What Tent Campers Need to Know Before Buying an RV

What Tent Campers Need to Know Before Buying an RV

As a tent camper, you have likely developed a certain image of camping. Sleeping on the ground, waking up to the sounds of nature, cooking over an open fire, and relaxing in the woods all come to mind.

However, as soon as one takes the plunge into the world of the RV camper, camping takes on a whole new persona. Suddenly, complete comfort can be had in the middle of the woods and cooking a meal is as simple as it is back home.

If you are a well-seasoned tent camper who’s considering upgrading to an RV, you may be wondering what to expect after purchasing a camper of your very own. We have created this list of 16 things you need to know before you upgrade from a tent to an RV.

1. Packing is Simpler

While packing for a tent camping trip can be pretty time-consuming, packing for an RV camping trip is a breeze. You see, everything you pack for your first trip can simply be left behind in the RV for next time, making heading out for a weekend in nature easier than ever.

Just be careful not to leave food in your RV, as this can attract pests.

Class B RV

Image Credit: peterolthof / flickr

2. You might need a New Vehicle

If you plan on pulling a trailer of any kind, it’s likely that you’ll need to look into purchasing a new vehicle. The heavier the trailer, the more power you’ll need to tow it, so keep this in mind when shopping for your RV.

3. Gas Mileage will not be the same

Tents are lightweight and highly portable. RVs, on the other hand, are still portable but not exactly lightweight. This means getting one from point A to point B requires a good bit of fuel, something many people forget to factor into their expenses for their first trip out.

MPG Fuel Gauge
Image Credit: Crystal Collins / flickr

4. Morning Coffee is much easier to procure

Forget boiling water over an open fire first thing in the morning. An RV kitchen means you can get your coffee via a coffee pot and spend your morning sipping said coffee while enjoying nature.

5. “Roughing it” will be… less rough

For better or worse, camping in an RV is much cushier than tent camping. If you enjoy the rough aspect of tent camping, you may want to reconsider your decision to purchase an RV.

RV Interior
Image Credit: Willing Warriors / flickr

6. Finding Camping off the Beaten Path will be more difficult

While it is not impossible, camping outside of a dedicated campground is a bit more difficult in an RV than it is in a tent. This is due to the bulky nature of the RV and its inability to drive off-road in rough conditions.


Image Credit: Virginia State Parks / flickr

7. Stovetop S’mores are easier

Building a campfire is hard work. Sometimes a hankering for s’mores may strike, but the desire to build a fire just isn’t there.

In these cases, s’mores made on the RV stovetop are a much easier alternative. However, these simplified versions are not quite as delicious as their campfire counterparts, so you won’t want to drop the campfire habit entirely, and you won’t have to.

RV Cooking
Image Credit: Timothy Rezendes / flickr

8. You may want to sleep in

If you’re someone who adores early mornings spent in nature, you may want to know that you’ll probably sleep later in an RV. The comfort of an RV mattress on a real bed combined with climate control is enough to keep anyone in bed a little longer. Therefore, morning lovers will want to set an alarm.

RV Bed
Image Credit Vanguard Conversions / flickr

9. Setup takes practice

You may be excited at the prospect of never pitching another tent, but you must know that setting up an RV is not always a walk in the park. Therefore, while you are welcome to be happy about the lack of tent-pitching, you may want to practice setting up your RV before heading out in order to avoid frustration. Once you learn, setting up will be a breeze.


Image Credit: Robert Stinnett / flickr

10. Microwaves, Real Stoves, Kitchen Sinks & Showers are amazing

Remember when we said camping is cushier in an RV? That includes the cooking aspect too. RVs include such luxurious features as microwaves, stoves, and real sinks, making cooking and cleanup a breeze.

11. Campgrounds aren’t always the same as RV Parks which aren’t the same as RV Resorts or Outdoor Destinations

When looking for a place to park your rig, you are going to come across a lot of RV parks. Although there are plenty of wonderful RV parks out there, it pays to do your research.

If you are accustomed to tent camping, you are likely looking for some beautiful nature to go along with your camping trip, and not all RV parks are created equal in this respect. Read reviews to get a good idea of what a park is all about before making a reservation.


Image Credit: Virginia State Parks / flickr

12. Towing can be Tricky

Towing a trailer – and even driving a big rig – can be rough, especially while you are still learning the ropes. Make sure to go out for a practice run before heading out on a long trip, and take things slowly at first as you get a feel for the wider turn radius and slower stops.

Towing Airstream
Image Credit: rulenumberone2 / flickr

13. You’ll need to store that Beast

It is important to keep in mind that whatever rig you purchase will need to be stored somewhere. A tent can be thrown in the back of a closet, but the same cannot be said of an RV. Therefore, you will want to look into storage costs before making a purchase in order to fully understand the commitment you are making.


Image Credit: SteelMaster Buildings / flickr

14. Camping Directories are a good thing

RV sites are generally harder to find than tent sites. This makes sense, considering the fact that they generally offer more amenities and are privately owned. That said, it can make RV camping a bit harder to do. For this reason, camping clubs and directories are a great guide to RV camping — Google, Campgroundsontheweb.com, GoodSam Directory, RVParkReviews — can be good resources.

Map DirectionsImage Credit: Pexels / Pixabay

15. You won’t ever want to go back to real life

Camping is an amazing experience. This is even more true when you are camping in complete comfort. Therefore, it is highly likely that you will never want to return to real life after experiencing a trip in your RV. Fortunately, it is possible to live in your RV, so there’s always that option.

RV Winery View

16. Nature is amazing no matter where you sleep

You know that feeling of awe and wonder at the world around you that made you excited about camping in the first place? That feeling remains no matter how you go about taking your trips into the wilderness.

As you can see, there are both pros and cons to purchasing an RV. However, after taking everything into account, we are pretty sure you will agree that an RV is absolutely a worthwhile investment for anyone who loves to camp.

Featured Image Credit: chulmin1700 / Pixabay

RV Buying Guide

RV Buying Guide

In the market for an RV?  While still in the “investigation phase”, that’s the time to think through the process of buying an RV.  As with anything, there are good products and bad products. Good salespeople and unscrupulous salespeople.  Here are a few considerations:

RV RentalsImage Credit: kennejima / flickr

Have I done enough research?

Going out to the various RV lots is great fun IF your expectation is just to look around and kick a few tires.  If you’re the type of person that can’t say “NO” to a pushy salesperson, you may want to do your online research before hitting the lots. (We think this is a good idea anyway.)  If you spend the time to research your purchase prior to hitting the lot, you’ll find a plethora of resources available to help you.  Camping World, RV Trader and Craigslist are awesome places to see local inventory and options. Other places to educate yourself include the Family Motor Coach Association (FMCA) and the many travel blogs out there. Here’s a list of the 100 Best RV Blogs for Motorhome Travel Enthusiasts.

Do I want a motorhome or a trailer?

An RV is a vehicle that combines transportation and temporary living quarters for travel, recreation and camping. Two main categories of RVs are motorhomes (motorized) and towables (towed behind the family car, van or pickup). – prvca.org

Once you make the decision, between a motor home or a towable, then it’s on to …

What size is right for me?

Large Motor Home
Image Credit: Mitch Barrie/ flickr

Size is an important factor; Not just for storage, but where will it sit when at the house for preparations, breakdowns, or cleaning. Does your driveway have an incline? If so, larger motorhomes and trailers may have issues with scraping and/or unhooking from the hitch.  A flat area with a concrete pad is ideal.  Just remember – size matters and biggest isn’t always best!

Where will I store my RV when it’s not in use?

If you’re lucky enough to have storage at home (especially indoor storage) – skip to the next question.  But for most of us, we need to find a place to store our RV when it’s not being used.  Most HOA regulations prohibit the storage of RV’s, boats, and the like – So you need an alternative place to store it.  Storage rates vary depending on 2 main factors: Whether you want to store it indoors or outdoors AND the length of your RV.

RV-StorageImage Credit: MemoryCatcher / Pixabay

Should I Buy New or Used?

This is a very personal question, but one worth mentioning.  In my opinion, it comes down to whether you trust the individual selling the used RV. The downside to buying used is that you may be buying someone else’s problem.  Other issues include odors, outdated colors, and fix-it items.

There is an upside to buying used (if you trust the seller). Many, if not ALL new RV’s have minor adjustments that are made during the shakedown cruise. If you’re buying a used RV that will work to your advantage, having been broken-in and presumably ready-to-go.  As in everything… Buyer beware!

Travels and/or camping in an RV can be fun for the whole family if you find the right piece of equipment for your individual needs.  Make sure that you’re patient, that you’re working on your timeline (not the dealer’s), and that you’re dealing with someone you can trust.  Happy camping!

Tips On Buying Your First RV – Welcome to the Club!

About “The Club”:  First and foremost, there is a tremendous amount of camaraderie among RV and trailer campers.   For example, when you pull into a national park or campground, you will regularly get approached to see if you’d like some help backing-in, leveling your rig, or just about anything.  It’s a great feeling knowing there are lots of folks that were once rookie RV owners, and they’re happy to help out and share the knowledge.

RV Cost: How much is an RV in 2022?

RV Prices

Do your Homework

At first glance, calculating RV cost can seem daunting. With so many variations in design, manufacturers and even separate classes, there is much to decide.

The best path to take is to inform yourself of some very basic information about the different RV classes, and then begin dissecting the financial pros and cons in line with your particular needs. Equipping yourself with this level of information can easily transform a difficult decision into a pleasurable and rewarding experience.

Let’s start with defining the basic classes and then evaluate some of the potential and perhaps unforeseen costs of each choice.

Motorhomes

Motorhomes are the most convenient and luxurious form of travel since the occupants can enjoy the comforts of home while on the road. However, their large size can be difficult for some drivers.

Campsites can be a challenge to maneuver unless they are pull-through sites. Also, unless you tow another vehicle behind a motorhome, it is best to be prepared when you arrive on site. There are few things as inconvenient as settling into a site only to realize you forgot something important and have to leave with your RV for the nearest town store. Low gas mileage and high maintenance costs are a negative factor in this option.

Motorhome Class C
Motorhome Class C ~ Image Credit: Tony DiGirolamo / flickr

Class A

These are the RVs most people notice traveling down the road with their shining chrome and exquisite paint jobs. Inside, these vehicles are better equipped than many site-built homes and can offer better amenities than some high-end hotel resorts. Class A motorhomes typically have the most room and storage of any other class of RV, but it all comes at a premium price. Expect to pay $80,000-$120,000 for a used model from the last five or ten years. The average price of a new Class A motorhome ranges from $95,000 to $120,000 and up.

Class B

If you want some of the luxuries of Class A, but are looking for a little less expensive option, or something much easier to drive, you might consider the Class B. They are typically the smaller of the motorhome classes and as such do not offer as much space but can be a good solution for the more agile motorhome buyer.

These vehicles drive similar to any normal van and can achieve much easier access to tight camping spots. The cost of a new Class B motorhome typically falls below that of Class A. Expect to pay  $40,000-$80,000 for a used model from the last five or ten years. The average price of a new Class B motorhome, on average, ranges from $85,000 – $165,000.

Class C

The Class C motorhome is somewhere between the Class A and Class B. They are typically larger and roomier than the Class B, but smaller and less spacious than the Class A. As you would imagine, the maneuverability factor also falls somewhere between the other two classes as well. Expect to pay at least $60,000 for a good used model from the last five or ten years. The average price of a new Class C motorhome ranges from $75,000 – $90,000.

Fifth Wheel

Fifth wheels are trailers that are towed behind vehicles equipped with a specialty hitch that is smaller, but similar to the type of hitch found on 18-wheelers. The main benefit of this type of hitch is that they allow for greater weight which can accommodate larger trailers.

Due to this advantage, fifth wheel campers are generally more spacious because part of the trailer can reside over the bed of the tow vehicle, which of course limits such transport to pickups or flatbed style trucks.

Additional living space is achieved through slide-outs that can be noticeably larger than those found on a travel trailer. Another advantage is that due to this type of hitch, control of the trailer – both on the road and in maneuvering into a campsite – is much more stable and manageable. You can expect to pay between $36,000 to $135,000 for a fifth-wheel trailer depending on the age, size, condition and amenities.

The costs associated with a fifth wheel often accompany the fact that these trailers, due to their extra weight, require the utility of a more powerful tow vehicle than the remainder of the trailer category.

Travel Trailer

The travel trailer typically connects to a tow vehicle with the typical ball hitch making tow vehicle options quite a bit more versatile than the fifth wheel. There is a huge variety in the size of travel trailers that can accommodate just about any particular desire.

However, it is absolutely essential that you choose the appropriate tow vehicle for your trailer. Due to the smaller hitch and weight distribution, travel trailers can become very unstable at higher speeds depending on the vehicle pulling it. You can find several new models for less than $10,000. Used can be found for less, with pricing dependent on the age, size, condition and amenities.

popup camper
                             Image Credit: Korey99, CC BY-SA 3.0, Wikimedia Commons

Pop-Up

Of all the trailer RV options, the pop-up camper is typically the lightest and thus requires the least powerful tow vehicle of all the options. The compactness of the trailer when in travel mode makes them very easy to pull and maneuver into campsites.

Once on location, the canvas or vinyl tent portion of the camper is raised, and the beds slide out. There is a surprising amount of room in these small campers but be smart. The pop-up is not much more than that, a tent on wheels. You shouldn’t camp in extreme cold or extreme heat unless your particular model is adequately equipped.

It’s also not the safest option when camping in remote areas with large predators such as bears or big cats since the canvas or vinyl tent is not much of a deterrent. Pop-up campers’ MSRP is between $9,000 to $30,000 on average. Used can be found for less, with pricing dependent on the age, size, condition and amenities.

Truck Bed Camper

If you own a nice-sized pickup truck and don’t want to tow it behind a motorhome or use it to tow a trailer, the bed camper could be just the choice you’re looking for. Technology has come a long way in recent years and the amount of space in truck bed campers may just surprise you.

Some models even offer the option to extend legs down to the ground allowing you to pull the truck out for various excursions away from camp. Lower end truck campers can cost around $4000 and range upward to $50,000 or more, depending on the age, condition and amenities.

After You Pick Your RV

The costs don’t end when you choose the particular RV that meets your needs and requirements. Depending on how well equipped your choice is, there may be necessary additional items to acquire.

Accessories

Typical accessories include a generator or Solar Power / Lithium Batteries, storage cover, potable water hoses, propane tanks, and a multitude of outdoor equipment such as stoves, grills, chairs, and awnings. Many of the new higher-end models will come well equipped, but as the price goes down so do the added accessories.

Storage

In addition, if you don’t have room in your garage or on your own property, you will need to add a monthly storage fee to the list. If you aren’t buying with cash, you must also pay to finance your purchase.

Insurance

Unfortunately, the total RV cost will be more than the initial RV price. You should also factor in insurance to your decision process. The cost of insurance is typically in line with the value and type of the RV you choose.

Sales Tax

Let’s also not forget that your local government gets its share of the sale price through sales tax as annual fees. In most states, they come in the form of registration and inspections. These costs are of course dependent upon the type of RV you choose. The government exempts some of the smaller and lighter options from the inspection fees. It is important, however, to do the research in your area to determine what is required.

Operating Costs

Operating costs cannot be overlooked. A beautiful new RV is only a good investment if it can be used as often as possible, or if you rent it out when you aren’t using it. Due to the amount invested in this type of purchase, the less you use it or rent it, the less valuable your choice may be.

Want to try before you buy? Rent your RV first!

On the other hand, if you aren’t smart with where and how you use it, your RV cost can add up through high camping fees, excessive fuel costs, as well as maintenance and upkeep.

If after you find these options too expensive, there’s another option. There are some great RV rental options out there. For example, companies like RVshare.com connect renters with private owners similar to Airbnb.

By renting an RV for your outing, you can avoid the huge initial investment as well as the many additional costs of storing and maintaining it. You simply choose when you want to escape to the great outdoors, reserve the RV of your choice, and pick it up.