In most cases, having the kitchen and bathroom with you makes the “I’m hungry” and “I have to go potty” requests easy to deal with, and traveling together as a family can foster closeness and communication.
Veterans of family RV travel suggest involving children in the planning stages, rotating seats in the car or RV en route to the campsite, and assigning duties at the campsite. Older children can be responsible for packing items and handling last-minute duties at home, like locking the doors and windows and removing perishable food from the refrigerator.
Even infants can go camping happily. Experts recommend carrying a toddler in a backpack carrier and an infant in a front-pack carrier, both of which are made specifically for hiking. Bring along a folding stroller and playpen, mosquito netting, and a baby guardrail for the bed to use while in camp. A baby seat that clamps to a picnic table also enables a small child to join the rest of the family at meals.
Packing sunscreen to protect children’s delicate skin is essential. So is bringing along a gentle insect repellant.
For more tips on traveling with kids, check out these websites:
- Family Travel Network offers travel tips and reviews of family-friendly destinations, vacation deals, and campgrounds.
- Travel Mamas offers ideas and tips for traveling with kids, including many first-hand accounts and destination reviews by the founder.
Check campground information in advance to make sure pets are permitted. Some campgrounds assess a surcharge; a few impose pet restrictions, which means that they determine to allow pets on an individual basis, based breed or size. Always call ahead to ask.Although a few campgrounds have fenced dog runs where pets can frolic off the leash, almost all require dogs to be on leashes in the campground at all times. Owners also are required to clean up after their pets. Some campgrounds provide dispensers of plastic bags at the dog runs and receptacles for the used bags. Otherwise, carry your own cleanup bags, and dispose of them properly.
Dogs should not be left alone in an RV at the campground or tied up outside the RV while you’re away. Never leave your pet in the RV for more than 10 or 20 minutes in mild weather when you’re running an errand, and don’t leave your pet alone in the RV at all when temperatures are hot.The following tips can help you and Fido have an enjoyable RV trip:
- Feed pets at night. Feed them after you’re finished driving for the day, especially if they’re susceptible to motion sickness.
- Give pets water only during the day. Give your pets bottled water, without any additives for taste, which you need to introduce at home before the trip. As you would for humans, use bottled water, because the mineral content in water changes from one campground to the next. A contented tummy is something that you want a traveling pet to have.
- Bring familiar toys and bedding for the pet. Like security blankets, objects from home can comfort your pet on the road.
- Help your pet become accustomed to the RV. If you have access to the RV before the trip, spend some time in it with your pet.
- Keep your cat’s litter box in the shower or tub. Encase the litter box in a 30-gallon plastic trash bag, put the box in the trash bag bottom down, dump a 10-pound bag of cat litter into the box, and snap on the litter-box cover.
- Carry a couple of small washable throw rugs. Putting a small rug over the RV carpeting can protect it from muddy little cat or dog feet.
A good online resource for information about traveling with your pet is Petswelcome, which also dispenses medical tips and lists the names of animal-friendly lodgings and campgrounds, kennels, and veterinarians.
More campgrounds offer handicap-accessible campsites with wide, level paved sites to accommodate wheelchairs, walkers, and electric scooters. Many provide improved access to public toilets and showers by installing ramps and handrails.
Wheelchair travelers aren’t the only ones who adjust well to RVs. Many other handicapped travelers — from those on dialysis to those requiring a supply of oxygen — find much more comfort and security in a well-equipped motor home than they do in an automobile, plane, or train.
The Recreation Vehicle Industry Association (RVIA; 703-620-6003) publishes a directory with information about RV accessibility for travelers with disabilities. Another valuable resource is the Society for Accessible Travel and Hospitality (212-447-7284), which offers a wealth of travel resources for people with all types of disabilities and informed recommendations on destinations, access guides, and companion services. Annual membership fees are $49 for adults and $29 for seniors (63-plus) and students.