How to Handle Cabin Fever During Long Trips


Whether you’re a full-time RVer or the occasional vacation traveler, extended RV trips of any kind offer opportunities to explore parts of the country (or world) that you’ve never seen before, bond with your travel companions in unique settings, and create lasting memories that are sure to be worth more than any material possession you’ll ever own.

That being said, there are two sides to every coin, and while the pros to lengthy RV trips tend to enormously outweigh the cons, downsides do exist. When traveling in a confined space with one or more other people, stress can build and cabin fever can take hold. As strange as it may seem to experience cabin fever in a home that is literally designed to keep you mobile, it happens to traveling families quite frequently.

The good news is that there are ways to counter the feelings of restlessness, boredom, and crankiness that often occur on long trips. Here are a few tips to help you do just that:

Diversify Your RV Travel Games

You can only play so much of the license plate game before it loses its luster. If keeping yourself and your passengers entertained on long drives is your goal, diversifying your travel games is going to be key. There are countless ideas online that you can research to get some ideas, but here are a few fun ones to get your gears turning:

  • 20 questions–One person picks a word and keeps it a secret from everyone else. The person who chooses the word does state whether it is a person, place, or thing, but after that, everyone only gets to ask yes or no questions. The goal is to guess what the word is before 20 questions have been asked.
  • The straight-face game–For this game, one person in the car/RV is “it.” That person’s job is to try to keep a completely straight face while everyone else tries to get that person to laugh or smile. You can set a time limit of your choice, and the first person to get the straight-faced person to crack wins. If no one does in the allotted time, the person who is “it” wins.
  • The continuing story game–One person begins a story with one sentence (e.g., The dog went to the store.). Then everyone else takes turns adding to that story, each adding one sentence at a time. You can choose to take the story in any direction you want; the funnier, the better!

These are just a few examples of what you can do. Don’t be afraid to make up your own games either!

Expand Your Living and Personal Space

Anyone who has spent a significant amount of time RVing knows that the living space can start to feel cramped, especially when sharing it with other people. No matter how much you enjoy the company of your passengers, whether you’re with your friends or your family, it’s natural to want some physical and personal space after spending long hours in the RV with everyone. There isn’t much you can do space-wise when you’re on the road, so it’s important to do what you can when you’re stationary. Here are some ideas to help everyone get the breathing room they need to feel sane and happy:

  • RV shade products, such as awnings, will help add some additional room to your campsite. If you design the underneath of your awning to function as a comfortable, lounge-worthy outdoor living space, you’ll automatically have much more room to work with. There are even room attachments you can secure onto your awning that zip up, creating an extra enclosed room for anyone who wants some alone time.
  • Depending on the terrain/rules of the campground you’re staying at, you can always consider setting up a couple of tents next to the RV. Even if no one ends up sleeping in the tents, you can still make them a comfortable spot to shut the world out if someone wants to read or just get away for a second.
  • Going on a walk is a healthy way to get some personal space. Try to stay at an RV park that has a trail system.
  • Headphones are a necessity. If you just want to tune everything out and watch something on your Ipad or listen to music, headphones tend to signify to others that you are engrossed in something and it’s best to leave you alone. You can always outright ask to be left alone as well.

Stop to Smell the Roses and Stretch Your Legs

Feeling restless and cramped while RVing isn’t solely due to not getting enough alone time; sometimes you simply need a break from the vehicle.

Taking frequent breaks to stop and stretch your legs will help nip any potential restlessness in the bud. Unless you’re on a tight, specific schedule, part of the allure of the RV lifestyle is being able to mosey down the road and take in each moment as a spectacular opportunity to explore something new.

Take detours to spontaneous hiking destinations, well-reviewed local restaurants, or world-famous landmarks. The point is that the more experience you can add to a trip, the more enthusiasm everyone will have for the journey.

Choose RV Parks With Fun, Plentiful Amenities

Take time to research each RV park you’ll be staying at in advance to find out what kind of perks are offered. You and your group will be more encouraged to stray from the RV if there are amenities and activities you actually want to take advantage of. While there is nothing wrong with the familiar scene of making smores and telling ghost stories around the campfire, having more options will help keep all parties entertained.

Some amenities to inquire about are:

  • Swimming pools
  • Playgrounds
  • Clubhouses
  • Hiking/biking trails
  • Games
  • Fitness classes
  • Access to boating, kayaking, etc.
  • Outdoor movie screenings

Organize Your Living Situation

Before embarking on your trip, assign each passenger specific tasks that they are personally responsible for. Who will keep things clean? Who will do the cooking? Who is responsible for laundry? This will prevent confusion and keep each person accountable for their fair share of responsibilities.

On a similar note, keep things organized and in their proper places. Cabin fever stress will only escalate if things are cluttered and no one is able to find what they need when they need it. The more streamlined the entire experience is, the easier it will be for everyone to enjoy the long trek.

Have a Happy Trek!

All in all, extended RV travels make for an amazing experience that you’ll fondly look back on, but it’s only human nature to get stressed out while being cooped up in a tight space for a lengthy while. Hopefully these tips will help you handle cabin fever in an effective way so that you can squeeze as much enjoyment out of your trek as humanly possible. Good luck!

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