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How to Choose the Right RV

If you want to RV, how do you choose the right RV? This is probably THE most critical first decision anyone who wants to RV makes. It is also the most difficult. I started doing research many years ago and my wife, Chris, jumped on the bandwagon about 2 years ago. We watched so many YouTube videos on RV’s and the “do’s & don’ts” that we started to become numb to the whole ordeal. In the process we found a core group of Youtubers that we now regularly watch and follow. The information that is available on the internet is almost overwhelming, but in the end has been helpful in our search. I guess we could be classified as “Expert” RVers, if there was an “RV Newbie” classification since we have researched for so long. So, let’s get started on the selection process.

Categories of RVs: Drivable and Towable.

Drivable includes Class A (basically a bus), Class B (like a van), and Class C (like a box truck). Towables include 5th wheels (usually the largest of the towables), Travel Trailers (probably the most common RV), and Popups (like a tent on wheels). There are some sub-categories but for the sake of brevity I’ll just say that to answer the basic question of which RV should I get, you MUST do some research. The more you do, the more you’ll find those secondary issues for YOUR type of RV.

Sunset over a smal airstream.

“Which RV should I get?”

This is the most common question I have seen on forums, but there is NO good answer for that question. The answer depends greatly on personal preference and the type of RVing you want to do. I think a great deal of people look at an RV as just a better way to camp on the occasional weekend, and that means your RV criteria will be much different from someone who does it full time. Our preference has always been a travel trailer. For some reason we just never entertained the idea of a Class A, B, or C type of RV. The style of travel and “camping” that we like just doesn’t seem to fit well with a class anything, and the travel trailer fits perfectly. We have also agreed that the smaller the better…to a point. A smaller trailer is easier to tow, better on gas mileage, fits in almost all National and State Parks, and is easier to maneuver. We had to come to a compromise on the size, as the trailer she picked out would be perfect if it were only us two, but we intend on having grandkids with us as much as their parents will allow, so we needed something a little bigger.

Making the Decision

In order to determine which RV you should get, there are some other questions that you must answer first. What kind of RVing do you want to do? What category of RV suits that style best? Within that category what sub-category fits best. A subcategory for a Class A might be diesel or gas, In a Travel trailer there are different types of construction (stick and tin or fiberglass and aluminum), so which fits best? Another factor that must be considered if you want a Travel Trailer or Fifth Wheel is the tow vehicle. Things like UVW, GVWR, Axle weight, hitch weight, etc. become important, but that in and of itself is a whole new blog post.

three motorhomes parked with a view of the mountains.

The Process of Choosing Our RV

Since deciding what RV you should get is a personal choice/preference, here is what we did. There were a number of factors in our decision. First we wanted a quality built trailer, and these days that is difficult to find. You only have to do a cursory search on YouTube to find a plethora of disgruntled owners. Some brand names have a poor record and we stayed away from even looking at those brands. RV manufacturers are largely unregulated and they are cranking out units so fast that quality has been sacrificed in the name of quantity. We feel that there are still a few manufacturers out there who do build quality over quantity, but that every RV can and probably will have some issues. Secondly we had to settle on a floor plan we both liked. I had a definite “style” that I liked and Chris had a different one that she liked. In the end we picked one that neither one of us had considered at the outset, but such is the nature of selecting the RV you want.

What did we Decide?

For the sake of clarity, we still have not purchased our first RV, however we have narrowed it down to a select few. We are attending the “Largest RV Show in America” at Hershey PA in September to do a head to head comparison of our choices and then making our final selection.

In case you’re wondering what we settled on, it’s between Venture RV’s, who make the Sonic and Stratus models we like, and Grand Design Imagine series. We are looking at the bunkhouse version of these trailers and honestly we thought the Sonic 234VBH was the one we wanted. After researching (yes, MORE research), I noticed that Grand Design had much larger tank capacities and boon docking is something we want the option to do, so it required a second look. The Grand Design Model 2800 is their best seller, but it’s slightly longer than what I hoped for. Venture RV recently created the Stratus series to compete with Grand Design and they have the exact same floor plans, so it will be fun to do a direct comparison at the Hershey RV show!


Guest Blogger: Troy Riggs

I was born and raised in Nebraska, and the travel bug hit me early in life. I joined the Navy when their slogan was “Join the Navy and see the world!” which I found out was 100% truthful. The world is 75% water and I sure saw a lot if that, but I also traveled to places I would never have had the opportunity to go if not for the Navy. After serving 22 years and retiring, I wanted to sell everything and start the nomadic lifestyle but my wife was not onboard with that idea. I ended up buying a local company with a business partner. I ran that for the next 17 years then sold my stock at the end of 2018, hoping that now would be the start of RV living. My wife was now agreeable to RV’ing, but at the beginning of 2019, I had an opportunity that I couldn’t pass up. Our plan to hit the road got extended for 2 more years, so instead of shedding the bricks and sticks in the spring of 2019, it’s now spring of 2021 as the new target date. I am new to RV’ing but not to camping and traveling. Having set up and taken down a tent hundreds of times, I am SO looking forward to an RV!!

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