We were in a campground on the Washington coast the day we found out we were expecting our third baby. It was a cool summer day and the breeze carried the salty smell of the ocean. Having been traveling full time in our RV for almost two years, we were one state short of hitting our goal to see 48 contiguous states. Our plans for the future were now uncertain.
Jenn and Brent
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The question on our mind was would we continue to travel full time in our RV now that we were expecting a baby? As we contemplated the last 2 years of traveling, we realized if there was one thing RVing had done for our family, it had strengthened our relationships. Since everyone was thriving on the road, we decided to keep traveling. Given the age gap there would be between Thing 3 and our older boys, we knew RVing would give Thing 1 and Thing 2 a priceless opportunity to bond with their baby brother.
There is this notion that once a baby comes all adventures must be put on the back burner. We disagree and liked to use the phrase “expecting adventure” as we waited for our little bun to finish baking.
On April 12, 2014 our little bundle of adventure, Thing 3, arrived. We spent the next few weeks RVing not too far from our care providers and planning for our summer travels. Once we got the sign-off that we were both healthy, we initiated Thing 3 into the world of RVing with an epic trip from Key West, FL to Alaska. It was wild and wonderful, a trip we won’t ever forget.
Thing 3 turns nine months old this week. During those 9 months he has been to 14 states and 3 provinces. We’ve learned a few things about RVing with a baby that we are happy to share with you so grab a sippee, errr….a cup a tea, and getting ready to plan your own RV adventures with your little one.
Patience Patience Patience
Traveling with a baby is going to take more time than traveling without a baby. I have to admit this, along with less sleep at night, was probably the biggest adjustment. It didn’t take long to learn Thing 3’s limits. A typical travel day might start with a 2-3 hour drive followed by a 30-60 minute stop. In the afternoon, we may get in another 2-3 hours. When our GPS says 4 hours we know it will take us at least 6 hours. It’s been a wonderful opportunity to grow in patience. Really! Traveling with a baby has brought new meaning to the phrase “it’s about the journey not the destination”.
Yes, we’ve traded in some (not all!) of our spontaneity for routine. It’s easier on us and him. Those longer drives I just mentioned? We plan those during naps. Everyone knows on mornings we pack up that the goal is to be ready to pull out of the campsite at naptime. If there is a longer hike we want to take, we plan it during a time we know he’ll be comfortable sleeping in his carrier or stroller. We’ll call ahead to ask if a place is appropriate for babies if we think there may be a question. We keep a bag full of diapers, wipes, and a change of the clothes in the truck at all times.
RVs are great for babies! When our big boys were little and we stayed at a hotel room we had to be really careful because dressers and lights could topple at any second. RVs, on the other hand, are already almost completely baby proofed by design with fixed furniture and latched cabinets, since every thing must withstand a mini earthquake each time it rolls down the road.
Some precautions you may want to consider are outlet covers, a screen door grill over the bottom of the screen door, and an extra latch on the door out of baby’s reach so there isn’t a tumble down the steps.
One of the things we get asked most often is what sort of baby gear do we find most helpful for RVing. Contrary to what the large baby stores may have you believe, babies really don’t need a lot of stuff. Here is our list of baby gear must-haves for RVing. It includes items we use or have seen fellow RVers use with success.
Out and About
A baby carrier is great for hikes, walks around the campground, getting things done in the RV, sightseeing, and simply calming a fussy baby. If I had to choose between a stroller and baby carrier, I’d personally pick a carrier. Unlike when Thing 1 was born, there are plenty of options for baby carriers. Go to your nearest baby store and try on a couple different ones. I spent weeks researching and thought I made up my mind. When I went to the store to try a few I ended up purchasing a different one than planned.
Our all-terrain stroller has been on mountain trails, sandy beaches, and down city streets. It’s a great all-around stroller that meets all of our needs. When choosing an all-terrain stroller, look for maneuverability, how easy it to fold, and baby’s comfort. Don’t forget to check Craigslist; we found a great deal on the stroller we wanted for a fraction of the cost!
Unless you want to hold baby at every meal, you’ll want a high chair. There are quite a few options perfect for RVing. You’ll want to choose a chair based on your RV dining area, storage situation, and how you plan to use the chair. Since there are many types of RV layouts, I’ve listed a few options I’ve seen work well.
A: The Inglesina Fast Table Chair clips onto the table. The nice thing about this type of chair is that you can take it with you into restaurants and clip it on to the picnic table.
B: The Antilop from Ikea is inexpensive and the legs come off for easy storage. Bonus: you can take it outside and hose it down for cleaning.
D: The Stokke Tripp Trapp is a bit on the pricey side but it will last well into (and beyond) toddlerhood. It also has a much smaller footprint than a traditional high chair and some people may prefer the European styling to the plastic look of other chairs. Again keep an eye out on Craigslist. We purchased a Stokke for the same price as a regular chair.
E: How cute will your little one look sitting with this folding highchair among all your camping chairs? The Ciao! Baby portable highchair is a brilliant idea for RVers. This is great for the little weekend warriors!
Night Night Baby
Now that your baby has been on a hike and finished dinner, it’s time for bed but where will she sleep in the RV? There are a number of solutions that will help your little one and you get some zzzs.
A: The Graco Travel Lite portable crib is light and takes up less space than a traditional pack-n-play. It fits nicely at the foot of our bed. Bonus: It folds up nice and compact when you want it out of the way.
B: There are a number of travel bassinets that work well for younger babies like the Fischer Price Rock-N-Play portable bassinet. These types of bassinets take up even less space than the smaller pack-n-plays and often fold flat for easy storage.
C: Maybe you gave up your extra floor space for a king sized bed in the RV! If so you may want to consider something like the Summer Infant by Your Side Sleeper. It gives your baby a cozy place to drift off and you the peace of mind of having your little one right there.
With a little patience, a bit of planning, and a few pieces of gear, you are ready to hit the open road and make memories with your little one in tow. Go baby go! Go RVing!
Do you like to Go RVing with your baby? What gear do you consider essential?
Jenn and Brent
In 2011, the Newschool Nomads sold almost all their stuff to hit the road for a full time RVing adventure. They intended to spend one year traveling but fell in love with the RV life so much that one year turned into four! Now settled in Colorado, they enjoy RVing every chance they get and look forward to returning to the full time RV life once “the Bigs” fly the nest. They are passionate about encouraging families to get out and explore, connect, and make memories that will last a lifetime.