The recreational vehicle lifestyle can offer many benefits – no hotel reservations, freedom of travel, having all of your belongings with you and the companionship of other RVers at the many campgrounds across the country. Even more, the Recreational Vehicle Industry Association (RVIA) connects other benefits with the RV lifestyle, including: potentially saving 27 to 61 percent on family vacations compared to more traditional travel and accommodations, escape from everyday stress and educational benefits for kids. But first-time RV buyers may be overwhelmed by the possibilities and choices available.
If you’re in the market to make a purchase, it’s important to know that RVs are not one-size-fits-all vehicles. Since RVs can vary widely in price, the first step is to set your budget. Next, you’ll likely want to spend some time thinking about how you will use the RV and consider the following questions:
GoRVing.com divides RVs into four main categories – towable, motorized, specialty and park model. Within each category exist more types and options that can offer specific features that may be the right fit for your family. By compiling your answers to the questions above, you should be able to determine which type of RV is right for you.
This type of RV does not have its own driving engine and must be towed to move locations. Check the owner’s manual of your vehicle to determine the towing capabilities of your car, truck or SUV before purchasing a towable RV to ensure that will you not exceed its limits. The RVIA lists six main types within this category (folding camper trailers, conventional travel trailers, sport utility RVs, truck campers, fifth-wheel travel trailers and travel trailers with expandable ends), and popular choices for families on a budget include the folding and expandable camper trailers.
These RVs are self-reliant, do not need to be towed and are often called motorhomes. Type A, B and C motorhomes are built on automotive frames and typically sleep up to eight people. These RVs are what many people think of when they hear the term “RV,” can range from basic to luxurious models and can cost more than a half a million dollars.
If you have mobility challenges, you can still RV by using an accessible RV with modifications, such as lifts, ramps, roll-in showers, low cabinets and wider doors. Horse enthusiasts can bring along their four-legged partners with a horse trailer RV, while fishing fans can tow their ice fishing house that can be towed onto the ice to help you stay warm.
RV enthusiasts who want the look and feel of home can get all of their creature comforts with a Park Model RV. These typically larger RVs are designed to look like a home, but need to be connected to electricity, sewer and water like any RV. These RVs are designed for a seasonal camping experience where the users park at one campsite and stay there during the entire season, treating the RV as more of a vacation home than a truly mobile home.
Once you have found your dream RV, consider utilizing the checklist provided by the Family Motorcoach Association (FMCA) to inspect the vehicle to make sure you are getting what you want, which can be especially important if you’re buying a used vehicle. Your own checklist may include:
By taking the extra time to carefully consider your needs and the types of RVs available, your family can have many happy years exploring the country and creating RV-assisted memories.