Want to Take an RV Trip With Your Teen?

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The benefits of spending time together outweigh the periodic eye roll. When RVing with teens, be sure to plan ahead, set realistic expectations, and bring lots of snacks! Big kids probably require snacks than the toddlers do.


Heather Greenwood Davis from Travel and Destinations offers her experience traveling with her teens in an RV. Despite the bad rap teens often get, she says she loved traveling with her kids. “It’s dedicated time that we don’t often get with them at home and the benefits far outweigh the odd eye roll or deep sigh.”


Among the benefits of traveling with teens:

1. An extra set of hands. 

The kids have gone from peeking through the window as their dad figured out how pump-outs work, to donning gloves and getting involved. They are able to set up their beds on their own while their dad and I relax by the fire. They help with the prep and the packing, as well as the cooking and the cleanup.

2. They teach us things.

Whether it’s a hack they found on Instagram, a TikTok dance routine we can waste a gut-busting hour trying to replicate, or a cool spot a classmate shared that is only slightly off route, teenagers add to the trip in ways they couldn’t when they were younger. Plus, they have ideas on how to make everything from s’mores to hiking routes better.

3. It’s easier to build in downtime (for everyone).

With less attention focused on whether our kids are digging in ant nests or wading too close to the water, we can all enjoy our time apart as much as our time together. Now, we enjoy them and the trip at the same time.


Lessons learned:

1. Get them involved at the idea stage.

If you’re renting an RV, offer the teens opportunities to chime in on different model options. Ask them to think about what they’d like to bring along and what they’re hoping to see or do on the trip. If they’re invested, they’ll be more enjoyable travel companions.

2. Outline family rules in advance. 

Have the hard conversations about everyone’s expectations and responsibilities long before you leave home, and make sure everyone knows what they are. Write them down if you have to. Early morning starts? Limitations on tech? Who’s making dinner? The teens may not like all of the answers you arrive at but at least it won’t come as a surprise when you wake them at 7 a.m., confiscate their phone, or pass them a spatula.

3. Food is a priority. 

Hangry teens make for cranky travel companions. You may not notice how much teens eat when you’re at home, but on the road, they’ll be more active than usual and that voracious appetite will quickly go through your supplies. Plan meals that are hearty and easy to make (or reheat), and always have lots of snacks on hand.

4. Choose an RV that offers the most space for your budget. 

The two boys who used to want to spend every waking moment joined at the hip are less keen on that now. Keep that in mind as you choose your vehicle. If you have to settle for something smaller, extend your space with tents so that everyone gets the privacy they’re after.

5. Offer veto rights. 

Sometimes your best planning skills will be up against a teenage mood. Maybe your son no longer wants to join in on the family hike or your daughter has changed her mind about the guided tour. It happens. Giving everyone one veto upfront means the rest of the family can enjoy the experience without the grump.


To Keep in Mind:

1. Be realistic. 

Have a kid who hates the outdoors? You’re not going to change that with immersion. Instead, build in some stays near resorts and spring for a day pass at the pool.

2. Try something new together. 

When everyone is new to something, the potential of looking awkward is less stressful for teens. Pick an activity that is fun and challenging and it’ll be a guaranteed memory maker.

3. Build in time apart. 

The pandemic has made for a lot of time together. Leave gaps in your schedule so teens can roam on their own (or hang back), judgment free.

4. Follow tech rules. 

Want your teens to go cold turkey on technology? Be prepared to give yours up as well. They’ll call you on your hypocrisy if you’re sneaking in text time while admonishing them for Instagram. Instead, consider having dedicated times of day when everyone can check in, before putting the phones away.

5. Consider reinforcements.

Sometimes teens do better in packs. Consider asking another RV family to join your trip. It’ll offer opportunities for the kids to get time with peers while also providing other adults for you to hang out with.


To read this article in its entirety including gear recommendations, click HERE.

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