Last Updated on April 16, 2023 by Jessica Lauren Vine
What’s full time RV living with kids really like? Is it so much fun like people make it out to be, or is there something lurking behind the scenes that would make you shriek in terror?
I’ll be totally honest with you and tell you there is a little bit of both, but most of it is pretty amazing because you get to see and do so many things with the people you love the most. When you hit the road in an RV with kids, they’ll have experiences that only come along with this type of lifestyle.
Continue reading, and I’ll try to help you figure out whether you’re ready for full time RV living with kids—or if you should stay a weekend camper.
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Preparing for RV Life
Preparing for RV life with kids isn’t just about getting your equipment together and making sure you have plenty of snacks for the road. One of the big things you have to think about is getting everyone in the family mentally and emotionally prepared.
It might seem like you’re going to go out and have this big adventure—and you will—but there are going to be challenges on the road just like with anything. If you don’t prepare yourself and your family, it might not go as well as it could.
One of the things that help is making sure everyone knows “their space” in the RV—no matter how small that space is. If your kids come from having their own room, it can be a little sad for them to let go of it—even if they do get to spend time at national parks, RV parks, and other fun spots.
Get Your Kids Excited
Even if you’re nervous about full time RV living with kids, it’s important to highlight a lot of the good things that will happen. Talk with them about the new places you’ll see and the things they’ll learn. When you’re trying to help them, you’ll realize quickly that you’re helping yourself too.
Figure Out an On-the-Road Routine
Even if you’re a go-with-the-flow type of person, it can help you and the kids when you have a routine. You might decide to get up and go to sleep at a certain time or set meal times so kids know what’s happening.
What Do You Do When the Kids Become School Age?
Many people have kids that aren’t school-aged yet, but some of you are up for the challenge of homeschooling. We homeschooled four kiddos on the road and since I was also homeschooled as a kid, it wasn’t that big of a deal—but it still was hard figuring out your school schedule and what you want to teach.
It took a while to get our rhythm and now we use Calvert Homeschool which makes it a lot easier. Up until grade 3, they have books they work in, but then it goes all computer, which we really like.
You can use a lot of your experiences to teach your kids as well as the actual curriculum. There are plenty of museums and classes you can take them to and allow them to learn hands-on from experts. This is a cool part of full time RV living with kids.
Kids love to learn, and you can get some cool things to do indoors when it rains. We did playdough and kinetic sand a lot because it didn’t take up a lot of room, and they still enjoyed it.
We also use a satellite school that takes care of all of our stuff with the state. We work with Home Life Academy out of Jackson, TN. They make it easy to be compliant with everything Tennessee requires.
Where Do You Stay When You Live in an RV Full Time?
There are a lot of cool places you can stay when you start RVing full time. Many people start out by hanging out on a loved ones’ land so they can get used to it, or they go to a local campground.
I, on the other hand, went about 4 hours from home to a campground I didn’t know and really broke the family into the lifestyle. Well, we did dry camp in the RV in our driveway the night before we left, so I guess there was that.
We got a Thousand Trails membership and stayed at their parks a lot of the time, but they don’t have a lot of parks that aren’t on the coast. If you want to go to Florida, you definitely have a lot of options if you get the extra pass that adds on parks.
You can also find public land to park your RV, but a lot of that is out west.
Benefits of Full Time RV Living With Kids
I think the biggest benefit of full time RV living with kids that we noticed was that it was difficult to get bored. We constantly met new people, saw new places, and had to adapt to what was around us. However, we were always able to move if we didn’t like where we were, so that’s a major plus.
When you’re always on the move, you learn how to operate as a unit instead of always going your separate ways. When you’re in an RV, there is only so far you can go away from each other.
How to Become a Full Time RV Family
If you want to become a full time RV family, it’s just a matter of taking the leap and getting your RV. Some people even choose to live in a van to get started if they’re nervous about hauling an RV.
Before you head off, you need to figure out where you’ll domicile. That means the place your driver’s license will say is your residence. Many people use a relative’s address, but that isn’t always an option for people.
There are places you can set up domicile for RVers, and they forward your mail to you and everything. Escapees has a great article on this here.
Choose the Perfect RV for You
There is no perfect RV, but there is a perfect RV for you. We started out in an 18 foot Forrest River Wolf Pup that had a slide. We lived in there for a year and then upgraded to a 24 foot Avenger ATI that had a slide that felt like such a big upgrade.
One of the cool new floor plans is a mid bunk that makes it easy for your kids to feel like they have their own space. Some of them even have a loft so more kids can be in their own area.
I really like RVs that have a lot of windows. If you’re going to be traveling, then why not have plenty of places to see the beauty of where you’re going?
The important things to keep in mind are:
- Family-friendly amenities like bunks, play areas, and enough storage
- Size and layout
- Durability and safety features
There are four main classes of RV that are popular with full time families. Honestly, these would have made things a lot easier for us when we were on the road, but we were in very tight quarters.
- Class A motorhomes: Luxurious and spacious, perfect for large families
- Fifth-wheel trailers: Provides ample living space and amenities
- Toy haulers: Offers versatility with space for toys and gear
- Class C motorhomes: Provides a balance between size and convenience
When you’re thinking about which RV you want to buy, you do have to keep the budget in mind. Financing, maintenance, and the resale value should be something you consider.
How Do You Make Money on the Road?
The biggest challenge most people face when heading out as full time RV is trying to figure out how to support their families. Some people already have remote work jobs, but many people need to figure out something to do.
Some of the popular RV lifestyle careers or gigs are as follows:
- Social media manager
- Graphic designer
Here is a list of over 100 jobs you can check out that can be done remotely.
Keeping RV Living Expenses Down
It is a lot of fun to travel to different locations, but sometimes it’s a little expensive. If you stay places for a week, two weeks, or even a month, it is often less expensive than just a few days.
Keep in mind that booking in advance is another win when you want to keep your RVing expenses down.
Traveling more often also means spending more money on fuel. When you’ve got a big truck, those dollars really stack up. If you can use a credit card that has fuel points rewards or something like that then you’ll be golden.
If you get a Sam’s Club or Costco membership, that can help you save money on food. However, you should keep in mind that you only have so much space. The smaller your RV, the less helpful the membership would be.
Since you don’t have a lot of room in your RV, you won’t buy as much stuff, so that will automatically keep your living expenses down. The outings you go on might offset those savings, though, so watch out.
How Do You Make Friends on the Road?
If you’re worried about your kids having a lack of friends—don’t. There will always be kids running around the campgrounds, and many campgrounds have activities that make it easy for your family to meet other people just like you.
You can also join Meetup and see what cool events are happening in the area. There is always something going on, and you’ll be able to meet interesting people and learn new things.
I would always find groups on Facebook and see what was happening in the areas where I went. We also were regulars in some of the campsites, so I started getting to know people in those areas. If you like going to the same spots then that will probably happen with you as well.
3 Top Tips for Successful Full Time RV Living With Kids
When you’re away from family and don’t have a full community to help you, these three tips will come in handy to help you through these times.
Establish Routines and Schedules
Kids flourish off stability as much as they love adventure. Giving them stability and structure through routines make it easier for both and them when you’re traveling full time in your RV.
Maximize Space and Storage in the RV
When you strategize for storage before hitting the road, you’ll be sure to be more organized and clutter-free. Before heading off, you need to downsize and declutter as much as possible. If you don’t, you’ll trip over everything and get pretty frustrated pretty quickly. You should speak with your kids about this and be honest with them so they can help you with the decluttering task.
Keep Children Entertained on the Road
You should keep games, toys, and favorite books so your kids can stay entertained while traveling. Outdoor play and exploration are one of the bonuses of RV parks and other camping situations. It’s also a great way to wear kids out so they are ready to sleep when it comes time to go to bed. There are always great things to do in the local communities, so keep an eye out for cool events and other activities in the local towns.
Are You Ready to Start the Full Time RV Lifestyle with Kids?
If you’re ready to be one of the full time families and see so many amazing places, the best thing you can do is dip your toe in the water. I kind of had a little headstart since my parents took me on the road for about 7 years of my life. From 5 to 12, we RVed mainly up and down the east coast seeing family and friends.
It’s definitely a different lifestyle, and you’re going to miss a lot of people when you leave places, but the adventures are so amazing. We saw almost half of the country in 2.5 years, and the kids always remember the cool things they saw and what they did.
Safety Considerations for Full Time RV Living With Kids
When you hit the road RVing, you want to make sure that your kids are safe. You don’t want to have to worry all of the time and these things will keep you rest easy when you start full time RV living with kids.
Childproofing the RV
When we started RVing, we had a three-year-old. Some people start RVing with kids that are even younger, and if that’s you, you might need to do more.
Install safety locks on your cabinets and drawers so the kids can’t get into them, secure furniture and appliances so kids can’t tip them over, and cover electrical outlets and secure cords.
Teaching Kids about RV Safety & Emergency Preparedness
For older kids, you need to teach them about RV safety and emergency preparedness. Talk to them about what you expect of them and educate them on fire safety, fire aid, and what they should do in case of other emergencies.
You should also talk about what to do as far as hygiene and health when living in an RV. There are a lot of things to think about in terms of germs since they might be using campground bathrooms, pools, and such.
Keeping Your Eyes Out on the Road
Different parts of the country might have different roads than you’re used to, so make sure to look for traffic rules and regulations you might not be used to when driving. You also want to use the proper car seats or seatbelts for the height and weight of your child. Lastly, keep a close eye on kids at breaks and stops since there are usually a lot of people around. You want to make sure they are safe from anyone that might want to take them or any vehicle drivers that can’t see them.
The Good, Bad & the Ugly of Full Time RVing with Kids
Now that I’ve lulled you into a false sense of security, it’s time to share the good, bad, and the ugly of full time RVing with kids. Some of these things you might not even think about, and others you might have heard rumors about.
Road Days from H E Double Hockey Sticks
Everyone loves a good road trip, right? Most of the time, but when you’re packing up for the 100th time, it can be a little annoying—especially when it is a long day. This can be one of the hair-pulling days when it comes to full time RV living with kids.
Whether they have devices or not, it can be frustrating. Another thing to think about is whether any kids or pets get car sick. If there is someone that gets car sick, get them in the front seat, and that should help a little bit.
Keep in mind that things are going to go wrong. A flat tire, someone vomiting in the car, a dog having seizures. We’ve had all of those except the flat tire, and it totally throws the day off and can put people in a bad mood. Another one is a young kid not knowing their need to go pee soon enough and peeing their pants.
Really Missing Family
I remember when we were in Arizona about 1,500 miles away from our hometown. I felt so alone and sad even though I knew I could call and video chat with anyone I wanted. I missed seeing familiar people when we were really far from anyone we were related to.
Kids can get homesick too, and if they’re teenagers, then they can get winey and moody from time to time which makes your tiny home feel even tinier.
Lack of Connectivity
I know I just said I could call people whenever I wanted to, but I just remembered that isn’t always the case. There were plenty of times when I couldn’t pick up phone signals or get to WiFi.
Even with extenders, boosters, and other tools, you might have times when you just can’t get in touch with someone.
It’s true that there are a lot of challenging times, but one of the things that made it worthwhile was the mind-blowing views.
For instance, when we made it to the Grand Canyon and looked out to see what looked like a downward spiral that lasted forever. The kids thought it was really amazing, and I just wanted to stay there and look at it because it was so miraculous. It’s just one of the cool things about full time RV living with kids.
Meeting Cool People
When you’re out on the road, you’ll meet other adventurous souls you won’t find in your neighborhood. They don’t live by the normal rules of society because they’re found chilling by the pool or outside their RV.
You’ll find other people that are passionate about exploring and learning, and that can be invaluable when you’re full time RV living with kids.
Full Time RV Living with Kids – Frequently Asked Questions
Here are some frequently asked questions about full time RV living with kids.
Do kids get homesick while traveling?
If your kids are used to a certain area, it’s likely they will miss it and the people there, but if you keep them busy, they barely notice it.
Is it less expensive to live in an RV with kids than it is in a house?
Depending on how you RV, it may be less expensive, but it’s often easy to spend a lot of money doing fun things.
Do kids learn more when traveling?
Kids may or may not “learn more,” but they’ll definitely learn different things than if they’re stationary.
The Bottom Line on Full Time RV Living with Kids
So, should you try full time RV living with kids? Personally, I think everyone that wants to should give it a try. It’s an amazing adventure and you’ll learn a lot about yourself in the process.
I know we wouldn’t have done half the things we did while RVing, so I’m definitely glad we did it.
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