For us, size is one of the most important factors in choosing an RV. Some folks travel with a lot of people, some don't. Some folks need a lot of storage space and elbow room. Others spend most of their time outside. What a lot of folks underestimate in the beginning of their RV life is the role that the size of their RV will play on where they can camp. If you expect to spend most of your time in RV parks, you might want to look at larger RVs. Many RV parks have limited space between campsites, so you might spend less time outside. Some RV parks have size or style restrictions on the types of campers that they will allow. And in this case, it's often the smaller RVs like pop-up campers that have fewer options when it comes to RV parks. If you see yourself camping more in natural campgrounds like state parks and national parks, you might want to look at smaller RVs. Campsites for large RVs are limited in many of these public campgrounds (especially older parks). And it's not always the campsites themselves that are a problem, sometimes maneuvering a large RV through the park around narrow roads, large trees and rocks can be a challenge.
How Many People Will Travel With You Regularly?
Sometimes folks buy their RV thinking of all of the people who might be traveling with them in the future. Sometimes it happens the way the expect, and sometimes it doesn't. Before you buy, spend some time seriously thinking about who you think will be traveling with you regularly. The number of people is important, but also the size of those folks. Not all RV beds are created equal. If larger children or adults will be traveling with you, it's a good idea to have them test the size of the beds to make sure they fit. Some dinettes and couches that convert to beds are smaller than you think and drop down bunks have weight restrictions. Even bunk beds vary in sizes.
Where Are You Going to Store Your RV?
Some small RVs can be stored in a basic garage, but most campers are too big to keep inside a standard garage. If you own property or live in a neighborhood that allows it, you might be able to keep your RV next to your home. But many folks have to store their RVs at a storage facility. We recommend visiting several local RV/Boat storage properties before you buy your RV. Check out their security, amenities and availability. You'll want to try to find something close enough to your home that it will be easy for you to go back and forth. If your RV is stored too far away from your house, you may use it less often.
How Often Are You Going to Use Your Camper?
If you plan to use your RV a lot (at least once or twice a month), you might want to spend a bit more time looking at more options to narrow down what is important to you. If you only plan to use your RV rarely (maybe once a year for a short vacation), the details may be less important to you. Maybe you should consider a lower budget for your RV purchase if you don't expect to be able to enjoy the RV very often. And if you're really not sure, or think your ability to get away in your RV is really limited, you might consider renting an RV instead of buying.
Towable RVs vs Motorized RVs
Campers come in many shapes and sizes. One of the decisions you'll have to make is towable vs motorized. Towable RVs include pop-up campers, travel trailers and fifth wheels. Motorized RVs include all motorhomes: Class A, B, B+, C, and Super C. The type of camper that's right for you will depend on a lot of different factors. And, as is the case with everything related to selecting an RV, the choice is personal. For some folks a towable RV is perfect, while others prefer motorhomes. To learn more about the different types of campers you can choose from, visit our Types of RVs: Advantages and Disadvantages page.
What Is Your Budget?
Before you spend a lot of time finding what you believe is the perfect RV for you, it's a good idea to spend some time figuring out your realistic budget. How much are you willing and able to spend on your RV purchase? Keep in mind, though, that it's about more than just the cost of the RV itself. Don't forget to budget for insurance, storage, and maintenance. Going back to towable vs motorized, don't forget to consider the costs related to the truck you will need to pull your camper. For a motorhome, don't forget to consider the costs of a tow vehicle if you plan to pull a car behind your RV to explore the local area.
If You Plan to Take Long Trips, How Often Will You Be Moving?
Some RVs are quicker and easier to set up and pack up than others. If you plan to only take weekend trips, this may not matter to you. But if you are planning to take extended trips of several weeks, months or years, be sure to think about how often you plan to move to a new location. If your plan is to get to one destination and stay for a while, choosing an RV that takes a little longer to set up may be fine. But, if you plan to move every day or every few days, the you might want to shorten the time you spend setting up and packing up. In that case, you may want to select an RV that has automatic leveling or other amenities that make the process easier and quicker.
Think About Your Needs vs Your Wants
As you're considering the list of amenities you are interested in for your new RV, it's a good idea to divide your list into Needs and Wants. As you begin to narrow your search, this list might change. But it will be a reminder for you to give priority to RVs that meet your needs and not get carried away by RVs that wow you but don't have the features that are most important to you.
Consider New vs Used
You might think the New vs Used choice is all about budget, but with RVs there is more to consider. Yes, there is something awesome about being the first to own a particular RV, the first to sleep in the bed and everything else. But, it's also possible to find some great RVs on the used market. Sometimes folks will buy an RV, take a handful of trips and decide that the lifestyle (or that particular) camper aren't right for them. Maybe you are someone who wants to take an older RV and make it your own. Maybe you want the latest and greatest technology that comes with a new RV. In our case, we bought our first 3 RVs (a travel trailer, a gas Class A motorhome, and a Class A diesel motorhome) new. But while were deciding what we wanted to live in as full-time RVers, we found a used RV through a YouTube video and it is perfect for us. (In case you don't know, we live, work and travel in a 2017 Tiffin Breeze 31BR.) Try to begin your shopping with an open mind on new/used because you never know what you'll find out there!
An RV is an Investment in Life and Experiences.
No one can tell you what RV is right for you. It's different for all of us. No matter what RV you choose, remember it is an investment in life, experiences and memories. If you see someone at an RV show or at a campground who has an RV similar to what you are considering, stop and talk with them. Ask them about their experiences. RVers love to share their knowledge and help others. It's one of the things we love best about the lifestyle. Happy shopping!