How to Van Life with Your Family (and have the time of your lives!)

How to Van Life with Your Family (and have the time of your lives!)

Kids and the outdoors are a natural match. There are so many places to explore, activities to do, and adventures to be had that in the outdoors kids can just be kids without the distraction of electronics and the stressors of every day life. But there can be a lot to consider when taking the kids on a big outdoor adventure, and they may require a little extra attention. So, we’ve put together a quick “how-to” to answer some of your most burning questions about how to van life with your family, and if you have any more questions, please comment below and we’ll try to answer them for you!

Essential Gear

  1. Layers – Proper layering is just as important for kids as it is for you. Bring long underwear, mid-layers, water proof layers, lots of socks, and hats and mittens in case the temperatures drop at night in high altitudes.
  2. Lights – If you haven’t done much camping as a family, the darkness of the backcountry can seem scary to kids. Give each of them their own headlamps or lanterns so that they feel comfortable and safe around the campsite. We stock the van with 4 Coast headlamps, a lantern and flashlight 🙂
  3. Sleeping gear – All bedding is included in ROAMERICA campervans, including Rumpl down blankets, Teton Camp pillows, and sheets. If you feel the need to bring your own gear, make sure kid-sized sleeping bags aren’t too big for your child (a sleeping bag that doesn’t hug the body doesn’t allow for the same warmth).
  4. Extra of Everything – Kids are messy, after all. Bring extra clothes, shoes, sunscreen, snacks… Literally, everything. It’s worth it.

Kid Playing in the Pacific Northwest
Note: ROAMERICA campervans come fully stocked with everything you’ll need for the kitchen, bedding, towels, lights, and more. If you need anything else, speak with us before you head out on your adventure and we will do our best to make sure you don’t have to pack anything extra!

Let Them Eat Cake

Camping is not the time skimp on treats. Sure, outdoor activities require adequate (and healthy!) fuel for small humans to make it through the full hike or bike ride. But if it takes a gummy bear bribe to get them up that next hill, don’t sweat it. Or if the promise of after dinner s’mores is what motivates them to finish the kayaking trip, go ahead and make that promise. Sometimes, sweet treats are truly the cherries on top of an amazing day spent in the outdoors.

Kid-Friendly Activities

Whether you enjoy hiking or biking, climbing or skiing, there’s nothing more rewarding than passing along your love for the outdoors onto your children. Choose hikes that will be fun for humans with short legs and bike rides that will show them some of the most amazing vistas in the Pacific Northwest. Sometimes, it’s even okay to take a day out of the backcountry to visit an aquarium or a museum. Just make the trip as fun for them as possible!

Mountain Biking with Kids in the Pacific Northwest

Safety Considerations

Camping with kids comes with safety considerations that you don’t have to think about at home. Below are some of the top safety concerns and some tricks for how to address them.

  1. Fire Safety – Campfires are always one of the highlights of any camping trip, but they can be tricky. In addition to the fire extinguisher that comes with your ROAMERICA rental, go over fire safety precautions with your kids. It’s a great time to teach them about National Forest fire regulations. Also, it might be a good idea to establish a perimeter around the campfire for younger children that they can’t cross.
  2. Bug & Sun Protection – There’s nothing that halts an awesome outdoor adventure like a sun burn. Make applying sunscreen part of your morning routine, and keep the bug spray handy if you need it.
  3. Medications – If your children need specific medications, make sure you have a safe, dry space to keep them. It’s always also a good idea to bring extra if you can.
  4. First Aid – Your ROAMERICA rental comes with a First Aid kit, which will likely come in handy for those inevitable bumped knees and scraped elbows.


How to Van Life with Your Family - Campfire Cooking

Adjust Expectations

If this is your first time camping with your kids, this could be a big step for them. Don’t be afraid to take a day in the city if they need it. Go find a diner for some pancakes, or a movie theater for a movie night and popcorn. Be patient and take your time. Your kids will learn to love the outdoors, and there will always be more opportunities for you to van life with your family. Enjoy the nights under the stars and enjoy the journey!

Check out this family’s first time van camping review! Spoiler alert, they just bought their own van!

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