Experience Life In an RV: 7 Questions To Ask BEFORE Buying

So you want to travel and see the U.S. and Canada. What better way than with your own recreational vehicle!

You may have heard terms like Class A, diesel pusher, toy hauler, fifth wheel, GVWR, toad, and dry camping! It may all sound like a foreign language. How in the world do you make sense of all the terms and technology? It can all be overwhelming but there are numerous places to research from manufacturer websites, RV dealers, consumer reports, neighbors and friends, social media, and Vogel Talks RVing.

To help get you started, here are seven questions to ask yourself as you consider the RV lifestyle.

Bella Terra RV Resort on the Alabama Gulf Coast is a Class A motorhome RV resort, © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Bella Terra RV Resort on the Alabama Gulf Coast is a Class A motorhome RV resort, © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Type of Camping?

Do you need all the comforts of home or do you plan to “rough” it? If the idea of being out in the forest under a canopy of trees is your ideal, there are tradeoffs. Limited resources like water and internet service may not matter to you. But if your idea of “roughing it” is long showers, hot meals, and speedy internet connections, you may need to consider full-service campgrounds as your home away from home.

Do you want to stay in RV parks with full amenities? If so, a large Class A or fifth wheel trailer would be a good choice. RV parks vary from location to location, and not all RV parks are big-rig friendly. The larger the RV, the more variables come into play. Will the park offer 50-amp electric service? Are the sites pull-through or will you need to back in?

Simple rule of thumb:

  • Smaller RVs are easy for parking, but less room for living
  • Larger RVs are easy for living but less room for parking
Large residential style fifth wheel trailer at Coastal Georgia RV Resort, Brunswick, Georgia near the Golden Isles. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Large residential style fifth wheel trailer at Coastal Georgia RV Resort, Brunswick, Georgia near the Golden Isles. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

RV Mover Or Sitter?

The larger the RV, the more fuel it will consume. If you plan to live in the RV full time or for extended periods of time, you will require an RV that meets your daily living needs.

Dry camping or “off the grid” RVing will require an RV with large fresh, gray, and black water holding tanks and solar panels. Living on your own terms means choosing an RV that can go where you want to go, without causing damage to the RV.

Number of People/Pets?

Choose an RV that works for the size of your traveling family. Do you have pets? Where will they sleep? Keep in mind, numerous RV parks have rules about youngsters and pets. Moreover, additional bodies require additional space. If you have children, consider an RV with bunk beds.

Tow Vehicle?

Travel trailer camping at White Tank Mountains, a Maricopa County Regional Park near Phoenix, Arizona © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Travel trailer camping at White Tank Mountains, a Maricopa County Regional Park near Phoenix, Arizona © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

If you plan to purchase a travel or fifth wheel trailer and already own a truck or SUV, check first to ensure that your tow vehicle is rated to pull the fifth wheel or travel trailer. Do the checking before signing on the dotted line; don’t assume you will be able to tow the trailer with an existing the truck you already own.

Financial Plan/Budget?

Financial plan. Budget. Very feared words. How much are you able to spend on your RV? If purchasing a travel or fifth wheel trailer, include the cost of a tow vehicle in your budget. Decide on your spending first. This will help you to narrow down the search for your RV.

Who Will Drive?
Driving a diesel pusher or towing a large fifth wheel takes a certain skill set and it is definitely NOT for everyone. If you plan to share driving responsibilities with your significant other, you must choose an RV that is comfortable driving or towing for the both of you.

Essential Features?

Truck camper at Saguaro Lake, Arizona © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Truck camper at Saguaro Lake, Arizona © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Some RV features and items are more important than others. What do you consider to be essential? Nice to have?

Consider the following: the living area, kitchen counter and appliances, bathroom configuration, sleeping areas, washer/dryer, flat screen TV in living room and bedroom, exterior TV, diesel engine, interior and exterior storage, Sirius radio, solar panels, and generator.

Ask yourself the tough questions, evaluate the answers, and see where this leads. Each answer will open a different door to your final decision. Your perfect RV will soon be sitting in your driveway ready for your first big adventure.

Worth Pondering…

Cherish yesterday, dream tomorrow, live today.

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