advice for full-time RVers

What It’s Like Hosting RV Sleepovers

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Before we started traveling in our RV, a neighbor in the RV park gave us a simple rule for learning how to host guests in the RV:

  • Six for cocktails
  • Four for dinner
  • Two for sleeping

Well, over the past year, we’ve hosted over a dozen friends and family members for RV sleepovers and completely broken these rules.

(For the record, only one person ever stayed with us while we lived in Franklin. Poor old guy. Apparently there’s a huge difference between a 21-year-old RV and a one-year-old Winnebago).

For most of our houseguests, it was their first time to travel and camp in an RV.

We love hosting people in the RV and connecting with friends on the road, but after hosting so many people over the past summer, Heath and I learned a few things of our own. Namely, we learned the importance of explaining the key differences between houses and RVs.

So, what’s it like when people visit us?

mccormacks in banff

1. It’s more crowded (obviously).

This year, my parents and one of my younger sisters flew up to meet us in Banff, Canada. That made for a whole five people and multiple suitcases.

An absolute MUST for hosting in the RV: clear off a shelf for their belongings.

Our first RV sleepover, we did not do this and spent three days tripping over each other and everything. Lesson (mostly) learned.

We tried to make room for all of my parents and sister’s clothes and shoes. But my little sister is seventeen and we couldn’t get all of her clothes to fit inside the rig. This meant she left her half-full suitcase in the back of the car and had to go outside every morning to get her things.

I’m not sure if you’ve ever traveled with a teenager, but I can tell you that there is nothing teenagers are better at than complaining. Like seriously, all-time pro status. So unless you want to listen to the daily rumblings of your houseguests, make plenty of space before they arrive.

2. Let me explain how the toilet works.

Earlier this summer Heath took four of his friends down to Big Bend National Park for a bachelor party (leaving me homeless, but whatever). Aside from all the beer drinking that I’m sure ensued, he had to remind everyone to use the toilet paper sparingly.

This is the most basic and pivotal thing to remind guests. (The second most pivotal lesson being how to flush the toilet with your foot).

RVs require cheap, low-grade toilet paper to help prevent clogging and over-using toilet paper or using premium toilet paper causes huge problems with the septic system.

Clogging your RV toilet is frustrating and disgusting on so many levels. I unfortunately have to speak from experience on this one. (Pro Tip: The easiest way to unclog an RV toilet is baking soda + vinegar followed by a pot of boiling water. Just be sure to hold your breath the entire time to prevent passing out due to the foul odor.)

hiking smoky mountains

3. It’s non-stop vacation mode.

When our friends and family visit us, this is their vacation. We are used to working half the day and then maybe going on an adventure. Since we travel full-time, we don’t feel the need to make every single day into an adventure. We can pick and choose our schedule based on meetings, podcast recordings, and weather.

When Heath’s parents and grandparents visited us in Glacier National Park, we completely forgot about a client meeting. We were literally in the car about to pull away from the RV when Heath’s phone dinged reminding us we had a Skype meeting in thirty minutes. We ended up meeting up with Heath’s family later in the afternoon, after our meeting, but it definitely ruined our schedule for the day, which stunk for both us and his family.

Lesson learned: when friends are visiting, the schedule flies out the window. We quickly realized a need to be more intentional with front-loading work before guests arrive to stay in the RV (and double-checking our calendars each morning so we don’t miss meetings).

A lack of community is one of the most difficult parts of RV life. Hosting friends and family in the RV is a great way to stay connected (and a great way to teach non-RVers why RVing is totally awesome and cool).

It’s great having guests to break up our status quo. We’re total homebodies (ironically) and it’s great to have people around to force us outside on adventures.

Have you ever hosted friends in your RV for a sleepover? What was it like? Comment below and share your slumber party stories 🙂

7 Responses

  • Our 19-year-old son spent 8 weeks with us this past summer, in our 8-year-old, 38-foot fifth wheel. He is 6’2″ and weighs about 220 lbs, and therefore does not fit very well on an RV pull-out sofa or in the shower stall. Poor boy spent most nights sleeping diagonally across the living room floor, and of course none of us had any privacy.

    Not sure which of us was happier to return him back to college in August!

    • Hahaha, that is terrible and hilarious all at once. I’m sure those will be some fun memories for y’all 🙂 We had our 6’5″ friend stay with us in March and he only hung off the couch a little bit. I don’t know how tall people RV, period!

  • So far we’ve had one friend, my grandfather (who has always RV’ed), and John’s whole immediate family (parents, brother and sister) stay with us on separate occasions. The family was def the biggest deal with every surface covered, bags staying in the truck, and oh if you had seen my face on the Costco trip where they bought food for the week! We needed an extra cooler for food and packed the shower with the rest, ha! But we made it work, using the couchbed and dinette beds, and John’s brother bringing his tent. We’ve found that it helps to explain the groundrules of RV living from the start, that it’s easier for them if we have electric hookups at the time, and to plan an itinerary for them based on their interests before they come out. It is definitely a different mindset than full-timing and can wear you out but we’ve found keeping things kind of under control helps a lot!

    • Hahaha yes it sounds like you have the hosting set-up down packed That’s awesome. The tent is a good idea. Internet rumor is that there’s a family of 14 who travel in an RV and the kids sleep in tents…Who knows? But definitely a good way to make the RV not feel so small! Or a good way to kick out whoever has showered the least.

      • Oh my gosh, 14 people!! They’d have to have tents I feel like unless it is a ginormous RV! And bahaha, about the showering. Sometimes I want to kick John out and have the camper all to myself for that reason…;)

  • We live in South Carolina. We drove to NJ to pick up our daughter and her two children (grand kids), One is 21 (grandson) the other grand daughter is 18. We were going to the PA Renaissance Festival for the weekend and staying in a local campground. This sounds fairly easy but we travel in a 23′ class C. I was a little skeptical. But our daughter has been a single parent struggling for the past 15 years. We had so much fun on a rainy weekend you would think we were in a mansion. We were gone most of the day and at night there were things going on in the campground for all of us. I would definitely travel with these kids again. I cannot remember one complaint from anyone. Really proud of my grand kids.

    • Aw, this story makes me so happy!!! It’s always a toss up when traveling with family. Glad to hear that y’all had such an awesome experience! 🙂

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