We have been living on the road in our class A motorhome for over five years now. During that time, we’ve had some epic Friendsgivings with fellow nomads. We also spent one Thanksgiving broken down in a parking lot. This year marks our sixth Thanksgiving celebration in an RV. But, it will actually be the first time as full-time RVers that we’re traveling to spend it with family.
Celebrating Thanksgiving in Your RV
Maybe your reason to celebrate Thanksgiving in the RV is to get away from your crazy family. In that case, you’ll probably want a quiet little spot in some gorgeous natural setting.
My personal favorite Thanksgiving celebrations during our RV travels have all been with friends. So that’s what I’m going to focus on today: how to plan for and execute a memorable Thanksgiving celebration with fellow RVers.
My husband and I have spent many a Christmas quietly opening presents just the two of us. Then, we spend hours watching our favorite holiday movies in our pajamas. Lazy holidays like this are generally accepted, if not preferred, in my RV household.
SPEND THE HOLIDAYS WITH YOUR RV COMMUNITY
But Thanksgiving just feels like it’s true essence involves many people gathering together to share in a big meal. So, we make a point to plan ahead for Thanksgiving each year and make an effort to share our celebration with good friends (and sometimes family, too).
If your RV friends are full-time travelers like ours, it takes a serious feat of planning to coordinate any gathering. Nomads are notoriously the toughest crew to pin down for a commitment. But I do think a lot of us share this nostalgia of a long table bustling with activity.
Communicate with your road family well in advance to coordinate a Thanksgiving gathering. Discuss the date and location to find consensus among your group. Hopefully there’s a day and location where you can cross paths with as many people as possible, and pause for a celebration together.
In our experience, a warm weather location is ideal so you can spend time together outside. Let’s be honest, very few people have an RV big enough to host Thanksgiving dinner. Plus, who doesn’t love a big outdoor meal?
CONSIDERATIONS FOR CHOOSING A LOCATION
It might be useful to select a park or campground that has a community space like a kitchen and dining area if you can’t be in a warm climate. Other location-specific considerations might include whether the spot has trash receptacles available. Trash bins are an especially nice amenity for a food-centered holiday.
If you’re able, choose a location near a city or larger town. That will make it much easier and more convenient to shop for fresh ingredients.
HOLIDAY EVENTS AND OUTDOOR ACTIVITIES
Next, I would suggest choosing a location that has something to do nearby that is festive or celebratory. Last year, while camping at Lake Mead, we went to a holiday light show after our Thanksgiving feast. In prior years while boondocking in the desert, we have played holiday movies on our outdoor projector screen. We think it’s fun to do something that marks the transition to the next season and holiday.
But it doesn’t have to be about Christmas. You could go off-roading, participate in a turkey trot, or go hiking to a unique destination. Choose anything you like that will commemorate the holiday and add to the celebration.
Lastly, have a backup plan in case of rain or wind. Last year we were forced to push up our Thanksgiving dinner start time due to high winds predicted in the afternoon.
Maybe in light rain you could accommodate everyone between your clam shells or pop-up tents and awning coverage. But do have a backup plan, just in case.
COORDINATE MENU PLANS IN ADVANCE
It’s Thanksgiving, and the menu is important! Split up the menu in advance so everyone knows what they’re responsible for before you get to where you’re going. With enough advanced notice, each member of your party can collect the ingredients they need along their travels.
We’re often not near major towns and cities while we’re camping, so planning ahead to stop at Costco for a big turkey might be critical.
Another potential consideration for your location might be whether or not your group needs to be near a major town or city. Being near Las Vegas last year was really nice. I knew I’d have fresh food readily available, so I waited until two days before Thanksgiving to buy our potatoes and green beans because I wanted them to be fresh.
CONSIDER ANY DIETARY RESTRICTIONS
Be sure to take note of everyone’s dietary preferences before building the menu, and do your best to accommodate everyone’s needs. If you have many different diets or any allergies, it’s wise to label the dishes with the ingredients. You can ask each person to do this as part of their preparation.
I know it’s not practical to carry loads of holiday decorations when you’re living in an RV with limited storage space. But with everyone’s limited supplies combined, I’m sure you can make something beautiful. Pool your resources and see what you come up with.
FESTIVE COLORS AND DECORATIONS
Create a festive atmosphere with fall foliage, pumpkins, or seasonal colors. Make a beautiful table setting, even if you’re using camp chairs and folding tables. Use a tablecloth if you have one and make a centerpiece with whatever supplies you have. Twinkle lights can provide the cherry on top and enhance the holiday spirit.
If you’re using disposable plates or utensils, maybe splurge for the gold ones, or anything fancier than usual. Just because you’re camping doesn’t mean you can’t make it a little bit special.
HOLIDAY DECORATION IDEAS FOR YOUR RV
Of course, no Thanksgiving would be complete without sharing gratitude. In this case, perhaps around the campfire. Creating a gratitude tradition can provide extra meaning to your celebration.
You can simply share with each other what you’re grateful for, or you could come together to make a donation to a cause you care about.
How Will You Celebrate Thanksgiving This Year?
Hopefully, this post gave you some inspiration to add a little extra holiday cheer to holiday plans. I hope you’re ready to start connect with friends and family to enjoy Thanksgiving celebration in an RV!
We would love to hear about how you spend your holidays. You can share your stories in the comments below!
Whether you’re on the road or staying at home this year, we hope you have a very special holiday.
Kristen Bates lives & works from her RV, primarily boondocking off-grid. She owns and operates a women-led travel company, Legit Trips. Kristen loves to explore new places and inspire others to do the same. If she’s not typing away on her laptop, she’s off on an adventure- hiking, biking, or SUP boarding. You can follow her RV adventures @PerpetualMoves and learn more about her travel company at LegitTrips.com.