23 answers

Motorhome Trip with Kids

We are planning a motorhome trip this summer with extended family. I had vacations as a kid in motorhomes and loved them - I am excited for my kids to have the same experience.

Here's the dilemma...
I am very nervous about traveling with the kids in the motorhome. I would like to take a car in addition to have the kids in their car seats while actually traveling. I feel torn about this though. Part of the appeal of a motorhome vacation is that it isn't such a chore to get there. Plus there is the added expense of not only gassing up the motorhome, but the car as well...

Our destination is 7 hours away and that is a very long time for a 3 year old and a 6 year old to travel and maintain sanity in a car seat.

Has anyone traveled with young kids in a motorhome? Did you use your car seats?

What can I do next?

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We travel with my inlaws and my sister in law... she has two kids 6 and 5 and we have a 8 month old. We travel in a 40 coach (RV) and love that the kids can sit on the floor and play, eat, use the potty or sleep. As long as driver is carefull and goes speed limit I always feel safe!

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My husband has been investigating vehicle collisions for over 15 years and he just told me that he's never investigated a collision involving a motor home. Statistically you're less likely to be involved in an accident in the motor home than in the car. He told me that he can remember three or four motor home collisions that have happened that others investigated. In one case the driver was drunk. In another case they believed the driver fell asleep at the wheel. In a third case it was an elderly driver who drifted across the line into oncoming traffic. He thinks there might have been a fourth but he can't remember the details. No children were involved/were hurt in any of the cases he remembers.

He said that if we were traveling in a motor home he would want to take the car seats for containment purposes . . . in case the little monkeys got out of control, and in case the motor home breaks down and you have to switch to a rental vehical, etc. But he thinks the motor home is safer than the car.

(This is the guy who came home after investigating a nasty collision involving a Honda Accord and insisted that we go out and buy one immediately. He is VERY safety conscious!)

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Hi B.,

Two years ago our son informed us that we were going to be kidnapped. His family of 4 daughters himself and wife and the two of us were going on a trip in their motor home. I was wondering how we would all manage in such close quarters for several hours. It was a joy as we were able to play cards and if the kids were hungry or thirsty it was all right there. They could even stretch their legs if needed. They slept alot and even watched movies. We did a lot of talking and watching the world go by. When they had to go and use the bathroom it was there too. We would stop for gas and they each would head for the mini mart and buy a treat. There was a lot of laughs and I would not have traded that time or the memories for anything. Our son had rented a beach house so we did not have to spend all of our time in the motor home but traveling was wonderful.It was a go with the flow trip. You will not enjoy it as much if you are worried about them being seated all of the time.

Yes gas is very expensive and a lot of people are getting rid of or parking their motor homes but it is a great way to travel with children.

Hope that you have a wonderful family trip as those are memories that will live with them for ever.

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Last summer, my husband and I took our 1 1/2 month old and our 2 year old on a road trip . . . the first leg was 21 hours of DRIVING. The second leg was about 20 hours and then we had to get home . . . about another 20 hours.( We went from Cheyenne, WY to Seattle, WA to Palm Desert, CA, and back to Cheyenne, WY)
I say this because . . .
If it makes you feel better to have them in their carseats in a car, do it. I really don't think 7 hours is that long for a 3 and 6 year old. It may not be really fun, but they'll manage and so will you. :)
There are pros and cons to everything. I think that whatever makes YOU feel less anxious about the trip (leave money out of it!) is the route you should go.
Good luck and I hope you have a GREAT vacation! :)

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My parents take our daughter with them on trips and they always attach a car seat in for her. In their new one, it is a the table (there are actually seatbeats at the table!).

They enjoy the trips and I know she is safe and not running around while they are traveling down the road.

If you are renting or already own one, check for seatbeats at the table. It lets them have a place to eat, play, drink, watch TV, etc. If our daughter has to go to the bathroom, she is asked to hold it until they get to a rest stop (if you're concerned about that).

Hope this helps!

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We bought a 1995 motorhome in April and took it on spring break all the way to the Oregon Dunes with 4 kids (17 and 19 year old boys, 6 year old boy and 4 year old girl) the next week. It is 9 hours each way. It was AWESOME! Much better than strapping them into car seats with hardly a break for so long in the suburban. We had them in their car seats of course but they could get up to go potty or for a snack break, etc. It was a wonderful way to travel. They so loved it and so did I. Then Dad can do his "no stopping, we have to get there" and I can take care of the kids much better. It was great great great all around. My big boys followed us in our truck towing the 4 wheelers as we didn't know the motorhome that well yet but next time we will all ride together which is part of the whole idea to me. On a trip that long, the journey is then part of the fun instead of to be endured until you get there. We took my Mom too and it was so much fun. We were down 8 days and loved it. It was really nice having the car seats for the security feeling for them while winding on those little roads out to and down the coast. It worked out very well. Leapsters, workbooks, etc that they can hold to keep them busy are so helpful too. They thought it was so awesome as they have made the trip several times without being able to get up so much, lol. Have fun! :-)

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I have done two motorhome vacations, the first we drove from Orlando to LA over 17 days with two boys aged 4 and 2 and a one year old baby. The second trip was for two weeks from Seattle to LA up to LV and by this stage, I had my 4th baby who was a llittle over one at the time.
Take car seats - yes. If the kids fall asleep, they will be secured properly. They will more than likely be seated at a table, and can therefore, draw, colour, snack, build small legos models, play games - lots of things to entertain themselves. Not just be restricted to the proverbial portasble DVD to watch movies.
7 hours is a piece of cake in a motorhome! You can pull over any time you like and get out, stretch your legs at a park you discover, or lake etc. You can snack / eat to your heart's content, and don't have to hunt for a family friendly place - or always end up at a Fast Food place. Because the distance we covered each trip were extensive, we travelled a few hu dred miles a day, but broke this up with sightseeing. We stopped for dinner at night, bathed the kids and then settled them down for one more hour of driving. Invariably, they'd fall asleep and we would then park for the night and lift them to bed. There's no carrying luggage in and out of hotels, no excuse for not having fresh food at hand.
I'm not sure why you would need a motorhome if your distance is only 7 hours however. I have done many road trips with my kids (now aged 8,6,4 &2)and the same system applies. Break up the driving with stops to stretch your legs at parks etc, take books, play I spy and other car games. Talk about the journey. My kids love knowing if we are going somewhere (RV park or hotel) with a pool and help them keep their eye on the prize at the end of all that driving.
Frequently, my kids are asking for another RV trip. We almost booked one to go in May (from Dallas Texas, to Denver Colorado)! It hasn't worked out this time, but my whole family can't wait for another opportunity.
Good luck, plan well and have a great time! Cheers,

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Hi B.,

I am a SAHM of four, two of each, ranging in age from 5-20. Prior to having #4, my late husband and I traveled with our older three in a motorhome. At the time our youngest was almost 3. It was absolutely fantastic. I just used a tall pet gate to gate off the door area and let my littlest know that if he wanted to walk around while we were moving, he would need to ask so that I could help him. It was fantastic. We played movies the entire time and I was able to fix meals and give snacks while my late husband drove. It is a different type of travel, but it was very memorable and all went very well. Our trip was also at least 7 hours away.

Good Luck and have fun!

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Hi B.-
I think I'm in the minority...I have traveled several times in a motorhome with children and don't use car seats. Different age stages...9 months-5 years. I understand people might freak out, but I don't. The first trip was when my daughter was 9 months. 14 hour trip and I was nervous about the whole car seat thing and asked several people including the person's motorhome we were going in. None of them used car seats and they have children as well. What about school buses? They don't have seat belts yet we put our children on them. We don't let the kids play at the front of the motorhome...they have to stay back on the couches or at the table or back on the bed. That's for everyone really in the event the driver has to slam on the brakes noone goes through the front window.

So, I think you need to do what you think is best and makes you the most comfortable. While I was nervous the first time, I'm not worried about it anymore. I wouldn't take a car as well...sort of defeats the purpose of the motorhome. Does the motorhome have seat belts? Our last trip was in my cousin's brand new motorhome-top of the line and the only seatbelts were in the 2 front seats. Even if I wanted to use a car seat I wouldn't have a way to strap them in. There weren't seatbelts in the other ones we've traveled in either. So, if you don't have seatbelts the car seat won't be an option for you.

I hope whatever you decide you have a safe and wonderful trip. I think a motorhome is a great way to go!

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Motorhoming is the best! We have 6 kids and did the select soccer traveling when the kids were younger. They loved it and so did we. We used car seats on the benches by the table. The kids were able to color, play games, and watch some movies. The nice thing about the motor home is the ability to stop at the rest stops, eat and run around. We are taking our three grandchildren to Disneyland and San Diego this summer...ages 8, 10 and 11 and I don't know what we would do without it! Just have plenty of stuff to amuse them and they will be fine! Have a great time! V.

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when I met my husband 14 yrs ago, he had three kids; 2,3,9 and I had one age 6. a year later our last came along and we had bought a motorhome as with 5 kids the hotels said we had to rent two rooms most of the time; to much money for that and didnt want to sleep with out each other.
we had the best of times with vacations all over the place. sometimes for the day as it always wasnt comfortable to cram 5 kids in the station wagon and spend family time together, I can even remember going garage sailing once LOL. the kids LOVED the times in the motorhome, and you will to. you can walk around in the motorhome, make coffee, go to the bathroom, or make a snack for the kids all with out stopping, we put many of miles on the roads this way as our time was precious and money wasnt always plenty to take 5 kids out to lunch or dinner while on a road trip. the pre made meals were in the fridge and if it needed heating we would stop for a short while and have a nice meal.
all but the two youngest (newborn and 3 at that time) were allowed to walk around to get from bed to dining table to couch if needed while on the hwy, they learned to get thier sea legs on. we played games, watched tv, read books, lived life like we were at home and wha-laa we were at our destination.
one year we left on christmas eve around 7, we had all the kids and had just left grandmas house, Playful Paul (husband) decided it would be fun if we went to six flags, so we threw a couple days worth of clothes and grabed the food out of the fridge and headed out, the kids slept from 9 on and we took shifts driving, the kids woke up in the six flags parking lot and that is where we spent christmas day.
Motorhomes are a blast, easy, and very family friendly, they will enjoy sitting in a motorhome more than a car.
Trust me have a good time

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I remember many a trip in my grandparent's OLD! Champion Motorhome with the factory installed eight track player. As a younger child I remember sitting at the table with travel games with my grandmother while grampa drove. As I got older they let me roam a little more. I say let them loose in the motorhome when they get restless, but also have a bed set up for naps while traveling, and give them a small place to play.

Hope this helps,

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We travel with my inlaws and my sister in law... she has two kids 6 and 5 and we have a 8 month old. We travel in a 40 coach (RV) and love that the kids can sit on the floor and play, eat, use the potty or sleep. As long as driver is carefull and goes speed limit I always feel safe!

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I understand your dilemma. I feel bad that we are flying this week and having our 6 month old in our lap on the plane while everyone else is belted in. Now days we feel bad when our dogs aren't buckeled up. I saw kids in the back of a station wagon the other day and thought oh my god they are not buckled!
But... when I was a kid we did that and rode in a motorhome and we rode in the back of a pickup with a canopy down to Reno.
So I am not really helping. I would just ride in the motorhome and make sure that your kids no that you need to stay sitting when in motion and don't feel guilty! Millions of people travel like this all the time.


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WE go camping very often and yes we ALWAYS put the car seats in the motorhome, the kids know that there is no choice. Check the laws, but others who are reading this post, in the State of Washington if there are seatbelts(the exeption is pre 1966) it is illegal to not use them and as we all know it is not safe put our children in adult restraints. This is not true in ALL states, but Washington YES, you can be ticketed. IT is the law, even in a motorhome. The purpose of a motorhome is convience, but you wouldn't hook up the propane and start cooking a meal while driving down the road, even potty stops should be taken while pulled over on the side of the road or rest stop.
I would suggest a portable DVD player for them to watch their favorite shows when they get bored. 7 hrs is not so far that it will be unbearable. Pack lots of snacks, coloring books and movies that catch their interest. It can be lots of fun and something that my family always enjoys.
The way our motorhome is set up is the seat belt seats in the rear face the table, so they have something to play on.

Good luck with your trip and hopefully it will be something that you can carry on as a summer tradition. I can only hope that my children will have only fond memories of trips in the motey!!!

Yes, use car seats. Many RVs have seat belts in interior seating, does yours? My view is Safety first, always. If the kids are not belted in and the RV crashes, what would happen? I traveled a long way with my boys (9 hours by plan, then 5 days by car from Montana to Alaska while moving there from UK)While my boys were ages 2 and 4. They did great. They watched some movies, played with cars, sang songs, colored. Whatever to keep them occupied. Even if they do whine, it is only one chunk of time, and they will get over it once you get to your final destination.

Why not pur the carseats in the motorhome? If you have a newer motorhome, you should have seatbelts.

lst november we were lucky enough to get our very first motorhome. my biggest fear from driving from Sacramento to seattle was no car seats. we used them the entire time we were driving, we just used the ones at the table so that the kids (28 months and 5 years)could do stuff like draw or whatever. the kids understood, if we re driving you are in them because thats the law. we didnt want to get into the differance between the motorhome vs car.
have fun!

I would be concerned about safety too. Then I thought some more and want to give you a different perspective. I'm 65. We did all sorts of things when we were kids and no one that my large extended family knew or knew about was hurt. Yes, I've heard of kids being hurt in car accidents because they weren't wearing their seat belt but when you think of the number of kids that are not hurt it doesn't seem so serious.

As far as I know there are no laws about using seat belts in a motor home. I think that if there were a perceived danger motor homes would've been added to the law.

I've seen a lot of vehicle accidents as a police officer and been in a couple myself. It is usually the smallest car that suffers the most damage. You have more of a chance getting into an accident with a car than with a motor home.

When you think about it, a motor home is huge in comparison to most vehicles on the street. If, and it's a very very slight possibility, your kids would be bounced around and possibly get cuts and bruises but they would be very very unlikely to suffer serious injury. This is because there is a lot of space that they are bouncing into.

The size of the motor home prevents the motor home from sustaining much damage in the usual crash scenerios. If you were in an accident your kids would not be shoved into the back of the seat. When we are in a confined space we hit inert objects with more force. Yes, the seat belts do prevent some serious injuries but kids are seriously hurt once in awhile even while correctly buckled into their car seat.

As I reread this I am thinking, "gee, this is scary." I'm not trying to scare you. I think I'm saying that you are taking no more of a risk with your kids safty in a motor home than you are in a car. The chance that you are in an accident in either one is very low, anyway.

If I were you, I might have the kids sit on the floor. Bring toys, without sharp edges for them to play with. That way they won't be bounced onto the floor if the driver has to stop suddenly for any reason. A sudden stop is more likely to happen than an accident.

One of my friends who was my partner at work took a trip in a van with their toddler child. They took the seats out of the middle and put a play yard with the mesh sides in the middle so their daughter was somewhat confined but still would not hit a solid part of the vehicle if they did stop suddenly.

To keep the kids entertained I suggest getting a DVD (or VCR) and several movies. Actually, I think that you would have a better trip if you are all in the motor home. There are many more play options. Being confined to a car seat is difficult for kids. If they are fussy and unhappy this can be a distraction to the driver.

Don't use the car seats in the motor home unless they are securly fastened to the frame with a seat belt. I think they only have seat belts for the driver and passenger to his left.

Choosing the safest way to travel is complicated because each situation has it's pluses and hegatives. My feeling is that I cannot control all circumstances. If I use reasonable caution I and my loved ones will be OK. It really is a small minority of people who are seriously injured when you take into account how many cars and how many miles they travel. I'd take only the motor home.

Maybe I'm conservative about these things, but when we take our RV (with two girls, 6mos and 2 1/2) we use the same rules as with the car -- buckle up while the vehicle is moving. That includes adults. Yes, I make the occasional exceptions to get up and get something, but then sit back down and buckle.

I know that it is a large vehicle and that it would probably sustain less damage than a small one in an accident. But even very hard braking could turn a human (or other loose stuff, by the way) into a dangerous projectile.

It's good for everybody (including the driver) to take driving breaks to get up and move around.

I've done lots of trips with my kids in the motorhome. We got a motorhome 6 years ago when I had a 4, 2 year old and newborn. I always had them in their car seats until this year. (not my oldest) This is what they are used to and why change it? It was a lot easier for them to fall asleep because they had the support for their heads. We've only gone on 1 trip where my youngest, now 6, didn't sit in a car seat and he just looked so uncomfortable falling asleep. He would be falling to the side then jerk upward, this went on for awhile. When he finially went all the way down, he still didn't look as comfortable.
We all know that it is much safer also! The seat belts don't fit their little bodies that well!
Good luck, I'm sure you will have a lot of fun!

Yes!!!! Yes!!! Yes you use car seats. Take plenty of books crayons and stickers to keep them occupied. You will have to make stops for them to stretch their little legs. I have taken several motor home trips with my kids. It can be a very fun experience, so enjoy. Enjoy the time together and try to relax.

My sister is just finishing up a 9 month motorhome trip with her 2 and 3 year old kids. They have to ride in their carseats at all times while the vehicle is moving. They have been towing another vehicle, but the gas cost is a nightmare. A good experience though, and they got to visit us here across the country!

One thing we do on cartrips (not RV'ing) is travel at night so our little girl sleeps the whole time. That might be an option for you. Have a great trip -- whatever you decide to do.

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