Thanksgiving RV Trip: How to Enjoy the Holiday on the Road

Why not shake it up this year with a new tradition? Instead of the usual family gathering, jump in the RV and hit the road for a holiday you can be truly thankful for.

The classic vision of Thanksgiving typically involves a giant stuffed turkey with multiple side dishes and pies, all covering a long dining table surrounded by family and friends. 

However, as RV travel continues to grow in popularity and more and more people adopt non-traditional lifestyles such as digital nomads and full-time RVing, the entire concept of holidays is rapidly changing. They can still be spent making memories and connecting with loved ones but that doesn’t necessarily have to mean spending several days in meal planning and prepping or even staying home. 

This year, why not consider a Thanksgiving RV trip? Whether you go to a favorite place or a new one, head out solo, bring your whole family along, cook up a quintessential Thanksgiving feast or skip a traditional meal altogether, hitting the road is a fun and memorable way to spend the holiday.

Enjoying Thanksgiving at Clerbrook Golf and RV Resort, Clermont, Florida

Reasons to take a Thanksgiving RV trip

  • Experience national parks and other popular destinations during the shoulder season when there are few other visitors—enjoy less-crowded viewpoints and trails, little to no traffic, and your pick of campsites
  • A Thanksgiving RV trip creates a new tradition with your significant other or family
  • Minimal cleanup as compared to a kitchen in a house for Thanksgiving dinner
  • If you’re not a full-timer, a Thanksgiving trip can extend your camping season and let you enjoy one more adventure before storing your rig for winter
Spending Thanksgiving in Florida © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Ideas for your Thanksgiving RV trip

The sky is really the limit when it comes to places you can spend Thanksgiving in your RV but here are some unique ideas. 

Camping at Arches National Park, Utah © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

National parks

Even the parks that close individual entrances or most roads for winter have at least one campground open all year. Planning a Thanksgiving RV trip is a wonderful way to experience some of the country’s most popular parks in a unique way without the crowds and in a much quieter setting. Most national park campgrounds are dry camping with no utilities.

Related article: 49 Million Americans Will Road Trip This Thanksgiving, 15 Million by RV

Best of all, some national parks even host special Thanksgiving programs. For example, restaurants in Grand Canyon and Yosemite National Park host elaborate Thanksgiving spreads.

Camping at Edisto Beach State Park, South Carolina © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

State parks

A quieter alternative to national parks, many state parks are open year-round and are very accessible. Choose one close to home, look for one that will still have fall foliage late in the season, or pick one that offers a warm climate. State park campgrounds offer a variety of sites including no services, electricity, and water only, and full-service camping. It’s a design-your-own-Thanksgiving-RV-trip.

Camping at Vista del Sol RV Resort, Bullhead City, Arizona © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Traditional RV parks

Camping in an RV park or resort over Thanksgiving can give you access to full hookups, scheduled activities, clubhouse and pool, fire pit, outdoor seating, and table space, and perhaps even shared kitchen facilities. Some parks may even host Thanksgiving events where you can meet other travelers. 

Boondocking near Quartzsite, Arizona © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Boondocking

If you want to try something different and completely unplug over the holiday, consider boondocking. You’ll need to do some advance planning in terms of grocery shopping and meal prepping plus decide how you’ll make Thanksgiving dinner but can be a fantastic, memorable way to create new traditions.

Related article: Top 8 Tips for Planning a Road Trip this Thanksgiving and throughout the Holiday Season

Potential downsides of a Thanksgiving RV trip (and how to deal with them)

Carrots for a colorful Thanksgiving dinner © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Being away from family and friends 

If you’re used to spending the holiday with a large group of friends and family, this can be a major factor in deciding whether or not to take a Thanksgiving RV trip. Thanks to modern technology, it’s easier than ever to stay connected with loved ones. Consider scheduling a FaceTime or Zoom call at some point during the day so everyone can say hello. 

You can also plan a traditional Thanksgiving meal when you’re all together in person even if it’s nowhere near the actual holiday. Who knows, this could become a new favorite tradition.

Thanksgiving dinner? © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Wanting to prep a traditional meal but not having enough space

Whipping up a Thanksgiving meal can be challenging even in a single-family home so there’s no denying it’s difficult in an RV. However, it’s not at all impossible.

Pie for Thanksgiving dinner © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Think about what you realistically have fridge and oven space for and come up with creative ways to prepare and cook everything else. For example, maybe you purchase a pie from a local bakery or you cook some dishes over the fire pit or grill. 

And if table/counter space is an issue make use of any surfaces you have outside the RV. There’s no rule saying you can’t decorate a picnic table or folding chairs for Thanksgiving.

Be prepared in case bad weather © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Bad weather

Late November can be dicey weather-wise, no matter where you are. Plan ahead and have some day-of backup plans in case inclement weather forces you to stay inside. Do your Thanksgiving grocery shopping in advance to eliminate the possibility that you’re short one or two key ingredients and if you’re planning to dine outside have an indoor layout in mind so there’s plenty of space to accommodate everyone. 

Related article: Thanksgiving & Our RV Lifestyle: Giving Thanks

Do something different this Thanksgiving, Go RVing! Take your family off the Wi-Fi craze for a few days and enjoy a nearly work-free meal prep and enjoyable conversation with the whole family. It will be an experience you never forget!

Worth Pondering…

Give thanks not just on Thanksgiving Day but every day of your life. Appreciate and never take for granted all that you have.

—Catherine Pulsifer