10 TIPS FOR FINDING THE 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

 

FIVE MAIN LESSONS FROM FULL-TIME RVING

As our 2-year nomadversary approaches, we have been thinking about all of the lessons we have learned during our time full-time RV living; and boy have we learned some lessons!!!  If you have also transitioned from a sticks and bricks home to living in an RV full-time, I am sure you will relate…

We have been very vulnerable in sharing our lives with our tiny humans in a tiny space in hopes of inspiring you to collect more experiences during your time here on Earth, so here we are again being a total open book with our top lessons learned from full-time RV living!

 

Lesson # 1: It’s Still Life

Just like living in a brick and sticks home, things will happen. We have learned how to just smile and laugh when unexpected things occur.  When we took our RV out for a test run a few weeks before hitting the road full-time, our neighbor (who was also full-timing) told us, “Things will happen, learn how to just go with it!” This was his biggest tip to us. I swear the universe wanted to prep us early because that weekend before going back to our sticks and bricks, one of our landing legs did not want to go up!  

We have learned that kids leave faucets running, rainstorms cause chaos, and sometimes things just stop working, After every “terrible” unannounced situation life has thrown at us, we have been able to laugh about it and learn a lesson from it as well.

Lesson # 2: Slow Down

We learned this very quickly after crossing the country from Florida to California in less than a week (just writing that makes me exhausted) after only being on the road for 2 months!

After talking to many RVers, they have also learned this lesson the hard way because they have experienced getting burned out.  I understand that it is so exciting at first that it’s easy to try to do it all, but trust us, (we learned the hard way) not only is it exhausting, but you do not get to enjoy yourself as much.  

When we learned the art of slowing down, we began to remember our experiences more clearly vs feeling like we had run a marathon and every memory was starting to mesh together. It also allowed us to really explore the area we were visiting including the non-tourist attractions.  

We also learned the art of not driving 10+ hours in a day, the maximum we ever do now is 4 hours and the least we have done has been 25 minutes.  Growing up in NYC, I didn’t realize how much I had been programmed to live my life in a hurry for absolutely no reason and I almost feel guilty that I had kind of rubbed off on my better half without either of us realizing it.  So, I am very grateful for learning this lesson thanks to this lifestyle because our kids are learning the art of slowing down as well (#priceless).

Lesson #3: Collect Experiences 

Coming from an 1,800+ sq. ft sticks and bricks home where I had been conditioned to fill every nook and cranny just because I had the room I quickly realized this was not possible in our lovely house on wheels.  Not only is there not a ton of space, but there are also weight limits in the RV I had to keep in mind.  

We have been determined to make every day memorable vs filling ourselves up with junk we truly don’t need.  Our slogan “Collect Experiences, Not Junk” came to me on a random night as I looked through our recent adventures at the time and realized how joyous my heart was just from thinking back on all of these experiences.  

If it had not been for this lifestyle, I am not sure we would have seen and done as much as we have.  It is one thing seeing videos and reading about it and it’s a whole other story living the experience yourself.  We have definitely collected more experiences in the last 23 months than most people do in 10 years thanks to RVing.  

You can imagine what it’s like to go kayaking in uncharted waters, fish across the country, climb up a 1,300 foot mountain in the rugged Upper Peninsula of Michigan, sit in an actual NASA room, walk through a cave that used to be a copper mine, hike through the Poconos to find a huge hidden waterfall that can only be seen by climbing up the mountain, go swimming in a spring fed pool in the middle of the Rocky Mountains…. but your imagination is nothing like collecting that experience.  Doing this with our children beside us has been life changing because we know in our hearts we are helping them realize the power of collecting experiences simply through living. 

 

Lesson # 4: Research RVs

This lesson right here could have saved us a bit of a headache in the beginning.  We were one of those couples that dove in head first with zero knowledge about RVs!  We ended up picking a fifth wheel (we didn’t even know what that meant) and learned very quickly that the weight was a little too much for our truck at the time.  We had already made the purchase, so we ended up having to purchase a truck that handled the weight and that also fit all of us because our truck at the time was only a 3-seater.  

I even recommend renting the type of RV you are looking for on a site like Outdoorsy because then you can really get a feel for the type of layout and you will meet the owners of the RV and get to ask them questions too!  Quite frankly, if someone had told me this when we first looked at RVs, I would have totally done it! Learn from us: do more research on type, length weight, diesel or gas, etc.

Lesson # 5: Meet Others on the Same Path

In the beginning, it was a pretty lonely journey.  Our friends and family did not really get our lifestyle and they did not understand the landing legs, sewer fun times and all the “funny” lessons we were learning.  We began to connect with more fellow RVers online (thank you Facebook, Instagram, YouTube and Twitter) and we quickly found so many “crazy” folks like us! 

We have slowly began meeting each other in real life and collecting experiences with these folks too! It has made the journey that much more memorable to know that there are folks just like us out there escaping the chains of what we were told our entire lives was “normal.”  We love our friends and family, and of course, keep them up to date, but until you live in an RV full-time, you won’t truly understand all the lessons this lifestyle throws at you.  

Thank you so much for reading about our lessons learned!  We are on a mission to inspire you through our actions to collect experiences of your own instead of junk while living a more intentional life.  We would love to hear your thoughts below and any lessons you have learned from living in an RV full-time.

 

RVFTA’S GUIDE TO BUYING A NEW RV

Narrowing Down Your RV Type: 5 Questions That Will Help You Find the Perfect RV

 

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

FMCA RALLY RECAP

The thought of attending an RV rally is something that just doesn’t excite our family. We have attended a few NAARVA rallies, and even an FMCA rally two years ago. Check out the links to those blogs here. Neither of those rallies were particularly family-friendly. Honestly, we just didn’t see the value in attending these types of rallies in the future, but when the invite to the 97th FMCA’s International Convention and RV Expo arrived in my email box, I must admit I was interested. Over the past few years, there has been so much buzz in the RV industry, and unless you were hiding in a cave, it would be impossible to have not heard about the recent explosion of sales and interest in RVing. With the average age of RV ownership dropping into the mid-forties and nearly a million RVs being sold in the past 24 months, we were very eager to experience these changes firsthand.

 

 

 

Not to mention that FMCA themselves had recently undergone a massive change. FMCA, after a membership-wide vote, would now be allowingtowable RV owners to join. For the first time, towable owners can actually join and be full-time members enjoying all the great benefits that the FMCA offers.

 

Heading to Perry, GA….

 

As life happens, there was a family conflict and we had a choice to make, either I attend the rally alone or we don’t go at all. I was too curious not to attend and knowing that a friend of mine was coming down in his rig from D.C., I figured I would have some company. I set out with our dog, Ebony, for the drive down to Perry, Georgia. I have to admit I was nervous heading south, and it wasn’t because I was driving by myself.

 

 

I was nervous because for the first time in my five years of RVing, I would be boondocking for multiple days. I know many of you are probably laughing at that statement. What do you mean by boondocking for an extended period for the first time? Yes, 99.9% of our RVing in our first five years has been at campgrounds. Yes, we have had, enjoyed, and been spoiled by full hook-ups.

 

 

Hopefully, boondocking would be just one of the many new experiences I would enjoy at this rally. If you haven’t  been to the Georgia state fairgrounds, it’s a massive place and perfect for a rally of this size. I read some preshow posts that reported over 2,000 rigs would be camping at the show.

 

 

 

As I arrived, I was greeted and escorted by golf cart to my camping area.

 

I was assigned Lot I 42ndStreet. I was impressed already by the street names and signs at an RV rally. After setting up quickly, I assessed the area around me. There were plenty of open spaces for the dog to walk and plenty of rigs were around me. I chose to camp out in the 24-hour generator access, as my knowledge of boondocking was limited.

 

 

 

There’s an App of That Too…

 

After I settled in, it was time to explore the campground. After texting my friend and learning he was still a few hours away, I grabbed Ebony and we walked around.

 

 

Not far from where we set-up, we came across a group of NAARVA members, called the Fun Seekers. I could tell from their set-up they were veterans of rallies like this. I then proceeded to the main area and checked in, got the rally schedule, and picked up a map of the campground. I also found out that FMCA was using a cellular app for the first time. I downloaded the app to see if it would be effective or just a dud.

 

 

 

 

 

I will admit I was very surprised how useful the app was during my stay. This was another big step forward for FMCA.

 

Meeting Some of Those Mysterious Millennials…

 

Off in the near distance, I noticed a Type B parked by itself and wondered why they were there by themselves. I made a mental note to see if I could meander over and do some investigation. My chance came the next evening while walking Ebony. I noticed there were two dogs outside the Type B, and of course, Ebony was attracted to the idea of going to meet some new dogs so I allowed her to lead me close to the rig. One thing I have learned from my years of RVing is RVers typically are very friendly people. As we got closer, the dogs started barking, and so did Ebony. To my surprise, two young ladies popped out from the rear of the RV to say hello. I don’t know why I was surprised, but I have to admit I was. Maybe it was the stereotype of two women camping all by themselves.

 

 

 

However surprised I was, we struck up an incredibly fun conversation. The Livingston sisters happened to be first time attendees at the FMCA rally. They came there to learn about the RV they have owned for a few years. They had a full-schedule of seminars they planned on attending. We visited for over an hour. It was fun to learn about their experiences traveling in a Type B. Two women and two big dogs; they are braver than I am.

We exchanged information to keep in touch. I hope to see them again on the road soon.

 

Vendors, seminars and so much more….

 

One of the best things about attending a large FMCA convention is there is always plenty to see, do, and have done (to your rig).

 

I was having my tow bar serviced. During the service, they noticed a major safety problem. They were kind enough to send me into the vendor hall where I was able to purchase a new tow bar (at a show discount). They even sent a tech right out to my rig to install it that afternoon!

 

 

There was a list of over 100 different seminars to attend. Topics ranged from full-timing, RV maintenance and RV solar systems (which I attended) just to name a few.

 

 

The vendor hall was filled with hundreds of vendors selling all the items you knew and did not know you needed to enhance your RV experience. Of course, I walked away with a few new items that I absolutely needed to make our RVing easier. I dare you to try not to buy something…

 

There was also a good-sized RV vendor section featuring hundreds of the newest RVs if you wanted to upgrade your current rig. There were some big-time dealerships like NIRVC and Camping World. I spent a lot of time checking out the RV my wife has been trying to convince we need in our lives. She fell in love with it at the Florida RV Super Show this year and it would be the second RV for our family.

 

The Hymer Active 2.0 loft addition just might be the perfect 2ndRV for our family. Now, if only I could just pick those winning lottery numbers, I can place the order.

 

 

 

 

Final Thoughts…

 

As Ebony and I drove away from the Georgia fairgrounds, one thing struck me clearly, the needle has definitely moved over the past two years. Seeing towable RVs camped side-by-side with the motorhomes was refreshing.

 

 

While the bulk of the attendees I interacted with were of the retired age, I did notice a significant increase in both minorities and younger RVers. What was my biggest takeaway you ask? Make a FMCA convention a meetup with friends.  You can couple new learning in seminars with getting work/upgrades on your RV, all while hanging out and having fun with friends. The experience is furthered when you are surrounded by thousands of other people who love RVing.

 

I will definitely be attending another large FMCA convention. Next time, I will make sure to invite plenty of friends to camp with us!

 

Keith Sims

Soulful RV Family

SIMPLE BOONDOCKING RECIPES

One of the greatest experiences you can have in your RV is boondocking.  Boondocking, dispersed camping, wild camping, off the grid or dry camping are all terms to describe camping in your RV without hooking up to any utilities or connections.  Boondocking is a form of camping by which you carry all your own water, capturing your own wastewater and generating your own power.   Often times dry camping can be free on public lands (where permitted) or could be on state park campgrounds where you can access for a small fee.   As amazing as dispersed camping could be, the challenge of cooking creative, healthy, delicious meals is one of the hardest aspects of “off the grid” life; and for us to keep things allergy free adds an extra level of challenges.

 

Almost everything we create when boondocking is geared towards minimizing water usage, cleanup, and cooking time.   Some essential items to make cooking easier and faster are having a large supply of paper plates, zip top bags, a supply of plastic silverware, propane grill, pressure cooker if you have a generator or even an older one that doesn’t need power, and some well thought out pre-planning.

 

Smart planning for an overnight (or two) boondocking trip is not only necessary but quite simple.   The night before we know we will be unplugged, we do as much prepping as we can.  For example, our one pot Chicken Fajita Pasta dish requires sliced veggies, chicken and pasta.  One day before, we prep all the sliced items and put them into Zip top bags with seasoning.   We slice the peppers/ onions and put them in a bag with half of the seasoning, then dice the tomatoes and place in another bag, followed by cubed raw chicken in yet another bag with the other half of seasoning.   Then on a cooking day, we use the propane oven to assemble and cook in one pot.  This could also be a pressure cooker recipe running off a generator for a half hour or an old school pressure cooker not requiring power.

 

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