Travel / May 3, 2021

Should you take your family on a Summer RV Trip? Find out how this trip ranks.*contains affiliate links

rv roadtrip

Traveling halfway across the U.S. in a rented RV with a 6 and 3-year-old in 22 square feet sounded nothing like what a high maintenance girl would like. A girl who normally lives in 5,200 square feet with a large closet and drawer full of skincare and makeup goodies. A girl who gets claustrophobic in hotel rooms. My husband assured me it would be a trip of a lifetime, and we planned out the route. We flew to Indiana (where my parents are) and stayed a few weeks to see family. Since it was a one-way RV roadtrip, we only had 1 option; to rent from Cruise America. My dad drove us to Rockford, IL, to pick up our rented RV. Of course, it wasn’t ready on time, and the people that worked in the location were anything but friendly. They chain smoked inside (who knew anyone still does that?), so we took off to get lunch and grab a few extra things for the trailer.

Once we finally got into the trailer and I explained how junkie this RV was; I am not even sure you will believe me. Here were the standouts: it leaked, dead bugs fell from the roof lining into my passenger-side lap, it was so loud we could barely speak to one another, you could only listen to the radio and no iPhone hookups, the drawers were broken and would fly open when we took a corner, the beds were concrete, and the hose to dump sewage had a hole. Sounds like we had the rvtrip of a lifetime, right? WE DID!

I wouldn’t change one thing about our RV roadtrip! I wouldn’t have wanted a fancy RV, more space, or anything else. It was perfect in every way! The kids could jump, climb, bounce, and make a mess because this RV was a junker, and Cruise America wouldn’t know any difference when we returned it.

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Highlight and Lowlight of Our RV Roadtrip

The highlight of the RV trip for the whole family was our hike to Little Devils Tower in Custer State Park, South Dakota. In fact, South Dakota was hands down my favorite state we visited. Since we were traveling in an RV, we had to actually park a full mile from the trail head. By the time we even got to the trailhead, the girls were tired and complaining, and shoulder rides were already given. I found every step of that hike more beautiful than the last. The wildflowers, the rocks, the views, and the fresh smells. It was the most beautiful, enchanting hike I have ever been on. About half way up and 2.5 miles in, I was about ready to give up (because of the kids). The girls were falling down and crying and the drama of (6 and 3) was almost more than I could take, but my husband is an avid outdoorsman, and he picked them both up and we kept right on trekking. Everyone on the trail said, “It is worth it, keep going,” so that is what we did, straight up the mountain. We came to an interesting rock formation that only 1 person at a time can climb, and the girls were beyond excited to rock climb. We kept climbing up this boulder, and once you reach the top, the view is like you are in heaven.

rv roadtrip

It will be the closest I ever come to climbing Mt. Everest at a balmy 78 degrees. We ate lunch and fed the local chipmunks. We took pictures and celebrated our climb. The way down was full of stories and excitement that we all made it up that crazy mountain; but the last mile was anything but a feat with the girls. The moral of this story is, if you have no kids, this will be the highlight of your trip. If you have kids, this will be the highlight of your trip.

Other Honorable Mentions of Our Rv Roadtrip

Of course, other honorable mentions include Yellowstone and Old Faithful, Mt. Rushmore was incredible and exceeded my expectations. The Grand Tetons also were a sight to see, but South Dakota stole my heart.

Badlands and Bison

The morning after we went to the Badlands, we continued our RV roadtrip and drove through Custer State Park bright and early to see the Bison. These incredible animals were just walking along the road with their babies. Seeing the herd and how there is one big bull running the whole herd and the lone bulls out to pasture. Such a perfect way for the kids to see the animal kingdom.

You can see how far away we were from the Bison and we explained to our children why we needed to stay so far away. We saw people get 10 feet from a herd with babies in Yellowstone, please, please, never do this. When I see these news stories of people being killed and attacked by wild animals, I am always like who is dumb enough to do that and we saw those people with our own eyes and now I have a face to a news story!

rv roadtrip

Places we want to spend more time in during our RV roadtrip

Utah was a place we drove through but didn’t get to spend much time there. I loved the salt flats, and when we plan an RV trip again, we are going to explore Utah much much more. We did not spend enough time in Yellowstone, and it was very rushed, so next time, we plan to spend 2-3 days there and skip over Jackson, WY. It was just too crowded, expensive, and not at all kid-friendly, in our opinion.

Places we stayed and loved

We used a website called and we found a few places where we could stay for free (without hookups), but the expectation is to buy food or drink.

Iowa: Hansens Diary Farm 8461 Lincoln Rd, Hudson, IA 50643

Hansens has the coolest spot! Located down a dirt road, you pull into this farm, and your RV space has a swimming hole full of paddle boards, a beach, and toys for the kiddos. With the humidity, the swimming hole is much needed. Tours of the dairy farm are conducted daily, along with feeding a few kangaroos. We sampled all the ice cream, and we all agreed Keylime was the best.

South Dakota, American Creek Campgrounds, 701 N. Main Street, Chamberlin, South Dakota, 57325

The RV park was so pristine. We saw some of the most beautiful RV’s pull through here worth like $500K! And we were way out of place with our “Cruise America” junker. We ate dinner overlooking the Missouri River, and the kids even went swimming in the river. The playground here was full of fun, and I enjoyed exercising and walking through the park the next day, overlooking the Missouri River.

South Dakota, Hidden Lake Campground,, 27291 Evans Street, Hot Springs, South Dakota 57747

We took way too long exploring the Badlands to really get to explore the Hot Springs. There was a super-fun resort down the road from this campground that had slides and hot springs. We needed to get an early start the next day, so we just enjoyed the natural water hole at this campground, along with a super fun playground and tire swing. They also included free wood at this campsite that overlooks the gorgeous hills so s’mores were in order!

South Dakota, Buffalo Ridge Camp Resort,, 35 South 4th Street, Custer, South Dakota 57730

This camp resort is so fun and located right in the outskirts of the town of Custer! We adored Custer, and our day was spent watching the Bison and taking in the view at Mt. Rushmore. There are cabins and teepees, and a huge pool and deck area. There are ruins to explore and an epic, large, state-of-the-art playground. Once the sun goes down, be ready for some warm clothes and a fire. We loved eating in the town, and we liked Custer way more than we liked Jackson Hole, WY. We are planning a family vacation back to SD so soon!

Wyoming, Jackson Hole Still Works,, 3940 South Eagle View Drive, Jackson, WY 83001

On our RV roadtrip, we drove through Jackson Hole so late at night, coming through Yellowstone. We found this distillery on the Harvest website. We pulled into the spot and immediately crashed out. The next morning, we got all ready and fancy to walk through Jackson. We popped into the distillery to taste some of their finest spirits. The host was so welcoming, and we got a tour of the facility. By 9am my husband was sipping Gin and loving life, especially since we had him shopping for 2 hours in town. I bought a cool silk scarf and vodka. The perfect place.

Family Vacation Tip: Take Minimal Toys For Kids

I almost went out and bought a bunch of toys for the RV, but I allowed the girls to pack a small backpack with toys, crayons and a few games. I then told them they could get toys at places we stopped if they were super bored. Well, being in the back of the RV, the kids got sleepy and slept on the long drives. It is so bumpy, and stuff is flying everywhere, so they tried to play with toys a few times and immediately lost them all.

There is so much to see and do outside that the kids forget all about the toys. Card games are fun at night if you need a little something extra. I picked up a few road games that were super fun but the best one for being on the major highways would have to be Briarpatch Travel Scavenger Hunt. This game was fun for the whole family and will keep the driver awake, which is always a plus. The girls honestly had the most fun playing “house” with the trailer, making the beds, and swiping. If you have boys, then they will enjoy climbing and jumping off the seats, and it is rented, so who cares!


This RV roadtrip will be a lifetime memory for our family, and I hope that you are also able to create those memories with your family. Honestly, the RV travel and the small space were magical, and I think even teenagers could get into it. This trip brought us all so close together as a family unit. We had so much time to reflect, talk, and see this beautiful country of ours. There is no greater honor than to live in America and show our girls what we stand for. God bless America!

If you’re fond of traveling, make sure to check out this post, where I’ve listed my must-have travel items that are all affordable.