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What About Kids and RVing?

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People are always asking me, "What about kids?" My answer is, I suggest you keep them.

Of course, you probably want a more serious answer, so I'll get on with it. In the picture below these kids look happy and they look typical of the happy, bubbly kids I've seen in most RV parks.

In my experience, I find that kids adjust well to life on the road. They experience so much more of life and of the real world living in an RV than they do in a classroom or living in a typical neighborhood.

It's a different life for the kids, so you need to discuss it with them. They will experience a lot more of the world, but they won't have as much time with their current friends. With the Internet, Skype, Facebook, etc., they can stay in touch with these friends and have so many interesting adventures to share with them. Some kids even start their own blog so their friends can keep up with them.

I've found that kids meet a lot of new friends in the campgrounds and they become a lot more outgoing. They may only be with the new friends for a few weeks or a few months before one of the families leaves the campground. Many times the kids stay in touch and the families arrange to meet up several times a year at different work-camp jobs or at different places.

I know of a family with two teenage daughters who spent two years sailing around the world and the teenagers loved it. They were a lot more isolated than being in an RV and it didn't bother them at all. In fact, they said it was the greatest experience of their lives.

Every parent that I have talked to who is living in their RV with kids say that the kids love it. The problem with this observation is that I don't think it's necessarily a representative sample. The parents of kids who found that their kids didn't like the lifestyle are probably not on the road, so I didn't get to meet them.

If you or your children are unsure about whether they would like it, you should all commit to giving it a one year-trial. A few weeks or even a few months is not long enough to really adjust and know for sure if everyone would be happy with the lifestyle.

Agree that after one year you will all sit down and discuss the whole situation and then decide to continue or not. In fact, I recommend that even if you don't have kids, sit down with your spouse every year and decide if you're both really enjoying the adventure and want to continue. I know one woman who was reluctant to take off on the adventure, but agreed to do it for one year because her husband wanted to so much. After the year, she was more enthusiastic about continuing than he was.

I've met a lot of families who are traveling with kids and they all seem very happy with the arrangement -- both the parents and the kids. Of course, if they weren't happy, they wouldn't be doing it.

When traveling with kids, you will have to do home schooling, but in my opinion, that's so much better than subjecting kids to what goes on in traditional public schools.

(Personal Note: I was talking to my six-year-old cousin the other day. She is being home schooled and she is in the second grade. I asked her how long it took her to do her homework every day and she said, "It normally takes me about two hours, but sometimes it takes longer if I spend too much time looking out the window."

I told her, "I know how you feel. Some days I get a lot accomplished and some days I must be spending too much time looking out the window because it takes me longer to get things done." At the age of six she has already figured out what it took me years to learn -- that is, if you want to get something done, don't spend too much time looking out the window. Of course, when you're living in an RV, many times there's so much to see when you look out the window that it's hard to resist.

It's important that each child has his own space -- In addition to having his own bed, it's important for each child to have a special place to store personal stuff. Having one's own place is just as important as having one's own room at home. Some families find that it works great for each kid to have a cloth bag (like a laundry bag) or two to store their stuff in. Personal space is important. It doesn't have to be big, but it does need to be entirely the child's.

Stop at historical markers. Kids will remember history more when they are standing at or near the site where something happened. Also, it's a good chance for kids to get out and stretch their legs. When traveling, don't be in too big of a hurry to get to the next destination. Scheduling stops for an hour or so at playgrounds is a great way to let kids to play with other kids and maybe even have a picnic while you're there.

Remember, it's not all about getting to the next campsite. Do a lot of hiking -- at the campsites and at places along the way. It's great exercise (for you and for the kids) and it's a way for the kids to learn about nature.

If you're traveling with teenagers, it may be a little more difficult to make them happy about leaving their friends back home. Some things that help are to involve the older kids in making the plans on where to go next. Maybe even have them go online and make reservations and map out routes and where to stop along the way.

Another thing that older kids enjoy from time to time is to have one or two of their friends go along for a week or so. If there's not room in the RV, pitch a tent next to the RV. Most campsites allow one tent per site. This gives kids space and you some peace and quite. And of course, to keep older kids happy, you should camp where there is Internet access.

Bottom line: Taking children out of the public school system and letting them experience the world through the eyes of full-time RVing is one of the best things you could do for them. Every kid I've met while traveling seems to love their lifestyle. Just ask them where they've been or where they're going next and watch their eyes light up and you will see how excited and happy they are.

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