RVs Versus Vans: The Winner Is Clear

RV life versus van life is a hot topic for those wanting to hit the road. Having a home on wheels is the perfect way to see the world and go on adventures. However, some travelers turn to a camper van for the size, gas mileage, and convenience.

Others go with an RV for more space and amenities. Both have their pros and cons, but which is better? Let’s check out the clear winner.

RVs Versus Vans: Which Is Better? 

Choosing an RV or van is an individual preference. However, there’s a clear winner. Keep reading to learn the benefits and downsides of both.

Benefits of RVs

An RV comes in several forms, including a motorhome, fifth wheel, travel trailer, and toy hauler. There are several benefits of RVs. Here are five.

Bigger Space

RVs can hit upwards of 45 feet and are high enough for an adult to stand up inside. They offer a lot more space than a van. Slide-outs increase the width and living space even more. RVs often have full bathrooms, and some large models have two bathrooms and a laundry area. 

All the Amenities of a House

RVs have the amenities you’d find in a house. They can include kitchens, pantries, dinettes, bedrooms, full bathrooms with tubs, closets, living rooms, electric fireplaces, and more. RVs can be like condos on wheels. In recent years, they’ve been getting more innovative with technology as well. From USB ports to Bluetooth controls, you can add many luxuries.

Bigger Holding Tanks

Since RVs are larger than vans, they can carry bigger holding tanks. Their freshwater, gray water, and black holding tanks may hold between 35 and 100 gallons, depending on the RV. Some vans don’t have a black tank; their freshwater tank may hold only five gallons.

Group of friends travelling with a vintage minivan – Hippies driving into the nature

Great for Families

An RV is a better option for families or when you’re traveling with more than two people. Some RVs can sleep 10 people with a master bedroom, bunk beds, and couches and dinettes that convert into beds. In addition, there are fifth wheels that have lofts for additional sleeping space and multiple bedrooms. 

Great for Full-Time Living

RVs are great for full-time living. RVs can accommodate year-round travel with their space to move around, bigger holding tanks, and house amenities. There are also RVs with double-pane windows and heated underbellies to allow for cold weather camping. 

Cons of RVs

We would be remiss to leave out the downsides of RVs. Here are two of the main cons.

Harder to Maneuver

RVs are harder to maneuver than vans. Since vans are a fairly normal vehicle size, they drive and park as such. An RV can be more prohibitive. Large motorhomes can be difficult to maneuver in campgrounds. And fifth wheels and travel trailers require practice to back up and maneuver going down the road.

Requires Extra Planning

You have to do some extra planning to drive an RV, especially if it’s more than 21 feet. You need to consider where the RV will fit to park and get fuel. It’s not quite as simple as driving up to a gas station with a van. The height of the RV is also a factor. RVers typically use a special RV GPS that can warn you of routes with low clearances like bridges.

Benefits of Vans

Vans may have fewer benefits than RVs, but they might still be a good fit depending on your travel style. Check out the pros of owning a camper van.

Better Gas Mileage

A van is going to get better gas mileage than a motorhome or a vehicle towing an RV. Camper vans can get between 14 and 25 mpg. A motorhome or vehicle towing an RV will typically get between 8 and 12 mpg. The exact gas mileage will depend on the van or RV.

Can Fit in Any Parking Spot

Vans can fit in a regular parking spot. Since vans are typically 21 feet or less, you can park them nearly anywhere. This also increases the places you can go.

Easier to Maneuver

Vans are easier to maneuver than larger RVs since they’re shorter and operate like a regular vehicle. This makes getting in and out of campgrounds a breeze. And driving down the road in a van can be much less stressful than a high-profile or lengthy RV.

Cons of Vans

The cons of vans are what set them apart from RVs. Here’s what we mean.

Small Space

Vans have limited space to move around, cook, sleep, lounge, work, and do daily tasks. A van can be great for weekend or short-term travel, but the space gets cramped quickly. And if the van isn’t a high top, walking around is difficult. 

Small Holding Tanks

Vans aren’t capable of carrying ample holding tanks because of their size. With small gray and black holding tanks, you need to empty them more often. And with the lack of large freshwater tanks, it’s more difficult to go off-grid for longer than a couple of days.

Best for Solos or Couples

If you’re traveling with more than two people, a van will pose a challenge. Vans are best for solo travelers or couples. But even with two people, a van can feel small quickly. 

RVs Versus Vans: The Winner Is Clear — RVs Win Every Time

As you can see, the clear winner is RVs. RVs have more space, amenities, and features. They offer a greater capacity for going off-grid and being fully self-contained with larger holding tanks. And RVs are more conducive to full-time living.

Vans Are Good, RVs Are Better

Not everyone will agree that RVs are better. Vans are great for some people. You may find that you love van life and that’s fantastic. However, in terms of stability, space, and amenities, RVs come out on top. Which do you prefer, though?

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