You may have left normal life behind when you drove off in your new camper. But keeping the kids safe while traveling is always a main concern for any family. These 9 safety tips for RV camping with kids can give you, and them, some breathing room.
Are we giving too much freedom, are we giving too little?
The truth is, we all love the freedom RV wanderlust gives our families. But some of us struggle with just how much of this freedom to pass on to the kids. Our travel lifestyles include the ability to roam the country.
We pack a few items, some supplies and clothes. Then we hit the road hard going out to see, do and experience things others will often only read about. Our reality is a dream for so many. For so many of us it becomes a struggle to keep ourselves grounded. These safety tips for RV camping with kids can keep our families safe while we figure it out.
How Much Camping Freedom is Too Much for Kids?
Even the most seasoned travelers can use a reality check on how much freedom is too much for the kids. Raising children is a tough job to begin with. It’s full time. Seven days a week, 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. Unlike a typical 9-5, you’re always on call and overtime is most definitely required.
Children raised as full-time RVers are no different. If anything, they need more parental attention and sometimes structured rules. This keeps them safe in a life of ever changing environments, people and cultures.
With each new place your family enjoys, prep your children upon arrival.
These safety tips for RV camping with kids are a “just in case” insurance policy.
Things like walking your campground. Making sure they know where the front office, emergency shelter, and your camp site is located. Knowing how to get to each place is almost always a must.
Also, the kids will likely want to enjoy the park’s amenities like their playground and swimming pool. Let them know up front if they can go alone or only with an adult. This can help squash any preconceived notions of adventurous “kids only swims,” while Mom’s in the shower.
In our family, our older girls obviously have more freedom then the twins, who are just 5 years old. They are free to explore the park together. But they are not allowed to go swimming alone or inside other campers’ RVs. We prefer they stay out of the camp store, too.
We set boundaries on where and how far our younger travelers can roam, both alone and with their older sisters. While they can go much further with the big girls. And they can still enjoy the ability to play right outside the camper, for much needed twins-only playtime. But they are always being supervised by Mom and Dad.
9 Safety Tips for RV Camping with Kids
We don’t want to hinder the kid’s personal development or their natural urge for freedom. But we realize that raising a family of nomads comes with its own set of parental duties and obligations. Our job is to keep them safe and we take that seriously.
We strive to instill character traits in our children. This allow sthem to make good choices on what is right and wrong, as well as safe. And this is why we follow these nine rules for RV camping with kids, both in and around the parks.
1. Remember stranger danger
They can be courteous and say “hello.” And they can even chit chat and answer some basic questions. But it is unsafe and unacceptable for our kids to hang out in adult settings without our presence.
Example: Our older girls went to walk their dog around the campground one afternoon. They did not return for 30 to 40 minutes, which is totally unlike their usual 10-minute loop. When they finally returned, they explained they sat at a campfire with a woman and her dog toward the back of the campground. While it seemed harmless, after more details were presented the woman was clearly drinking alcohol and asked the girls several times to go inside the camper to watch TV with her. Stranger Danger!
2. There’s safety in numbers
I don’t like the kids to go outside without a buddy. There are four of them, so that’s three opportunities to find a playmate. And there’s two alternates if it doesn’t work out. Usually this isn’t so much of an issue, because they all want to go outside. But sometimes one will want his or her own space. That’s when it gets tricky.
I just don’t feel comfortable sending my 8-year-old outside by herself in a campground. Especially if we’ve only been parked there for a day.
3. Don’t play in the street
Kids will be kids. Sometimes they don’t pay attention to what everyone else in the world is going in cars and golf carts. There is almost no reason for the kids to play in the middle of the street.
Most campgrounds have a playground, patio, rec room, or grassy field where they can run around and have fun. I tell them to keep the street clear for the cars. This helps me avoid unnecessary stress.
4. Look both ways before crossing the road
The last thing anyone needs is for a kid to be run over by a RV! I tell my kids to stop at the side of the road, not on the road, the side. Then check both ways to make sure nothing is coming. Always check again! Then cross quickly.
5. Do not go inside anyone’s camper
There are some instances where we bend this rule. For example, if we camp with a friend or family. Or if we are sitting right outside. Then of course I would bend the rule. But, to just have our kids running around trying to have play dates in each new friend’s camper? This isn’t our cup of tea.
The campground is wide open. Why can’t they play outside?
6. Stay inside your boundaries
The twins are only 6. Usually they play where I can see them. But the older girls know they can wander off a bit. That’s if they don’t go to the pool, inside campers or buildings without my knowledge. They know to stay out of areas that look like they are being used for storage, maintenance or trash.
Example: Once we camped in Kentucky at a campground. The pool was closed and tarped until the next season. But, the campground forgot to lock the gates to the pool area. A young boy, about the age of 12, decided it would be not only fun to go into the pool area to hang out but also to challenge himself and others to walk across the tarp. The the tarp began to stretch and sink lower and lower into the pool. He barely made it out before the brackets snapped.
7. Don’t pet or approach anyone’s dog
Some people love animals. And some animals love people. Then there is the opposite of both.
I’d rather my kids not pet anyone’s dog, and they know to leave stray cats alone as well.
Example: We were camping in Virginia at a family campground. A 3-year-old boy was bitten in the face by a neighboring camper’s friendly dog. Without warning or being provoked, the dog snapped off the leash and charged right at the toddler. He pinned him to the ground before anyone could do anything. Then he bit the entire left side of the child’s face. This resulted in a helicopter flight to the children’s hospital and many hours of reconstructive surgery.
8. No running around the campfire
Campfires are fun, but that doesn’t mean you should play games like “tag” around them. I’m so nervous that someone will get burned, fall in or have his or her hair singed off. I prefer to sit around the campfire and have family time.
Tell stories, play songs, talk about your day or what you have planned for the next. These are things to do around a warm fire. Not run!
9. Wear your helmet
We see kids all the time, riding bikes, scooter, roller blades and ever those motorized racers without helmets.
It’s just not safe. My kids must wear helmets if they want to ride anything. I would prefer knee pads, elbow pads and gloves. But I realize that’s pushing it, so I don’t go overboard. I want the kids to have fun and be safe while they do.
When they play, they play hard and you’ll likely hear them throughout the entire campground, because of this hard play. I’d much rather hear playful screams and giggling laughs than cries for help and an ambulance.
Keeping our kids safe while traveling is a big concern. They’re always up for an adventure and we want to make sure they’re prepared to take it on.
Contributed by Sharee Collier. She hit the road with her family of six back in 2013, when they decided enough was enough. They packed up their stuff in a perpetual journey seeking to find new and exciting adventures in family travel, homeschooling and workamping. Follow their journey at MeettheColliers.com.