You’ve decided that you want to start camping with your spouse. You recently visited an RV dealership and felt utterly overwhelmed.
You walked into a fifth wheel with high ceilings and ample living space. Maybe you walked in a Class C motorhome with additional sleeping space above the cab. And perhaps you walked in a travel trailer that was small but would easily get into tight campsites.
How do you know which RV is right for you?
Let’s look at the three most important things to consider when buying an RV. Although there are other things worth thinking about, you want to focus on these three to ensure that your travels are enjoyable. Let’s dive in!
Picking an RV Is an Important Decision
A lot of money is at stake when picking an RV. It’s a huge decision. Especially if you’ve never camped before, choosing your first RV might be a little intimidating.
You don’t really know what you want because you’ve never experienced RVing before. A couple of months into camping, you might realize that some of those “must-have” things weren’t really necessary.
Choose the best option for your travel needs with the information you have. You don’t want to throw away your money on an RV that doesn’t work for your family. What works for you won’t necessarily be right for another RVer. So what are the most important things to think about when buying an RV?
The 3 Most Important Things to Think About When Buying an RV
You might think that safety features, enhanced technology, or decor would make the list. Although these things are certainly important, they aren’t the most important.
So what is the most important thing to think about when buying an RV? Floorplan.
If you’re going to live in this space for any amount of time, you want it to be functional. Whether you’re camping a few weekends out of the year or taking a couple of cross-country trips, you want the space to fit your travel needs. The floorplan must fit your family.
Especially if you’re traveling with kids, you need separate sleeping spaces. This might mean a bunk room or loft area. This might mean a convertible sofa. Ensure every person has their own space to sleep. This may sound silly and obvious. But when camping in a tiny space, everyone will want a space to call their own.
Also, make sure the kids can fit. Bunks can be shorter and narrower than twin beds. Lofts don’t have very high ceilings. If you have two teenage boys traveling with you, those spaces aren’t going to be very comfortable. Make sure everyone has their own sleeping area and that it’s comfortable.
A second reason the floorplan is key to choosing the right RV is the separation of work life and home life. Many RVers now work from the road. Having a dedicated workspace is really important.
This might mean the dining room table is a desk from 9-5 on weekdays. Or this might mean a mid-bunk room turns into an office space. You want to have space to work, but you also want work to disappear when you’re off the clock.
If you don’t find a floorplan that offers a workplace, kids can easily interrupt a video conference. You might lack hosting space for guests as well. This can make traveling stressful and uncomfortable, so make sure you have a separation between work life and home life.
Finally, the floorplan needs to reflect what’s important to you. If you cook in your sticks-and-bricks house and enjoy preparing dinner every night, finding a large kitchen is going to be important. You’ll be disappointed and frustrated if you don’t make that a priority.
If you have three kids under the age of 10, finding a room for them to play in is important too. It’s hard to invite friends over when there are toys all over the living room. If their toys are scattered in your bedroom, it will hardly feel like a separate, personal space. Having a kid’s area is essential if you’re in that season of life.
If you want to play the role of entertainer and have family and friends visit often, finding a floorplan that provides lots of living space should be a priority. The bedroom, bathroom, and outdoor storage might also be important. You want room for people to walk around without bumping into furniture or hitting their heads on light fixtures.
Other Important Things to Consider When Buying an RV
Yes, the floorplan is the most important thing to consider when buying an RV. But there are a few additional considerations. Once you’ve found the right floorplan, narrow down your choices by examinings the storage, safety features, budget, and type of RV.
Even for just a weekend, living in a tiny space is difficult. If you don’t have enough storage, it’s even more difficult. Make sure there’s space to store food, dishes, and cooking gadgets in the kitchen.
In the bedroom, make sure there’s space to store different types of clothing, from winter coats to bathing suits. If you travel with kids, where will you put their toys and clothes?
Don’t forget the outdoor storage. Is there room to put away the hoses? Will your camping chairs, skillet, and toolbox fit? Think of all of the items you’ll be traveling with and consider the space you’ll need to store them.
Most RVs don’t undergo strenuous testing like automobiles. It should still be safe, however. It should come with a carbon monoxide/propane gas alarm as well as smoke detectors. Especially since propane is an important power source, this alarm is critical to protect you and your family.
Your RV should come with circuit breakers. If the power you’re pulling from the source is greater than what the wiring allows, then the circuit breakers will pop just like in a house. This prevents fire and overloading the circuits.
If you’re looking at motorhomes, make sure everyone has access to a seatbelt. If passengers are riding in the back of the RV and not in the cab, they should still buckle up. Check out the space for car seats. Often, motorhomes don’t have shoulder belts in the couch or dinette seating area.
Your RV might include other safety features like a backup camera or tire pressure monitoring system. Cameras help the driver see blind spots and behind the RV to ensure safer driving while a tire pressure monitoring system alerts the driver to low tire pressure. When there’s a change in tire pressure, you could experience a blowout. These safety features are also worth adding once you’ve purchased your RV.
Stick within your budget. If you’re only going to go camping four weekends a year, you don’t want to spend $100,000 if your budget is $50,000, even if that particular RV checks all of the boxes. Consider how often you’ll be using the RV and what you can actually afford so you don’t have buyer’s remorse months down the road.
Type of RV
Finally, determine which type of RV fits your travel needs. If you want to boondock often, you need an RV with storage space for multiple batteries. If you want to venture off-road to secluded areas, you probably want a smaller RV designed for travel on rough terrain.
Do you want a drivable or towable RV? You can find similar floorplans among the various types of RVs, so once you’ve settled on a floorplan, you can decide if a motorhome, travel trailer, or fifth wheel is the right fit.
Get the Right RV
The most important thing to consider when buying an RV is the floorplan. You want a layout that’s functional and comfortable for everyone. Account for sleeping space, cooking space, storage, and how you like to camp.
Which floorplan fits your travel needs? Do you need space for the kids? Do you want to entertain your friends? Get an RV that feels like home to you and your family.
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