SCHOOL’S OUT! SURVIVING THE SUMMER WITH THE FAMILY IN AN RV
Ahhh, May. It’s the month the kids look forward to, as it typically means school is out for the summer. I know, I know – this generally terrifies parents since, well, the kids are now out of school and will be home all day. I can see all the parents shivering with fear already! What on earth to do to keep everyone occupied, keep the peace and make sure everyone has an enjoyable, but memorable, summer? It’s time to hit the road and enjoy some quality family time in the RV, of course.
The great thing about using your RV as a summer home is that although you’ll be sharing tight quarters at times, your living room and backyard will be the biggest and best ever. And the memories you create will be incomparable. Oh, and you can change your landscape anytime you want to just by moving on down the road. You’ll be living on wheels, after all! Now that’s pretty spectacular! Ever heard of “shunpiking?” Shun – to avoid. Pike – short for turnpike. Shunpiking = avoiding the turnpikes and interstates. Don’t get into a hurry. Take your time and take the back roads. Enjoy the picturesque panorama and experience nature’s bounty. It’s calming for the soul.
Be realistic, of course. It’s not as if life on the road is full of unicorns who only toot rainbows. That’s only in the movies. You might encounter an obstacle or two. Don’t assume that hitting the road will immediately alleviate any problems already at play – whether it be a matter of attitude or behavior or inner turmoil. Whatever issues you or your kids had before you left will likely still be there when you RV. Let’s face it – siblings have fought since the dawn of mankind and will continue to do so until the end of time (and probably beyond, too!). And if a particular habit or behavior someone has drives you crazy at home, it will still drive you crazy when you’re sharing a home on wheels that is not quite as spacious. Humans have a tendency to lash out at others when we are stressed out about things not in our control, and to be hardest on those closest to us. Don’t take things too personally, for this too, shall pass. Give it time and you might just notice that Mother Nature has a way of working things out and changing people with her magnificent beauty. She’s pretty awesome when it comes to things like that! She’s writing a soothing memoir and you’re a part of the picture. Get away and get closer. Those troubles might just melt away before your very eyes!
A big challenge of the quasi-transient lifestyle is having to make new friends constantly. Just when you’ve established a good bond, it’s time for one of you to move on. It’s like changing schools as a kid, leaving all your friends behind every few weeks. On the positive side, you’ll have more time for new friendships. And you’re sure to meet lots of interesting and fascinating people from all walks of life. People whose stories are filled with delightful and captivating adventures. People who will become lifetime friends. Savor those new friendships! RVers are an incredibly friendly breed and will welcome you at happy hour or around the campfire at sunset. They’ll be there to help with anything you may need and never think twice about it. They’re just good friends. Every RVer is in the same boat and looking for some company along the way, so it’s never difficult to befriend fellow travelers.
While most RVers you meet will be on vacation, there may be a few full-timers who live in their RV year-round. And maybe a few who haven’t quite reached their happy place yet. They’re trying to reach that place, they really are! A campground doesn’t necessarily promise to be a tranquil paradise filled with people who are as happy or excited to be camping with your kids (or grandkids) as you might be. Not all campers are happy campers, if you know what I mean. So be on your best behavior and mind your manners, while also allowing yourself to let your hair down, so to speak. If you know your neighbor is trying to sleep (after dark, course!), don’t let the kids unleash their inner animals and pretend to be Tarzan – swinging from the trees and hollering across the park for Jane to come join the fun.
We know kids will be kids and they’ll soon get bored. How on earth can you be bored when every day is a new adventure, right? Shake it up some. Keep things interesting. Change the pace. Hang out in the city for a day instead of hiking again. Maybe rent a 4-wheel drive for a day of adventure. Keep in mind, though, that a 4-wheel drive just lets you get twice as far from help as a 2-wheel drive – so be safe! Float the rapids if there is a nearby river (remember the life-jackets, though!). Visit a wildlife park or zoo if there is one in the area. Or take in a movie, for a more relaxing (or at least not-so-active) few hours. Visit an area of town that has a rich cultural history – a great way to learn something new while on vacation! Ask around at the campground and you’ll probably find out there is an abundance of activities to keep everyone enthusiastically engrossed with their vacation. And don’t forget Mom and Dad time, too. Plan a date night. Go out to dinner, or maybe a little dancing, or hit a concert in the local town. Just spend some quality one-on-one time together.
While getting ready for your trip and trying to figure out what you’ll need, don’t overdo it and think you need to pack the kitchen sink. You simply don’t need ALL THAT STUFF! Take half of what you think you’ll need. You’ll acquire stuff and stuff and even more stuff along the way! Less is more. If you are leaving the great state of Texas, however, you’ll want to be quite sure to pack extra tequila and salsa. You can never have too much of that. Accept the fact that you just can’t find good Mexican food outside of Texas! It’s the land of chips and salsa and queso and margaritas. You just can’t pack enough of those items!
Stop dreading summer vacation and go shunpiking! Sure, the backyard changes every few days, but what an exhilarating way to take advantage of this incredible life we’ve been given and all it holds for us in this wonderful country we call home. The extraordinary experiences and moments you create will last beyond your lifetime. Your children and grandchildren will cherish the stories for generations to come. The basic comforts of home are there at your fingertips, but the bottom line is that it’s the family inside that really matters and is most important. Camping with your family isn’t time spent – it’s time invested. Capitalize on that time while you still can. And enjoy every last minute of it!
Drop us a line and share your experiences and tales from the trenches with us – and your pictures, too. We’d love to hear from you!