10 QUESTIONS TO ASK WHEN CHOOSING THE PERFECT RV FOR YOUR FAMILY
A soft bed to sleep on after the day spent playing at the lake. A kitchen to easily prepare your family’s favorite meals. A shower to clean up in after a long day on a dusty trail. A home away from home in all your favorite places.
You’ve decided you want to experience the RV life. Or maybe you’ve been hooked for some time, but your family’s needs have changed and it’s time for an upgrade. With so many RVs to choose from it can be overwhelming. Don’t worry, ask yourself these ten questions to help make the decision easier.
Do you have a tow vehicle or want to purchase a tow vehicle?
This question alone can greatly narrow your search. If you don’t have a vehicle capable of towing an RV and don’t want to buy one, you know you’ll be looking at motorized RVs. If you have a tow vehicle then you’ll want to know your towing capacity and narrow your search to RVs within your vehicle’s towing capacity. Don’t forget to add in the weight of passengers, cargo, and liquids to the dry weight of the RV. You don’t want to fall in love with an RV only to ﬁnd out it exceeds your vehicle’s maximum capacity to tow safely.
How many people do you need to sleep?
Sleeping arrangements in RVs range from plush king size beds to fold out chair beds and from sleeping two people to ten or even more. Think about not only how many your RV needs to sleep, but how you want the bedtime routine to go? Some people don’t mind turning dinettes or sofas into beds every night while others consider a designated pre-made bed for each person a must. You may also want to consider the possibility of being able to sleep guests.
Where do you plan to camp?
When most people think of RVing they think of campgrounds, but RVs open up a whole world of different types of adventure and exploration. Some RVs are better suited for boondocking or off grid camping with larger holding tanks and generators. Perhaps your kids are very active in sports and you plan to use your RV to travel with the comforts of home to sporting events and spend a lot of time in parking lots next to soccer ﬁelds. If your goal is to spend as much time as possible in national and state parks then length should be a consideration as many parks have length restrictions. In this case, look up the places you plan to frequent the most and check for length restrictions. Maybe you plan to do a lot of driveway surﬁng or use it as your portable guest house when you visit family. Again, consider what will ﬁt comfortably in the driveways you plan to park.
What amenities do you need to feel comfortable?
Most of us are buying RVs because we don’t want to sleep on the ground and want more protection from the elements than what a tent offers. If you’ve ever spent the night on the ground in a tent during a rainy night, you know exactly how much luxury the simplest RV offers. But creature comforts don’t stop at a roof and a bed. RVs can come with a number of amenities from gourmet kitchens to state of the art entertainment centers. I once took a relaxing bath while camping on the Alaskan Highway. Make a list of your most important amenities and prioritize. Maybe all you want is a bed or maybe a residential sized fridge is on your must-have list.
What sort of activities do you enjoy?
Hobbies and activities will help you narrow down your RV search. Sport utility RVs, often called toy haulers, have space for ATVs, golf carts, dirt bikes, and other small motorized vehicles. Some RVs offer more storage space than others and if you have interests that use large amounts of gear you’ll want to consider where that gear is going to go. If you enjoy exploring urban areas via RV then you might want to consider smaller units that make it easier to navigate city streets and parking lots. Winter sports enthusiasts will want to consider buying an all-season RV.
How much space do you REALLY need?
This is different for every family. I love seeing pictures of #vanlife on social media but the truth is, I need my space and we would be miserable camping in a van for any extended amount of time. My family doesn’t want to be bumping into each other every time we get up and move. Other families may prefer to be closer and cozy. Only you know what your family really needs. Are you going to be using it every weekend all summer or for extended trips? Or is it going to be an every once in a while outing? Do your kids need their own bedroom? Do you need your own bedroom?
What’s your preferred ﬂoor plan?
Visit RV shows to get an idea of what ﬂoor plan will work best for you family. I can’t stress this enough. An RV show will give you to the opportunity to see many different RVs in one place. Spend time in the RVs. Sit on the couches. Lay on the beds. Walk into the bathrooms. Imagine cooking in the kitchen. Ask for brochures to take home. If you don’t have any shows nearby then visit a few different dealerships before you buy. Most dealerships are happy to let you spend time in their RVs because they want you to be happy with the RV you choose.
How handy are you?
All RVs new and used will have maintenance and repair issues every once in a while. The biggest difference is new RVs come with warranties where manufactures and dealerships take care of the repairs for a set amount of time. Most of the time used RVs are sold “as-is” meaning the repairs will be your responsibly. A warranty can be a source of comfort to those who are less than handy. Many dealers even offer extended warranties for an additional cost.
What is your style of travel?
When you Go RVing, do you prefer moving every night or do you like to set up and stay at one place for a while. Fast paced travelers may prefer smaller RVs without slideouts for the ease of set up and pack up. Perhaps you go to the same campground all season. In that case, a park model RV may be the perfect setup offering you all the comforts of home in your favorite location. Larger RVs can be harder to move around for fast-paced travelers but offer comforts that many ﬁnd worth the tradeoff.
What’s your budget?
Just as there is an RV for any lifestyle, there is an RV out there for any budget. It’s good to decide on a budget before heading to the dealership or browsing the classiﬁeds. Are you planning to pay cash or ﬁnance? RV dealerships are set up to make ﬁnancing fast and easy for their customers. Used RVs are a great option for a limited budget. RV shows, end of the year sales, or buying last year’s model can be a great way to save on a new RV. Buying a used RV from a private party is a great way to save money but usually ends up taking more time to ﬁnd what you want.
Buying an RV will be one of the best decisions you’ll make for your family. Don’t get hung up on the details because at the end of the day or a long weekend, spending time together and creating memories are what is important and that will happen in any type of RV.
What questions would you add to my list? If you have an RV what did you buy and why? Chime in to help others who are just now wading in to the wonderful world of RVing.