RVing with Teenagers
It’s your dream RV road trip. The open road stretches to the horizon. All your essential possessions are stored in the back. Your retro-cool playlist is locked and loaded up front. You have an array of snacks within reach and a well-thought-out itinerary printed and placed in a binder. What could make this fantastic RV road trip even better?
Yes, teenagers, with their incredible ability to be unaffected by the majesty of nature. To be underwhelmed by the Grand Canyon and look bored while whitewater rafting. And be totally ungrateful for the epic, unforgettable RV vacation of a lifetime. (One day, they’ll recall it fondly, we promise.)
It doesn’t have to be that way. Teens get a bad rap, and while they might not appreciate the scenery as much as you, they can be excellent company on an RV trip. Positioned between childhood and complete independence, teens have strengths that can truly shine when you’re traveling as a family. They can be curious about the world and eager to explore it, savvy enough to help you handle the logistics of an RV trip, and ready to have their contributions respected.
Here are some handy tips for achieving happiness, harmony, and perhaps even some of that legendary “bonding” thing while RVing with teenagers. And one more tip: Sign up for early access to BookOutdoors for all your camping plans.
Let Them Have a Say
The No. 1 way to help teens enjoy an RV vacation is to involve them in planning it. Go beyond just asking if they think this or that would be fun. Invite them to genuinely assist with the planning, and make sure they know you value their input. Chances are, your teenagers have lightning-fast internet research skills. Put that to good use!
In the early stages, ask your teens to write down all the places they’d most like to go RVing. Let their imaginations run wild. Look at the list together and narrow it down to the more realistic places. You might even get some insight from the outlandish ideas. Ben wants to drive the RV to Venezuela to see Angel Falls? Maybe he’ll settle for the waterfalls at Yosemite National Park.
Once your RV road trip has a rough itinerary, continue to involve your teens in activity planning. Maybe every family member gets one day to be in charge of an activity, even if it means stepping out of your comfort zones. You’ll agree to conquer your fear of heights and ride the chair lift to the mountain-top trails, but only if Bella agrees to attend the ranger talk about geology (without complaining). Many teenagers are averse to being over-scheduled, so include free time as well.
Consider Sleeping Spaces
Most teens value their privacy, yet even the most spacious RVs lack enough space for teenagers to have some “me” time. If you’re going to rent an RV, check out different models in person, and bring your teenagers along. An RV might be advertised as sleeping four but actually have beds suited to small kids. Look for larger RVs with over-cab sleeping spaces or features like privacy curtains.
If your teen enjoys (or might tolerate) tent camping, bring a pop-up tent to be their own private space. Check campground policies to make sure you are allowed to have a tent set up in addition to the RV. It might be worth booking two adjacent campsites.
Choose the Right Campground
Campgrounds vary so much in their amenities and overall vibe, so it’s essential to choose one that suits the whole family. Introverted teens who want nothing more than to be left alone with a book might be more comfortable in a quiet, remote campground. Sociable teens who crave company will probably have a better time at a large family campground. Is your teen sporty and active from morning ’til night? Ensure your campground has amenities like swimming pools, sports courts, bike paths, or a complete activity program.
Want an easy way to find, compare and book campgrounds? Sign up for early access to BookOutdoors.
Make Them Useful
One great thing about RVing with teenagers is that they can actually be helpful, sometimes. There’s a fine line between requesting help and nagging, but many teens respond well to assigned responsibilities. Here are some ideas:
- Navigating while on the road. They get to be on the phone and tell the driver what to do.
- Meal planning and cooking.
- Making the campfire. It helps them embrace the outdoorsy camping vibe.
- Flatter their selfie skills and make your teen the official trip photographer.
- Assign a specific campsite task. Your teen pointed out that you almost drove away with the awning still out? Now it’s their job to double-check every time.
- Got a bossy teen? Correction – does your teen have impressive leadership skills? Embrace that and entrust them with the power of the pencil and checklist when you set up and take down your camp.
Those Teens and Their Devices
(Shaking fist) those teens are always glued to their screens! Admit it; you like your screen time too. Real quick, what are you reading this on? Yep, we all love our devices. The idea of being offline, whether due to parental enforcement or lack of service, is especially troubling to most teens. Seriously think twice about banning screen time during your RV trip, and be open to compromise.
Look into cell service and WiFi at the destinations on your RV road trip itinerary. If there will be periods when you’re forced offline, let your teen know in advance. Consider adding a mobile hotspot or signal booster to your packing list. Book RV sites with electrical hookups, and get a generator if your RV doesn’t already have one. Bring extra surge protectors and power strips, so there are no fights over outlets.
Yes, the scenery is beautiful, and they’re on their phone. Don’t worry about it. Just assume they’re texting their friends about what a great time they’re having on the RV trip.
Ready to plan your next camping trip, with or without teenagers? Sign up for BookOutdoors.