There is a good chance that this post contains affiliate links. If you click on any of these links, I might earn a small commission at no extra cost to you (which I really appreciate, thank you!) The full disclosure policy can be found here.
How to take a Family Vacation in an RV This Summer
We are all looking for ways to take safe and fun trips this summer, in a world full of social distancing.
That’s why this summer, many people are looking to RV camping. It’s literally all the rage right now.
Camping is outdoors and among some of the safest activities you can do right now.
Depending on where you go, you can get far away from densely populated and occupied areas which will reduce your risk. And definitely your stress.
Don’t worry if you’ve never been in an RV before – we’ve got you covered with all the basics.
How to take a family vacation in an RV
Why Not Tent Camping?
Thinking about a traditional camping trip wigging you out?
I know, it’s hot out there. And bugs. And uncomfortable sleeping bags.
Not to mention the lack of shower and toilet facilities.
What if I told you that you could still go camping but with the luxuries of a hotel?
Well, most of the luxuries at least. Room service is probably going to be limited.
Benefits of RV Camping
That’s where RV camping comes into play!
You can take your hotel room with you. It’s awesome to have a way to escape the rain or the heat. And definitely the bugs. No having to bury your poop or trekking to a campground facility that who knows when it was last cleaned. And is smelly and hot on top of that.
Modern recreational vehicles (RVs) come in a variety of sizes, but the common trait is that it is a home on wheels. Complete with air conditioners and refrigerators!
This means mom is a happy camper, not dealing with the bugs, and the little ones can be comfortable for their naps.
You can enjoy nature without all the drawbacks.
Best Places to go RV camping
Let’s take a look at some of the places you might want to take an RV right now.
National Parks, including National Forests and other federally managed lands, often have RV campgrounds that are perfect for your RV camping vacation.
The drawback is that these are often hard to get reservations in, particularly the popular national parks like Yellowstone and any of the Utah parks (lots of recent PR have made them a popular destination spot).
With the 2020 summer camping session compressed, you may have to look elsewhere to find open camping spots. But still check, as with all the changing plans, you may be able to score a highly desirable spot!
State and Local Parks
States typically have a state park system, some of which may have RV campgrounds, complete with RV hookups for power, water, and sewer. County and city parks may also have an RV campground that you can use.
Other state and local campgrounds may have what we call “primitive” camping spots without hookups. Some areas have what we call “boondocking” spots – no hookups at all and in less managed areas typically without assigned spots.
These primitive and boondocking spots are lower cost than your campgrounds with hookups, but these are going to be harder to camp in for the new RVer because it takes some time to learn how to manage power and water resources.
Private RV Campgrounds
The other option is to go the private campground route.
Private RV campgrounds can range from RV resorts to roadside stops, with all things in between.
RV resorts have all the amenities you would expect from a hotel resort – pools, hot tubs, playgrounds, restaurants, putt-putt courses, volleyball, tennis, and basketball courts, and social times. Of course, all these features come at a price – RV resorts can be among the most expensive ways to go RV camping. Also, RV resorts tend to really pack in the RVs, leaving you little room to spread out at your campsite.
The more middle of the road RV campground may have fewer amenities, but that is definitely a draw for many RV campers. Many of these RV campgrounds will still have pools but may not have the other amenities of an RV resort. You can enjoy more time as a family, closer to nature. Often these non-resort campgrounds have another feature to draw you in – a river, lake, or hiking trails.
Be careful when you are researching private RV campgrounds. Many bill themselves as RV campgrounds, but they attract more long term stays and may be closer to a trailer park than a campground. It’s not an ideal situation for family vacations, so be sure to check out the reviews from various sites.
As states have different re-opening timelines and guidelines, you’ll want to check with each campground about what is open before you book. I’d hate to see you expect a pool on a hot day just to find out it is not available.
Tips for First Time RVers
So you’ve decided that this summer is the time to try out an RV and go RV camping for the first time!
The good news is that you don’t have to buy an RV, you can rent one! Check out “Social Distance Camping in a Rental RV” https://rvtailgatelife.com/social-distance-camping-rental-rv/ for everything you need to know about renting an RV, including how to choose the right RV for you.
Most people are scared of two things when it comes to RVs: 1) emptying the black tank and 2) driving the RV.
Emptying the Black Tank
The black tank is what we call the wastewater tank that the toilet goes into. See, unlike when you are at home, the RV is not connected to a sewer. Instead, it has a holding tank.
People are scared about the black tank mostly because of what they’ve seen in two movies: National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation and RV. But it’s really not that bad.
If you use plenty of water and don’t empty the tank until it is nearly full, then you will have minimal problems. Check the sewer hoses to make sure that they don’t have any holes in them, hook up the sewer hoses to the sewer hookup, pull the lever for the black tank and let it go until the tank is empty, then pull the lever for the gray tank (that’s the one with the dirty shower and sink water but way less gross).
As long as you are hooked up to a proper RV sewer disposal site, you’ll be fine. Don’t ever empty into the sewer as Cousin Eddie did on his Christmas Vacation. And the poop geyser from RV is actually impossible.
Driving the RV
Most people aren’t accustomed to driving such big vehicles. Whether you get a driveable RV, like a Class A or a Class C, or a towable travel trailer or fifth wheel, you’ll need to get it to your campsite.
If you are looking at renting an RV and are scared of driving, look for the option of having it delivered to your campsite. Then you don’t even have to worry about driving it.
If you want to take on the experience of a true road trip, then just remember: slow down! It takes a lot more time to stop an RV than a passenger car or SUV. You’ll want to take your time going through turns.
I highly recommend that your first stop is to a nearby big, empty parking lot where you can try out some left and right turns to get an idea about the turn radius.
Driving an RV, especially for new RVers, can be exhausting. I recommend that people limit how much they expect to drive to around 4-5 hours a day. And remember that you won’t go as fast as you do in the car, so add some extra time to that Google Maps estimate!
More Tips for RV Camping
- Most newbie RVers are also going to appreciate campsites that are pull-throughs instead of back-ins. This is easier for new RVers, as they don’t have to worry about backing into a campsite, some of the most difficult times for RVers (and a big stressor on any marriage!)
Pull-through sites are also great for the longer trips that you have to break into multiple days. You can quickly get into a site and out of a site without having to worry about backing in when you’ll only be there long enough to sleep.
- Try to schedule your travel time so that you arrive at your campsite in the day time. This will make it so much easier to park and setup, and even enjoy an adult beverage.
- When you first get the RV, make a note of the height, length, width, and weight. There are places that you cannot go with the larger RVs – bridges won’t be strong enough for the weight, bridges too low for the RV to safely clear, toll booths too narrow for a wide RV. Use an RV specific GPS to help avoid these hazards (many RVs have them built-in and many RV rental companies offer them if the RV does not have one already).
- Whether you are renting, buying, or even borrowing an RV from a friend, have the more experienced RVer walk you through the primary systems and how to setup an RV for camping. You’ll want to know how to level the RV; operate the slides (if any); setup all the connections for power, water, and sewer; basic power management and generator use; and how to prepare the RV for travel.
- On the topic of power management, do know that you are limited in what you can run at one time. So if you have two or three air conditioners, don’t plan on also running a hairdryer and the microwave at the same time. If you have a 30 amp RV, plan on only running one high power item at a time. If you have a 50 amp RV, you can usually run two high power things at a time.
- You can often take pets with you. Check your rental agreement for their pet policy and check the campground as well. Many campgrounds will have limits on the number and even the type of dogs (sorry to those with the dogs that are often deemed aggressive breeds, they are the most likely to be prohibited in parks). If you do take pets with you, keep them on a leash and pick up their waste when you are done. For more tips on RVing with dogs: https://rvtailgatelife.com/ultimate-dogs-guide-rving/
Don’t Be Afraid to Ask Another RVer for Help
The good news is that the RV community is some of the most helpful people you’ll find. Most people are willing to lend a hand if you just ask. Some might offer, but don’t be afraid to ask either.
We all started off as new RVers at one point, and someone helped us through all the tough spots.
If all else fails, Google and YouTube can be your friend. Or check out one of the RV Facebook Groups. In the larger groups, someone is always online to help you troubleshoot a problem. Yes, even in the middle of the night when something inevitably goes wrong.
Be a Good RV Neighbor
Finally, be a good RV neighbor! https://rvtailgatelife.com/rv-campground-etiquette/
Most campgrounds have rules like quiet hours after which you need to keep the volume down and don’t run generators.
You should also abide by other rules like don’t cut through other people’s campsites, don’t leave trash, and be careful with your campfires.
If you have a problem with a neighbor, try to address it in a peaceful manner, but also don’t be afraid to get park management involved. Don’t escalate a situation on your own.
About the Author:
Kimberly is based in Atlanta, GA and explores mostly the Southeast and east coast in her 2017 Tiffin 34PA, a Class A gas motorhome, that she uses to tailgate for sporting events and to go camping in with her rescue dog. For more on RV travel, check out her website RV Tailgate Life https://rvtailgatelife.com
How to take a family vacation in an RV
I hope this post about how to take a family vacation in an RV has given you some ideas for your next vacation. If you’re wondering, yes, I can book RV vacations for you as a Travel Agent! Simply reach out via my contact form or fill out my custom travel request to get started.
Dreaming of a vacation, but not ready to travel just yet? Sign up for my newsletter! You will receive a weekly email with travel tips, news, and more. I’ll be there whenever you’re ready to plan your vacation. Sign up below.
If you love these posts and want to support my blog but aren’t ready to travel yet, you can buy me a coffee to show your support. I coffee!
Pin it for later:
Looking for more options? Check out some of my most popular blog posts:
- 10 things to know before going to Hawaii.
- 20 things you should never do in Hawaii.
- 20 things to know before going to Universal Studios.
- The 7 Best Things to do on the Big Island.