You are probably filled with the excitement of having made the decision to get an RV and head out on the road. However, there are a lot of variations involved in making the right purchase and above all, you want to ensure that you get the RV that is for you and any family members. These selections go beyond just size and price and extend into subjects that you will need to devote serious consideration to. We have put a list of things for you to contemplate and even use as your personal check list for your final choice.
What is your true purpose for buying an RV?
This is an important question because it delves into the actual reason for your RV purchasing choice. There are many types of RVers and they include weekend warriors, retirees that want long or extended trips, using your RV for your vacation traveling and then those that will be in their RVs full time. Of course, you may fall into one of these brackets with the intention of transitioning into another in a short time. Your purchasing decision should include that aspect so that you have the right size and options to accommodate both segments of your life.
Another area to consider includes families, kids and even the occasional people that may travel with you for short or vacation jaunts. A way of thinking about this might be the way that you think of buying a house. If you don’t have kids at home or many people that visit, don’t buy a home that has a lot of extra bedrooms that won’t be used. On the other hand, an extra guest room can always accommodate a child, an adult child that returns home or the best friend that wants to stay with you. Using this as a rule-of-thumb will help you to stay within a budget and not make a choice for an RV that is either too small or way more than you really need.
Thinking and talking about this question also addresses the real core of “who are you buying the RV for?”
RV or Towable? Which Fits Your Needs?
A motorhome RV is an all-in-one drivable whereas a towable attaches to a vehicle that is large enough and powerful enough to tow it. There are pros and cons for each one and depending upon how you are going to travel and the locations, you will want to offer serious considerations to this question.
If you are leaning towards the towable option, remember that if you opt for a larger towable it can often be as expensive as a motorhome. You will also need to recognize that the truck or SUV that you will be driving will be your main driving area and you have to be comfortable in that vehicle. Some fall in love with a fifth wheel and this form of towable can offer some incredible features but you need to have the experience of navigating with a larger towable and it’s advised that you practice on short jaunts before you take out on a longer trip.
For anyone that wants the freedom of the open road and doesn’t require a larger size, small RV travel trailers, truck campers or even pop up campers might be an option. But if you are set on a standard RV then you will want to consider a few more things.
RV Types and Sizes
If you are an experienced aficionado in the RV world, then many of the terms are completely familiar to you. However, over the last number of years there have been many changes, upgrades, new features and options that you may want to become familiar with.
Motorhomes are the main hot ticket for RV sellers. These are larger, usually offer an extensive list of comfort features and have interiors that are designed to be your home away from home. They are listed in 4 different “Class Types” and each will have both pros and cons that can help you with your decision.
Class A motorhomes are the large RVs with only the toterhomes outsizing them. Class A brings images of a true recreational vehicle and many offer custom-built luxury features. They have the largest square footage, ranging from 29’-45’ in length and these have plenty of room for everyone, sleeping anywhere from 6-8 people. Class A motorhomes also offer such goodies as slide-outs, bottom storage, full bathrooms and kitchens, multiple awnings and a minimum of a queen size bed for the master bedroom. While you might fall in love with everything in a Class A, you need to remember that some parks and campgrounds have size limitations that won’t allow this big of a rig. Driving is another consideration and the drivers need to be comfortable with such a large vehicle.
Motorhomes in the Class B area are the smaller sized motorhomes. These may be referred to as van campers and sometimes appear as a large family van. When it comes to size, Class B range from 18’-24’ long and typically sleep four. This choice is a lot more economical as they use less fuel and they fit in just about every campsite. They are perfect for the small family or the couple that are setting out for their adventure on the road. They are also better for dry camping and are easy for boon docking. The downside on Class B is that they don’t offer the same roominess, space and even storage as the larger motorhomes.
Class B+ motorhomes are for those that are not quite comfortable with Class B. They are very similar to the Class B but they offer a bit of a larger size and have different luxury feature options. These are considered to be more of a hybrid style and can have a bath/stand-up shower combination versus the little wet bath of the standard Class B. They also have more expansive living spaces, kitchens and even a bigger sleeping area. RV dealers will offer customization options and personal preferences for layouts. For this class, it is all about making use of every square inch of space and they often include sofa beds and twin beds for sleeping.
The Class C motorhome is the middle of the road between the extreme size of Class A and the smaller size of Class B. In appearance they may look like a bigger version of a van camper that has an overhead cabin above the driver and passenger area that can be used for sleeping or storage. Class C sizes range from 30’-33’ long and can sleep up to 8. Class C has more overall space than Class B and the upside is that they often include many of the luxuries that you covet in the Class A. Class C is also more affordable and they have become a popular option for friends that are hitting the road together for a vacation or longer trip as well as couples.
Toterhomes are not only the largest style of motorhomes, but also the most expensive. These are RVs that have been built around a large truck or tractor trailer chassis and they offer some of the best luxury selections of all. Toterhomes have been referred to as RVs, often have fifth wheel options, can easily tow a larger vehicle in the back and has house living style interiors. In some areas they are called truck sleepers due to the fact that the truck area itself includes sleeping quarters. Toterhomes are the favorites for larger groups of people that are on the road a lot and are the preferred choice for musical bands on tour. They are filled with home-like amenities such as lounging areas, kitchens and showers. When selecting a toterhome you have the option of having it fully customized and these are truly a home-away-from home for space and features. The downside to this is, of course, the size. Unless you are experienced, driving these giants can be a bit tricky, especially on the highways and freeways, but the upside is that they offer a comfortable, soft ride.
Diesel pushers are also in the motorhome Class A division, however, they have the diesel engine in the rear which increases the overall size. They are similar to toterhomes in higher pricing and are perfect for those that have chosen a life on the road. Diesel pushers have been designed for long road trips and usually handle even the most punishing areas. It’s less expensive to drive a diesel pusher due to the cheaper cost of diesel fuel, so this may be positive that offsets the higher cost. This option also offers some of the nicer interiors and higher end components. Many of today’s diesel pushers include heated floors, flat screen TVs, built-in ice makers, and more lighting on both the interior and exterior than you get with most RVs. There is a downside as these are some of the largest at 45’ and once again, some parks and campgrounds are not set up for this size. Since they are low to the ground and campgrounds often have rough or non-paved roads, this can be a problem in both navigation and actual driving due to the excessive weight. As with any RV, service is a consideration and in this the diesel engine excels above the rest. Most diesel engines have a service life of around 500,000 miles before you will need to have major repairs and as long as you maintain the engine, they have an overall 1,000,000 mile expected lifetime.
Standard Travel trailers are some of the most popular RV choices. They have a variety of sizes that can accommodate your needs and are a kind of go-to RV selection for those that want the ability to tow the trailer, park it and still have the freedom of driving around in their vehicle. Of all of the RV types, travel trailers also hold their value longer. Other advantages include reduced gas prices due to size and decreased weight and depending upon your choices, they are almost always cheaper than the standard RV and insurance is much less. A disadvantage is that you can’t have anyone riding in the travel trailer while you drive. Of course you will have less space and the travel trailers do lack the luxury amenities, but for the couple that want to hit the road and enjoy the RV life, living in a smaller space is all part of the deal.
Expandable travel trailers are one of the hybrid styles and differ from the standard travel trailer or even the pop-up campers that you might be used to seeing. These are offered in quite a few sizes and can include some of the extra luxury amenities. Once you park you have the ability to open the pop-up for more space. They are perfect for the travelers that want to park and stay for longer periods of time. The benefits of the expandable is that it typically includes extra sleeping room and in some of the models that are customized, you can have a living room and dining room. This type of travel trailer is also lighter in weight so it’s perfect for almost any campground or site. The downsides of the expandable trailers is that the pop-up area can face a beating and these are the areas that experience leaks, mold and high level wear. This means that there will be added maintenance for keeping it in top shape.
5th Wheel Trailers might be an option if you want the size and features that you are attracted to in the standard RV but prefer a bit of a smaller size. They are wider and use a fifth wheel for towing and this allows them to be easier on the road for control as well as carry additional weight. 5th wheel trailers are the next level up from travel trailers and perfect if you aren’t quite ready for a full motorhome. Many that opt for the 5th wheel travel trailer are pleased with the storage areas they also boast of another positive because unlike standard travel trailers that can experience a “sway” when driving, this doesn’t happen in the 5th wheel travel trailers.
Toy Haulers have become another popular choice that offers some incredible benefits. This selection is kind of the “best of both worlds”, giving you a lower price yet offering extra storage to bring along your “toys.” Most often these are in the fifth wheel RV or travel trailer class and you have plenty of room to include ATV’s, motorcycles, bicycles, jet skis, etc. As the name suggests, this type of traveling is for those that want to arrive and have the added ability to have fun with the toys that enhance their lives. The toy haulers of today also include a lot more amenities than those of the past and many have tailgating kitchens and residential finishes.
Campers have been a mainstay standard for those that are just beginning in the RV lifestyle. While a bit tight in space, sleeping quarters and some of the amenities, the price is a lot more affordable and since you can tow with your vehicle, getting in and out of parks and campgrounds is a breeze. Campers are available in a lot of choices including pop-ups and in today’s RV sales world you can also get some fairly nice customized options. These are styled for more of a weekend camper or those that want to use them for a vacation.
Camper vans were created as a kind of conversion van and include toilets, small living space and a few other amenities. With all of the choices that are available today they aren’t quite as popular as they once were. However, for those that want a weekend away, this can be a good choice to be in the great outdoors without the high cost of the standard RV or trailer.
Teardrop trailers are becoming some of the hottest choices for those that want to get away and have an RV lifestyle without the high expense, driving and parking problems. They are small and compact and offer a bit of storage and shelter and can be towed by just about anything that is road ready. An upside is that many can be customized so that you can have a bit more comfort.
As you cruise through your RV options you will need to take a good hard look at the budget, types of travel and what you want versus what you need. Most RVers choose this lifestyle because they want to see the country, experience the outdoors, and meet and share with other campers. There are a lot of hidden costs and considerations if you choose a full time life on the road but the good news is that the popularity of RVing today bring so many more choices than in the past. If you are just beginning your search, you may want to set short and long term goals and then upgrade to the next RV level when you are ready.
You also don’t have to purchase brand new as there is an incredible market for pre-owned RVs, campers, travel trailers, pop-ups, etc.