Special thanks to GoRVing.com for sponsoring this post and allowing us this experience. All opinions are my own.
For a long time, outside felt really scary.
When we first learned about Brenna’s diagnosis of Harlequin ichthyosis, with complications like heat intolerance and high infection risk, everything outside seemed unknown, very potentially dangerous.
I was terrified of even moving her from a covered NICU isolette to an open crib, let alone bringing her home. Any environment we couldn’t completely control with ideal temperatures and ideal humidity felt off-limits.
She proves us wrong everyday. She proves that limitations are only as powerful as we let them be.
In August, we took a trip to Starved Rock State Park in central-northern Illinois – a beautiful area teeming with canyons, waterfalls and beautiful river views. We stayed at a remote RV campground. We played outside at the playground, we roasted hot dogs, we hiked for miles.
Through our experience, we discovered why RVing can be such a wonderful option for families with special needs or extra considerations.
You can bring everything you need
This is probably far and away the #1 plus to RVing.
For our family, packing for more than a half day trip looks like we’re moving across the country. Because of Brenna’s infection risk, we bring our own washcloths and bed linens – and sometimes towels too. With lots of lotion usage, we bring extra clothing. Because of temperature concerns, we bring both jackets and cooling products. We bring cleaning supplies and food and medications and skincare items.
Driving is a lot more conducive to flying for this reason, and accommodations that are spacious enough for all our necessary stuff gets a big thumbs up. Having our own items gives us a lot more peace of mind when traveling, and each new trip gives us the chance to figure out what works best in this regard.
You have your own space
As an aside: this book, The Summer Wives? It was my Book of the Month pick and was so good!
OK, so maybe this is just a kid thing in general… But we certainly love staying in accommodations that allow for us to not be on top of each other. Sleeping in the same beds as our kids – well, one apparently fights off wildebeests in their dreams and the other is just plain loud. Separate beds, for the win!
(Bonus: when one child is an early riser and the other isn’t, separate spaces advantageously allows the early riser to read and watch a show without disturbing the night owl.)
You can prepare your own homemade food
While we love the opportunity to eat out – particularly when it’s a local restaurant with unique fare – we really dislike the feeling of having to eating out. After we stayed for half a week at a hotel in Indianapolis that had nothing beyond a tiny fridge, we were totally over eating out.
Brenna has some unique dietary needs – in that, she needs to eat high-protein and high-calorie foods, and constantly, because her body has very high caloric needs. For our RV trip, we packed up all of the snacks and meal we would have made at home. I did our grocery shopping at my beloved Aldi, cut up fruits and veggies, and even pre-made a salad at home to make it easier.
While neither of our kids has food allergies, having your own kitchen would certainly be ideal for that as well. The ease of having our own cooking facilities and our own food meant that when we indulged in an ice cream stop and dinner out, it was much more gratifying.
You get the adventure of camping with the convenience of modern amenities
Because of Brenna’s severe disorder, there are simply some non-negotiables we need while traveling. We need our temperature controls. We need our bath tub (yes, most RVs now have actual tubs!)
But we also wanted to experience the outdoorsy side of camping. Staying in an RV instead of a tent or other such accommodation was absolutely ideal for us. We spent mornings and evenings outside – building fires, grilling out, playing on the camp’s playground and of course, hiking at Starved Rock. And then we retreated to the RV for the warm afternoons, where we were able to relax, read, watch TV and be comfortable.
How to choose an RV? For starters, you don’t have to splurge and purchase one. There are RV rental companies, and many individual owners rent theirs out. There are also campgrounds that have RVs on site to rent, like the one we stayed at.
So whether renting or buying – there are several types of RVs, all with different features and benefits depending on what you’re wanting.
The four main categories of RVs are: towable, motorized, specialty and park model. Helpful information on each type can be found at GoRVing.com. The RV we rented was a towable travel trailer, and we loved the size and features. I didn’t realize it until I looked on GoRVing, but disability-accessible RVs are even available for families who have physical mobility needs.
The convenience of an RV truly allowed us an exciting camping experience while alleviating potential added stress of caring for our daughter’s healthcare needs.
Maybe we can’t control everything with this rare condition. But what we’re learning is that we can control how we react to it.
We can redefine our limitations – and in doing so, we can create our own adventures, however that may look!