Tips for Choosing a Recreation Vehicle
It's easy to choose a pair of shoes, right? You like the style, you like the color and they fit correctly; it's a no-brainer! But choosing an RV can be one of the most daunting and difficult tasks, especially for novice or uninitiated camping enthusiasts. We list here a few things you want to consider before making that jump into the RV lifestyle. They just may spare you a few headaches in the future. The learning curve can be shortened drastically by taking these into consideration before visiting an RV sales
or RV rental
* Type – RVs come in two basic types, motorized and towable. Motorized RVs include all the motorhomes (Class A, Class B and Class C), while towables are the travel trailers, fifth-wheel trailers, pop-up camping trailers, hybrids and slide-in pickup campers. You'll have to decide which type you prefer. There are benefits to each RV.
* Budget – RVs cost real money, so be sure to stay within your budget. Used RVs can be purchased at a steep discount.
* Accoutrements – Evaluate your family's needs and wants. How many people will be using the RV? If you're a couple with three or four kids, perhaps that 8-foot pickup camper is not such a good idea.
* How much living space will you need?
* How many beds?
* What can you absolutely not live without in the galley(kitchen)?
* How much storage area do you need to support your camping hobbies?
* How sophisticated does the entertainment center need to be?
* Do you even need an entertainment center?
You get the idea! Be sure to cover all the bases.
* Slideouts – Most recreation vehicles now come equipped with multiple slideouts. Slideouts are rooms that extend out from the RV when set up at a campground. For travel, they retract into the main body of the RV. Slideouts can add substantial usable square footage inside any RV. They are an added bonus and pretty much standard today. RVs without slideouts may lower the resale or trade-in value when you decide to upgrade to a larger or better-equipped rig.
* Size/Weight Restrictions – RVs come in many shapes and sizes. The larger units may be difficult to maneuver in some older campgrounds or off-road camping sites. If you are interested in a travel trailer or a fifth-wheel trailer, you'll need a tow vehicle. Tow vehicles are rated by how much weight they can actually tow. If you already own a pickup or SUV, you may already have a suitable tow vehicle. Be aware of your overall height, width, length and weight when traveling in any RV.
* Brand – Not all RVs are created equal. Varying retail price points exist for virtually every RV enthusiast. Build quality, accessory excellence and overall curb appeal will go up as the price point increases. Be sure to also look at the warranties for each unit you consider.
* Construction Techniques – You'll find a broad range of construction methods with any type of RV. Construction materials include: steel, aluminum or wooden support members, soft sidewalls, laminated sidewalls and varying types of roofing materials. They all have their pros and cons, periodic maintenance schedules and refinements, so be sure to ask your dealer lots of questions.
* Research – Be sure to do your homework before you buy. Here are some methods/venues for gaining some knowledge before making a commitment:
* RV Shows – There is an RV show somewhere in the country just about every weekend of the year. RV shows give you the opportunity to inspect many different types and brands of RVs, even some that may be not even be carried by your local dealer.
* Neighbors, Family & Friends – I'd make a wager that every reader knows at least one RVing family somewhere. Be sure to get their input as well. RVers, in general, are quick to point out the good in their coaches; as well as the not-so-good. Take it all in and file it away.
* Campgrounds – Try to visit a couple of campgrounds in your area. Ask RV owners how they like their RV. (See above)
* Web Research – There are tons of RV sites on the Internet. Many are good while many are not. Use this resource carefully. Most RV dealers will have a site so it's good to compare inventory. RV manufacturers’ websites may even present floor plans and other avenues for you to discover their models. You can search Woodall's
for RV sales
and RV rental
dealers by state or province.
* RV Buyer's Guides – There are many buyer’s guides published in book form. Check your local library.
* RVIA Seal – Over 90 percent of RV manufacturers belong to the RV Industry Association, the governing body of the industry. All approved manufacturers will have a “seal of approval” from RVIA prominently displayed by the entry door of the vehicle.
* RVDA – The Recreation Vehicle Dealers Association monitors the wheelings and dealings of its membership closely. I recommend buying a new vehicle only from a member of RVDA.
* Avoid Impulse Buys – Never buy an RV the same day you peruse it. Always give it serious thought, and revisit your requirements to make sure that RV indeed fits your needs. Do not let yourself be pressured into buying that unit while “in the moment.” The euphoria of looking at new RVs is intoxicating! Always sleep on it overnight. You can still get back to the dealer early the next morning if need be!
Finally, be sure to tune into the DIY Network for episodes of RV Roadtrips. You'll learn a lot from watching the show. And remember, RVing is more than a hobby, it's a lifestyle!
For more information on beginning your RV lifestyle, see Woodall's RV starter kit.