Growing up in rural Alberta my husband and I had the perfect childhoods – being outside was second nature, days were full of exploring and there was lots of freedom to roam how we pleased. Now we are raising kids in the city, and the world seems a bit different. However, we knew we wanted our kids to still find their wildhoods.
It was so important to us to find ways to help them connect with nature, to the have freedom to just be kids, and to learn to explore without worrying about getting dirty. For us, the RV lifestyle is the perfect way to be outside while still having some of the comforts of home. We now spend weekends connecting with nature, unplugging and connecting with each other. We have learned a lot over the last 8 years of camping as a family and I love sharing our stories, tips, and experiences over on our blog.
Here are a few of our simple tips for enjoying weekends on the road RVing as a family:
- Keep it simple. We have found that preparing meals at home before we leave keeps our sanity. The vegetables are chopped, the spaghetti sauce is pre-made and ready to heat, and everything is ready to cook. We often do kabobs over the fire – a Ziploc bag of washed and prepped vegetables and a Ziploc of marinated meat is all we need for a delicious and healthy camping dinner. I am also notorious for buying pre-made salads, fruit trays and cooked rotisserie chickens. When we have spent the day hiking or swimming in a lake, the last thing I want to do when I get back to the RV is spending an hour prepping for dinner. I get to enjoy more quality time with my family when everything is already done before we leave.
- Don’t over plan your days. We enjoy scheduling one “activity” per day and using the rest of the time to relax and enjoy. Whether your activity is a hike, an afternoon paddle boarding at the lake or biking the trails, make sure you leave part of the day to enjoy your campground and give the kids time to build forts, make new friends, and catch bugs.
- Research what’s going on in the local town – we’ve hit up parades, super fun festivals and indoor swimming pools (on rainy days) all while camping. You never know what may be happening nearby and it’s a great opportunity to explore somewhere new (or get out of the rain a bit if it ends up being a stormy weekend).
- Speaking of rain – be prepared for all types of weather. Nothing dampens the spirits of kids like being cold. Even in the middle of summer, the weather can be quite chilly in the evenings or early morning. Don’t forget to pack clothes that can be easily layered. Rain boots are also awesome for puddle jumping and frog catching when the weekend is wet. We always bring along family card games to play inside the RV together and listen to the rainfall on the rooftop (don’t forget special treats just for rainy days also go a long way!). Remember that some of the best memories come from the weekends where things don’t go perfectly.
- Research new campgrounds together as family to get the kids excited about going somewhere new. We love letting our kids help us choose by looking at pictures and reviews online – it helps build anticipation and gives them pride in helping out. But we also have tried and true favourites we love to go back to year after year. Some of our favourite places in Alberta are – Crimson Lake Provincial Park, Whistler’s Campground in Jasper National Park, Long Lake Provincial Park, Writing-on-Stone Provincial Park, and Dinosaur Provincial Park. All of those campgrounds offer so much to see and do, along with incredible views. However, anywhere you go, remember the most important thing is just being together and building memories as a family.
I’m already looking forward to this upcoming season of RVing and getting back outside with those long summer days. There’s not much better than sitting around a campfire together as a family. With anything, the more you get out there RVing, the better you become at it. You can develop your own tips and tricks as the years go by, and everything just gets easier. Wildhood is short, we are going to make the most of it by giving them every opportunity we can to explore the world around us.
Kelsy Nielson loves exploring Alberta with her two young daughters and her husband Tim. Together they write a blog, Twirls and Travels, all about their weekend summer adventures. They love exploring places they’ve never been – especially finding those hidden Alberta gems – and love to encourage other families to get out and do the same. Together they want to spend as much time as possible in the water, whether it be floating down a river, or paddleboarding on a lake. But their favourite family pastime is connecting around a campfire, roasting homemade marshmallows and just being together.
Facebook: Kelsy Nielson Photographer
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