RV There Yet? Family Travel On the Road

Family on a blanket outside in front of an RV

When my husband was unexpectedly laid-off in late 2018, we were forced to quickly come up with a plan for our multi-generational family. One afternoon, about two weeks before we officially hit jobless status, I floated the idea of buying an RV and living in it for a while. It was a purely financial suggestion, but it also sounded like quite the adventure for our family. My husband and mom weren’t quite so excited about the idea, but they got on board as we approached our “what are we going to do next?” deadline. 

Twelve days and a ton of research later, we bought a 42′ foot, three-bedroom, two-bathroom fifth wheel, and a big ol’ truck. Then, in an unexpected turn of events, my husband got the job of his dreams, with the option to work remotely. We decided to travel part-time while learning the RV ropes together with a later plan to hit the road full-time while house hunting.

Photo Credit: Angelica Kajiwara

RVing has become a popular way to travel safely across the country. But it isn’t always as plug-and-play as some make it out to be. We asked seasoned RVers a lot of questions during our first trip: How do you stop for lunch? (You can’t just park your RV anywhere, after all.) How on earth am I supposed to back into a tiny campsite? What about {cough} waste? Yes, these are questions every single new RVer asks.

Thankfully, after two years of part-time RV travel and now, over a month of full-time RV living, I have tons of tips to share. Here are the top five things we’ve learned on the road:

Buy/Rent/Borrow the RV that fits the lifestyle you have

I know that doesn’t sound like rocket science, but it is more complicated than it sounds. There are a lot of questions to consider before taking the plunge. 

  • Do you want to tow it or drive it? 
  • Will you need a second vehicle?
  • How many beds/couches/places to sleep do you need?
  • Can you visit the places you want to see with your size RV?
  • Do you plan to cook in the RV or outside? 
  • How often do you plan to camp?
  • Would you prefer boondocking (no RV hookups) or on-the-grid?

Your answers will help you narrow down the endless selection of vehicles. Don’t be afraid to rent an RV. Some owners even will meet you at a campground with everything set up for you. It is a great way to enjoy the experience without the commitment.    

Woman at a kitchen countertop with kids playing with toys on the floor
Photo Credit: Angelica Kajiwara

Don’t buy all the things

It is beyond tempting to purchase everything you think you need for those “just in case” moments. (Trust me, I learned this one the hard way.) I discovered I should have waited until we started traveling to see what we actually needed. Don’t get me wrong; you will need the necessary tools and parts before your trip, but you’ll find you can skip many of the “wants” and save a ton of limited space. Bonus — you’ll have more money to check off your road trip bucket list!

Plan short travel days

When you plan car trips, long travel days are usually on the itinerary. You want to get there as fast as possible and start enjoying your getaway. When you plan your RV trip, stick to 400 miles or less per day. Trust me on this one. I’m not sure why, but RV travel is more exhausting. Luckily, it is easy to pull through an RV park along your route and rest for a night before picking up where you left off.

Three children standing on steps smiling in T-Shirts reading "RV There Yet?"
Photo Credit: Angelica Kajiwara

There are fantastic one-night stops at wineries, farms, breweries, and private land where the owners will let you park for a night or two for free. All you have to do is support that local business while you’re there. A free place to stay in exchange for a nice bottle of wine or homemade bread? Sign me up.  

Read reviews, then read a few more

I learned my lesson on this one FAST! On our first long road trip, I searched for an RV park in the town we wanted to stay in, scanned a few photos, read a few reviews, and booked our spot. Wow, it turned out that despite having fantastic reviews, the park was a glorified parking lot. Why? Because it was a prime location for an annual sporting event. Your priorities will rarely match someone else’s preferences.

We always look for a playground and lots of great hiking, biking, and water nearby. A bigger campsite is a plus, and family-friendly amenities are important too. If I read a review that mentions annoying noise courtesy of lots of children, we’ll probably book a stay there because we have kids of our own! Focus on what matters to you.  

Exploring Cunningham Falls State Park in Thurmont, MD
Exploring Cunningham Falls State Park in Thurmont, MD. Photo Credit: Angelica Kajiwara

Don’t let the RV stigma stop you 

We all have an idea of what an RV vacation would look like. It is often colored by an old movie we watched or a trip we took as a kid. Those days are long gone. Modern RVs are just that —  modern. You don’t have to give up the idea of a luxury vacation. The waste part isn’t as gross or difficult as it sounds, I promise. And oh, the places an RV can take you!

Camp in the foothills of the Smoky Mountains, park oceanfront and surf every morning, open your door, walk down four steps and start hiking the Appalachian Trail or the stairs of the Lincoln Memorial. We’ve done it all, and we wouldn’t have tried any of those things without our RV.    


Lead Photo: Angelica Kajiwara

About the Author

Angelica Kajiwara

Recently named top 2021 family travel blog to follow and top mom blogger in the DMV, Angelica, her husband, her mom, and three kids are always up for an adventure! Whether it’s a family road trip in their RV, a weekend away at the newest family destination, or a Tuesday at their scenic home on Lookout Mountain, this fun-loving family shares the best, the real, and the silliness of it all. Her roll-with-it attitude of, “If we can do it, you can do it” makes her blog a must-read (and her Instagram a must-follow).

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