When you make the decision to take on an RV-life, the next question is which RV will fit you, your family, your interests, requirements and your needs. While some of these may change, the core basics will be the reason that you get your RV.
This is the most important aspect for the selection of your RV, and although you might assume it is complex, it really only takes a small amount of time to narrow down your choices. Comparing what each RV has to offer must address the priorities and they may be things that you hadn’t thought of.
Examine the Lifestyle That You Want
Some of the questions that you will be asking yourself include the type of RVing that you will be doing and the priority is the number of people that will be traveling with you. Are you a family with kids that need extra sleeping room and private places or is it just you two, finally achieving your dream? How about those beloved furred family members? Will they be traveling with you as well? Are you embedded in all kinds of outdoor sports that require that you bring along your “toys”?
Do you prefer communal campground RVing or love to be alone out in the country under the stars and enjoying nature? Are you retired or will you be using your RV as a remote work office? Do you enjoy cooking and will need a more expansive kitchen area to hone your culinary skills? Will you be living in the RV full time or using it as a weekend or vacation warrior? Are you interested in group activities such as tailgating and partying? Additional questions can involve whether you will be towing a second vehicle so that you can have a bit of freedom once you get to your campsite.
Are you willing to settle for small space living or are there absolutely must-have amenities that you can’t live without? If you planning on doing a lot of campground camping, size will also be important as some campgrounds not only have a size/length limit, but the larger RVs don’t always navigate well through the dirt roads due to weight.
On the Road with the Kids
Let’s face it, when you travel with kids, you need a lot more space and features. The entire concept of RVs is based on having fun and for families, this means that there has to be a combination of comfort and room. You will want to examine the RVs that offer trundle beds or built-in bunk beds and lots of storage. Type C motorhomes can be a first place to start. They have extra sleeping space and some have over-the-cab sleeping areas that can easily fit two-to-three. There is basement storage areas for bikes, and some of their favorite outdoor toys and outside access to bathrooms, which is important for many age groups. Kids want to have their own personal space, as privacy can often mean the difference between a happy traveling time and one that involves conflict.
Safety is one of the most important factors and both Class B and C motorhomes as they are built using the same guidelines as a commercial style van or truck chassis. However, as comfy as any RV is, everyone will need to wear seatbelts while the vehicle is in motion. You will also need to keep the littlest ones in their car seats in the same way that you would driving any vehicle. This is sometimes easy to forget when the environment feels like a living room. Class A motorhomes and RVs don’t usually have the same seatbelt standards. The smaller motorhomes will simply not have enough room and you cannot have anyone traveling inside any of the towable units while it is in motion.
Traveling with Toys? There’s RV’s for That
Whether you love water skiing, canoeing, have ATV’s, bikes or motorcycles, there is a newer class of RVs that will accommodate your need to have fun. These are called the “Toy Haulers” or Sport Utility RVs and they typically have a garage that’s built-in for toy storage as well as a read door that drops to allow easy access. Take a look at a few of these models because some offer the ability for the rear ramps to transition into a patio after you are done loading or unloading.
Toy haulers are similar to other fifth wheel or travel trailers, except that they offer the incredible storage cargo area. Toy Haulers also offer a few other advantages as they usually have a bigger-than-average water tank, a fuel station and at least one generator.
Just as other RV styles, there are a variety of sizes available for Toy Haulers. The larger the size the higher the price and if you select one of the smaller versions you will have to give up on space and some features. Another thing to remember is that Toy Haulers don’t maintain their price very well. Even if you keep it in pristine condition, it can depreciate as much as 20-30% in only a couple of years.
If you think that this is a lifestyle that will only last a few years, you can look into buying pre-owned. Just as with any type of vehicle, get a complete list of previous owners, all work that has been done and have a licensed mechanic look at the engine to make sure that you are making a good investment.
Amenities: What you Want versus What you Need
Making the choice of amenities and features is all about the type of RVing that you will be doing. If you take short jaunts or vacations, you are often willing to give up on some of those extra features just to be on the open road. However, if this is going to be a full time life for you, it will be all about comfort. Luckily, the popularity of RV traveling has become so great that manufacturers are competing to offer some of the top quality features as part of their standard models.
Make a list of what you think you absolutely must have for the features of your RV. Once you have this list, go through it and prioritize the most important to the least important. This list will most probably change as you shop for your RV since you may realign a few amenities and substitute them for others. It goes without saying that the larger RVs and motorhomes will tempt you with so many features that your head will spin, but if you are complying with a budget, you will also need to recognize that there may be some that you will have to let go.
Some of the areas to preview when shopping for an RV should include increasing living space area with slide-out walls. These are almost all automatic and can incorporate the feel of a full living room; sofa and all.
Other important features to take seriously include: washer/dryer facilities, large wardrobe areas for your clothing, a full bathroom with bath/shower/tube, satellite television, built-in Wi-Fi, solar panels for energy, and a central vacuum system. A majority of these are standard on the newer models but if you are looking at older pre-owned, you may not find all of them. Even some of the smaller new RV models are touting tantalizing features.
Size Shouldn’t Be a Conundrum
Whether you are a vacation warrior or RVing full time, the size/length of the RV will determine many factors. Price, of course, is the first area to focus on because the larger the RV, the pricier it will be. Another consideration is where you will be traveling to. If you are a campground homebody, be aware that some of the grounds and parks have a 45’ size limit. The larger RVs are also heavier and the grounds are often dirt roads that do not offer easy navigation.
Many of the smaller motorhomes that are being manufactured are not only more fuel-efficient and lightweight, but they are just a tad larger than a full-size SUV. These are considered to be the compact RV style and they are easy to drive on both city and country roads as well as a heck of a lot easier to park. This size is well worth looking into as they often have many of the features and amenities that you would find in larger motorhomes; just downsized to fit the need.
Maneuverability may be an important topic to think of, but your own experience in driving and navigating is the highest priority. Driving a large RV is not for the faint-hearted, especially if you plan on mountain and backroad excursions. Class B motorhomes are the best of all worlds since you can experience a more spacious environment with lots of amenities and comfort, but without the problems that can be associated with the larger vehicles.
If you are on the road with a towable, this can be one of the most budget-conscious choices giving you the freedom that you need once you arrive at your destination. This is not a selection to make if you are traveling with children; there is simply not enough living space and they must travel with you in the vehicle that is doing the towing. A towable is perfect for a couple who is taking a long weekend or a vacation and even for those that have selected a more rustic life in traveling.
Is Cooking Your Thing?
One of the highest demands in RV living is the availability, size and amenities offered in a kitchen. Many of the Class A through C motorhomes now have pull-out pantries, double sinks, good cabinet space, kitchen and dining areas including island workspaces, gorgeous wood cabinets, granite tops, stainless steel appliance and the larger versions offer full-sized side-by-side or French door refrigerator/freezers. RV manufacturers know that saving money is a priority while traveling and a majority opt to prepare their meals in their RVs. Just as in purchasing a home, the upgraded kitchen is almost always the highlight.
If the larger sizes are just too high cost, take a good peek at some of the smaller motorhomes or travel trailers. You will make concessions in the luxury and space but in these choices they make every spare inch count. You might be surprised at the kitchen amenities available in smaller more compact selections.
Comparison Shop: The Good, Bad and the Ugly
It is always advisable to do your due diligence when you are looking into the investment of an RV, motorhome, travel trailer, or towable. Every manufacturer has positives and negatives and you will want to get the best bang for your buck.
Do a bit of research when it comes to breakdown records, repair costs, what wears out more quickly and especially resale value. Before you visit any RV or motorhome dealer, look for feedback from actual owners. You may make a choice to start out smaller so you don’t want any surprises when you decide to upgrade.
Be realistic in your RV purchase goals and know what your budget will allow. Become aware of the many hidden costs such as insurance, which can vary depending upon the vehicle size. Your RV traveling should be an incredible and enjoyable adventure for every member of the family. Whether it is just you two out on the road or you have kids, pets and toys, you are not just traveling, you are creating memories and they should be the best that you can have.