What would Clark Griswold do?
May 26, 2009 6:32 PM   Subscribe

What is your best advice, recipes and cocktails for an RV camping newb?

I have never been camping in my life, not even in the backyard. This summer, my family and I are renting an RV and following some friends on a three week RV tour of the US. The thought of seeing the country this way thrills me! The thought of actually negotiating the logistics of camping and surviving this without having a nervous breakdown scares me to death. What are your best tips and tricks for RV camping? What should we cook, buy, and be ready for? What easy meals do you love on the road? I will have a nine year old and a toddler with us so small kids tips will be really helpful. We will be staying in AAA approved RV sites with full "hookups". The friends we are following have camped quite a bit so I don't think we'll kill ourselves or starve, but I would like to get as much advice as possible to help allay my fears. Thanks guys!
posted by pearlybob to Travel & Transportation (7 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
First, RVing isn't really "camping" in that you'll be staying in a makeshift home and not a nylon tent. That said, you should cook whatever you cook at home, but also venture out a bit and do some good ole' fashioned campground cooking. Search Amazon for "camp cookbook" (or something similar) and you'll find a plethora of books that give you tons of options. My favorite? Foil packets.

Be ready for lazy days in the lake and an evening sharing some beers with a few old timers who make their way around the country one campground at a time. If you can, bring a bike -- it makes the trip to the ice store/bathroom much quicker.
posted by nitsuj at 6:40 PM on May 26, 2009

Good point nitsuj, I didn't mean to offend any campers out there. I know that RV'ing is a long way from real camping, but it is the closest I've ever come and we've been calling it "the camping trip". My apologies to all of you true outdoors people.
posted by pearlybob at 6:47 PM on May 26, 2009

It's been a while since we went camping (reminds me, time to go this summer ;)), but one thing I always associate with camping is what the family calls "big breakfast". It can be made anywhere you have a grate over some sort of heat source like a campfire or a barbeque or similar. Take 2' to 2.5' of aluminum foil and put that down on the prep surface. Chop up a bunch of potatoes into slices about 1/3 to 1/2" thick and throw those onto the foil. Use a goodly amount. Next, an onion, coarsely diced so you have a bunch of rings, spread on the foil as well. Then get a package of bacon, and spread it around on the foil. Then a pack or two of sausages, also to be spread out on the foil. Yellow and red peppers sliced into strips are next if you're so inclined, otherwise skip those. Cover the whole works with another sheet of foil and then crimp up the sides so all the juice stays in while it cooks. Put on a cookie sheet to transport it to the campfire and slide it onto the cooking grate. You'll have to keep an eye on it and cooking time depends on your heat source's temperature and distance but on average it should take about 15-20 minutes to cook properly. Take it off the heat when done, and pop it in the middle of the table and remove the top foil. Everyone digs in. Serve it with toast and juice.
posted by barc0001 at 11:35 PM on May 26, 2009 [1 favorite]

OK, UKian here but with lots of chasing around the US in various forms of transport including a converted school bus and an RV. Lots of fun.

A lot of your planning depends on what type of RV you're using. If you have a big full size pop out RV you've got everything you need as a home from home & so can pretty much shop as if you were at home. Otherwise, recipes that don't need an oven and take 30-40mins or less might be your only limit.

Get level. For me there's nothing more annoying when sleeping outdoors than being even slightly on a slope. Harder when in a tent but your RV may come with levelling wedges & even bubble levels. A lot of the sites will have level parking areas but don't always rely on it.

I loved staying in a lot of state & county parks rather than the full blown RV parks that always seemed a bit sterile & over prepared. They vary by state (e.g AZ, NV, UT were great, CA were terrible) but always seemed to be in interesting places. National Parks were good too and of course you are closer to the main attraction.

I always try & avoid interstates. Two lanes only where possible unless I'm trying to get somewhere more quickly.

Maybe look at a night in a motel part way through the trip if you feel like a bit of an airing for the RV and a chance to have a proper bath and so forth. Might not be so much of an issue if you've got a big RV.

I don't think you should worry at all. It's all too easy and you'll get into the swing of it in a few days. Hiking and camping are where it starts getting harder :-)
posted by i_cola at 3:18 AM on May 27, 2009

Coming from a cyclist who has shared the roads with rented RVs near some of America's great sites, PLEASE become comfortable with the size of your vehicle, including side mirrors and overall length of the vehicle, before you head out on the road. Far, far too many cyclists report dangerous close-calls with drivers of RVs (especially rented RVs) who greatly underestimate their width (and consequently pass too close to cyclists) or their length (and pull back into the cyclist's space too soon after passing). This, coupled with the very real temptation to watch the passing scenery instead of the road can be very dangerous for the little guy out there.

That said, RVers have been some of my favorite people to camp with, especially the old timers who practically live on the road. When I was younger, we always took our bikes with us so we could explore our campgrounds. I'm sure my mom also let us ride circles around everything so we could get rid of all the energy we had after sitting in the van all day, so a bike, at least for your 9-year-old, may be worth taking. I also remember getting food we wouldn't get normally, like pop-tarts or those little tiny boxes of cereal (not economical, but great fun) for breakfast and s'mores on at least a couple of nights.
posted by BlooPen at 7:01 AM on May 27, 2009

I'm a Navy brat (and the third of five), and my parents bought an RV so that moving the family could be done relatively easily and cheaply. As a child, I RVed from East Coast to West Coast (or the other way around) four times, and we did a bunch of family vacations as well.

Cooking-wise, stay away from things that are in the oven (if you have one) for a long time. It gets the inside of the RV really hot. We did a lot of fast and easy things like sandwiches, cheese and crackers and salami and fruit, etc when on the road itself. When we camped, we usually took advantage of the fun of cooking over/in a fire. Lots of foil packets, sometimes hot dogs, and burgers, etc. Stir frys are great.

The best thing my parents did was make the trip something hotly anticipated. They'd take us to the bookstore or toy store (several different times) and let us pick out one thing for right now, and two or three things for the trip. Trip books and toys got put away and then doled out, one every day or two, for the length of the trip. It made RVing really fun, and kept us kids busy and quiet.
posted by Concolora at 10:37 AM on May 27, 2009

My favorite thing to make while camping is breakfast! Use one of these sandwich makers, spray with cooking spray, line each side of the sandwich maker with Pillsbury biscuit dough, crack an egg into it, some cheese, and ham or bacon. Close it up and place over the fire. It takes a bit to cook all the way through, but my god, it's delicious!

You can also make desert - again, I use the Pillsbury biscuit dough, then fill with fruit preserves, and cook over the fire to make a pie.
posted by All.star at 10:53 AM on May 27, 2009

« Older How can I find housing that is inconvenient to the...   |   Thank you too much! Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.