Full Time RV Life With Kids: What to Bring on the Road

Deciding to hit the road to travel full-time is a big decision, especially when you have kids. You have to get rid of most of your stuff, including the toys. Of course, the kids still need things to do right, so what do you bring with you in the RV? Here’s my thoughts on what to bring for your full time RV life with kids.

Family in front of Travel Trailer at night

Weight and Space Limitations

An RV definitely has limited storage space and you also have to keep your cargo weight in mind. So what will the best toys, games, and other things be that will entertain the kids on rainy days or stay indoors kind of days for your RV life with kids?

First of all you will have to ask yourself what are some of their most entertaining toys and games right now. Then consider their weight, as well as long term play-ability. Things with batteries are not something I would recommend. Batteries are heavy to keep on hand, they seem to constantly need replaced, and can be awkward toys to store.

Next you will need to think about the storage space that you can allot to toys and games. Does your RV have more cabinets or drawers for storing things? This is important because drawers need lighter loads, especially when repeatedly being opened and closed by kids. Cabinets are able to hold more and can hold up better to repeated opening and closing.

Think about the size, shape, and weight of every item you are considering bringing with you. It is difficult to get rid of stuff, we all get attached to things. Don’t worry, it’s worth it and you won’t really miss it when it’s gone.

Storing What You Bring For Your RV Life With Kids

Kids closet with binsWhere are you going to put all the stuff you do bring? Getting organized when you have limited space is vital. We all know that kids are messy and keeping their space cleaned up is a constant battle. So getting off to a good start when it comes to storage is important for an RV life with kids.

As I mentioned earlier, drawers cannot hold as much as cabinets, so the more kids stuff you can put in cabinets the better. Drawers are on tracks that just don’t seem to last when constantly being used. Kids will stuff drawers as full as possible, with no thought as to load limits. Cabinets have doors that do better with regular opening and closing, plus if they get to full they can’t close.

Our trailer had drawers in the kids bunkhouse, they worked great for a while, but eventually they wouldn’t open and close properly. At one point a drawer even had the bottom fall out because it got so overloaded. We converted them into bookshelves which works out much better.

What you store things in is almost as important as where you store them. Bring things that you can store in bins with lids (like these ones). It not only makes clean up easier, but keeps things from spilling everywhere on travel days as well. Storage bins work great for other things too, not just toys.

Will They Play With It?

Boy holding Lego creationThis question is difficult to answer until you are living in the RV with your kids. You will most likely be spending more time outdoors. There will also be more time spent exploring new areas. This doesn’t leave much time to be inside playing games or with toys.

Of course, this doesn’t mean you won’t need them. There is always a need for down time. We all want to just hang out and play sometimes. Bad weather will also keep the kids stuck indoors occasionally. So you really want to bring the toys and games that they will get the most out of.

I’m sure you know where your child’s interest lie so keep that in mind when deciding what to bring. Things that require creativity and imagination are great. Also keep in mind the replay value of what you take in the RV. If they are only going to bring it out once in a while it might not be worth the space it will take up.

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What Will You Need for a Happy RV Life With Kids

Kids playing with toy carsAlright, so we went over space and weight limitations, storage, and replay value. Now for what to take to make the best of your new RV life with kids. Spending more time outside is part of the RV life with kids that you are probably looking forward to, so I will talk about the outdoor toys a little later. As for in your RV you will have to be very selective on what you bring.

Some of the toys that I highly recommend for indoor use in your RV are these ones:

  • Hot Wheels or Matchbox cars
  • Small animals or dinosaurs
  • Toy soldiers
  • Keva Blocks
  • Small dolls or stuffed animals with changeable clothes
  • Legos
  • Dress-up clothes

Considering the limitations when living in an RV, it’s important to have things that are versatile. This includes the toys you bring. Cars are great for this reason, they can be used both inside and out, by boys and girls alike. Many of the toys mentioned above have this versatile quality.

Why These Toys for an RV

Toys that can be used together are great for the imagination. Small animals, toy soldiers, and cars can be combined with something like Keva Blocks to create hours of imaginative play. Our kids love to use these blocks to make garages for their cars or houses for their animals. This means one toy that has many uses.

Maybe your child has a special doll or stuffed animal that they just love and can’t sleep without. Of course you want to bring this special friend along, but these toys are also wonderful to have in an RV. They are light weight which is perfect. If they have clothes that can be changed or small accessories, they can provide a lot of entertainment, in a small lightweight toy.

I can honestly say that the best toy we brought by far is Legos. We almost didn’t bring them because they are small, make a big mess, and are easily lost. However, this is our most played with toy in the RV. The reason they are so great is because of their replay value. They can be built into anything you can imagine, so any game you want to play, all you have to do is build it. We have yet to find a kid that doesn’t love Legos. Hey, even us parents like to play.

Now I am sure you know not to bring any more clothes than is absolutely necessary. So are dress-up clothes really a good idea you might ask. In my opinion they are and let me explain.

Dressing-up is a great rainy day activity. Kids can become a super hero or a princess and act the part. They are able to express themselves in so many ways. With only few items a small bin of dress-up clothes can provide hours of entertainment.

Don’t Forget Their Creative Side

The RV life with kids doesn’t have to mean no more art projects. If, like me, you are worried about having things like paint and glue in an RV, you might wonder what you can safely bring to still allow for creativity.

When we lived in a house that doesn’t move, we loved doing art projects that got us messy. Paint, glue, and all sorts of other messy art items were always being used. In an RV, not so much. There is just not really anywhere to put things that need time to dry and not much wall space to display beautiful works of art.

This doesn’t mean we want to miss out on being creative. So here are some items to keep in your RV that aren’t too messy, but keep the creativity alive:

  • Paper (obviously)
  • Scissors
  • Tape (lots of it)
  • Markers, colored pencils, and crayons
  • Watercolor paints
  • Play-dough

So many things can be created with just some paper, scissors, and something to draw or color with. It is always amazing to me to see what kids can do with these simple materials. Tape is also a great replacement for glue so I recommend keeping lots of it on hand. Glue takes a long time to dry and an RV doesn’t provide much space for this.

Paint is so much fun when you’re a kid, but it adds weight, takes up valuable space, and has to be carefully stored. This is why watercolors are a good alternative for life in an RV with kids. It is lightweight and stores easily. The other thing that is great is that you don’t have to worry about it spilling everywhere on travel day and it dries quickly.

Kids often want to keep everything they make. Each new creation is probably the best thing they will ever make. Which is why I recommend play-dough for your RV. It can’t be saved, it can be used again and again, and it’s lightweight (always a bonus for an RV). It’s also great for indoor or outdoor use.

It’s Game Time

Board games and card games are excellent choices for RV life with kids entertainment. They are fun, educational, and great to play together as a family. Everyone will have different skill levels and interests when it comes to games. Our family loves all sorts of games, so I will make a few suggestions, but bring the ones you can play again and again.

Card games I recommend:

  • Uno
  • I Found It
  • Villagers and Villains
  • Magic, Pokemon, etc.
  • Smash-Up
  • Standard Deck of Cards
  • Board games I recommend:
  • Smallworld
  • Checkers/Chess
  • Stone Age
  • Catan
  • Qwirkle
  • Puzzles
  • Travel size games

These are just some suggestions of games we like. You will have your own preferences and ability levels within your family. We like these games because they all have great replay value, they are small, and easy to learn.

Puzzle and travel size games are also a wonderful choice for RV life with kids. There are many RV parks and campgrounds that have book exchanges where you can also trade out puzzles. So you can do them a few times and then trade for new ones. Travel size is cool because you can take it in the car or play it outside, plus they’re small.

Family playing card game


Getting Outdoors More

Family playing with beach toysYes, living in an RV definitely means being outdoors more. Kids will want things to do while hanging out in the great outdoors. It is still important to keep your cargo weight in mind when deciding what to bring for outdoor play.

Again, what you bring for entertaining the kids outside will depend on their interests. Here are some thing I think most families will want to bring for their outdoor RV life with kids:

  • Variety of balls
  • Buckets and shovels
  • Things to blow bubbles
  • Bikes

This list is a little shorter than the others. The reason being is that kids find so much inspiration for creativity outside that they really don’t need much to entertain themselves. You will find that sticks, bark, and leaves from trees are entertainment enough sometimes.

It is still a good idea to have some things to help them along a little bit or for camps that might not be in such a natural setting. Bikes are one thing I highly recommend bring for your RV life with kids, or even without kids. We did not start out having bikes with us, but they are worth the space and weight for sure.

Three kids on bikes in an RV park

You will find that many camps have bike paths, gravel roads, nearby attractions, and many other reasons that having a bike comes in handy. Bikes make it so you don’t necessarily have to drive everywhere when visiting a new place. Riding bikes around camp is a perfect way to spend an evening or get some fresh air and exercise. So bring bikes, you will be glad you did.

Choose Wisely What you Bring for your RV life With Kids

Your space and weight are very limited in an RV. This means you will have to be really selective on the things you decide to bring with you. It is difficult to get rid of a toy or game that you and your child love or have fond memories of. Consider it’s entertainment value when deciding what to bring. Remember that memories always last longer than stuff and making great memories together is what life is all about.


Full Time RV life with kids what to bring on the road pin RV life with kids

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3 thoughts on “Full Time RV Life With Kids: What to Bring on the Road”

  1. An advantage of a road trip is that you can carry much more than you would take with you when you would fly somewhere. You don’t need to carry all that camera gear etc… however, remember that you will probably travel with others and that everyone should be able to bring the same amount of things.

    • We bought our kids hydration packs so that they would be able to carry food and water with them when we hike. It is nice spreading the carrying duties to everyone, plus the kids drink more water.


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