As a full-time RVer and road traveler, one of the biggest challenges is where to celebrate the holidays. It can be a real struggle for full-time RVers who may be hundreds to even thousands of miles from family and friends. So, we’ve put together some expert advice from other full-time RVers regarding how and where they celebrate Christmas and other holidays. And guess what? Some of them don’t even involve “going home”!
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Where Full-Time RVers Go to Celebrate Holidays
“We don’t have to continue holiday traditions that leave us broke, overwhelmed and tired.”
Going ‘home’ for the holidays
If you’re an avid Facebook user, you probably relate to some of the positive memes that show up on your Facebook feed. Oftentimes, they spring up when you may need positive reinforcement about life’s situations. I know they do for me.
One meme quote struck me the morning I wrote this. “We don’t have to continue holiday traditions that leave us broke, overwhelmed and tired.”
I actually had to take a pause to reflect on how that has been our experience for several decades.
Having been a long-term career military family, we are quite accustomed to always being the ones who do the holiday travel thing. It was hard. The burden of getting there was always on us.
It was always us who were forking out hundreds and even thousands of dollars for flights and rental cars or fuel and lodging along the way. And since most of our family live in the northeast U.S., we also had to contend with winter weather regardless if we were driving or flying.
Once we’d get ‘home’, it certainly didn’t feel like a vacation or even relaxing. We’d cram everything in 3 or 4 days; from visiting nearby relatives, help to cook and clean up, run errands, etc.
And if that wasn’t enough, it oftentimes left us penniless and broke. But also, it would leave us mentally exhausted trying to please everyone else.
Finally, after decades of pleasing everyone else, I asked myself, “why are we the ones always having to bear the burden and expense to make everyone else happy?”
This even continued well into our 9+ years of full-time RVing. Well, that was until we decided ‘enough’. So, we decided to change it up. And seemingly, we’re not the only ones.
What the RVing experts say
Recently, on an RV community Facebook group, we asked if any other full-time RVers endure the same burdens or hardships during the holidays as on-the-road travelers.
The answers were surprising, actually. Most of the commenters felt the same way we did.
Sifting through many responses, we were happy to see other fellow full-time travelers offer fantastic suggestions on how RVers can celebrate the holidays without those hardship and financial setbacks.
So, without further ado, let’s see what those on-the-road RVing experts tell us where they go to celebrate the holidays!
Flock to your family’s home
One RVing expert Jill K says, “Flock to their home!”
Even for full-time RVers, this is can be quite tasking. It puts a huge burden on RVing families having to travel hundreds to thousands of miles just to get there (just like we did in the past).
But, sometimes we have to suck it up. That whole go along to get along; especially if you have aging parents and grandparents who cannot travel.
Amy R. says, “We’ve struggled for over 6 years with this. We usually end up storing our rv and then driving our car back home to them (1800 miles) and spend the holidays at their Nana’s together. This will be our second year of only going for the Christmas holiday instead of Thanksgiving too…”
Again though, the burden always seems to lie on the full-time family to travel. Let’s not forget the expense side of ‘going home’; the RV storage fees, kenneling the dogs or cats, airplane tickets and rental cars.
But, this doesn’t have to be just a one-sided holiday arrangement.
Responder Will B. says, “We tend to aggregate at another family members home. And he put in a 50 amp for us.”
This is a great compromising suggestion. If your family wants you to come home every holiday season, why not ask for a little reciprocation.
If your family’s home property can accommodate your RV, see if they’d be willing to put in an electrical pedestal or at least the ability to plug in. Or even run a water hose to your RV.
Now, sewer connection may be a little more tedious, but there’s usually a dump station not far from their home.
While I understand, some live in HOAs that absolutely prohibit RVs, if your family lives on ungoverned property, explain how you’re bringing your own bedroom, bathroom and kitchen. This means they don’t have to lift a finger or make accommodations for you ‘in’ their home.
But, if this arrangement doesn’t work, there are still other exciting places RVers go to celebrate the holidays.
Rotate family locations
When extended families live far apart (i.e. inlaws on east coast, outlaws on west coast), perhaps you can suggest you all rotate locations to celebrate holidays or even special family events.
As one commenter put it, “this year, we’ll meet at David’s, next year at Donna’s and the third year, you all come to spend it with us…wherever that may be!”
Taking turns, as we call it, gives each side of the family opportunity to celebrate Thanksgiving, Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanza or other holidays at their home.
And it helps take the burden off any one family year after year; including full-time RVers.
Plan a destination holiday
Long-time RVer “Lupe” offers up a great suggestion to beating the holiday blues if you’re too far from family. “You have a home on wheels! Find a fun, not-so-busy city they can all fly into and meet up.”
But, that may require you to do a little more legwork; especially if you plan on flying to a destination.
First, you’ll need to find a place to store your RV or a campground near the airport where you can leave your RV plugged for a few days.
And, if you have pets, you’ll need to make pet sitting arrangements as well (we have several times!).
Now, what would be the best of both worlds and work out wonderfully for all of you is to find an resort that also included RVs! Which leads us to our next suggestion.
And, what an amazing holiday celebration that would be! Not only are you getting to enjoy your family, but also getting to see and enjoy the sights of a new destination you and your family will love.
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Celebrate the holidays at an all-inclusive RV resort!
For those full-time RVers that don’t (or can’t) take their RV cross country to visit family, how about celebrating the holidays at an all-inclusive luxury RV resort with all the bells and whistles.
Find one that has special events for both children and adults to partake in to make celebrating the holidays more fun and memorable.
Keep in mind though, you may have to make concessions and your reservations well ahead of time.
When we plan our RV destinations, we research using RV LIFE Trip Wizard. It gets you to our camping destinations utilizing RV-friendly routes specific to our RV and travel preferences.
Also, we’ll check out their crowd-sourced RV LIFE Campground Reviews. This helps us decide on camping options, amenities, nearby points of interest, etc.
Celebrate the holidays with your RV family
Sometimes full-time RVers can’t or just don’t want to bear the expense or burdens of long distance holiday travel.
While that may sound selfish to your family who is expecting you to ‘go home’, you have to do what works best for you and your family.
But, that doesn’t mean you have to totally write off making the most of a holiday celebration.
On commenter, Marleah M. shares, “Our little California RV chapter has a Thanksgiving Rally for years just for folks that didn’t have family, didn’t want to be around their family, or wanted their family around but not cook a big dinner.”
As we travel full-time, we find our RV family fills those voids during the holidays.
So, with that, why not plan a holiday gathering with some of your RV friends at a campground, RV park or RV resort?
Or, if you’re all into boondocking, find a cool place to corral the RVs around a big campfire on public lands under the Christmas star!
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Plan a Christmas Campout!
Speaking of camping, if your family is up for a really cool and fun outdoor adventure, why not suggest a Christmas campout (or other holiday)?!
I love what Eir A. shares about how their RV family celebrates Christmas. “Our kids bring tents, cars, etc and flock to where we are and we all hang out together. Some have even started converting their own vans to make it easier. Home is where you make it!”
Tim S. also made a great suggestion, “Maybe find a campground that also has cabins? That way your family members or close friends can come see celebrate the holidays as well as enjoy experiencing a new area.”
So, go ahead! Find a cool camping destination that everyone will love. Rent a few campsites, some cabins and voila! You have the perfect outdoor venue to not only celebrate the holidays, but also enjoy each other!
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Celebrate the holidays alone
Speaking from experience, full-time RVing can take a toll on you and your family. You’ve been traveling all year for hundreds to thousands of miles to experience the reason why you’re doing it.
Road fatigue is real to the point of just wanting to spend a week or two and celebrate the holidays alone or just with those you travel with.
It’s perfectly okay to just small campground or boondock in the desert and enjoy the true nature of the season.
Perhaps once you find a campground, seek out a local food bank to help serve the homeless or sit with the elderly or Veterans who have no families of their own to celebrate the holidays.
You don’t have to be a homeowner to give back to the community. Your community is where you were, are and where you’re going.
As you see, you’re not alone in trying to figure out how full-time RVers spend their holidays. There’s several different options that include or not include your RV.
I’m totally on board with one full-time RVer’s sentiments.
“We rotate our Christmas holidays as our kids live on opposite coasts. Sometimes we do a destination. Sometimes we spend one on east coast, one on the west coast. Sometimes we enjoy the holidays alone with each other. Someone above said there are no rules..only traditions (and we are not fans of traditions)!”
There is no rule on how and where RVers should celebrate the holidays. Make your own holiday fun; either traveling afar or staying right where you are.