The Reality Of Traveling In Your Motorhome With Kids

This site is called RV Family Travel. So, what’s it like traveling with the kids?

As I write this post, we’re in the middle of a motorhome trip which has us out for a bit over 6 weeks. So, for 6 weeks, the 4 of us are living in confined quarters in a 36-foot motorhome.

My kids are 9 and 7.

Now, if you look at the covers of your Camping World catalogs, those photos show pictures of the motorhome sitting in a pristine campsite. The parents are both models sitting there in their chairs smiling and holding hands. The kids (usually one or two) are either sitting there playing or petting the dog, not bothering anybody. Everybody is smiling. Not a mess anywhere.


It isn’t usually like that at all. 🙂

For one, campsites are rarely manicured and clean like the magazines. My kids leave crap around all the time. We’ve got shoes and sandals all around the door. Half the time, there are swim towels and bathing suits hanging from various appendages of the motorhome in order to air dry. Bikes and scooters thrown all over the ground.

But, then you go inside…

We do fairly well at keeping the inside of the motorhome clean, but it’s still not like home. Even if there isn’t as much mess laying around, it is more compressed and obvious because of the smaller size of the space. There are usually electronics and papers all over the dashboard, shoes and stuff down on the entry steps in front of the door, toys sitting around on the floor and the furniture. The rear bed is often strewn with clothes yet to be put away.

You certainly need to have a bit more tolerance for messes when you’re living in the motorhome – especially with kids.

Then, there’s the kids themselves. 🙂

Like any parent, I love the hell out of my kids. Would do anything for them. But, at the same time, any parent who tells you it is all sweetness and light is lying. 😉

The only time it is truly peaceful in our motorhome is if the kids are watching their iPads or sleeping. Take them off of those and it is the sound of them bickering back and forth, being bored and asking us for things constantly, going in and out of the entry door… or any number of other things that generate noise.

My wife and I sometimes find it difficult to discuss anything without the kids interrupting… or my daughter interrupting and asking us to repeat things when we weren’t even talking to her.

There’s also the kids while we are driving. Sometimes, the kids will just walk around while we’re on the Interstate and we have to tell them to sit down. Or while I’m trying to navigate heavy traffic and the kids are just arguing or asking for snacks. Sometimes it can surprise me how oblivious they are to what we’re doing.

My son is a typical high-energy kid… and it magnifies when he’s tired. So, having him inside the RV when he’s in that mode is like putting an elephant in a china shop! As the guy who has to be responsible for fixing stuff, I am constantly yelling at him (and sometimes her) to stop doing stuff that can cause a problem. Stuff like dropping food on the furniture, running or jumping up and down, swinging their body around on the dinette, jumping on the sleeper sofa.

Also, taking a shower or even using the bathroom sink is something to keep an eye on. Any RV owner knows that water can damage it when it isn’t in the right places. Something as simple as water pooling on the floor can cause floor damage that it takes time to repair. My kids always make a mess there and I have to show them (repeatedly, since they forget) to dry off all the water they leave around.

Kids are kids. And hell… adults have their quirks, too. Point is…

Being in a confined space will surface everything.

Any personality quirk will become quite obvious because there’s nowhere to escape to.

If your kids have a ton of energy, it will likely drive you a little crazy inside your RV. Best bet is to keep them outside as much as you can.

Kids also need to learn certain life lessons in order to make life easier inside a motorhome. Things like:

  • The importance of the Golden Rule and not doing things that others cannot experience.
  • The importance of compassion for other people’s viewpoints and allowing them to be that way without challenging them
  • The importance of being part of a team and taking responsibility for things
  • Showing respect
  • Cleaning up after yourself

It isn’t easy. It isn’t as if you can just have a little family sit-down conversation and solve all these things and teach them this. It is something that comes with time.

Also, as the parents do, so will the kids.

Clean up your own messes. Show respect for others. Set a good example. The kids will come to follow along, even if not instantly.

When you’re traveling as a family in a motorhome, everybody needs to be a team member. It can’t be just the parents cleaning up and doing everything while the kids live a care-free life. It will just lead to problems. And if that’s the situation at home, the issues with it will be magnified once you step into a motorhome. Confined quarters will do that.

As a final word…

RV travel is an AWESOME way for families to travel. I am very fortunate to have grown up in a family with a motorhome and get exposed to this lifestyle early. I’m very happy and fortunate to be able to do the same with my own kids.

It is the most affordable way to travel, for sure.

But, also… it brings you much closer to your spouse and kids.

Regular life can be much more dispersed. Kids end up spending a lot more time with their friends and you don’t see them as much. Plus, there’s often more distractions. Plus… school.

When you’re out camping, you’re together.

But, it isn’t all a bed of roses. It won’t be all campfires and s’mores.

Being that close to your family will inevitably bring to the surface things which will breed annoyance and even a few arguments. It is NORMAL.

Be aware of it. Sit down and talk about it. Even come up with a game plan.

It is something we’re still working on. And while we cannot look in on other families in other motorhomes around here in their private time, I would imagine it is the same for them, too.

I still wouldn’t have it any other way. Beats the hell out of living out of a suitcase in a Holiday Inn. 😉

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  1. David,
    So glad I found your page! This story is so very accurate in every way. We hit the road a few weeks ago for our first trip in our new (used 2004) Coachmen with our two kids (2 & 4) and two dogs (lab & springer). It has been quite the adventure from day two when we had to spend 26 hours in a truck stop waiting for a leveling valve to get replaced. Now, thanks to your blog, we found out that we have a recall on our Norcold refrigerator that went out yesterday during our travel back down to south Florida.
    Anyway, will be following your blog – and thanks for your honesty. Definitely is not picture perfect by any means, but in the end – the quality time with the kids makes it worth it. (Well, just started the day, so ask me in 10 hours?).

  2. Mrs Thompson says:

    Very accurate portrayal~thanks for sharing!

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