Forget Survivor—if you want a real survival experience, just pack your bags and cram two adults and two small children in a traveling box for a week.
My husband and I purchased an RV thinking we could create vivid memories for our children each summer. I guess the experience of running for dear life from a mother goose—and the following three-day standoff with her that kept us locked in our 300-square-foot carton—sort of counts.
Luckily, that and many other interesting experiences taught me some RV survival hacks. These tips will hopefully lessen the increasing amount of gray hairs on your head and turn your mishaps into fond memories.
1. SHOES, FOR THE LOVE
This wouldn’t seem obvious to the first-time RV owner, but shoes should come with their own tiny HAZMAT teams. Your little explorers will be running through the forest, dragging their brand-new Keens (which I totally recommend) through mud, bugs, and tree sap galore. They could come back to your RV and trample dead squirrel guts all over your once-clean camper. Do yourself a favor and buy a storage crate for the kids’ shoes and make your RV a shoeless—and more sanitary—environment. Tree sap is an evil that not even Magic Erasers can conquer.
2. DOUBLE UP.
If you own your RV, it’s time to get smart. The best idea I ever had was to buy pillows, blankets, toiletries, swimsuits, shoes, pots, pans, and other kitchen necessities to store in my RV all year. This made it easy to just pack the clothes and food we needed, jump in the RV, and hit the road. It also decreased the chances of perpetual whining from my two short people about the things they left behind on the trip. This way I was always prepared – win-win.
3. AVOID SLEEPING BAGS.
Just don’t. Most sleeping bags are slick, slippery, and just waiting to make your child slip out of bed at 3:00 a.m., onto the floor, knocking their poor little noggins silly and waking you from your blissful sleep. Stick with old school blankets and pillows. Down comforters are perfect and easy to make up in the morning and go on your adventures.
4. KEEP THEM BUSY.
Always carry a ream of white paper, crayons, and card games like Uno in your RV. A fun activity I’ve played with my kids uses Daddy’s empty cardboard beer or soda bottle caddy and has the kids explore the campground collecting great rocks, fun plants, and flowers to organize in the caddy. Again, if you own your RV, keep a Tupperware for a rock collection. I let my kids keep two or three rocks from every trip that they always love to take out and explore again.
5. HAVE A PLAN B.
If you have tried everything in your activity arsenal, your husband is on the verge of tears, and your tiny people are already there, it’s time for a technology break. Pat yourself on the back for surviving tech-free until now and turn on the cable. Many campgrounds provide free cable, but for those that don’t, these handy little domes make it easy no matter the weather.
There is a lot to be said for RV travel. I’ve seen parts of the country I never knew existed. We have fond, funny memories and adventures we can talk about for years. My kids love our RV. Now that I’ve learned some tricks, I can say I enjoy it too.