Home & Leisure

Taking the Kids: RVing

By Eileen Ogintz, Tribune Content Agency on

Really? No matter how many hours on the road, there's no whining or complaining from the two Dam kids -- Astra, 10, and her younger brother Carl, 8.

"Sometimes the kids forget we are driving at all," said their mom, Trine Dam, as Astra and Carl nod in agreement. And the two aren't glued to devices the entire time, either.

The secret to this unusual road trip bliss: A 36-foot rented RVwhere the kids can be safely strapped in seatbelts but still able to play games at the table between them. And they can stop when they want to make lunch and don't need to stop for a bathroom.

The Dams, who are from Denmark, have been tooling around Arizona and Utah visiting national parks.

We met up with them and other families at the popular Moab KOA campground, ideal for visiting nearby Arches and Canyonlands National Parks, as well as for biking, taking Jeep tours, rafting and swimming at the end of the day in the KOA pool. (KOA operates far more campgrounds than anyone else in the United States with more than 200 open all year, as are the campgrounds at Moab.)

Growing numbers of families are now camping -- a million new campers in 20018, according to the 2019 North American Camping Report, sponsored by KOA, and more are seeking options beyond tents -- like RVs. Some 40 million Americans RV camp regularly, according to industry research, with younger households with adults aged 35 to 54 the most likely to own and RV.


All of the families we met, some traveling like the Dams in rental RVs, some in their own, were equally enthusiastic about their mode of travel, with the option to stay in remote campsites or campgrounds with plenty of amenities -- playgrounds, lawn games, obstacle courses, fire pits, kayaks, even a summer rodeo at the gargantuan Mt. Rushmore KOA.

RV camping encourages family time, suggests Zach Thornhill, traveling with his wife and daughters from Fruita, Colorado. "If we were home and the weather was bad, we would all be doing our own thing," he explains. "Here we're playing board games or watching movies."

And Sophie Thornhill added that she and her younger sister always make friends in campgrounds, which is not usually the case at a hotel.

Another plus: no pet fees for those traveling with their pooches. Nor do the kids bicker like they do at home, added Marty Dubey, another Coloradan whose sons are 15 and 12. Dubey added that she doesn't have the stress of worrying about what might be in restaurant food, as her younger son has food allergies.


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