5 Tips For Traveling With Guests In Your RV
Pre-Post Note/ WOWZA! Totally overwhelmed by the outpouring of support on my last post. THANK YOU everyone who commented!! We are super excited about our move to Europe, although we have loooots of details to work through before we get there. I’m going to have tons of posts coming up about the hows and whats, but in the meantime I have a few left-over posts related to our US-travel that I’d like to share. Hope you enjoy them!
If you’ve been in the RV world for any length of time you might have heard the saying:
“My RV entertains 6, dines 4 and sleeps 2”
In the 8 years we’ve been on the road we’ve actually broken all these rules. We’ve entertained up to 16 people inside the RV, dined with up to 10 and traveled multiple times with guests. The latter is probably the one most folks balk at.
Most RVers rarely travel with guests, not because RV’s can’t physically sleep more than two but simply because they’re SMALL spaces and it requires a lot of juggling and accommodation to have extra people on-board, especially if they aren’t close family. We’ve got a “beastly” RV that officially sleeps around 5 (2 folks in the back bedroom, 2 people in the front sleeper couch and 1 little person in the J-bed). We’ve never invited that many to sleep over, but we HAVE invited guests, and plenty of them too.
In fact we’ve had guests of some sort of another every single year since we’ve been on the road!
We’ve had my cousin from Denmark (twice), Paul’s sister and niece (several times), my sister, Paul’s mom, several RV friends (multiple times), and my father (this past summer). Although there’s been an adjustment period each time, it’s always worked out GREAT and we’ve really enjoyed having guests along for the adventure.
So, how do we handle it? Well, here are my 5 top tips for exactly that…
1/ Keep It Short
One of the easiest ways to ensure you don’t get on each others nerves is to keep guest sleepovers limited in time-frame.
In our case one week is super easy whereas two weeks is typically our max. Longer than that and it just starts to feel really crowded and folks get irritable. Having guests requires that everyone adjusts their daily schedule to synch up, so it’s a finely-tuned play that works best in short spurts. Plus guests like to get out and sight-see, and since we’re typically very casual sightseers (we hang/work at home most of the time, and only go out to sight-see a few days per week) two weeks is about the max we can handle of daily outings before we completely exhaust ourselves.
Most of our guest visits have been 2 weeks.
2/ Set Expectations Up-Front
I believe that one of the keys to successful guest visits is to set expectations properly up-front.
Before our guests arrive we try to share what it’s going to be like living together in a small space. We describe the layout of the RV (one living room, one bathroom), emphasize that it’s SMALL and let them know they’ll be sleeping in a Queen-size pull-out couch that takes up most of the living room space (and thus needs to be put away every morning).
We encourage all our guests to pack light (a typical carry-on luggage is about the max size we can fit), plus we let them know that they may have to shower in a public shower (we don’t always have full hookups). For the later we recommend bringing a portable toiletry bag (i.e. something they can lug with them to the facilities) as well as some cheap flip flops to wear in the facilities.
For internet, we are lucky enough to have several cellphone data plans, so for the most part we’re happy to accommodate our guests on those. We just ask that guests not stream masses of video or upload multi-GB documents to keep our usage somewhat in line (we have plentiful data, but we just never want to be “on the radar” as excessive users with either Verizon or ATT). If the campground has usable internet we’ll encourage guests to use that too, but since we’re typically camped in Public Parks with no WiFi that’s a rare treat.
Lastly we talk about our pets (see #3), describe our typical daily schedule (see #5), and we discuss how much sight-seeing we plan to do while they’re here. For the latter we always tell them where we’re going to be and encourage them to read up about the area for things they might like to do or see. For the most part sight-seeing is a joint activity that we decide on together.
3/ Our Pets Rule
So this is super important which is why it has it’s own section.
Our paws are a core part of our family and anyone who comes to visit us has to accept that. Our two cats and our dog are free to roam the RV all day including sofas and beds. This is their home, so they are as much owners of “the beast” as we are. We never shut them away or force them to change their habits while guests are here.
Our animals are pretty well-behaved, but they have their quirks. Polly is not an in-your-face kind of dog, but she is always close by and protective of our “pack”. She’s generally lying within a few feet of us wherever we are, and inside the RV she’s very quiet (sooooo quiet in fact, that after ~20 mins most people forget we have a dog!), so guests have to be aware of not stepping on her when they walk around.
Our one cat Rand is shy and likes to keep to herself, but Taggart is the QUEEN of socialization and absolutely needs to be part of the action (or her displeasure will be HEARD!). I always warn guests that if they stay with us they are VERY likely to have a cat either on them during the day, or in bed with them at night. Cat contact is guaranteed! Anyone who’s allergic or can’t handle that is better off staying at a hotel.
Lastly, the paws often dictate our sight-seeing time. We don’t like to leave the dog for more than ~4 hours unattended and prefer to go places we can take her with us. So that may limit where we go and what we do. Guests are always welcome to sight-see on their own of course, and we’ll sometimes do longer outings with just one of us (while the other stays home with the paws), but the pets always have a big say in our day.
4/ Orientation On Arrival
When our guests arrive they get an initial orientation on the rig.
The first thing we point out is where they can put their luggage (typically our front drivers seat), plus we give them a few places to hang their clothing, both in the front (some hooks by the door) and in our back closet (where we have extra hangers). We also go over the general rules of the house (for example, we take off our shoes before entering) and remind them to always, always make sure the front door screen is closed so the cats don’t escape.
For personal stuff we provide towels and typically allocate some room by our middle bathroom sink for their toiletries. Plus we teach them how to use the RV toilet (flush and re-fill with the foot pedal). If we’re on limited hookups (e.g. no sewer) we’ll also orient them on how to conserve water (basically never let the tap run) and where to find the campground showers.
Lastly for food items we always tell them that they’re welcome to buy specific foods & snacks that they like (a trip to the grocery store is typically one of our first outings) and that breakfast and lunch are loose (it’s up to them if they want to eat with us or not), but dinner is fixed and something we always eat together (Post-Edit/ Hat tip to Linda for reminding me in the comments, but we will of course talk about food allergies or anything our guests can’t eat up-front).
5/ Bed-Time & Wake-Up Time
When you live together in a small space you basically have to synchronize your schedules.
There’s simply no way for a guest to “have a lie in” when they’re taking up the entire living room. And there’s no way for us to “wait” for a guest to wake up when our dog is eyeing us woefully for her morning walk schedule. So when we get up and have to walk the dog, they have to get up and start folding away the bed. And when we go to bed, they have to get their bed ready.
Luckily for us our pets keep us on a pretty rigid schedule, so we can let guests know up-front pretty much the exact times we’re likely to get up (around 7:30-8:00AM) and go to bed (around 9:00PM). Polly is the timekeeper in the RV and will start to “herd” us if we don’t adhere to those times, so it’s rare that we vary toooo much from that schedule.
As for privacy, in “the beast” our back bedroom has its own separate door, so once everyone is in bed we each have our own private space and everyone can read or hang out as long as they want before going to sleep. Plus both guests and us can use the toilet at night without bothering anyone.
That’s really it! Not much in way of magic, just making sure everyone knows how to get along. Have you traveled with guests? Did you love it, or hate it so much you vowed never to do it again? Any additional tips or tricks you’d like to share? Feel free to add ’em into the comments below!SPONSORED LINK:
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