We are the Hoopers - Andrew, Janelle, Corbin (6 years) and Wyatt (4 years). We are entering our third year of full-time living in our RV. We currently have a 2020 Keystone Montana 3855 BR recently upgraded from a 2018 Keystone Montana 3950 BR. Prior to that we had a Keystone Raptor toy hauler where our full-time journey started. These past few years have taught us so much about RVing, specially full-time RVing with kids.
Full-Time RVing With Kids: 10 Things You Need To Know
- Kids are awesome.
- It's going to be LOUD.
- You'll have to adjust to new family dynamics.
- Travel day prep is key.
- Organization is life.
- The lifestyle is awesome, too.
- Kids are really adaptable.
- Choose where you camp.
- Cut back on the toys.
- 18 summers.
1. Kids are awesome
Kids are cool. Really. They are literally experiencing almost everything in their life for the very first time, and we get a front row seat! We learn so much from our kids every single day. They live in a continual state of exploration and questioning things. Their minds never stop and it stretches us as parents to teach them and learn alongside them! We also get to watch them learn, interact with people, and make new friends. It’s amazing to watch their personalities develop and grow. When they have a problem, we are there to help them. We love being a constant in their lives. We give them space to learn and grow on their own, but being with them all the time we really get to see the fine details of this.
2. It’s going to be loud
Kids are kids. Kids are loud. Kids love to laugh. Kids run, jump, skip, hop, fall, and roll around - all of the time. Living in an RV with kids does not make your kids louder by nature, but the small space does allow the noise to be magnified at times. It is just one of those things that comes with the territory of living tiny. We help control this by having a separate office space for Andrew to work in, going outside to burn off energy, having designated quiet times during the day, and separating the kids for sleep at night. We embrace the noise, the laughter, and the chaos - soon enough our kids will not be under our roof anymore and we will be left yearning for the years of noise.
3. Adjusting to new family dynamics
Full-time RV living is a lifestyle. If you are entering this lifestyle coming from a typical house like we did, there are going to be some major changes in the family dynamics. This is not for the better or the worse, it is just a change, and a major one at that. When you move into a smaller space you have to learn a whole new way to communicate. Only one toilet/shower - all of the sudden you are talking about shower times and planning the day around that and making sure everybody has ample time to get ready for the day. If you don’t have a washer and dryer in your rig, this will involve planning time for laundromat visits. Grocery shopping more frequently due to lack of storage space and adjusting to becoming a one car family might be dynamics that change as well. Being together 24/7 - literally. Not just together, but really close together. This a choice we made for our family and we love it, but it still required some major adjusting initially.
4. Travel Day Prep is key
Our kids rock travel days, but we set them up for success. Our travel days range anywhere from 2 hours - 12 hours (average around 6). I bring ALL the snacks and water. Prior to having an outdoor kitchen, I would pack lunches/dinners for the road and we ate in the car. We like to maximize our travel days with as few stops as possible. Our personal rule is no iPads or electronics unless our travel day is greater then 5 hours. At the 5 hour mark we pull them out and it is great for allowing us peace for the remaining time we have left. Bring headphones for the kids so you don’t have to listen to the movies/games too! Many other families do electronics for the entire travel day and that is fine too - whatever works for you family. Our other major rule is that kids do not get out of carseats/seatbelts before the rig is parked and set up. As they get older and can safely help with the process this will change, but for now it is a firm rule for us for our sanity and safety. They are so excited to get out of the car and just run around like crazy when we get someplace for the first time, and it is impossible to wrangle kids, help Andrew back up into spots, and be checking for trees/power lines/etc. 5 more minutes is worth your sanity. Providing consistency in your days so they know what to expect and what is expected from them on travel days is key.
5. Organization is life
You learn pretty quickly what your true needs are when you are living in 300 square feet. We had way too much “stuff” initially and still live in a constant state of downsizing. Bringing your kids in on this process is crucial. When they get to choose what is most important to them they feel valued and involved. Teaching your kids where everything belongs is important so that they can help keep your home in order. A tiny space can get cluttered and messy quickly, but it also picks up quickly when everything has a space.
6. This lifestyle is awesome
Never in my wildest dreams did I think that I would be traveling full-time with my kids. Never. This life is a literal dream for us. There are so many places to see in our lifetime and it is an absolute gift that we get to share this lifestyle with our kids. I hope that they look back on their childhood with fond memories and they grow up to be well-rounded and motivated individuals. We want them to have a desire and love for travel and there is no better way to pass that on to them, other than sharing it with them firsthand.
7. Kids are really adaptable
Let’s face it - kids are way more adaptable than adults. As adults we have been molded and shaped by society and it is much harder for us to accept change or think outside the box. Our kids think it is totally normal to live in an RV and travel - and it is! They have adjusted to this lifestyle seamlessly and have fully embraced it and accepted it for what it is. Note: our boys were 3 years old and 15 months old when we started this lifestyle. If you have older kids, they may be more resistant to change, but we have met countless families on the road with older kids and they all love it!
8. Choose where you camp
For us, we love boondocking. We discovered BLM land and fell in love fast. We totally outfitted our rig this year with an advanced energy electrical system - 1760 watts of solar and 8 lithium ion Battle Born batteries in order to facilitate boondocking more. Boondocking really gives us the space we crave and it allows our kids to be kids. If you prefer the RV parks that is awesome - we love having full hook-ups too! Some parks do charge an additional rate for kids, so be aware of that and always ask when booking. RV parks typically do provide a great way to meet other families that are local in the area and share the same lifestyle as you.
9. Cut back on the toys
Cutting back on toys has been the biggest area of downsizing for us. Living tiny has truly allowed me to see what the kids actually play with and spoiler alert - it is not very much. Kids have such an imagination by nature and I feel like this lifestyle really allows that quality to shine. Our kids absolutely love being outside and playing in the dirt, building stick forts, and stacking up rocks. When it is nice weather the toys don’t even come out - and that is the kids’ choice. They just want to be outside. I love how full-time RVing has cultivated such a love of the outdoors with them.
10. 18 Summers
18 Summers are given to us with our children before they “take flight”. We have already burned through 6 of those with our oldest! Spending time with our boys has been a huge driving factor in full-time RVing for our family. We do not want to rely on scheduled breaks to take vacations and explore with our children. This does not mean you have to full-time - maybe that is your end goal, and that is awesome. If your goal is spend more time with your kids - go camping, go hiking, become weekend RVers and build up to longer trips. There is literally no right or wrong way to do this. Take peace of mind knowing that whatever you do is creating lasting memories for your children - all kids truly crave is quality time. Happy Trails!
Thanks for reading! If you were wondering, we have Montana's 3855BR. To view the floorplan, click here.
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