With activities that appeal to all ages, a relaxed pace, and plenty of time for togetherness, an RV camping trip with the grandparents (or great aunts and uncles, or older family friends), is a wonderful way to vacation with extended family while sightseeing throughout the United States, exploring the great outdoors, and making lifelong memories along the way!
If you’ve never gone RV camping with both your children and your parents or in-laws, there are a few things to keep in mind as you plan your RV vacation. Here’s a start:
Figure out if you’re camping in one RV
If you’ve got a rig that can accommodate everyone you’re camping with, you may be tempted to just take one camper on your road trip adventure or weekend campground stay. But consider that the older adults may want a quiet space to retire for an afternoon nap. (Heck, toddlers and teens often crave a quiet space, too!)
You might think about renting an RV for the grandparents to drive themselves. Check out rentals via companies like Cruise America or RVshare. Or you could plan a stay in a RV resort that offers cabins onsite so they’ll have their own space to retreat to as needed.
Chat through details ahead of time
Especially if the grandparents aren’t seasoned campers, they may have many questions about your camping routine. Offer to answer any questions, and talk about how you typically spend your days while camping, sightseeing, and exploring to minimize any surprises.
You’ll also want to confirm a packing list — who’s bringing what — so you don’t end up with two packages of paper towels or two big bottles of ketchup. Figure out who’s going to be doing the cooking for all — maybe you can split up meals, or maybe there’s a family member who really enjoys meal prep (just make sure others pitch in with clean-up!).
Another important detail to flush out: money. Is this trip a gift from one generation to another? Or will you share expenses down the middle? Talk about who’s paying for what before you set out for your trip.
Talk to your kids about expectations
If your kiddos aren’t accustomed to camping with their grandparents, you might want to remind them that the older adults might move a little slower if they have limited mobility. Grandparents may want to take more breaks, and the pace may be a little slower than your usual camping trips — give your school-age kids a heads-up ahead of time to give everyone a little grace on this multigenerational trip.
Choose a destination or itinerary where there’s something for everyone
If you’re heading out for a weekend camping destination, consider a family-friendly campground where the kids will be happily occupied, whether that’s with a swimming pool, giant playground, rec center, bike rentals, or fishing lake. Some of the best family-centric campgrounds offer plenty of entertainment for older folks, too, whether that’s evening bingo, cribbage tournaments, pickleball lessons, or even on-site golf courses. Truly, something for everyone!
If it’s a longer RV trip you’re planning, consider a variety of campgrounds and destinations to appeal to all. Maybe it’s a campground with all sorts of bells and whistles for little ones for two nights, alternated with a Harvest Hosts location so the adults can enjoy an evening of wine tasting. And remember, many Harvest Hosts locations appeal to all ages, such as museums and farms, where kids love to visit with the animals (like alpacas!) and grown-ups can shop for unusual souvenirs and delicious food items.
Make sure everyone gets their alone time
As noted above, it’s so important that everyone gets a chance to rest and regroup at certain points during the vacation — it’s easy to get irritable when you’re sharing a small space or together all the time.
Outside of afternoon rest time where everyone retreats to a quiet place to nap, read, or do activity books (coloring pages for kids and Sudoku for the grown-ups!), try to arrange times where the adults get a chance to do something on their own.
For example, one afternoon you and your spouse might want to take a hike just the two of you. Or Grandma and Grandpa may want to sign up for a campground birdwatching excursion. Great!
You don’t need to spend every moment of your vacation together to make it a successful trip. In fact, it can be fun for smaller groups to split up occasionally, and then come together over a big family meal and gather around the campfire to share stories of what they did during the day!
Have you traveled with both kids and grandparents? We’d love to hear your tips in the comments below!
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