The thrill of the open road, and the view from the captain’s chair—few can spy an RV on the highway without imagining themselves behind the wheel, and why not? With RV fuel prices being lower than they’ve been in years, the reasons not to invest in a rig of your own seem to fade into the distance. With so many options, where do you start?What Are Your Needs?
The type of motorhome, travel trailer, or camper you consider depends very much on its intended use. For example, if you only plan to use it a couple of times a year for traveling or vacationing, you may not want to invest in a full-sized bus with all of the amenities. This is especially true if you spend most of your time enjoying the outdoors. Additional features take up more space and increase the overall cost of the investment.
If, however, you’re seeking a mobile apartment, having modern appliances like a washer and dryer is more of a convenience than a luxury. When beginning the search for an RV, it’s important to take an honest look at what features you really require. Here are a few things to consider:
- Are you full-timing, part-timing, or vacationing?
- How many people does it need to accommodate?
- Do they spend most of the time inside or outside?
- Do you want slide-outs? If so, how many?
- Do you want additional sleeping spaces like bunk beds or a fold-out sofa?
- Are you hauling anything? If so, how much weight. This helps determine whether you want a diesel or gas-fueled engine.
- What additional features do you require?
- Do you want an onboard generator or solar panels?
- Do you want a camp-kitchen or a residential one?
- Are there any other extras that you want, i.e.: back-up camera, big-screen TV, satellite radio, satellite dish, grill, exterior fridge, storage for bikes or ATV?
Once you know how you plan to use your RV and what features you require, it’s time to start narrowing down specific manufacturers, models, and price.
Brands and Price
When shopping RVs, most people focus on style, manufacturer and dealer reputation, and price. Generally, you want to get the greatest number of the features you want for the least amount of money. Of course, this is pointless if your RV spends as much time in the repair shop as it does on the road. This is why a little research can make a big difference.
Find a style that you like and check out the manufacturer’s reviews. Locate a dealership nearby that offers that brand and check out their reviews with the Better Business Bureau and even on YELP. Set up an appointment to discuss financing (if needed) with their sales department to determine how much you are approve for so you can narrow your search.
Once you have selected a couple to try out, consider renting for the weekend, either from the dealership or a third party RV rental service. This is the ultimate test drive. It allows you to ascertain whether or not a particular model is right for your preferences and circumstances. If possible, rent a couple of different ones in order to make the best choice possible.
If you are unable to rent, at least take a lengthy test drive. Check for comfort of ride, ease of visibility, and how well it accelerates, brakes, and turns. Sit on the furniture. Open and shut the doors and drawers. Basically, test-drive it like you would a truck and check it out like you’re buying a house.
Although it can be exciting to get one with all of the bells and whistles, it’s important to be realistic about what you really need in an RV. Make sure you buy a reputable rig from a reputable dealer, and if you find your wishes exceed your budget, a used model (which in fact depreciate much more slowly) may be the way to go.