Selecting the right RV can be a difficult decision, and anyone who's ever shopped around for one can probably attest to that. Between settling on a floor plan and determining your must-have features, the stress of choosing the right RV can put a burden on the whole point of buying an RV in the first place, which is to live a simpler, more carefree, and more exciting life! So to help you with finding the perfect RV that best suits your needs and your budget, we've created a basic how-to guide for selecting the right RV. Hopefully these tips and tricks will help you narrow down your options so that you can feel confident in whatever RV you choose!
Tip #1 - Take Advice Cautiously: It's not a bad idea to ask for advice from others about which RV to buy, but you should take opinions with a grain of salt. Remember, what is the right choice for one person isn't the right choice for every person, so listen with a cautious ear. Fifth wheel owners probably don't have the best insights into choosing the right motorhome, and vice versa, so just be mindful of who the information is coming from in relation to their personal RVing experiences.
Tip #2 - Envision Your Ideal: Before you even start shopping, it can be smart to sit down and draft a quick list of features you already know you want included in your RV. Narrowing down a few must-haves can help set you in the right direction. It's also a great idea to head to your nearest RV dealership to tour some of the RVs available. Picture yourself staying in each one to get a clearer sense of what you like and what you don't.
Tip #3 - Stick To Your Budget: Don't spend your time at the dealership touring ritzy mobile mansions if your price point calls for a more modest travel trailer. It's easy to get so swept up with the fancy fireplaces and flat screen TVs that you forget about how you're actually going to use your RV and how much money you intend to spend on it. Having a solid budget in mind doesn't have to take the fun out of shopping for an RV, it'll just ensure that you don't get distracted during your search for the right one.
Some Questions To Consider
With any big purchase there are tough questions to ask yourself and hard decisions to make. While the answers might not be completely clear at first, contemplating them will help to make your choices much more obvious. But before you can confirm the right answers, you'll need to know how to ask the right questions! To get you started, here are a few things to ponder before making your final purchase decision:
What's Your Tow Vehicle Situation?
This straightforward question is an easy one to start with. If you know you don't want a towable trailer, then you've already narrowed down your RV search to motorhomes exclusively. If you don't want to deal with having an engine in your RV, then you can immediately take motorhomes off the table. When it comes to towables, the vehicle you plan to use will greatly determine the sizes and types of RVs you're capable of hauling. If you're planning on purchasing a tow vehicle after you've already picked out your RV, then you don't really need to ponder this question much further. However, if you are already locked in with a tow vehicle, you'll need to make sure that the RV you choose is compatible with it. For SUVs or small trucks, pop-ups and compact, lightweight travel trailers will be best. For super-duty trucks, you can pull everything from toy haulers to fifth wheels. In addition to making sure your RV is compatible with your tow vehicle, you'll also need to make sure that you're comfortable maneuvering and parking it, and you might want to give consideration to fuel efficiency as well!
Full-Time Travelers or Weekend Warriors?
Even before hitting the road, you probably already have an idea of how you plan to use your new RV. Are you going to set off on a year-long road trip or settle for a once-a-year vacation? If you're hoping to be a full timer, you aren't just shopping for an RV, you are searching for your future home, so look into RVs that are a bit more spacious than the simpler models. For those looking to live a bit more comfortably during their occasional stays in the great outdoors, you probably don't need an RV that comes fully-loaded with a dishwasher, laundry machines, or that extra half bath. Pick an RV that fits your lifestyle preferences and your anticipated travel tendencies.
Where Do You Plan To Visit or Stay?
The length and size of your RV will be indicative of where you can feasibly camp. If you want to check out more secluded areas and rustic campsites, you might want to rethink that 40-foot trailer you love so much. If you want to frequent luxury RV resorts, a sleek and sizable fifth wheel will blend right in! Either way, the choice between having more access to campgrounds or having more living space is ultimately up to you and what your priorities are. You'll also need to think about where you want to go geographically. If you're hoping to head up into the mountains, make sure your RV has the moxie to make it up the sloped terrain. If you're planning to cruise through areas with cold climates, make sure your RV has a substantial insulation package included. By predicting where you plan to go, you can better anticipate what you'll need to have once you arrive there.
Who's Coming Along?
Your traveling companions will greatly influence the floor plan of your RV. If it's just the two of you, all you'll need is a single master suite. If you're traveling as a family, bunkhouse layouts will offer much more sleep space and they're perfect for little campers who want a place to call their own. Perhaps you're traveling as a couple but you might have grandkids or guests who occasionally tag along. For these situations you might want to look into models with a convertible sofa or dinette table. If you're planning on bringing your toys along for the ride, check out toy haulers which include convenient cargo bays and garages. No matter who or what is joining you on your RVing adventures, there is a floor plan out there to suit your unique needs.
Will You Do Your Own Maintenance?
If you can do your own handyman work and fix anything that doesn't require major parts, you might want to consider buying a used RV to save a bundle of money. There are unbelievable bargains out there and if you're shopping on a tight budget, buying used might help you get more for your money. However, if you don't know a wrench from a hammer like me, you might want to buy new and get as much warranty protection as possible. Before you buy new or used, research the manufacturer's reputation. The really good ones don't stick to the rules on warranty limitations strictly, and care more about satisfying customers. Find out if they handle second or third owners like they do original owners and if they have extended warranty plans that are run by reputable warranty companies.
Do You Plan to Park Without Hook-ups?
If you intend to do a lot of dry camping, you'll want an RV that is designed for that type of off-grid lifestyle. This design will need to include features like large holding tanks and generator prep. Ask yourself just how big your holding tanks will need to be and what capacity generator you'll want to have. If you plan on being an avid boondocker, you might also want to consider a solar panel package. In addition to features, the size of your RV will also play a part in whether or not you can access those picturesque boondocking sites, so always keep trailer dimensions in mind when shopping around too.
Eating Out or Dining In?
One of the biggest perks of traveling with an RV is having a portable kitchen that goes wherever you go. If you'll be frequenting fast-food stops and roadside restaurants, your RV kitchen might not be that important. However, if you plan to do most of your cooking in house, the kitchen configuration can suddenly become a top priority. You'll want ample countertop space to prepare your meals, plenty of storage for your utensils, and a sizable refrigerator to keep your perishable goods fresh. If culinary creations are very near and dear to your heart, it might be worth splurging on those stainless steel appliances or that lovely center island.
At Lakeshore RV, we strive to turn the somewhat-stressful experience of shopping for an RV into a fun, easy, and enjoyable experience. By sticking to your budget and anticipating your travel habits, you will have a clearer idea of what you're looking for so that when it finally comes time to make your pick, you can feel confident in choosing the right RV for you!