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The RVer's Road Trip Survival Guide to Traveling with Kids

No matter what your level of experience in RV travel (using RV rentals or your own vehicle), adding children into the mix can be problematic. But with proper planning and these handy tips, you'll be able to have a great road trip with friends and family even when RVing with kids.

Packing Smart:

The road can be a dangerous place at times and children's safety is an absolute priority. First off, statistics tell us that nearly 3/4 of all car seats will have been improperly installed. That is a scary number and we should all strive to lower it. Also make sure that your emergency supplies are in order: full water tanks with water jugs to spare, well equipped first-aid kits, flashlights with new batteries, to name a few necessary items. Make sure you have a road assistance plan and that your coverage is adequate and up-to-date. Be sure your cell phones are charged for the trip. Pack extra chargers and spare batteries if possible.

Go over emergency drills with the children and be sure to teach them stranger safety. If you are staying in an RV park be sure you have a distinct "dinner bell" to let the children know it's time to come in; something they will recognize and hear from a long way off. Tell them to come when they hear it no matter what. Safety whistles might also be a good option for the children to carry with them, but make sure they know they are for emergencies only.

Last but not least, a good night's sleep is important for everyone, but especially for drivers. Inadequate sleep can grate on the nerves and decrease the driver's effective handling of the recreational vehicle.

Safety and Emergencies:

Packing can be a big factor for everyone on a trip. Be sure that everything needed while on the road is available and secured in the vehicle. Children should be told to pick out their favorite games or books for the trip and keep them close at hand. Note: Be sure to pay attention to how the children are acting while they play or read, many people develop a sort of sea sickness while focusing on small things in a moving vehicle. Opening a window and looking in the far distance will help alleviate symptoms.

Pack separately for convenience sake. For instance, if your destination is a warmer area, be sure to pack a beach bag with everyone's swimsuits and spare towels and a change of clothes, which will eliminate the need to root around through the luggage to change wet or sandy outfits.

Dining In:

Children are much more influenced by fast food and restaurants than their parents will ever be. The big golden arches and colorful mascots of various junk food establishments will call to the kids often, and mercilessly. Curb this by planning ahead on how you will handle it. Be open to the occasional fast food burger or chicken nuggets, but plan for easy and kid-friendly meals during your trip.

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Many RV rental companies have models with adequate kitchens. Pre-made burger patties, either store bought frozen or from scratch, will cut down on a lot of messy labor and might settle a child's appetite, while a few small trinket toys might suffice to break the "Kids Meal" cycle. You should use this as a behavior incentive. If the children act poorly during the trip they should not be rewarded for that behavior.

Ask at whichever of the RV rental locations you use for further advice in all of these matters, as they are the experts after all, and can also point out vehicles with the most kid-friendly features.