RV Trips with Toddlers: 13 Essential Tips


Taking your toddlers with you on your RV trips can be a fun and engaging family experience. But since most RVs aren’t as kid-friendly as cars, I’ve compiled a list of tips for RV trips with toddlers.

These are based on my travels with my toddler:

Toddlers get bored quickly, so have their car seat facing a television for occasional use. Do be aware that child safety seat laws vary from state to state, with 26 states having specific requirements by age. You also need to plan on frequent stops so toddlers can stretch their legs too.

But that just scratches the surface.

In this article, we are going to share our 13 essential tips for RVing with your toddlers. I have a Class A motorhome, so we’re all in the RV as we’re driving. That applies to Class C motorhomes too.

Of course, for camper trailers and 5th Wheels, you don’t ever want to have anyone ride in those while being towed.

So most of what’s below (but not all) applies to Class A and Class C RVs. Let’s get going.

Can toddlers ride in RVs?

Yes, toddlers can and do ride in RVs every day. You should use an age and weight appropriate car seat and attach it as safely as possible, depending on the options in your RV.

There are a lot of people who think that they can’t get an RV because they still have younger children. Then, you have people who have no problem taking their toddlers or young kids with them on their trips.

The most important thing to ask regarding this would be, can you take your toddlers with you in your RV?

The short answer to this question is yes. You can take your young children, toddlers, and babies with you on your road trips in your RV. 

That being said, there are some key things that you need to consider and certain precautions that you should follow when setting out on your trip.

Let’s take a look at a few of those:

  • You need to know how to hook up a car seat for toddlers and babies
  • Can you take your baby out of the car seat while the RV is moving?
  • Can passengers sleep in the bed while the RV is moving?
  • Can you use electrical outlets while the RV is driving?
  • You also need to make sure your toddlers are comfortable

We are going to break each section down individually in the rest of this article.

How do you hook up a car seat in an RV?

The sideways bench seats offer the best placement for car seats in an RV. Typically in Class A, C, or B RV’s, these are the only seats with seatbelts (typically attached to the floor under the seat) aside from the driver and passenger seats up front. Tethers, as found in cars, are not typically available.

Of course, when traveling with your toddlers or a baby, you need to have a car seat.

While most RVs are not designed with children in mind, some do have tethers for a car seat. But if yours doesn’t have tethers, you can still use the seat belt.

Here is how you hook them up and what to look for.

  1. Do you have any forward-facing seats aside from the driver & passenger seats? If yes, they probably have tethers and seat belts, and you can attach the car seat as you would in a passenger car.
  2. Most RVs only have sideways bench seats. In this case, they are unlikely to have tethers but will have seatbelts. Simply feed the seat belt through the car seat as you would in a passenger car and tighten it fully.
  3. Do not use the bench seats at the dining table. Most likely, they will not have seat belts whatsoever, as typically, they are not meant to be sat at while the vehicle is in motion.

Can I take my baby out of the car seat while the RV is in motion?

Legally, in many states, you cannot take your baby or toddler out of the car seat while driving. But many RV parents do this on occasion rather than stopping for bathroom breaks or to stretch the legs. But they may be breaking the law.

Child safety seat laws for RVs vary from state to state, with about half the states having specific requirements for RVs.

If you are driving in your RV as a passenger and want to take your baby out of their car seat, this is completely fine.

And for new-born babies, there’s even medical precedent that shows it can be harmful to leave a baby in a car seat for an extended period beyond 2 hours. (source)

You still need to take the regular safety precautions, though.

So I wouldn’t take the baby out of the car seat and place them down anywhere else or stand around with the baby while the RV is moving.

If you take your baby out of their car seat, you should do so quickly and then sit back down in your seat and put the safety belt on.

Of course, on long trips, you’ll be tempted to do what is easy rather than what is safest, or even legal.

Plus, you won’t always know how the state laws vary from state to state. Luckily on this website, you can check the laws in all 50 states to be better informed.

So, keep your child’s safety in mind as priority #1.

About half the states require all occupants to wear a seat belt and have specific requirements based on the child’s age.

But whether legal or not, many people do take their child out of the safety seat on long journeys to make the journey more enjoyable, use the bathroom, or just to let them stretch their legs a little.

When in doubt, pull over safely (not just on the shoulder), and everyone can stretch their legs out of the RV.

Can you sleep in an RV bed while driving?

You cannot safely sleep in an RV while someone is driving. This is because of the likelihood of falling off the bed while the vehicle is in motion and the risk of injury in the event of an accident. It’s also not likely going to be legal, although the laws vary from state to state.

RVs are treated the same as any other vehicle on the road.

This means that they have to abide by the same laws and regulations. Although these rules and regulations differ depending on which state you are currently in, there are universal rules that apply.

Now that being said, sometimes in our SUV, my older daughters (middle school) will sometimes lay down in the seat and go to sleep.

Now rear seat laws for adults (which my older daughters count as) also vary from state to state.

Right now, only 31 of the 50 states require seat belts to be worn in rear seats. And while it is also safer, we sometimes allow them to do it on long road trips.

Ultimately, you’ll have to make your own call balancing safety, comfort, and legality, as I’m certainly not recommending anyone break the law or do something unsafe.

Can you watch TV in an RV while driving?

Yes, passengers can watch TV in a Class A or Class C RV while driving if the generator is on, which is how the TV gets power. Since it is unlikely you will have cable TV access on the road, you’ll need a DVD player or hard drive attached to make it work.

That being said, the TV must, by most state laws, be completely out of the driver’s view. This includes not being in the driver’s view through any mirrors.

For my family, we have a main TV in the living area just behind the driver and passenger seat area. We use it (somewhat sparingly) to entertain our toddler while driving long distances.

In our case, we have a Roku Ultra hooked up, and then we have a USB hard drive connected to the Roku. On the hard drive, we’ve burned lots of our DVDs and have them organized by folder.

CLICK HERE to check out the Roku Ultra on Amazon.

Not only is it the only Roku you can connect a USB hard drive to, but it also loads the channels (when on wi-fi) incredibly fast compared to older versions of the Roku.

That gives us plenty of watching options while the vehicle is in motion and when we’re camping and don’t have wi-fi.

CLICK HERE to check out the 4 TB hard drive on Amazon that we use on our Roku.

How often should I stop my RV to let my toddler run around?

Stop every 1 and 1/2 hours to take your toddler out of the RV. A baby or younger toddler should spend no longer than 2 hours at a time in their baby seat because this will make them become restless, tired, and fussy.

This is not only good for you, but it is also very good for the baby.

Now for long road trips, stopping every 1 ½ hour can seem like a pain, especially when we’re in a vehicle that can technically be walked around, such as a Class A or Class C RV.

However, legalities aside, it’s just not good for babies and toddlers to go long stretches.

Our babies’ growth and development are very important, and bringing them along with you on your RV trips is great, but we need to remember to be responsible. After all, these are our children.

Instead, take longer in getting to your destination to prevent your toddlers or babies from being restless by the time you get there.

A restless baby might make the destination (and the journey) not as enjoyable as it could be anyway.

Do they make an RV crib?

They do not make a crib designed to be ridden in while an RV is in motion. However, they do make smaller travel cribs that can be easily brought onto an RV and used when the vehicle is stopped.

It is never a good idea to let your toddler or your baby sleep on the benches, chairs, beds, or especially bunk beds of an RV.

I am sure that you already knew that but if you are wondering whether or not they make baby cribs for RVs, let’s find out.

As I mentioned, there is no specific baby crib that is made specifically for an RV, but there are many ways to make sleeping arrangements for your toddler or baby.

CLICK HERE to see the best-selling travel crib on Amazon.

It’s by Graco, has almost 1,500 reviews, and virtually all of them are 5-star. It’s also an Amazon’s Choice product. It also converts from a bassinet to a playard. Less than 20 lbs too.

Other than that, I have seen a lot of creative ideas regarding this.

One of my favorites was when someone actually made a little baby nest hanging from the ceiling of the RV. This is more for tiny babies that cannot yet pull themselves out of the nest.

But I wouldn’t recommend putting them in that while the vehicle is in motion.

In conclusion, I wouldn’t say that it is much different from how your baby would sleep at home.

We still need to make sure that they are safe, which is no different when you are in an RV. If you are worried about privacy, you can just set up a baby crib or a baby nest a little closer to the front of the RV if your room is in the back.

How far should I drive in one day with a toddler?

Don’t drive more than 7 hours in one day with a child under age 4. Even then, still plan on stopping the vehicle every 2 hours to let them burn off some energy. Trip duration of 4 to 6 hours is even more ideal.

We all know that young children can become very restless if they are trapped in small spaces for a long time.

I gave some time recommendations above.

I wouldn’t really say that there is a certain amount of miles that you should drive with a toddler because RVs don’t always drive as fast as cars, and stopping for gas is more time consuming too.

It would be best if you use this time to wander around and go for little strolls. This is the best way of getting rid of the restlessness if your toddler has started to get it.

What is important is to try and have a routine where you aren’t driving past a particular time of night.

Basically, you want to try and make sure that you get to your destination every day at a time where the kids still have enough time to run around and play.

The main thing that you are trying to prevent is spending too much time in the RV. You also want to allow your kids to stretch their legs and do a whole bunch of things that kids do before going to bed.

Can you use the microwave in an RV while driving?

Yes, you can use the microwave in a Class A or Class C RV while someone else is driving it if your generator is on. The generator is needed to power most appliances when the RV is not connected to a power source. However, you may be breaking the law depending on the state you’re in.

So the answer here has both a technical component and a legal one.

As we’ve discussed, state laws regarding seat belts in RVs do vary from state to state. About half of the states in the US will require occupants in a Class A or Class C RV to remain seated with seat belts at all times while the vehicle is in motion.

That doesn’t mean some people don’t get up to grab a soda from the fridge or heat up some lunch in the microwave while someone else is driving.

But they may be in violation of the law when they do so.

If you don’t have your generator on, the microwave will not work. For my RV, the generator also powers the refrigerator, so we keep it on at all times when not connected to a 50-amp connector at a campground.

Although some RVs power the fridge by propane.

Can you use the bathroom in an RV while driving?

Anyone other than the driver of a Class A or Class C motorhome can use the bathroom while the vehicle is in motion. However, depending on the state you are in, leaving your seat and seatbelt may be against the law.

We all know that one of the biggest downsides of taking long road trips in ordinary vehicles is the fact that you have to keep stopping at restrooms along the road anytime anyone needs to use the bathroom.

So owning (or renting) a Class A or Class C RV seemingly solves that issue!

But as I mentioned, about half the states have laws on the books that will technically make this illegal. And while the probability of getting spotted by a cop is pretty low, you also have to consider safety.

If you do use the bathroom while moving, remember to keep yourself steady and be safe.

After all, anytime the vehicle is in motion, it is at risk of an accident. While that puts everyone at risk of injury, someone walking around or sitting on a toilet is an even greater risk.

Be sure to let the driver know that you are going to go use the bathroom so that maybe they can drive a little bit slower and avoid any bumps on the road.

And when in doubt, exit and stop to be extra safe.

What are the best RV destinations for toddlers?

The best RV destinations for toddlers include Walt Disney World, Stone Mountain in Atlanta, Ocean Grove RV Resort in St. Augustine, FL, and many National & State Parks. It’s best for them to experience a mix of nature, outdoors, sun, and stimulating activities.

Taking your young children with you on your RV trips can be a great family adventure where bonds and memories are made for life. The destinations play an important role in this.

So, here is one of our favorite places to go with the kids.

Lake Hemet Water Park and Campground in California have a lot of activities for toddlers and their parents. The destination lies pretty far inland and sits between San Diego and LA. The exact address is: 56570 CA-74, Mountain Center, CA 92561

The site has many different types of RV sites, with varying amenities.

Please see the table below for all the amenities available. The table is as per their website.

 Light duty landscaping available  Kayak Rentals
 Beautiful scenery  Bike Rentals
 Day Use in campground  Horseshoe Pits
 BBQ Area available for special events  Tetherball Courts
 Boat mooring  Bocce Ball
 24 hour Gated Access  Outdoor Movies
 High Speed Internet Accessible  Information Center
 Friendly & helpful staff  Laundry Facilities
 Family environment  Nearby Hiking and Biking Trails
 9 miles to Idyllwild  General Store
 35 miles to Palm Springs  Basketball Court
 Gated Entrance  Volleyball Court

What kind of RV is best if you have a toddler?

The best type of RV for a family with kids to use would be a class A motorhome. This is because it has ample space, is often fitted with the best safety measures, and is just the most comfortable for families to use.

We have a Newmar Baystar and love it.

But having owned it a little while, we also know what we’ll want in our next RV too. Ours is 34 feet long, with one bathroom, and aside from the king bed in the back, it only has couches that convert into beds.

We are a family of 5 (with 1 toddler), and now know we need just a little more space.

Our next RV will have a 2nd toilet and bunk beds and be a little bit longer. We’d also enjoy having some outside amenities with our next RV, such as an outdoor kitchen or entertainment center.

What is the safest RV to drive?

The safest RV that can be driven is a Class B. Class A, and Class C RVs are not typically crash-tested, don’t often offer airbags, and have less structural support for the living area, so aside from the driver and passenger’s seats, they are less safe for other riders.

However, most people who want an RV don’t want something as small as a Class B.

The safest RVs to drive is an RV that has a sturdy vehicle as its wheelbase. So, anything that has a pickup truck as the vehicle works for that. So often, Class C RVs are safer than Class A.

Class A RVs are also usually taller than other RVs making them more susceptible to strong winds and suction created by being passed by 18-Wheel trucks.

But Class A RVs do have much better visibility than other RVs.

The wheelbase should ideally be close to 60% of the total length of the vehicle. To calculate this, just divide the wheelbase by the total length of the vehicle. The wheelbase is simply the distance between the back tires and the front tires (or the closest tires if there’s more than 1 set).

For example, my RV is 34’ long, and the distance between the wheels is about 18’.

That makes the wheelbase ratio 52%. Not quite 60%, but anything over 50% is considered relatively safe.

To clarify, this section was regarding the safety of the driver and the passengers in the vehicle section of the RV.

Conclusion

That brings us to the end of this article.

We covered a wide range of safety, legal, and realistic tips from traveling across the country in an RV with a toddler.

As I’m typing this, we are wrapping up a four-week excursion in our Class A motorhome with our three daughters, one of whom is turning three next week.

I would say that the most important thing to remember when RVing with your toddlers is to have fun. Make it a memorable experience for them. This will make them look forward to the next one, which can make it even better.

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Jeff Campbell

Jeff Campbell travels on and off with his 3 daughters in a Newmar Baystar Class A Motorhome. He writes extensively on both RVs, campgrounds, parenting on the road tips, remote learning & schooling, and much more!

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