It’s a new year, and everyone is thinking about getting out there and enjoying life. Traveling in an RV has become a very popular way to go.
What kind of camper is the right one?
We see this question asked a lot on forums. The short answer is “whatever layout is going to work for your family and the intended purpose.”
Before you head to the dealer, here are ten things to think about to help you make the right choice for you and your family.
10 Questions to ask yourself before you buy
- How often are you going to camp? If you aren’t going full-time, your storage needs will be different than someone who is.
- What type of RV do you want? There are three types of RVs
- Travel Trailer – ranging from really small (like 12 feet) to over 35 feet, these are pulled by some sort of tow vehicle.
- 5th Wheel – This is what we have, and it is attached to the bed of a pick-up truck. These range from around 30 ft. to over 45 ft.
- Driveable – As the name implies, these are driven. Depending on the size, there are Class B (more like a conversion van), Class C (on a truck chassis), and Class A (motorhome). (Keep in mind that with these options, you may need some type of vehicle that is pulled behind. Otherwise, you may find yourself driving your home everywhere you want to go during your stay. Not convenient.)
- New or Used? Research both options. There are a lot of used RVs out there. Some are in great condition; others are not. Do your own research. You know your skills and limitations better than anyone. This leads to question #4.
- Cost? Have a budget in mind and stick to it. Remember, you don’t want to be “RV poor”.
- How many people will be traveling? If it’s just two of you, there are many “couples” RVs that are perfect for two. If you have children, you’ll probably want something with bunks, if not a complete bunkhouse.
- What is your tow vehicle? For this one, we actually bought the 5th wheel first and then the F-350 dually to pull it. That way, we knew our specs beforehand and got a truck we knew would be able to make it up the mountains.
- Know before you go! Before you step foot onto an RV dealer’s lot, at least have an idea of the answer to #6. This is especially true if you already have your tow vehicle. The dealer will tell you your vehicle can pull anything, and it may be rated to. However, that may be the empty weight of the trailer. It is important to know the GVWR (Gross Vehicle Weight Rating), which is the weight of your RV with all your stuff. That is the magic number when deciding on a tow vehicle. We had a dealer try to tell us our previous tow vehicle could pull something much heavier than what we eventually ended up purchasing. If we had listened to him, we would have ruined our tow vehicle.
- What are your must-haves? There are so many options that RVs come with these days. The answer to this question depends on if you are full-time, a snowbird, or a weekender.
- When we were weekenders, and even when we spent two winters in Florida, a washer and dryer weren’t a necessity. However, when we went completely full-time, we had them installed within the first month.
- Do you need office space, or can you work from the kitchen table? My husband needed a place where he could set up and shut the door for the day. We actually took the foldable table he would be using with us when we were searching to make sure it would fit in the bedroom.
- Think about your storage needs, including clothes, food, tools, bikes, and anything you’ll be bringing along.
- What can you access with the slides in? Think about this. Can you get to the refrigerator to load it and get food out? Can you access the pantry? Can you get to the bathroom so you don’t have to use public bathrooms? (This is especially important when traveling in the age of COVID.) Can you get to the bed if you decide to boondock in a parking lot and don’t have room to put the slides out? With our layout, we can do all these things.
- Finally, What are you going to be happy spending a lot of time in with whoever will be traveling with you? This is especially true if you are going full-time. If you need a lot of “space” where you are currently living, factor that in. We all need a little “alone time” once in a while.
This is a lot to think about, but trust me, knowing the answers to these questions before you even start looking will help in the long run.
The important thing is to get something you will be comfortable driving, pulling, and traveling in. If you’re stressed about your RV, you won’t be able to enjoy the RV life.
We’re Mike & Jennifer Skinnell, and together we are The Rambling Quilter. We travel the country full-time in our 41ft. fifth-wheel pulled by our F-350 – affectionately named Beauty & The Beast. Mike still works part-time, and Jennifer writes our blog, travel articles, and contemporary fiction. Our blog is purely for information and entertainment purposes. However, if you’d like to support Jennifer’s writing career, her author link is below.