How to Choose an RV

RVs allow you to hit the open road with all the comforts of home

By Debra Gibson Isaacs

How to Choose an RV

Are you a fifth-wheel? A fifth-wheel kind of camper, that is. Or perhaps you want to be able to macho your way to the top of anything out there. Whatever your preferences and needs, there is a recreational vehicle (RV) for you. An RV is simply a vehicle that combines transportation and living quarters.

Sport Utility RV

Sport Utility RVs act as a garage on wheels for your outdoor recreation toys like ATVs and dirt bikes.

“A lot depends on what kind of trips you want to make,” says Kevin Broom, spokesperson for the Recreation Vehicle Industry Association (RVIA). “RVing is just like any vacation except that you bring your own home with you.”   

Choosing that home away from home is much like choosing a non-mobile one. There is no correct choice or wrong answer. The best decision is different for each person and family.

There is a lot to learn when choosing a recreational vehicle, however.

Fortunately, there is also a lot of information out there to help.

Exploring RVIA’s website (GoRVing.com) or asking yourself some basic questions is a good place to start. Think about how you want to use your RV. Will you be bringing the kids or grandkids along? Do you want to get off-road or stick to city streets? Do you want a fast-driving RV or a cool-looking RV? Are you a tailgating party planner or a master chef?

Conventional travel trailer

The interior of this conventional travel trailer offers all the amenities of home.

For campers who will be traveling with children, as an example, RVIA points to models with varied sleeping options.

“RVs are built for family fun. Built-in bunks or trundle beds give everyone a comfortable place to call their own. Best of all, there are no strange beds to sleep in, and there are always familiar surroundings,” RVIA says. “Type C Motorhomes often have an over-cab bed that sleeps two to three and can be a fun, personal space for kids.”

The next step is to choose the type of RV you think you might want. RVs are divided into categories largely based on how they’re moved (see chart on opposite page). There are towable RVs; motorized RVs; specialty RVs, such as horse trailers and those equipped for the disabled; and park model RVs, designed to look more like a traditional home.

An array of styles fit into any given category.

GoRVing.com will help guide you to a specific model through a series of basic questions, including what type of vehicle you plan to use to tow an RV, how many people it will need to sleep and if you want to feel close to nature while inside.

Once you complete the process, you will have a better idea of what kind of camper you are. Perhaps you really are a fifth-wheel — a fifth-wheel camper, of course.

Towable RVs

Designed to be towed by family car, van or pickup truck. Can be unhitched and left at the campsite while you explore in your auto. (Source: GoRVing.com)

Travel Trailers

Conventional Travel Trailer

Con travel trailer
  • Wide range of floor plans and sizes
  • Affordable homelike amenities
  • Sleep up to 10
  • Typically $8,000 to $95,000 new

Fifth-Wheel Travel Trailers

5th wheel travel trailer
  • Spacious two-level floor plans
  • Towed with a pickup truck
  • Sleep up to six
  • Typically $18,000 to $160,000 new

Travel Trailers with Expandable Ends

travel trailer expandable
  • Ends pull out for roomy sleeping
  • Lightweight towing
  • Sleep up to eight
  • Typically $10,000 to $30,000 new

Folding Camping Trailers

folding camping trailer
  • Fold for lightweight towing
  • Fresh-air experience with RV comfort
  • Sleep up to eight
  • Typically $5,000 to $22,000 new

Truck Campers

truck campers
  • Mount on pickup bed or chassis
  • Go wherever your truck can go
  • Sleep up to six
  • Typically $6,000 to $55,000 new

Park Model RVs

park model rvs
  • Movable resort unit designed exclusively for part-time recreational use
  • Sleep up to 10
  • Typically $20,000 to $80,000

Motorized RVs

No truck required: Living quarters are accessible from the driver’s area in one convenient unit. (Source: GoRVing.com)

Motorhomes

Type A Motorhomes

motorhomes type a
  • Generally roomiest of all RVs
  • Luxurious amenities
  • Sleep up to six
  • Typically $60,000 to $500,000 new

Type B Motorhomes

motorhomes type b
  • Commonly called van campers
  • Drive like the family van
  • Sleep up to four
  • Typically $60,000 to $130,000 new

Type C Motorhomes

motorhomes type c
  • Similar amenities to Type As
  • Optional sleeping space over the cab
  • Sleep up to eight
  • Typically $43,000 to $200,000 new

Sport Utility RVs

sport utility rvs
  • Available motorized and towable (as travel trailers or fifth-wheels).
  • Built-in garage for hauling cycles, ATVs, and other sports equipment
  • Sleep up to eight
  • Typically $10,300 to $170,000 new

Where to?

You can find facilities equipped for RVs in a wide array of settings, including in national and state parks; on other public lands; or in private campgrounds. There’s also the journey to consider, with a number of National Scenic Byways offering easy “scenic routes.” Visit GoRVing.com/where-to-go to explore your options.

About the Author

Debra Gibson Isaacs has been a writer and photographer for more than 30 years. Based in Lexington, Kentucky, she is an avid adventurer with a passion for animals. 

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Comments (2)

  • Gloria Durst

    Gloria Durst

    07 June 2017 at 17:07

    I agree that you want to find a travel camper that matches your trip. It would make sense to consider things like gas mileage and things like that if you are on a longer trip. My husband and I want to get an RV for our upcoming camping trip so we'll have to find one that will match the trip.

    reply

  • packers5th

    packers5th

    07 July 2017 at 01:21

    wow!! thanks for such a nice and very useful guide about choosing RV for moving on the open road with all the comforts of home .

    reply

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