With so many different styles, sizes, and layouts to choose from, selecting the right RV can be an overwhelming process. After all, you’re not just buying an RV, you are investing in a second home away from home! When deciding what size and type of RV is right for you, consider the information presented below to help you narrow down your options and ensure that the RV you select fits all of your individual needs.
Choosing The Right Type of RV
If you can identify the type of RV you want, your search for the right RV will become a lot less broad. Before making your selection, you will need to determine how you intend to use your trailer, where you intend to use it, and for how long. Answering these questions will allow you to recognize which RV type will be most applicable to your unique needs.
Motorhomes are typically one of the most expensive RV types, but they do eliminate the need for a tow vehicle. If you already have a heavy-duty truck that you wish to use with your RV, you can eliminate motorhomes from your list of viable options. On the other hand, if you don’t already have a tow vehicle, the price of one combined with a towable trailer may actually be more expensive than getting a motorhome. Motorhomes are the most conducive RV type for long drives and frequent travel, as they are much easier to move and set up than the other RV types. There are a few downsides to motorhomes. First, they depreciate faster. Also, if it has to go in for a repair, you’ll temporarily lose your living accommodations. Lastly, to avoid having to drive your motorhome on your daily errands, you’ll probably want a small vehicle to tow behind it.
Travel trailers are one of the most popular RV types in the industry. Their popularity can be attributed to their lightweight build and sturdy construction. While these do require a tow vehicle, they can be hauled with most standard pickup trucks, given that the truck has enough torque and power. Along with being lightweight and durable, another benefit of the travel trailer is that you can easily leave it behind at the campsite and use your tow vehicle to go off exploring. Travel trailers are typically less expensive than fifth wheels, they get better fuel economy, and they mount to the hitch off the back of the vehicle, requiring no special truck bed modifications to be made.
Fifth wheels attach into the bed of your truck, requiring a special mount. Because a portion of the unit hangs over the truck bed, fifth wheels are much more stable to pull and easier to maneuver than travel trailers. Though they take longer to set up than a motorhome, they are considerably less expensive than motorhomes, and they hold their value longer. Fifth wheels are preferred by full-timers because they typically offer the most living space and luxury options. Some models even boast enough headroom to accommodate a ceiling fan! The downside of fifth wheels is that you must have a heavy-duty tow vehicle capable of hauling them.
Pop-up trailers are the smallest and lightest member of the RV family. While they are small in size, some models can still comfortably sleep a family of up to six people. A pop-up is ideal for weekend getaways or basic family camping excursions. They don’t offer all the amenities of other towables, but they do allow you to bring some of the simple comforts of home with you into the great outdoors. These will be your most economical option, so if you’re on a tight budget, pop-ups will be the least expensive choice. Because these trailers compact nicely, they take up little space when storing, which is great if you don’t intend on taking your RV out very often. A downside to pop-ups is that they have a more time-consuming setup and take down process, which can be very unpleasant if you need to pack up in poor weather.
If you know you want to bring some large equipment with you when you travel, then a toy hauler is going to be the RV for you. Because of the cargo garage space and rear ramp door, you can easily haul motorcycles, tree stands, ATVs, and personal watercraft with you! And don’t think just because you can haul a golf cart in one of these things that there won’t be room for the family too! Once you’ve parked and removed your toys from the garage, the versatile space can transform into a comfortable sleeping and dining space. A downside to toy haulers is the extended setup time, but if you know you want the cargo room, then it’s worth it.
Destination trailers are built more like regular houses, and they resemble them too! Most feature an ultra-spacious layout and a sliding front door. Because these trailers mimic the residential style, they are not designed to be towed frequently or across long distances. So, if you are looking for a road tripping RV, you can eliminate destination trailers from your list of viable options. Destination trailers are more appropriate for people who return to the same park every season or those who plan on staying in one place for a long period of time. While they are more home-like than any other RV types, they lack the portability that many people are looking for.
Choosing the Right Size of RV
Now that you have narrowed down the type of RV that is right for you, you’ll want to consider what size of RV will best suite your needs. While smaller units will be easier to park, they will limit the amount of living space you have to work with. On the other end of the spectrum, the larger your unit, the more difficult it will be to maneuver and park, but the easier it will be to live in. To help you determine the correct size, consider some of these questions:
Where Do You Intend to Camp?
Having an idea of where you will be using your trailer will help you to determine what size will work best. Bigger is not always better. If you want to boondock, a smaller unit will allow you to get to some of those more secluded and hard-to-reach spots. Similarly, if you want to camp in public park systems, a smaller unit will be helpful. Most primitive campsites aren’t designed for big rigs. With a unit under 32 feet, you should be able to park almost anywhere. The bigger your RV is, the harder it will be to accommodate.
Who/What Do You Intend to Bring Along?
The number of people in your traveling party will impact the size of your desired RV. This will also factor into the floor plan selection. If you are traveling with kids, look into a unit that is large enough to accommodate a bunkhouse. If you are looking into toy haulers, make sure the length of the cargo area is long enough to store whatever equipment you wish to bring. You’ll want your RV to give you and your fellow campers enough room to live amongst each other comfortably, but not so much room that you can no longer comfortably maneuver your RV.
How Long Do You Intend to Live in Your RV?
If you are selling off the house and opting to RV full time, you’ll want to have an RV that you don’t feel claustrophobic in, because you’ll be spending a lot of time in there! The ‘bigger is not always better’ idiom applies to full-timers though too, and we’ve known plenty that have down-sized after living in big rigs. Compact units are much more conducive to constantly being on the road. Ultimately, it may take spending a lengthy duration in an RV to know what your threshold is for space limitations.
Tips To Consider
The size and type are just two components of choosing the right RV, and while they are the largest two factors you’ll need to determine, they aren’t the last. Below are some tips to further consider before making your final purchase!
Price: If you are on a tight budget, consider buying a used RV over a brand new RV. If you have your heart set on a brand new unit, talk with your RV dealership about financing options.
Experience: If you’ve never towed an RV before, you may want to test drive the type you are interested in to make sure you feel comfortable behind the wheel.
Must-Haves: Make a list of the top features you want included in your RV. For example, if you want off-grid capabilities, look for units with large holding tanks and solar power prep.
Once you’ve determined your needs and defined your priorities, knowing which RV is the right one for you will become a lot clearer. And the sooner you figure out the clear choice, the sooner you’ll be hitting the open road!