crowded onto an RV and can't get immediate physical space separate from others. Download some games ahead of time. Also, hand out cameras! If you have any old cameras or buy some one-time use ones so that the kids can record their own memories and you get the extra benefit of having a record of the vacation from their own personal view. Kids will amaze you with their own unique perspective of a trip. You might just inspire them in the process to be memory keepers too!

    Reply 2 Replies
    1. crazystampwoman says…
      03/11/2015

      Love the camera idea!

    2. abbypimentel says…
      03/11/2015

      Wow - seriously great ideas here!! Think I'll hand-out those one-use cameras for my 22- and 18-year old boys next trip!

  22. jlharbal says…
    03/11/2015

    Hey Ali,

    I've never traveled in an RV before but I do come from a HUGE family (6 kids and gozillion cousins) and we've taken many road trips together.

    The advice I have is to take a lot of breaks. Nobody ever likes being cooped up for long periods of time. Let em get out and go. Stop a lot. Change scenery.

    Also, when I travel with different families (ex. my aunts&uncles and theirs kids and their kids) we like to schedule certain times to do things together but then have open time where people can be together in their own little families or decide to hang out together or just get alone time. This is great because then people have their own time if they want it.

    Hope this helps. I realize you have a blended-type family and I'm speaking about aunts and cousins but I think there are basic similarities that can correspond to your situation.

    Have fun! I'm doing a road trip along the Washington and Oregon coast next week. I can't wait! Any advice on good parks to stop at would be great. There is so much along the coast it's hard to decide where to stop. Ecola looks good. Washburne looked like fun as well (read your post about it).

    Thanks,
    Jen

    Reply 0 Replies
  23. ScrappinMyHeartOut says…
    03/11/2015

    Sing-a-longs were fun on the boy scout camping trips we went on - are there a few songs everyone knows or can learn before the trip? Guessing games - taking turns letting each person have the group guess their favorite ________. Telephone is silly and fun - whispering a long sentence down the line of all 7 of you to see what the outcome is when the last person to hear states the "new" sentence.

    Reply 0 Replies
  24. crazystampwoman says…
    03/11/2015

    I agree with the scavenger hunt idea. I've done that several times for my three kids, and they loved it! I always mix in some easier and harder things to find, to make sure it keeps them occupied, but not too frustrated. I have done 1st, 2nd, and 3rd prizes, usually small things they can use on the trip - pad of paper and markers, bingo card game, etc.

    Reply 0 Replies
  25. sneakerwaves says…
    03/11/2015

    Reality check here from someone who raised four children (all in college now in sunny CA) on the Oregon Coast.... it rains during "Spring" Break. It is cold during "Spring" Break on the Oregon Coast. But you know this. Don't know whether you are going north or south on the coast from Eugene, but if the weather Gods don't cooperate....you are welcome to use our INDOOR pool and hot tub and INDOOR tennis courts, and some golf driving range slots are covered at Salishan. If it gets really bad, like a rockin' storm, we have 4 empty bedrooms with toys, games, books (saving for grandchildren someday)....... and a wine cellar for you and Aaron. Here's to sunny days for your Spring Break RV Adventure. Bring on the sunshine!

    Reply 2 Replies
    1. AliEdwards says…
      03/11/2015

      Ah you are great - yes, well aware of Spring Break weather around here. And thank you for the generous offer - we should keep in touch. We are heading over and south - down by my parents to be able to include a short visit with them too.

    2. sneakerwaves says…
      03/12/2015

      So glad you will have a port in the storm at your parent's (grandparents) home, particularly if Mother Nature decides to be really nasty with a big wind/rain event on the Coast. Stuck in an RV with kiddos for a soggy, windy week would be a challenge. Sunshine vibes your way!

Sign in or sign up to comment.