RV in the woods with family eating at the table

Trip Planning

7 Tips for Taking a Successful RV Trip With Another Family

RVing with another family can be a great way to vacation with friends! Here are 7 tips from Jeremy Puglisi to help make your RV trip with another family go smoothly.

When my family started RVing over 12 years ago, we quickly discovered that traveling with other families was incredibly fun. We took our first RV trip by ourselves and loved it. Then we took our second trip with another family, and we loved that just as much--but for different reasons. Now we spend about half of our trips traveling on our own, and the other half traveling with friends that also have same-aged kids. Sometimes our trips are all about spending time together with just us--and other times our trips are all about sharing fun memories (and delicious meals) with another family. This pattern creates the perfect balance for us as RV owners--and we couldn’t imagine doing it any other way.

But traveling with another family does add some complexity and potential pain points. Thankfully, over the years we have figured out how those pain points come about and how to avoid them.

Here are 7 tips for taking a successful RV trip with another family. If you follow them closely you will have an amazing time--and you will want to plan trips together again and again.

1. Pick the Campground Together

Some RV owners love quiet state parks with private campsites and dark night skies, while others love luxurious resort-style campgrounds with on-site dining, live music and plenty of amenities and activities---and some love both. When camping with another family I think it is important to have a conversation about each family's camping style and research locations together. The hope is that you collectively find a campground that both families will love. The worst-case scenario is that one family does the work of finding a campground and that the other family shows up and expresses disappointment with that choice. Not fair, right? Thankfully, this scenario can be easily avoided if you pick the campground together.

2. Decide Whether You Want Sites Together, or Apart

This one may seem counterintuitive--but it is not. While you may want to go on an RV trip with another family--you may or not want to have a site right next door to them. The proximity can be nice because you can all hang out together--but it can also be a stressor. It can actually be nice to have a site that is close (but not right next door) so that you can have some privacy and a place to retreat to when you need peace and quiet. We once camped right next door to a family whose kids had a later bedtime than our kids. Each night when we tried to put our kids to bed, they could still hear their friends playing outside and it drove them absolutely crazy. They couldn’t fall asleep, and it made all of us miserable. This was not the fault of the other family. Each family can determine whatever bedtime they want. But having sites right next to each other simply didn't work for us on that trip. We camped together again many times--but we started reserving sites that were a short walk away to keep the peace at bedtime.

3. Ask if the Campground Has Buddy Sites

If you do decide to get sites right next to each other then make sure you call the campground (or check online) and see if they offer buddy sites. These sites are specifically designed for friends who want to camp together and share a common space in-between their sites. Buddy sites allow two RVs to face each other (awning to awning) as opposed to the typical setup where you are facing the back side of your neighbor’s RV. We love reserving buddy sites when we plan on sharing meals and campfires with another family. Another benefit of having a buddy site is that the common area between the two RV’s is typically double the size of a typical site which gives the kids even more room to play together.

4. Plan the Meals

When we camp with another family, we almost always split up the meal planning and take turns cooking. For weekend trips the family that is arriving first makes dinner on Friday night, so that a hot meal is waiting for the other family upon arrival. Then the favor is returned on Saturday night. For longer week-long vacations each family often agrees to make two dinners apiece. This leaves a few meals unscheduled and unplanned and allows us to grab a spontaneous dinner at a local seafood shack or burger joint. Sharing the cooking has always worked incredibly well for us when camping with friends. Of course--we also camp with friends that know how to cook! So, make sure you choose your camping buddies wisely like we do.

5. Plan the Fun

When it comes to planning activities with another family, we take a somewhat similar approach. We plan a few activities together, but we also plan a few activities with just our own family--we also leave room for spontaneity. When choosing group activities make sure they are a good fit for both families. If your family loves to hike, but another family does not--then planning a strenuous hike together is probably a very bad idea. In fact, it could ruin the whole experience. Look for activities that can be enjoyed by every member of each family. We camp with other families that love to fish and swim--so we often plan those activities together. Talk through all your options together before a trip and then decide what activities you should do together--and which ones will be more enjoyable with just your own crew.

6. Take Turns Watching Each Other’s Kids

If you feel incredibly comfortable with the other family, you are traveling with--then consider taking turns watching each other’s kids so that mom and dad can have a date night or even just go for a short walk together. We started doing this with our camping buddies many years ago and it opened up a world of possibilities for us--especially when our kids were little. There were certain more rigorous hikes that the adults wanted to do but that the kids couldn’t do yet. We solved that problem by watching each other’s kids and letting each couple head off for a few hours to do the hike. We love spending time with our children when we travel. But everyone knows it can be nice to reconnect with your significant other and take a little break--especially if you are taking that break in a beautiful location on an RV trip.

7. Flexible and Expect Flexibility in Return

The single most important tip I can share about taking a successful RV trip with another family is that you need to offer flexibility--and you need to expect flexibility in return. When you are traveling with kids, plans can change quickly. Dinner times may need to be adjusted--and planned activities may need to get nixed at the last second. Making changes on the fly is just a normal part of parenting. So don’t make another family feel bad if they miss a hike or a meal because a little camper is overtired or not feeling well. Sometimes plans can change simply because you are having a blast enjoying doing one thing and you don’t want to stop for something else. Being adventurous on an RV trip often means being spontaneous and following joy wherever it takes you.

If you choose camping buddies that are flexible, and you offer them flexibility in return--I can pretty much guarantee you will have a successful RV trip--and that you will want to camp with that family again and again. That’s what happened to us. We planned trip after trip with our camping buddies and we made amazing memories along the way.

If you follow these seven simple tips and add in some of your own guiding principles, I know that you will love camping with friends just as much as we do. So, what are you waiting for? It’s time to pick a campground together and start planning out the food and the fun. Your next great multi-family RV adventure is out there waiting for you. So, get out there and grab it.

Jeremy Puglisi is the host of the RV Atlas podcast and the co-author of the #1 bestselling books Where Should We Camp Next? and Where Should We Camp Next? National Parks. Both are available online and in bookstores across the country.

Jeremy Puglisi

Author and co-host of the RV Atlas podcast

Jeremy Puglisi is the co-host of the RV Atlas podcast and the co-author of See You at the Campground: A Guide to Discovering Community, Connection, and a Happier Family in the Great Outdoors, and Where Should We Camp Next: A 50 State Guide to Amazing Campgrounds and other Unique Outdoor Accommodations. He loves nothing more than hitching up and heading out to the next campground with his family.