Since this trip is fresh on my mind, I decided to write about some things we learned that hopefully apply to both RV’ers and non-RV’ing families. It’s taken me a few years to learn some of these principles, but hopefully others will find at least some of this helpful.
In your planning, consider your people and what will bless them.
When it comes to vacation, my husband would prefer that he decide where we go, and do the driving to get us there, and that I figure out the rest. So once he chooses, I spend hours of research and planning and consider the following things:
◦ The ages of our children and their levels of stamina / need for certain breaks of activity
◦ The schedule of what I plan based on moving days – for example, if my husband drives 600 miles starting at 6am one day, I usually won’t plan on us starting the next day’s agenda too early.
◦ What do we all want to do? My kids, like most, I think, need and want to move! The boys especially love fishing. Carmen loves to not be rushed, and to take her time exploring whatever she may find along the way. I love physical exertion in nature as much as possible, so hiking is my favorite, and Nick loves doing anything that isn’t too rushed, and especially loves playing golf and grilling steaks, burgers or fajitas. So in my planning, I try to consider all of these things and create an agenda that allows us to be out in nature as much as possible, without rushing and with plenty of snacks and sustenance along the way.
Consider rhythms vs a rigid schedule
I plan, but I plan options of rhythms vs a rigid schedule, and I consult Nick on a day to day basis for what we should do next out of those options. Here’s how this applies to two big areas of our trips:
◦ Hikes- it’s so helpful to print out maps and trails ahead of time. I did this through the National Park Service websites and chose trails that fit our family right now- 0-2 miles with less than 1000 foot in elevation gain. I have lots of options ready, and then we play it by ear based on if we find parking spots, how the weather is doing, who may need a nap, etc. We don’t come anywhere close to doing all that I have highlighted, but that’s okay! It gives us options and I’ve learned that my husband’s flexible nature in this manner is so good for all of us! And anyway, we plan to return to these spots one day, gradually doing more challenging hikes as the kids get older.
◦ Meals- again, for a two week stint, I plan a set of meals, but not necessarily what we are eating on any given day. I’ve learned that in our marriage, my husband prefers spontaneity. He wants something ready, but he also wants to be able to choose to eat out or grill if he prefers. So although I have a general idea of what we will do when, I have become less scheduled in my meal planning and more fluid with it. Here’s what my plans looked like for this past trip:
Montana Trip RV Meals
Breakfasts – most of these breakfast options were things I baked the two weeks prior to our trip. I would serve half for breakfast and freeze the other half for our upcoming trip.
◦ Cinnamon roll muffins (frozen)
◦ Lemon poppyseed muffins (frozen)
◦ Blueberry sourdough muffins (frozen)
◦ Blueberry peach muffins (frozen)
◦ Sausage, egg and cheese burritos (frozen)
◦ Pancakes, eggs and bacon on blackstone
◦ Oatmeal and yogurt
Lunches / Picnic
◦ Oasis wraps
◦ Deli tray with fruits and trail mix
◦ Tacos using prepped meat
◦ Burgers and salad
◦ Steak and salad
◦ Soups and bread
◦ Chili Soup
◦ Slow Cooker Beef Chili
◦ Insta Pot Goulash
◦ Lentil Soup
◦ Chicken Tortilla Soup
◦ Harvest Chili
◦ White chicken chili
◦ Zuppa toscana
◦ Chicken bacon and wild rice soup
◦ Hobo meals with sausage and beef
◦ Mini cheesecakes (frozen)
Other staples- Prepped and Frozen foods for use in soups
◦ Ground beef, taco seasoned – freeze in 1-2 pound portions – 5 lbs
◦ Shredded chicken 4-5 lbs – frozen breasts, easily cooked in instant pot
Now this doesn’t include my overall grocery list, but this is what I reference when Nick says he wants to grill, or when we’ve had a full day of hiking and he wants me to have soup ready when we return. The fluidity in it works for our marriage the more I embrace it.
Random tips for Hiking as a family
◦ Pack and prep the night before if possible- this helps us get going sooner
◦ Have quick breakfast options to heat and eat in the car on the way to the hike
◦ Hiking shoes and thick hiking SOCKS make a huge difference for everyone
◦ High energy Snacks and water
◦ Trail maps and an idea of where you’re going
◦ How we pack Backpacks: I carry one backpack that includes rain jackets, hats and sunglasses for Nick, Carmen and me, as well as a first aid kit, water bottles and one simple snack. Our boys each have a hiking backpack with water bladders in them- that’s pretty much all they carry, and it gives them a place to stuff layers of clothing if they need it.
◦ How we pack our truck: we keep a yeti in the back filled with waters and other foods like our lunch for when we get hungry – and we almost always do, haha. I’ve learned you can never have too much food while hiking. We also carry fishing poles and tackle in the truck since we never know when we will need them.
◦ Start early, rest when needed, and expect rain most afternoons if you’re in the mountains 🏔
◦ Layer, layer, layer your clothing. It’s much easier to remove layers as it warms up than to be stuck without enough warm clothing when it’s chilly or rainy.
◦ Twice I wished I had a warm headband for the start of our days to protect my ears from the wind- I won’t make that mistake again!
Vacation is a specific avenue for sanctification.
The final principle I find most helpful is to expect vacation to be a specific and special part of your sanctification. I know for some it can be a very restful time, and in ways it is since usually we are being removed from a context where we usually work, whatever our work may be.
But it’s important to remember that you are in a new context with new challenges. Routines vary and rhythms differ from what you do at home, and this can certainly raise the potential for frustration and fatigue. However, when we expect these challenges and see them instead as specific opportunities to walk through the experiences together, we won’t waste the potential for growth to become more like Christ through the need for grace, love and patience.
I do not do this perfectly, and I’m so very grateful for Nick’s guidance on this past trip, and helping me return to remembering these truths. My need for these reminders is also why I still wake up before my family on vacation to spend time with Jesus before the day begins. Regardless of where we are, we need Christ. Maybe even more so while on vacation. 😉