By Gwendolyn Call
6 minute reading time
Boondocking with Kids – The key is being prepared!
Boondocking is high on the list of one of the most iconic adventures you can do as an RV’er. From Instagram worthy photos with amazing back drops, the ability to be at locations that most others will never have a chance to visit and thoughts of being on remote land with no one in sight. It is such an alluring “idea” and something that I feel every person in the RV world loves to do or they are “dreaming” about doing it.
Let us not forget one of the most appealing parts, which is boondocking happens to be free and your typical RV and camp sites can add up fast. You’ll just want to make sure you RV’s battery bank can support your needs, that’s why we are so thankful for your Dakota Lithium Batteries. Being able to unplug from shore power while still being able to do all the things we love to do is priceless to us. We are firm believer that Dakota Lithium is the best batteries for boondocking. It makes the thought of long ranges, beautiful views, no one in sight and free camping so much more drawing.
Deciding that boondocking is for you is a step all on its own, however what about those who are travelling with you? Truly this notion of disconnecting is enchanting, but we are a society for the most part, of being connected and around constant technology. Being able to put down technology as an adult is one hurdle but how does this play out for travelling with children?
Boondocking with Kids: Back to Basics
Let us dive into how boondocking with children can truly open some new ways of life for you and your family. When considering boondocking with children one of the first questions you will need to ask yourself is “how much screen time do my children really have?” If you have children who are not using technology, this transition will be easier, but perhaps you have children who thrive on technology. In this case, boondocking may be a bit more difficult.
Preparation is crucial to anything in life and preparing your family children and adults for a shift from a full hook up RV site to boondocking is key. The major differences will always fall around how you live your day to day lives in a typically situation. Do you start the day with RV resort activities and technology or do you start the day in your RV with perhaps books and family mealtime.
I find in our experience as a family of 5 with 3 children under the age of 8 that boondocking is a gentle reminder to bring things back to basics.
Starting our days with mealtime preparing breakfast together, creating activities as a family is always the best. Setting up our days for success and embracing the art of being “bored!” This is always a tricky concept not just for children, but I see this being hard for most adults as well.
You will want to be prepared for a shift in how your days are planned especially if this is not already how your days are naturally flowing.
Meal Planning for RV Camping with Kids
As you prepare for boondocking with children one of the first things I encourage you to do is create a meal plan. As we all know food, snacks and mealtime are a huge part of any family. This will not only help you be organized but it will also allow everyone to feel like they are a part of the planning process. By being able to allow everyone to join in for preparation, it will help you assign roles for cooking as well as clean up. Giving everyone a task will help tremendously.
Get creative with cooking and allow your children some space and creative freedom to chime in on fun cooking ideas while boondocking. S’mores are fun but go beyond the typical campfire staple. Think about full meals that you can cook over a campfire and how your children can help.
Pretty much anything can be cooked over a campfire, with the proper tools and a little patience! Frying homemade donuts, baking bread, cooking steaks—you name it, you can cook it over an open fire. If you think about it, you’d have a hard time coming up with a food that can’t be cooked outside or wouldn’t taste better over an open campfire! You can cook things in a skillet, on a grate, on a camp stove, or in a foil packet directly on your campfire. With so many ways to cook, it can be overwhelming even to know where to begin.
With three meals a day and endless snacks this takes up a lot of time. It is often one of the more stressful things to do while boondocking since you typically do not have all the luxuries of a full hook up RV site. So lean in parents and allow your children to help, children just organically like to have a job so take advantage. Mealtime is a staple time as a family to talk and bond, one of the times I cherish most when boondocking are meals filled with laughter around a campfire.
Day to day activities while boondocking with children- what to do all day?
As I mentioned earlier boondocking is a perfect time to bring it back to basics. You can either have your days filled with complaints or embrace the time of slowness. We are a society that is praised upon being busy, so you may find this next part challenging and that is ok.
Creating things to do or activities just for boondocking will make them special, more inviting, and hopefully create a sense of excitement leading up to your boondocking adventure. This is another great time to come to the table as a family and plan together. I am a big fan of including our children in planning, it truly always pays off.
What activities can you do while boondocking with your children? Let us look at inside activities that are easy, low cost and always a hit. Play doh and clay are always such a wonderful idea- honestly not just for young children either. If your children are older grab some modeling clay and see if they can’t create the landscape around them. Don’t forget books! This is such an underrated activity, as younger children read together and older children do the same! Find a book that you can dive into as a family. Take turns reading it and discuss different scenarios, for older children you can even turn this into a full fledge school activity perhaps adding in a book report.
Painting, another activity that is beautiful to do young and old. Even if you have never held a paintbrush before, dabble your hand in some painting while enjoying the countries landscape. For little kids, finger paints can be fun outside and remember if you are boondocking, water is limited so you want to make sure to bring those baby wipes.
Best board games for road trips
Good old fashioned board games, puzzles, and cards. Dare I date myself with suggestions of Monopoly, Sorry, Uno and days of putting a puzzle together as a family. Board games have come so far these days and there are endless opportunities for children and adults to find hours of fun and play.
Planning for Outdoor Adventures
You may find that your typical outdoor activities may be limited- for example if you are on rough terrain biking might not be an option. Luckily, the option for outdoor fun is limitless! Young or old there are many types of outdoor activities that will keep you having a good time.
Let’s arm you with some more great ideas old and new: bubble blowing, scavenger hunts, rock collecting. I spy, jump roping, obstacle courses, kite flying and one of my family favorites tag!
If you happen to be in a location with flowers and your child likes to stop and smell (read: pluck) the roses, be sure to bring a flower pressing journal along on your next nature walk so they can preserve the wild blossoms found. Outdoor memories in the making.
Bird and animal watching are perfect activities. Often while boondocking you are lucky enough to be one with nature, but remember safety is always first so keep your distance. Grab a pair of binoculars and set your mission to find local animals or birds in your area. This quiet outdoor activity is equal parts stimulating and soothing, so your child will be able to practice mindfulness while you both get in touch with nature.
As nighttime sets in for your boondocking experience be prepared for extra dark and extra quiet. Having your children prepared for this will help with the success for those nights. I highly recommend pajamas that glow in dark. These are so fun and help your kids get into that dark sky mood. Flashlights for your children, the dark sky is very different than an RV campsite sky.
Lastly, hopefully you are in an area that has a dark sky. This allows for a tremendous amount of nighttime fun for you and your children. If you dabble in photography don’t miss out on your own creative time trying to capture the night sky. For your children this can become a whole learning moment without them even knowing about it. The best news is you can do this each night, and each time you will have a different experience.
There is no shortage of adventures while boondocking, make it your own, create memories and have fun.
Gwendolyn from Chaos Kiddos & Harmony
About the Author
Gwendolyn, her husband Brittan and three children full-time travel in their RV along with their two pups! They love to share tips and tricks on how to live the full-time RV life, road school and find awesome off-the-beaten-path locations. All while keeping their sanity and having fun! Gwendolyn’s love of exploring amazing hiking locations for families, chasing sunsets and waterfalls and her love of photography have made RV life a dream come true!