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10 Things You Need To Think About Before Buying An RV

How Do I Choose The Right RV For My Needs?

Choosing the right RV is a big decision that requires careful consideration of your travel needs and lifestyle.

With so many different types and classes of RVs on the market, it can be overwhelming to figure out which one is right for you.

Before you start shopping, take some time to evaluate how you plan to use your RV.

Related Product: Get your RV level fast and easy with a Beech Lane Wireless RV Leveling System (click to view on Amazon).

Will it be for weekend getaways or extended cross-country trips? How many people will typically be traveling with you? Do you need amenities like slide-outs, a bathroom, or a kitchen?

Determining your must-have features and travel preferences upfront will help narrow down your options.

Additionally, it’s crucial to factor in things like budget, towing capacity if you’ll be pulling a trailer, and storage capabilities when the RV is not in use.

Don’t forget to account for the overall weight and dimensions, as these can affect your ability to navigate certain roads or campsites.

By taking a thoughtful approach and doing your research, you can get a better idea of the options available and maybe learn a few things about some of the new features offered in RVs today.

See Also: What’s That RV? All Camper & RV Types Pictures & Basic Info

large toy hauler 5th-wheel rv that's perfect for weekend camping and full time rv living
Large 5th-wheels are perfect for large open camping areas, but not as good for forests and small campgrounds.

10 Things Consider When Looking For An RV

1. Travel Style

The type of camping you want to do is going to be a huge factor when choosing the right kind of RV for you.

If you plan on spending most of your time on paved roads and in RV parks, larger RVs are going to be great.

If you want to be able to make it down long winding dirt roads to tiny remote campsites, smaller travel trailers and vans are the better way to go.

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Are you planning on longer road trips or will you be a classic weekend warrior who camps 2-3 nights at a time?

If you want to live full-time in your RV, space is definitely going to matter, but the biggest RV might still not be quite right for you.

Many full-time RVers like to boondock to save money in campground and RV park fees. If you want to mostly camp for free, a smaller travel trailer with lots of water storage is going to be the better option.

You want to make sure your rig is small enough for BLM dispersed campsites but large enough to bring the supplies you’ll need.

2. Number of Travelers

Two people can fit in almost any kind of RV or camper. But things start to get a little more complicated when you start adding people.

The Class C motorhome you’ve always wanted might not have safe passenger seating. If you have children, you might want to consider a camper trailer so everyone can have a safe seat in a truck or SUV.

It’s also important to think about numbers when looking at living space. Will there be enough room for everyone inside the camper on rainy days?

3. Sleeping Accommodations

The number of beds is a natural follow up to the number of travelers. You can’t bring more than you have sleeping space for.

RVs always have a number of ways to sleep people. For instance a dinette can convert into a bed. Same with the sofa, if it’s the futon style.

Convertible beds are nice for the occasional visitor and weekend camping, but for long road trips or full-time RV living having to remake and put away a bed every day can get old.

See Also: RV Life Hack: Stop Moisture & Mold Growth Under RV Mattress

Luckily many of the larger motorhomes and trailers have bunk beds, which are perfect for children and sometimes adults.

They’re out of the way and perfect for keeping belongings organized.

4. Bathroom Options

To some people, having your own toilet is one of the biggest benefits of RV camping. To others, it’s the shower. Some RVers are just looking for a place to sleep and maybe a simple kitchen.

Deciding on what bathroom options are important to you is going to help narrow down your RV choices.

Most standard-sized RVs come with a toilet and a small shower. The ultra-lightweight options might only have a small composting toilet, or none at all.

Some RVs have two bathrooms and others have bathtubs.

Do you plan on showering while you’re out camping? Do you usually camp in places with public restrooms?

Answering those two questions can really help narrow it down.

inside a travel trailer RV with a small kitchen
Inside a small travel trailer RV with a tiny kitchen but good storage compartments.

5. Kitchen Amenities

What kind of RV kitchen are you looking for? Do you need an oven? Are a few gas burners enough? Do you prefer to bring your own gas stove to use outside?

RV kitchens are getting more advanced each year. Back in the day, RV kitchens were usually just a fridge, small sink, and a gas stove/oven combo.

Today RV kitchens can go from a very simple single burner stove to a full kitchen that includes a pantry, kitchen island, and even a dishwasher.

Full time RVers tend to be more drawn to the full sized kitchen but if you eat out a lot when you travel it might not be necessary.

The fridge size is pretty important as well. The smaller the camper, the smaller the fridge. If you’re a big family that likes to cook, a large RV with a residential sized fridge might be better for you.

See Also: Best 12 Volt Refrigerator Freezer For Camping & Travel

With that being said, there are some really good 12 volt portable fridge/freezers available today.

We use a portable fridge as an extra freezer when we stay in RV parks.

The fridge size doesn’t have to be a deal breaker anymore, but it’s something to think about.

6. Slide-Outs

Slide-outs can be found on 5th-wheels, travel trailers, motorhomes, and sometimes even camper vans.

It’s safe to say slide-outs are now the norm in the world of RV camping, but there are a few drawbacks to them.

Sure, you get a ton of extra space when they’re out, but they take up a lot of space when they’re in.

They can make packing up a lot more complicated. If you like to move frequently when you camp, you might want to consider an RV without slide-outs to save time.

They also weigh a lot, which is a very important factor when considering things like towing and the maximum weight the RV can take.

If you need to bring a lot of camping gear, you might not have the capacity for slide-outs.

There’s also less risk of mechanical issues, water leaks, and the inside of the RV tends to stay cleaner during travel.

If camper space isn’t a priority, a slide-out RV might not be the best option.

7. Tow Capacity

Tow capacity isn’t something only travel trailer and 5th-wheel owners need to think about.

If you get a motorhome you may want to tow a car so you have a way to explore once you get to your campsite.

Most motorhomes have the capacity to tow a small vehicle, but you should always check the tow capacity, just in case.

Remember things like water, food, and people add a lot of weight. The passengers in your tow vehicle might limit the size of RV you can pull.

Check out this article for help calculating your vehicles tow capacity

8. Storage Space

Storage is definitely a big one when it comes to choosing an RV.

If possible laying out all your camping gear and deciding what is a necessity and what is optional is the first thing you should do.

Then you need to think about the weight. RVs can carry a lot of stuff, but when you add water and people, things start to get heavy.

See Also: 7 Must Haves For Organizing Small RV Kitchens & Cabinets

The most important thing to think about is how you are going to pack the big stuff like screen tents, stoves, and chairs.

RVs with large storage compartments you can access from the outside are fantastic for families and weekend campers who want to bring lots of games and chairs.

RVs with more interior storage are better for road trips and full time RVing.

9. Fuel Efficiency

If you can’t afford to drive it, why have it?

We all want to get the most out of our RV, and the larger options are often very tempting. Looking at fuel efficiency is very important, especially if you are the long road trip type of RVer.

Diesel engines are more expensive initially and cost more to maintain, but they often get better mileage and have more towing power.

See Also: Find Cheapest Gas/Diesel Near You When Traveling

Gas engines aren’t as efficient but they’re more budget friendly and might be a better choice if you are an occasional or weekend camper who doesn’t travel far.

No RV gets fantastic gas mileage, but they open up other ways to save money like cooking your own meals or camping in free places.

10. Driving & Parking

Last but not least, the driving and parking. Are you comfortable maneuvering large vehicles? Do you plan on camping in large open places or small crowded forests or RV parks?

We originally had a 32-foot travel trailer and a truck as our full-time set up.

It worked fantastic for about a year. Once we started camping in forests and more popular areas, we found that maneuvering and parking was just too hard.

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We switched the truck and trailer for a small 24-foot Class C motorhome.

We lost a lot in space and transport options but we gained easy driving, maneuverability, and the ability to park in small campsites.

Take a close look at some of the campgrounds you want to camp in. Are the campsites big enough for a larger RV or trailer?

small teardrop travel trailer RV for weekend camping or small campsites
Small lightweight teardrop travel trailer RV with a simple kitchen and bed but no toilet.

Wrapping it Up

There’s a lot to think about when RV shopping. There’s a type of RV for literally every kind of camper.

It can be hard to sift through them but thinking about these 10 things is a good place to start.

Don’t get too caught up in all the bells and whistles. RV manufactures naturally want you to choose their RV design over others. One of the best ways to do this is to add a little flair.

Fancy gadgets can be great for us RVers, but it can make the decision even harder if it means you need to give up something basic like storage space or it’s a little over the weight limit.

Remember a lot of the fancy things like RV backup cameras and lights can be added later if a more simple RV has more of what you need.

See Also: Top 25 Essential & Unique RV Accessories & Gift Ideas

When budgeting also remember that RV’s are notorious for breaking down. As full-time RVers it can sometimes feel like we are in a constant state of repair.

It sounds bad to say, but RVs and the things inside them break down a lot, it’s just part of the RV lifestyle.

If you plan on purchasing something new make sure you are educated on warranty policies. If you are buying used you may want to save a little for possible future repairs.

Realizing that I probably couldn’t fix something like a slide out myself was a small determining factor in the purchase of our Class C.

I was mostly looking at options without slide outs because I knew we would be driving a lot and camping in remote locations.

A broken slide-out just wasn’t something I wanted to risk dealing with.

Hopefully considering these things has helped on your way to finding the right RV for you.

Whether you’re a seasoned RVer with years of camping experience under your belt, or a total beginner whose never stepped foot inside a camper, these are some good things to consider before purchasing.

Have questions? Leave a comment below!

by Jenni
Jenni grew up in a small town in Idaho. With a family that loves camping, she has been towing trailers since a very young age.

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