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Family Van Trip Planning 101: Key Tips for a Stress-Free and Enjoyable Adventure

Plan an Unforgettable Family Van Trip

Looking to go on a van adventure with the whole family? Taking a family van trip can be an exciting way to make new family memories. It can also be a bit stressful if diving in unprepared!

No worries! In this guide, we will take you through all of the key steps to organizing and planning the perfect family van trip so you can relax and enjoy this special time with your family. So get ready to make some unforgettable memories with your crew!

Family Van Travel Planning Tips

Heading out on a family van adventure can be the trip of a lifetime for you and your kids. It’s important, though, to plan ahead so you will have an enjoyable experience rather than wanting to pull your hair out. Here are a few things to consider when planning your family trip.

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Your Family’s Travel Style 

One of the biggest mistakes people make when traveling with kids is not taking into consideration the personality of each family member. Some people have kids that are incredible travelers. You know, the ones that are self-entertained, sleep well no matter where they are and have no qualms whatever about long hours in the car.

For families with laid-back and go-with-the-flow travel personalities, traveling long distances and spending many days on the go may be no issue at all. However, if your kids are the type that constantly complain in the car, get cranky with change, don’t sleep well when traveling, or are easily bored, then you may need to adapt your travel plans to meet each member’s needs.

Families that make the mistake of pushing their kids too hard on a trip can find themselves in trouble quickly with cranky unenthused kids, which brings down the enjoyment of the whole family. Don’t let this happen on your trip. 

Avoid this trap by planning frequent bathroom breaks, activities for driving days, downtime for rest, and not traveling so far in a day. You are the only one that knows your family’s needs, so don’t be afraid to tweak your plans to make sure you don’t wear out your kids.

Finding a Destination Your Whole Family Will Enjoy

We talked about considering your family’s personality when it comes to traveling too far or too fast and wearing everyone out. But what about planning where to go? Van travel opens the door to many travel possibilities, and it can be hard to choose a trip destination.

Local Travel Versus a Long Road Trip

The first thing to decide is if you will spend your trip within one general area or if you want to take a longer road trip with more stops. Local trips are easier with small kids in tow or those that aren’t very good travelers. 

Local van vacations also save a lot of money on gas. It’s always funny how we never seem to explore “our own backyard.” I bet there is a lot in your state that you haven’t experienced yet. There is no need to have to travel far to have a great family van trip.

Choose Destinations That Offer Something for Every Member of Your Family

If you do desire to travel farther or take a traditional family road trip, it helps to plan out your destinations to find stops and activities that the whole family will enjoy. Don’t be afraid to think outside of the box and mix things up.

For example, you may decide to van travel throughout the state of Florida. Sure, you could hit up the many theme parks which the kids would love. But consider other activities and destinations that Mom and Dad would enjoy as well. 

Have nature lovers in your family? Maybe paddle some of Florida’s stunning springs or drive over to Cocoa Beach. Are any history buffs along on this adventure? Consider museums, forts, or historical sites along your route, such as St. Augustine. 

Consider not only the interests of each family member but also your family’s physical abilities. For example, hiking 10 miles through the Everglades with a toddler in tow may not be the best fit. Instead, seeing the Everglades on an airboat ride may be more enjoyable for your family. 

Finding a balance of activities will ensure that everyone has a great time, not just the kids!

Choosing the Right Van

When planning a family van trip, picking the right van is important for comfort and enjoyment throughout your adventure. Start by considering your needs in terms of seating, sleeping space, storage space, van size, and other features.

For those seeking the ultimate van experience, full-size vans would provide ample space for everyone to relax and sleep comfortably. A great example is the Winnebago Solis which offers a wet bath and a pop-top extra sleeping area, which is perfect for a family of 4. It has a dinette area for meals, a generator for off-grid power, and a below-the-floor storage area for all of your gear.

If your family prefers something smaller and more versatile, a smaller van or van conversion might be more suitable. These options often provide enough seating for four and can be easily maneuvered, making them ideal for both city driving and adventure trips. Look for vans that have adjustable or foldable seats while still having enough sleeping areas. 

A great smaller option is the Pleasure-Way Tofino. This van has a sofa with seatbelts to fit the family on travel days. It also features a manual pop-top roof which creates more headroom by day and a roof bed for the kids by night. 

It also has a dining area which is convenient for family mealtime, games, or work/school. An unusual feature is that the rear storage area of the van holds 2,000 pounds of cargo! So there is plenty of room for your gear in this van.

Van Interior Essentials

When planning your family van trip, it’s crucial to carefully consider the van interior essentials that will make your journey enjoyable and stress-free. By focusing on these family must-haves, you can confidently tackle van life with kids and enjoy a smooth road trip experience.

Seats and Sleeping Areas

One of the most important factors to consider when looking at vans is the sleeping areas, especially when traveling with children. Make sure to select a camper van or a Class B van with enough space and comfortable beds for everyone. Pop-top campervans can provide extra headroom and sleeping space, making bedtime a more enjoyable experience on the road. You will need to ensure enough seats and seatbelts for safe travel days.

Van Bathroom

It’s helpful to note that when looking at smaller van options, some may not have a bathroom. A compact bathroom with a shower and a toilet can make your time on the road much more comfortable as a family. Decide if a bathroom is a must-have for your trip before looking at vans.

Dinette Area

When traveling with kids, having a table area can be very convenient. Your van’s dinette area should be versatile and easily adaptable to different activities. From enjoying family meals to playing board games and working on laptops, this space will be the heart of your campervan. Consider a table that can be folded or stowed away when not in use to maximize space. 


Power is another important consideration for a successful family van trip. Make sure your campervan has a reliable power system, including an auxiliary battery, inverter, and solar panels, if possible. 

Some vans are also equipped with a generator. This will ensure that you have enough power to charge your devices, run your appliances, and maintain a comfortable living environment inside your van.

For a more comfortable van trip with the family, consider staying in a campground to have access to water, power, sewer, and public bathroom/shower facilities. Having these amenities can make the trip a bit easier with kids. Just be sure to reserve campsites as soon as possible.

Renting A Van

Not looking to purchase a van right now but still desire to take your family on an epic van trip? Consider renting a van! Outdoorsy rents vans and RVs so you can take the ultimate road trip without having to commit to RV ownership. There are many options to choose from when renting a van, so you can find one that will be perfect for your family.

Looking to purchase a van but not sure which van is right for you? This is yet another great reason to rent a van first. You can try them out before purchasing.

Packing Essentials

Before embarking on your family van trip, it’s helpful to make sure you have all the necessary items to make your journey enjoyable and safe. Here’s a list of essentials that you should consider packing for a comfortable and relaxing adventure.

Prepare for Emergencies

First, gather all your essential paperwork and basic items in case of an emergency. This includes license and registration, insurance information, and a well-equipped first aid kit. A packing checklist can help you prepare for your trip and prevent you from forgetting necessities.

Kitchen Supplies

When it comes to kitchen must-haves, think about packing items such as a portable gas stove, propane bottles, cooking utensils, tableware, and cutlery. Don’t forget to pack enough non-perishable food items and snacks to keep everyone satisfied. 

Additionally, a quality cooler and refillable water bottles are essential in keeping everyone nourished and hydrated throughout the trip. Make sure you have a system for water storage in place so you don’t run out of water.

Clothes and Personal Items

Remember to pack versatile clothing and shoes suitable for various weather conditions and activities. Don’t forget a swimsuit, shower shoes or water shoes, and sun protective gear. Bring along individual toiletry bags with soap, toothbrushes, toothpaste, and other personal care items. Packing lightweight towels and blankets will ensure everyone stays cozy and comfortable.

Maintenance Needs

When it comes to van maintenance, make sure you have a spare tire and a tire repair kit to keep your trip plans on the road. You can never be too prepared, so having some backup batteries, a flashlight, and jumper cables on hand is always a good idea. Consider a complete roadside emergency kit to make sure you have what you need. 

Outdoor Items

You will also want to bring along some items to stay comfortable when hanging out at your campsite. If your van doesn’t have an awning, a shade umbrella or shade tent can be a lifesaver. Also, bring along chairs, campfire supplies, bug repellant, sunscreen, and flashlights.

Lastly, don’t forget about entertainment items for your family. Bring board games, books, playing cards, and portable electronic devices to keep everyone entertained during downtime. 

Also, consider packing some outdoor equipment like sports balls and frisbees to engage in fun-filled activities when you stop to explore a location. As you go through the process of packing for your family van trip, always ensure that you prioritize your family’s needs and preferences, making it a journey to remember.

Tips for Finding Places to Stay and Trip Routes

Planning your family van trip involves selecting destinations and designing an efficient route. Begin by considering the interests of your family members and any specific sites you want to visit. Then, think about the most convenient route to reach those destinations, taking into consideration the time you spend driving each day.

One of the most comprehensive and useful tools available is RV LIFE Pro. This suite of tools makes the entire trip process easy, from researching campgrounds with RV LIFE Campground Reviews, planning your trip route and stops with RV LIFE Trip Wizard, and keeping track of van maintenance tasks with RV LIFE Maintenance Tracker. Campground reservations can be tough to get in during peak season, so always make plans as far in advance as possible.

One convenient feature of RV LIFE Trip Wizard is being able to set your drive distance/time each day. This really helps families plan a travel distance that works best for their family’s needs. You can also easily find places to stop for a break on your route.

Itinerary Hacks

As you create your travel itinerary, divide each day into morning, afternoon, and evening sections. Only assign 1 or 2 activities at the most to each part of the day while including some time to rest. This strategy ensures a manageable pace for your trip and keeps your schedule realistic. It helps to be flexible and to make room for spontaneous detours or changes in plans, as these unexpected moments often become cherished memories.

Consider a mix of activities like:

  • Natural attractions: National parks, beaches, mountains, or forests for hiking, swimming, and exploring
  • Cultural experiences: Museums, galleries, historical sites, and local festivals
  • Kid-friendly activities: Amusement parks, zoos, and playgrounds to keep the little ones entertained
  • Food and drink experiences: Visiting local restaurants, cafes, wineries, or breweries to sample regional cuisine and beverages

An enjoyable family van trip is all about creating a balance between exploration, relaxation, and fun. With careful planning and an open mind, you and your family will create lasting memories and grow closer as a family as you take on the open road together.

Activities and Entertainment

During your family van trip, it’s essential to keep everyone entertained and engaged. Consider packing some activities that are special and only for long travel days. Our family loves Madlibs, license plate bingo, puzzle books, and watching movies. 

Here are some additional activities and ideas that will make your journey more enjoyable for the whole family.

  • Consider packing your bikes for the trip. Biking allows you to explore scenic drives and picturesque locations while getting some exercise. They can also be fun around campgrounds or state parks you are staying at. Choose a bike rack that will work with your chosen van model and the weight of your family’s bikes. 
  • When it’s time for a break, set up a picnic at a local park or rest area. Not only does this provide a fun and casual meal, but it also gives everyone a chance to stretch their legs while keeping the mess outside versus in the van. Make sure to pack some delicious and nutritious foods that will keep your family energized for the rest of the drive.
  • Go unplugged as much as possible. Making family memories and connections through games, hiking, campfires, or other family activities that you don’t usually have time for in day-to-day living, will be quality time well spent. It’s often the little things that kids most remember from family vacations!

Van Trip Food

When planning a family van trip, it’s important to think about the food you’ll need to bring to keep everyone happy and energized on the road. In your camper van, space will be limited, so it’s crucial to plan meals and snacks carefully while also considering the camper van layout and available storage.

Start by making a list of easy-to-prepare meals and on-the-go snacks that the whole family will enjoy. Consider packing a mix of healthy options like fruits and vegetables, as well as some fun treats to keep everyone entertained during long drives. 

Pre-cut fruits and vegetables, granola bars, trail mix, and sandwiches are all great choices for quick and easy snacking.

Food Prep Area

When considering camper van layouts, make sure to allocate an area for food storage and preparation. This space should include a small fridge or cooler, as well as a handful of essential kitchen items like a portable stove, pots and pans, utensils, and dishes. 

Carefully arranging your campervan layout helps maximize the space available for food storage and preparation. Use space-saving options whenever possible so you have more room for food storage. Be sure to use tightly sealed containers or zip bags to keep your food fresh and prevent unwanted odors from seeping into other areas of your living space. 

Additionally, consider packing non-perishable items that don’t require refrigeration, like canned goods, dried fruits, jerky, and nuts. Opting for low mess options and water on travel days can help keep the van clean as you roll down the road.

Packing lunches while out exploring is also a great way to save money on your trip. By taking the time to plan ahead, choose suitable snacks and meals, and optimize your camper van layout for food storage and preparation, you’re setting up your family for an enjoyable adventure.

Take the Family on an Adventure of a Lifetime

Relax and enjoy this experience by planning ahead with the right family van, activities, food, and pace of travel. Remember to include plenty of downtime so the wheels don’t fall off your kiddos literally. So what are you waiting for? Get out there and make some new family memories!

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