RV BUYING GUIDE: THE RV PURCHASE PROCESS

This is third blog post in a six-part series aimed at new RV owners. The first post gave tips for choosing the right RV type. Should you buy a Class C, a Fifth Wheel, a Toy Hauler, or some other RV type? We attempted to help you answer those questions. In the second post we gave valuable tips about how to pick the perfect floorplan.  

Now it’s time to dig down deep into the RV purchasing process…

 

The first thing you need to understand is that shopping for a new RV is very different from shopping for a new car or truck. While there may be some similarities, there are many more differences. Chances are you have dozens of car dealerships, representing every major brand, within a short drive from your house.

This is not the case with RV dealerships. They can be spread out far and wide. So while you may have a local RV dealership nearby (we consider a dealer within two hours drive to be “local”), you may also need to drive a few hours to a non-local dealer to find the RV of your choice, or you may need to buy at an RV show. These are all good options, but there are some important things to consider with each.

 

 

PURCHASING FROM A LOCAL DEALER

 

  1. Purchasing local is very convenient for shopping: Shopping at a local dealer saves you precious drive time and if they have your dream RV, may just be the ideal situation.
  2. Purchasing local is very convenient for warranty service after the sale:  Every RV needs to go in for either warranty service or basic maintenance at some point, and when the dealer is close to home a trip into the shop can be very convenient–or at least not too inconvenient!
  3. But a local dealer may not have your dream RV, or a preferred brand: Very few dealers carry every, or even most, RV brands. So, if there is a certain dream RV that tickles your fancy you may need to expand your search geographically to find it.

 

 

 

Purchasing From A Non Local Dealer

  1. Purchasing from a non-local dealer greatly expands your RV brand options: If your local dealer doesn’t carry your favorite brand don’t despair, just get ready to drive further to find it.
  2. Expanding the reach of your search may also increase your bargaining power: The more dealers you look at geographically, the more bargaining power you have when it comes to negotiating a purchase price.
  3. May not be convenient for warranty work or maintenance after the sale: This might be our most important tip–so listen up! If you do end up buying your dream RV far from home, are you prepared to drive it back for warranty work and maintenance? We strongly recommend that you call around to your local dealers to see if they will do warranty service on an RV purchased at another dealership. Having a game plan for this type of situation will save you a lot of irritation in the long run.

 

 

Purchasing at an RV Show

 

  1. RV Shows have a carnival like atmosphere making for a fun shopping experience: We love going to RV shows because they are a complete hoot! RV owners are a tribe of happy and adventurous folks–when we go to shows we feel like we are among our people and you will too!
  2. Free educational seminars prepare you for RV ownership: Many RV shows have free seminars about maintenance, RV travel, and RV culture. As a potential newbie RV owner there is so much to learn, and you can learn a whole lot of it by attending a good seminar.
  3. Many brands and floorplans to explore all in one place: While a good local dealership may carry three or four brands and dozens of floorplans, a good RV show will give you a chance to look at dozens of brands and hundreds of floorplans. A massive national RV show will enable you to look at the vast majority of RV’s in production. Bring good walking shoes!
  4. RV Show pricing is very good because many dealers are competing in one place: If you are not a big fan of heavy negotiating, but you still want a great price, an RV show may hit the sweet spot for you. RV show prices really do tend to be very competitive–dealers are competing with each other and they are motivated to move a lot of inventory in one day.
  5. But you don’t get to drive the rig home that day: You will need to pick up your RV at the dealership even if you buy it at a show. They will want to prepare the rig for you, and give you a walk through to teach you all of the RV’s systems and operating procedures.

 

 

And that is the topic of our next blog post in this series! We will give you a detailed list of items and systems to check while your dealer is giving you the walk through, so that you can be fully prepared to bring your RV home and start enjoying it!

 

 

RV BUYING GUIDE: FINDING YOUR RV MODEL AND FLOOR PLAN

10 Tips for Finding the Perfect RV Model and Floorplan

If you are a first time RV shopper, you might be surprised–and a little overwhelmed–at how many options there are out there! Once you have settled on the type of RV you are looking for (travel trailer, fifth wheel, motorhome), you’ll still have to decide the size and floorplan that will suit you best.

There’s definitely something for everyone out there, and we want you to find your perfect match. So here are our top 10 tips for finding your perfect RV model.

 

  1. Know Your Numbers.

 

Research your tow capacity and payload capacity if you are purchasing a towable. Don’t take guesses or rely on social media for this information. Use your VIN to get the specs directly from your vehicle manufacturer. If you are buying a motorhome, double and triple check the weight of any vehicle you are planning to tow behind the RV. These are the first specs you should look at when shopping. Believe us, picking out an RV that doesn’t work with your current vehicle situation can be expensive and unsafe.

  1. Count the number of dedicated beds you’ll need.

 

We highly recommend looking for RV floorplans that will provide a dedicated bed for anyone who will be sleeping in the rig most of the time. When shopping for their first RV, some folks think it’s no big deal to make up the dinette or pull out the sleeper sofa every night. We know from experience that this can be a frustration in the long run.

Solo campers or couples who need just one bed will find tons of great options across every RV type. Families with one or two children will be happy to find bunk models in travel trailers and motorhomes. If you are traveling with more than two children, travel trailer and fifth wheels offer many bunkhouse floorplans with 3-4 beds in a separate sleeping area.

If you are looking for a small towable that still offers dedicated beds for everyone in the family, check out the Murphy bed floorplan options. This latest trend has grown pretty popular over the past couple of years, so there are quite a few of these models out there!

 

  1. Decide on a wet bath, dry bath, or no bath.

 

Some shoppers love the idea of having a large, private bathroom no matter where they travel. Other folks are just fine with the idea of using campground comfort stations. This is a pretty important part of the RV experience, so make sure you get what you want in this department.

Many smaller RV options like Class Bs, Small Travel Trailers, and Truck Campers only offer wet baths, bathrooms where there isn’t a separate stall for the shower. Think hard about whether this will be a deal breaker for you.

 

  1. Decide if you’ll want to boondock or camp all four seasons.

 

Another trend in the RV industry is more models that offer four season features like insulated walls and underbellies. If you want to camp year-round, or at least in the cooler shoulder seasons, look for RVs that include these options.

And if you are looking to boondock (dispersed camping in places without hookups), make sure to search for RVs with larger fresh water, gray water, and black tanks. Other attractive features for folks looking to get off the grid are on-board generators and solar prep.

  1. Think about how much time you plan on spending inside the RV.

 

There’s no right way to camp. Some people are shopping for an RV with a clean bathroom and comfortable beds that will keep them warm and cozy at night. Other campers are seeking a smaller version of their sticks and bricks house, with all the creature comforts of home. Will everyone be able to eat a meal, play a board game, or watch a movie? Think about how you want to live in the RV, and make sure the floorplan will support that dream.

  1. How much cooking do you plan on doing in (and out) of the RV?

 

Once again, there is no right answer to the question of cooking in the RV. Some people use their RV kitchens all the time like us, and some people have never even turned on the oven. If the RV kitchen is a major draw for you, look closely at storage, counter space, and refrigerator size. If you love to cook in the open air, check out all the amazing outdoor kitchen options. However, if you don’t cook a lot while RVing, skip the outdoor kitchen to get more interior space and storage.

  1. Will you need to work in the RV?

 

The ability to work remotely leads a lot of people to check out the RV lifestyle. If you have to punch the clock, you might as well do it in a beautiful location, right? So, if you’re planning to work on the road, make sure you choose a floorplan with a spot for you to comfortably set up shop. Many people are using the flexible space in toy haulers to set up mobile offices. Another popular option right now are fifth wheel models with office space in the middle.

  1. Visualize where all the stuff will go!

 

Storage varies drastically in different models and floorplans, so think specifically about the things you want to pack. From the big stuff like bikes, kayaks, and golf carts, to the little stuff like clothes, linens and towels, food, and kitchen supplies…actually imagine where all your stuff might go.

  1. Can you access all the important features in “Travel Mode”?

 

One of the greatest benefits of RV travel for our family is being able to use the bathroom and have a healthy lunch in our RV kitchen while at rest stops. If this is also important to you, make sure you can access everything you will need even with the slides in. Can you access the bathroom, open the refrigerator, and get into the bedroom? Don’t be embarrassed to ask the salesperson to bring in the slides for you to double check!

  1. What extra features are important to you? Every RV is a bit different than the next, and some options will be more important to you than others. That’s why it’s important to have a list of “must haves” vs. “nice to haves” before you even start looking. Here are a few features that may or may not be on your list depending on your RV lifestyle:

 

  1. Large awning
  2. Exterior bathroom entrance
  3. Outdoor shower
  4. Power and automated systems for stability jacks, tongue jack, and levelers
  5. Smart technology and outdoor entertainment

Take your time and have fun with this part of the RV shopping experience. There are so many great RVs out there right now, so make sure to find the perfect one for you.

 

We’ll see you at the campground,

Stephanie + Jeremy

 

RV BUYING GUIDE: NARROWING DOWN YOUR RV TYPE

If you are in the market for a new RV, we’ve got some pretty great news for you: there are more options out there than ever before. From lightweight travel trailers to motorized RVs with powerful diesel engines, there is something for every shopping budget.

There’s also something for every camping style. If you want to hold on to the rugged outdoors experience, there are RVs specifically designed for off grid adventures. More interested in feeling like your RV is a luxury vacation home? No problem! Plenty of new RVs come with stainless steel appliances, reclining living room furnishings and residential design features.

But here’s the bad news: you probably have to pick just one RV to buy, and that can be pretty overwhelming.

 

We are here to help you through the process. Over the course of years of podcasting, blogging, and presenting at RV events, we have talked with thousands of RV shoppers. We’ve listened to the lessons that they have learned, and learned a few of our own along the way as well.

 

Want to find that perfect RV? Well, the first thing you have to do is narrow down the RV type (or class) that will work best for your needs. Here are five questions you should ask that will help you decide which RV type should be on your short list.

 

Note: If you’re still trying to learn what all the different RV types are, check out Go RVing Compare RVs tab. You can also check out our post, Which RV is Right For Me?

 

  1. What’s your price range?

 

Okay, in a perfect world there would be no budgets, right? Unfortunately, money matters and we all have a general idea of how much we can afford to spend on an RV purchase.

There is something out there at every single price point, from $7,000 folding camping trailers to $30,000 travel trailers to $200,000 motorhomes. Once you have settled on a comfortable shopping budget, it will be much easier to narrow down your options and focus on the rigs that are in the running for your first purchase.

  1. What is your current tow vehicle situation?

 

Now, this is important! If you currently have a truck or SUV that can tow an RV, you are in good shape to buy a folding camping trailer, travel trailer, or fifth wheel. Make sure you check what your vehicle can tow before buying the RV though. Don’t take someone’s word for it—use the VIN number to get an accurate number. There can be a wide variety of towing capacities for the same automobile model because of optional packages.

However, if you don’t already have a tow vehicle, carefully consider a motorized RV purchase. The price of a tow vehicle plus towable RV can easily be equal to a Class C price. There’s no reason to give up that great commuter car if you don’t really want to!

  1. Who will be traveling in the RV?

 

We’ve seen something common at dealerships and RV shows. Some folks shop thinking about anyone and everyone who may at some point join them on their travels. It’s a good idea to focus on shopping for the people (and pets) that will be in the RV mostof the time. If you’re thinking about towable RVs, would everyone in the family have a comfortable seat in the tow vehicle? If looking at motorized RVs, make sure there are seatbelts for all travelers and think about where you would place necessary car seats.

  1. Are you a road tripper, destination traveler, or seasonal camper?

 

We tend to be road trippers, heading out for weeks at a time and visiting lots of different locations. This means we like an RV that is pretty easy to hitch and unhitch. We also don’t want to worry too much about height restrictions when traveling around our native northeast region.

 

Some folks, however, love to take their RVs to just one amazing spot and set up camp for a week long vacation. For them, a spacious fifth wheel might fit the bill. Traveling in more urban places? Check out Class Bs. Want to cover a lot of distance in comfort and style? Class Cs or As are often perfect cross country options.

  1. Do you prefer private or public campgrounds?

 

If you are new to RVing, this may be a tricky question to answer, but here is a quick tutorial. In general, public campgrounds tend to be more rustic and natural. But they also tend to be older and less modernized. So if you know you want to stay in state and national parks, make sure you don’t purchase an RV that is too big for the majority of the campsites. The rule of thumb is to stay under 30 feet if you want to camp mostly in public campgrounds.

On the other hand, private campgrounds often offer pull thru campsites that can accommodate rigs up to 40 feet long. So if you know you prefer modern amenities and full hook ups, go ahead and get that larger fifth wheel or Class A.

When you imagine that RV dream, what does it look like? Are you escaping from the city and heading for off the grid adventures? Maybe you’re driving all over this beautiful country, exploring urban destinations and national parks. No matter what your RV dream is, there’s a rig that will be perfect for it.

So go start shopping, and then we’ll see you at the campground!

 

Stephanie + Jeremy