Are you looking for ways to create new family holiday traditions while RV traveling? If so, you’re in luck! There are all sorts of fun and unique traditions you can try no matter where you are. From decorating your RV, to leaving sweet treats for Santa, and cooking special holiday meals, the options are endless. Our family loves to travel in our RV over the holiday season while making new memories along the way. Read on to grab some inspiration to celebrate this holiday season on the road!
Guest Post by TheAdventureDetour
Why Family Holiday Traditions Are Important To Kids
As adults, it can be easy to enjoy traveling and skip holiday activities completely. Travel itself is enough for many adults. Kids however, really relish holiday activities. They hold on to traditions and many children will still want to do some of the traditions that you usually do at home while traveling.
Don’t already have many holiday traditions? Or want to get some new family traditions going? Well, you are in the right article! Traveling in an RV over a holiday is the perfect time to mix things up and start new holiday activities.
Local Community Holiday Activities
One great way to create new family traditions is to enjoy local activities. We love holiday travel because it’s the perfect opportunity to enjoy and celebrate the way locals do in the areas we visit. Every community celebrates differently, and that can be exciting to experience.
For example, our first holiday season in our RV was spent in the Florida Keys. We checked community calendars and discovered that an oceanside restaurant was hosting a unique breakfast with Santa opportunity. Not only did you get to have breakfast with Santa, but he arrived at the restaurant via a United States Coast Guard boat! The anticipation as the boat with Santa docked at the restaurant, and he got out to greet the children was a one-of-a-kind experience that our family will never forget.
Something special many Florida waterfront communities do to celebrate the holidays is to host boat parades. Locals decorate private boats with incredible light displays and float by parade style while blasting Christmas music. This was a unique travel experience we would have never experienced in our Midwest home celebrating the holidays.
During our travels out west, the Grand Canyon Railroad, which normally transports passengers to Grand Canyon National Park for day trips, transforms into a festive Polar Express train ride. It is full of songs, dancing, hot cocoa, and of course, Santa. Santa boards the train and meets with each child when the train arrives at the North Pole. He hands each child their own special bell, just like in the movie. What a memorable holiday experience this trip was!
The best way to find fun local holiday activities is to check community calendars in the location you are visiting. Also, ask around at the campground and talk to locals that you meet in the area. We always get the best recommendations from locals during our travels. Local Facebook groups are another source of information on great events going on in the area.
Some places to look for holiday events are zoos, botanical gardens, amusement parks, train tours, community centers, libraries, and churches. Churches sometimes offer a live walk-through nativity or plays. Botanical gardens often have incredible walk-through light displays. Some zoos come to life at night with special holiday parties. Also, look for information on great neighborhood light displays that you can drive through.
Campground Holiday Activities
Sometimes you don’t have to look any farther than where you are staying for holiday fun! Check the RV campground you are staying at to see if they offer an activity calendar. Campgrounds often have fun planned activities, especially around holidays.
Some commonly offered campground activities include golf cart parades, visits with Santa, crafts, dances, games, or white elephant gift exchanges. Many places we have stayed have had campsite decorating contests. We always enjoy seeing the decorated golf carts and campsites. RVers are so creative, and it’s wild to see how some go all out with decorations!
RV Holiday Decorations
There is never anything quite like decorating your living space for the holidays. Just because your space may be tiny on the road doesn’t mean you can’t fire up the cheer in your RV! With a little creativity, your RV can be perfect for holiday decor.
Go slim to go big. Many RVs have very limited floor space but do have some verticle space to go up. The solution is to get a pencil Christmas tree. We can fit a 7-foot-tall pencil tree in our 5th wheel, which only takes up about 2 feet of floor space. When we decorate the tree, we really crimp the ornament hooks tight onto the tree branches to keep them from falling off. We also use only non-breakable ornaments. On travel days, we wrap the whole tree up in a large bed sheet and lay it on top of our bed.
If you don’t have the space for an indoor tall Christmas tree but still would love to have a big one, why not get an outdoor tree? Make sure to secure the tree to a picnic table or something sturdy to keep it from blowing away. Shatterproof ornaments are also helpful to keep them from breaking if the tree falls over.
To go small but mighty, consider getting a little tabletop tree to use on the kitchen table, counter, or even the bedroom dresser. It’s still just as festive to have a little tree. Another space-saving tree option is a pop-up garland tree. This wire type of tree folds into a flat spiral ring but then pops up into tree form. It can be used inside or outside and takes up very little space. You can even put lights and ornaments on it.
Fun Family Activities To Count Down The Season
There is nothing quite like the buildup of excitement as the days count down to Christmas. It’s fun to build upon that anticipation by having daily activities and countdown calendars to mark off the days. One way that we like to mark off the days until Christmas is with a little chalkboard calendar. Each morning before our daughter wakes up, we write the number of days until Christmas and draw a fun little picture on the board for her to find. It’s a simple idea that takes up hardly any space but is fun for all of us!
Our family is a bit obsessed with advent calendars. We do many calendars each holiday season to count down the days. One of our favorite advent calendars is a felt wall-hanging calendar we purchased from Pottery Barn Kids. Not only is it huge and personalized, but it makes a big decorating impact while only taking up wall space. It works great in our RV entryway because we can hang it from the loft rail above. Any decor that can be hung up helps save RV space. Each felt pocket holds a mini book that tells the story of Christmas.
We also have a hanging Playmobile advent calendar that contains daily figures to eventually complete a holiday scene on Christmas eve. This calendar is fun because it also creates a scene for creative play as the days go by. We have yet another advent calendar for Legos. Most years, we get the Star Wars theme Lego calendar, but they have many themes for every child’s interests. Each day is a mini figurine to build from Legos. I love how this is a fun activity and calendar in one. After a few days, there are also enough figures made to enjoy some creative play with the scene.
In past years we have also done sock advent calendars which sounds a bit cheesy but was a huge hit with our family. Another past countdown we did was a large bucket of holiday crafts, and we did one per day leading up to Christmas day.
Holiday Book A Day
This tradition may not be the most RV-friendly for weight and space, but it’s one of those traditions that we love enough to make it work. We wrap up a Christmas book daily to open and read as a family. Most of the books are ones that we already own, but we usually add a new book on the first day of December each year. Seeing all the numbered books wrapped up and the anticipation of unwrapping a book and reading it makes this a memorable family tradition. This activity would also work great with books from the library!
Ornament A Day
Our daughter has a very tiny Christmas tree that she keeps in her RV bedroom. I purchased a pack of mini ornaments and wrap them up with numbered days on the paper. Each day she unwraps a mini ornament and puts it on her little tree. This simple fun doesn’t take much space or prep time but creates special memories.
Carol A Day
We printed free Christmas carol lyrics off of Pinterest to create a tradition of singing a Christmas carol each evening. We also sometimes light a candle or use an advent ring of candles where we light the number of candles as the day of the month we are on leading up to Christmas day. After dinner each night, we love to sing a carol by candlelight. You could also use fake candles if you have younger children.
Other Fun Easy Christmas Family Activities While RV Traveling
- Christmas movie nights
- Bake cookies or treats
- Game night with Christmas music
- Watch The Polar Express and then drive to look at Christmas lights in your pajamas
- Take a winter solstice nature hike
- Make Christmas ornaments from clay, pinecones, shells, or other things you find in your travels
- Throw together a simple Christmas sensory tote
- Christmas slime or play dough kit
- Make Insta-Snow to play in
- Walk around the campground and vote for your favorite decorated RV while singing
I hope this article inspires you to make some new family memories wherever you may be this holiday season. Just because you are RV traveling doesn’t mean you have to miss out on the fun. In fact, incorporating local holiday activities can make the season extra special. It doesn’t take much to make memories of a lifetime with your family!
Looking for a new or used RV to hit the road in this holiday season? Or seeking to get an RV as an exciting family surprise gift? Check out the wide selection and great family options at La Mesa!
Scott, his wife Van, and their 12-year-old daughter Sissy have traveled full-time in their RV for 7 years. They have worked and homeschooled on the road through 42 states so far. They blog about RVing tips, travel destinations, and the full-time RV lifestyle on their blog www.TheAdventureDetour.com. They are also RV content creators @theadventuredetour on Instagram, TikTok, and Facebook. They love connecting with RVers so be sure to reach out to them and say hi!