Choosing an RV

Have you made the decision to start traveling in a RV? Congratulations! RV’s are an amazing way to travel and see the country! I’m sure your very excited to find your home on wheels and start exploring, but you have a bit of work to do first!

Not sure where to start? There’s a lot to consider when choosing a RV that’s right for you. There are many options out there, from a full on 40 foot 5th wheel to a low roof van! This is a very important decision! You’ll want to put a lot of time and thought into this. I’m going to be going over some of the many options below.

Some Things To Consider

Full timing?

There’s much more to consider if your going to be full timing, this will be your new home, you’ll be spending a lot of time in it so you’ll want it to be homely and comfortable. Something you can truly live in. You’ll want to think about the layout and what will work for you personally day to day. If your only going to be using your RV for occasional trips, you can probably make more sacrifices.

Size Matters…

The biggest thing to consider is the size. You’ll need to consider what your going to be using your RV for primarily. Are you wanting to go up mountain roads a lot? Fit in smaller parking lots and overall have a more drive able RV? A smaller RV has many benefits, I can tell you right now that I wished I got something smaller and am now in the process of switching to a smaller rig. Since we were going to be living in it, we thought we needed the extra space of a 28-foot 5th wheel, with truck attached we are over 35 feet long!

While the space and storage of a big rig is very nice, the constant struggle of finding parking where we can easily fit in wasn’t worth it for us. We also couldn’t take it up many of the more steep and curvy mountain roads that we really wanted to in order to get to some amazing camping spots. Driving in cities and anywhere downtown is a nightmare and gets old fast when you do it all the time.

If you are planning on staying a lot in open BLM camping that is easy to access or stay in RV parks more often or other places designed for RVs, a big rig will be much less of a problem. The luxuries of a big RV cant be denied! A big kitchen, slide outs and storage space is great. Also, if your going to be spending a good amount of time inside, It may all be worth it. I’ve personally found I spend most my time outside, even if that’s just sitting right outside the RV!

More Gas, More Money.

The bigger the RV, the overall more money your going to spend. Not only on the RV itself, but in gas and sometimes toll bridges are more for a bigger rig. If you are thinking of a big trailer or 5th wheel, the truck you buy to pull it will have to be a bigger and more powerful therefor more expensive as well.

This process is all about finding the right balance that works for you!

Motorhome RVs

Motorhomes refer to the all in one RV’s you don’t tow, there are plenty of advantages of motorhomes. They are easy to set up, don’t have to worry about hitching to or from a tow vehicle. They are self-contained and allow passengers to move about in the RV while driving. There are three different classes of motor home, let take a look.

Class A– These are the biggest (besides maybe some huge 5th wheels) and the most expensive type of RV. They look like big buses. They have plenty of space and usually the most amenities of any type, including slide outs, full kitchens, full bath and sink, sometimes even a washer and dryer! Truly all the amenities of a regular house! However, they are expensive, and expensive to insure and expensive shop repairs. They are challenging to drive and just the size of these are very limiting to where you can actually go, park or store. Also, for day trips you would need a tow behind car.

Class B– These are the smallest of the motor home, usually on a van chassis but with tall roofs for walking and a little wider than a van. These have the least amenities, but still have everything you really need. Could still sleep two or three people. These are cheaper and very easy to drive, maneuver, park and store. Since they can be taken mostly anywhere, no separate tow vehicle is needed.

Class C-These are in the middle on the motor home scale. Usually 20-30 feet long, These are usually on truck or van chassis. This is my personal favorite type of RV, I think it strikes the perfect balance of everything, but that’s just what works for me. They have more space than the class B and plenty of storage space. While still not as maneuverable as class B, they can still be parked almost anywhere, just will take up two parking spots in a parking lot. Generally people don’t have tow vehicle for this class, but I’ve seen a few. I’ve seen plenty of motorcycles, dirt bikes or mopeds on a back rack with this class of RV.

The Travel Trailer

Tow able travel trailers come in all different sizes, and can have all sorts of amenities or be very simple. These are cheaper than motorhomes, but you have to buy a truck to pull it, so the cost of the truck and trailer generally equal out to a motor home.

Some advantages of a trailer are that you can unhitch it at camp and take your truck where you need. Also, you have plenty of extra space in the bed of the truck you can use for bikes, tools, anything you need.

Some disadvantages are that your generally very long when hitched up to your truck. They are very hard to back up and park. Limited parking in parking lots etc. While driving there is a lot of sway and can be more dangerous then other types of RV.

5th Wheels

These are similar to trailers however, they are hitched in the bed of the truck, creating more living space inside unlike the travel trailer wasting space between the truck and trailer. Like the trailer they come in all sizes with all types of amenities. It is hard to find one less than 25 feet but they are out there. They get up to 40 feet long and can have all the luxury of a motor home. They are cheaper than motorhomes, but again, the bigger your 5th wheel, the bigger the truck your going to have to buy.

The advantages are the extra living space over the truck bed, they are much easier to tow and maneuver than the trailer, with little or no sway while driving so they are safer than travel trailers. You have a truck to unhitch and drive while leaving the RV at camp.

Some disadvantages are that you don’t get the full use of your truck bed because the hitch is in there. You have to buy and install the hitch in the bed of truck, drilling through the bed and into the frame. The extra length of the truck means they still have very limited parking in parking lots, overall accessibility etc.

Vans, Buses, Cars, Oh My!

You said you need a classic type RV to travel and live in? Van life is getting more and more popular all the time. People are buying regular vans and converting them to tiny RVs, Usually the tall roof vans are picked but there are plenty of regular vans also being converted. The amenities are limited but I’ve seen showers and all kinds of things in these conversions!

The advantages are obvious, this is the cheapest option. You can park and go anywhere, no problem. Super easy to drive. Great gas mileage and you can be stealthy and get away with parking in more places because many people won’t think someone is sleeping in a van! Having little stuff and more time to be outside, hike, do what you really love, can be very liberating.

The disadvantages are also obvious. It’s a van! very little space, usually no shower and usually no rest room. (many van lifers often shower at the gym or a swimming pool etc.) You have to do the conversion yourself, or hire someone to (can also be an advantage if you want to choose layout etc.). Very limited storage. Being a minimalist is almost required for Van conversions.

Along with van conversion there are more and more people converting mini school buses, this is almost closer to class B or class C type motorhomes, but you have to do all the converting yourself.

Extreme minimalists are also living and traveling out of there SUV, truck or even regular car! If your going to be outside doing what you love and you can get what you need in a van or even a car that would be the cheapest and possibly the most free way to travel!

An RV is a great way to travel and even live, there are so many advantages to RV travel. Finding the RV that works for you, whether that be a 40-foot motorhome or a van is all about finding the perfect balance between comfort, budget and accessibility.

Hope to see you on the road friends!

 

Thanks for reading! Leave a comment below!

Happy Trails!

-Lance

 

 

14 thoughts on “Choosing an RV

  1. Hi Lance, This makes it easy for people to figure out exactly what RV will work best for them. I’m retired and have often thought about buying an RV to travel around the southwest and west coast of the U.S. and the northwestern part of Canada. My wife and I have looked at RV’s before. Next time we go to an RV store, we will be better informed thanks to this article.

    1. Lance

      Hey Bob, I’ve been doing the Southwest and west coast the last two years, It’s been amazing. I look forward to getting up to canada and Alaska one day!
      Happy to help, Thanks for commenting!

  2. Excellent post! It is one of my goals to grab an RV of some kind and go across Canada and down the east coast of the USA and your post has been very helpful.
    Something that I think would be fun is to have a vintage camper from back in the day when camping was THE family vacation.

    What do you think is the single most important feature for any R.V, for anyone who plans on multiple or extended trips?

    1. Lance

      Go for it, You won’t regret RV life! I love the old vintage RVs as well.
      Great question, I think making sure you get the right size is the most important thing for sure. You’ll definitely regret something to small or to big if you don’t choose well what works for you.

      Also, if your RV is mechanically sound and you have a fridge and stove, I think the next most useful feature is Solar Panels! The freedom from installing solar is something you’ll definitely want! I have a article on Solar panels for RV’s Here.

      Thanks for reading Irma!

  3. Furkan

    I never thought that the bigger RV spends more gas. I thought that it is related to mechanical things. Well I will definitely consider this as we will change our RV soon.

    1. Lance

      Yep, the bigger RV’s almost always will consume more fuel and have lower gas mileage. Thanks for reading Furkan 🙂

  4. I have always wanted one, but just not coinvent right now, love the fact that you mentioned pros and cons to each.

    1. Lance

      I think deep down everyone kinda wants a RV 🙂

  5. Dave

    We’ve toyed with the “idea” of an RV for the past 8 years. Went so far as to buy a truck to tow a trailer, but never settled on a trailer. Honestly, I can tell you that I’ve seen a dramatic cultural shift in RV’s in the past couple of years to smaller, better/efficient designed models.

    In the past, we thought we needed a 25-27ft trailer as we need bunks for the kids and so forth. 8 years ago, trailers were made for size and the layouts were not that efficient and filled with useless/empty space. The trailers we’re seeing now in the 18-20ft range are 10x the trailers of the 27ft models of years ago. Everything is well thought out and designed. Even my friends that both have 25-28ft trailers are selling their in favour of moving to smaller, more efficient models. Plus, the less weight saves thousands on you gas bill.

    1. Lance

      Hey Dave, I agree, I’m seeing more and more people move to smaller RVs. It just makes so much more sense to me to go smaller, a win in every way. Unless you REALLY need a bit more space and all the extra cost/stress that go’s with that, but it’s worth it to some people. Thanks for reading!

  6. Pablo

    Very interesting and detailed post.
    You also showcased fantastic recommendations. This is definitely a great lifestyle.
    Would love to try sometime!

    1. Lance

      It’s not for everyone but don’t know til you try! Thanks for commenting!

  7. Hey Lance,

    Thanks for the great, thorough article. RV shopping can be so intimidating.

    We love RVing and camping with our family. Through the years we’ve graduated from tents to Pop-up tent trailers, to a trailer and a Class B Motor home. We even rented a van camper for 2 weeks to explore Idaho.

    I loved the lists of advantages and disadvantages you priovided. Some Of them I hadn’t thought, and I needed to since we are going full time next year.

    There are prebuilt conversion van campers, mostly on Mercedes Sprint chassis . You can find them on the used market too, but it takes some looking. We plan to get one to drive round trip from Texas to Alaska next summer.

    Great article. I love fiollowing your blog. I’m going to reference this article in my new blog about RV travel and campsite bird watching, complete with bird feeders to draw the wild birds close th your camper.

    Thanks for so many great suggestions -JoAnn.

    1. Lance

      Thanks JoAnn! You’re right, there is prebuilt sprinters, they’r rather expensive though so I kinda forgot about mentioning them! And I have heard its near impossible to find a used one because they get bought so fast. You can find other used vans others have built or there is actually some companies that build vans out for people. I might have to edit the article! lol, thanks again.
      Sounds like you’ve been around in the RV world! Congrats going full time! up to Alaska sounds amazing!

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