Choosing an RV, or recreational vehicle, for you and your family is an exciting time. It can also be a daunting task because there are so many choices, options and family considerations. You may have already decided that you want to buy an RV, but what about sleeping, storage and living accommodations? Narrowing your RV choices is first and foremost a matter of budget; after that, you'll need to consider how you plan to use the vehicle to make the best choice for you.
Can you afford it?
Do not go to the dealership with stars in your eyes. You must be practical in determining how much you can afford to spend on a camper. You need one that will service your needs now and for as long as you plan to keep it. Be aware that an RV depreciates just as a car does. You may be able to save some money if you wait until the end of the camping season to purchase the RV that is on the dealer's lot.
Check out the cost of insurance for the RVs that you are considering. Will that cost fit into your budget? Look at maintenance costs as well. Towed RVs are generally owned for two to three years, while motor homes typically last for five to six years. Compare the service histories of different models and factor in the price of routine service over the average lifespan to compare lifetime ownership costs.
It is fun to tour the new RV's and to check out the floor plans and options. Sometimes the dealer has an RV on the lot that will fulfill your needs and expectations. If not, ordering what you want may be the best idea, although it means you will have to wait for it to be built. Ordering a rig without all the upgrades can save you money. Just be sure to get what you really need.
What tow vehicle or Toad do you need?
If you decide on a towable RV, make sure your vehicle can safely tow the rig. It's essential that your tow vehicle can brake and stop the RV. Be sure to check out what hitch is needed to tow and add the cost of that hitch to the cost of the RV.
If you decide on a motorhome, find out the weight limits for towing a vehicle. The towed vehicle is called the Toad. You may have to invest in a different car than what you presently own due to the towability factor.
Head for the RV's kitchen
When stepping into the camper, do the colors seem pleasant and livable or are there busy decorations that jangle your nerves? Buying an RV is like buying a pair of shoes. If they don't fit when you walk out the door with them, they will never fit. Be sure that you can live with the color theme in the interior.
Just like home, the kitchen is the center of activity. RV kitchens are usually located at the rear or in the middle of a trailer. There are pros and cons for each. If you have children who will be running through the trailer, you may prefer a rear kitchen. However, people with rear kitchens tell me that they bounce a lot while traveling, so the inside of your cabinets can become a jumbled mess.
Always check out the work space, location of appliances and cupboard space. Take a dinner plate and see if it will fit in the cupboard. You would be surprised at how many cupboards are too narrow for a plate.
Open the refrigerator to determine if the space is large enough for your family's needs. Check out the location of the microwave to see if you can easily remove a hot dish from the interior of it. Is there a counter nearby to set that dish?
In the kitchen, check out the outlets to decide if there will be enough for your small appliances. While you're at it, check the entire trailer for plug-ins and lighting.
Dinettes with benches are good for storage under the bench and some can be set up for a bed. A separate table and chairs allow for more flexible seating arrangements. This lets you keep the table close to the kitchen for mealtime, then move it into the center of the living area when you want to relax or play games.
RV living spaces
Not only will you need storage space for the kitchen, you'll need it for your personal belongings. Are there adequate closets, cabinets, and drawers? Check the outside storage compartments as well. Is there room for her sewing machine, his fishing equipment and all the kids' games and toys?
Lie down on the bed to ensure that it is long enough and wide enough. And although you may be embarrassed, sit down on the toilet. That is the only way to make sure there is enough room for you. Some toilets are in their own separate small room, while others share a room with a shower or the vanity. Look over the floor plan for the bathroom and decide what is best to accommodate your family.
Don't forget the sleeping arrangements, because you'll want to be sure that the driver gets a good night's rest while you're out on the road. Most RVs have a bedroom area that can accommodate a queen or king-size bed. That's great for two people, but what about the kids?
Air mattresses and cots can be cumbersome to set up and use, so it's worth investigating built-in options. Dinettes that convert into sleepers are one choice, and you'll also find bunk beds that fold flat against the wall while you travel. Check the construction of foldable beds to make sure they'll last. Metal frames and hinges are best, followed by dried hardwoods. Fiberglass and plywood may be cheaper, but they're also more likely to break.
Follow these RV tips on camping safety. Driving an RV on America's highways is a huge responsibility. Please be vigilant, courteous drivers as you tour the countryside, keeping safe distances between vehicles and using turn signals.