While a vacation home or rental is a nice choice for travelers who like heading to the same destination year after year, it is not always ideal for those who desire a new experience each time they vacation. If you want to hit the open road in style and have the luxury of visiting any number of places you wish, then an RV might be the ultimate travel companion for you. These rolling vacation homes can be used for the occasional weekend getaway or even long-term trips, as their amenities seem endless.
Queen-size beds, plasma TV's, leather captain chairs, and fully equipped kitchens, are just a few of the elaborate options that will bring the lap of luxury to the open road. As with choosing a grounded home, choosing an RV comes with many decisions. Do you want the most space and upgrade options? A Class A RV (basically a bus), might be for you. Do you want something a little smaller and low profile that can be towed by a variety of vehicles? A simple travel trailer could be your best choice. Aside from analyzing your lifestyle, here we are some quick tips about which type of RV may be right for you.
Choosing the Right Type For You
Before you get down to the nitty gritty of choosing things like fabric colors and dinette sets, you must first decide if you want a true motor home that can tow a vehicle or rather a trailer that requires a vehicle to tow it. Here are the main options to choose from when determining what type and size of RV will work for you.
Class A RV: A Class A is the largest and most expensive type of RV and has a bus-like appearance. They also have the most ability to upgrade to luxury amenities and feature at least one bedroom, living area, dining area, and bathroom. Many have "slide outs" that can be used when the RV is parked to expand the living space. Since most Class A RV's are 40 feet or longer, they are also great for towing an extra vehicle if you don't want to deal with the cumbersome size of the Class A for your entire trip.
Pros to Class A
Spacious, open floor plans suitable for long-term trips
Elevated driver position provides good view of the road
Most storage space out of all RV's
Cons to Class A
Large size makes it difficult to maneuver in large spaces
Top clearance can be a problem under low bridges and structures
The RV Consumer Group rates Class A's as having more structural problems and safety issues in crashes
Class B RV: If you're already used to driving a conversion van, the Class B might be for you. The Class B RV is created from a standard passenger or work minivan. Most models have raised roofs, but otherwise the living space is constrained by the dimensions of the van, which leaves you with quite a bit less wiggle room than the Class A. However, they still have many amenities of a Class A, like air conditioning and a bathroom, and the bedroom can be easily accessed from the front cabin. On the downside, they have a limited towing capacity.
Pros to Class B
Can tow a small trailer or support a carrying platform on hitch receive
Can be used as a second family vehicle when not in use for travel
Fits in standard driveway, so no need for storage
Cons to Class B
Limited space, would not be ideal for long-term trips
Can accommodate no more than four travelers
Lower towing capacity
Class C RV: If you're looking for an economical use of space with easier driving capability than the Class A, the Class C RV might be for you. Many Class C motor homes are roughly the size and shape of rental moving trucks and are distinct for their "bedroom" compartments that extend over the cab. Space is more limited in the Class C, than in the Class A or Class B, but air conditioning, a bathroom, and a small kitchenette are still options. One more positive is its towing capacity. Class C's can tow boats, trailers, and cars with the proper hitch hook-ups.
Pros to Class C
Easy to drive, fairly similar to a large moving truck
The RV Consumer Group generally considers Class C a safer motor home than Class A because of cockpit construction
Smaller windshield and curtain separation makes Class C easier to heat and cool
Cons to Class C
Requires large storage area when not in use
Largest models can be difficult to maneuver in small spaces
Space is smaller than Class A and Class B and may not satisfy needs for long-term travel
Fifth Wheel: For those who like to keep their driving compartments and living spaces separate, the best choice might be the Fifth Wheel trailer. The fifth wheel is a towable trailer that connects to your pickup truck directly above the rear axle by way of a special fifth wheel hitch. It causes several feet of the connected trailer to hang over the tow truck's bed that is generally used as a sleeping compartment. Fifth wheels are very spacious and can offer all of the luxuries of a Class A RV, like a living and dining area, and a bathroom. Unfortunately, Fifth Wheels generally cannot tow additional cars or boats.
Pros to Fifth Wheel
Spacious, open floor plans suitable for longer trips
Easier to back up than travel trailers
Most storage of all trailer-type RV's
Cons to Fifth Wheel
Requires a truck with fifth wheel hitch in bed
Living area is inaccessible when moving
Cannot tow vehicle behind trailer
Folding Trailer: A folding trailer is a great option for people who don't have access to a truck for towing. The trailer can be pulled easily by cars, SUV's, and smaller pickup trucks, and it folds or collapses into a smaller size that makes it less of a burden to drive around. However, it's also one of the less luxurious travel options. Because of its collapsible structure, folding trailers generally don't have air conditioning, dining areas, bathrooms, or kitchens. If you're simply looking for a place to sleep and protection from the elements it may be a good option and less hassle to park.
Pros to Folding Trailer
No concern for top clearance because the trailer folds lower than the tow vehicle
Very light weight and can be towed by almost any vehicle
Can fit in more space-constrained camping sites that are hard to maneuver for larger RV's
Cons to Folding Trailer
Limited space, only practical for short trips
Living area is closed during travel and is inaccessible unless you take the time to pop it open
Limited insulation from canvas walls makes it impractical in cold weather
Travel Trailer: If your looking for a towable trailer that is smaller and generally less expensive than a fifth wheel, the travel trailer offers similar amenities and can be towed by any vehicle with a hitch. There are numerous types of travel trailers to choose from, including the expandable, teardrop trailer, and park model. The expandable trailer is designed to collapse either vertically or horizontally and offers extra living space when expanded, and greater travel ease when collapsed. The teardrop trailer gets its name from its tear-shaped profile- pointed in the back and rounded in the front. Teardrop trailers are small and light and can be towed by both cars and SUV's, but can offer only the basic amenities due to their limited space. The final form of travel trailer is the park model, which is a travel trailer that requires park facilities to function. It must be plugged into water, sewage, and electrical facilities, but is ideal for long-term stays in parks.
Pros to Travel Trailer
Provides more interior space per length foot than RV's because it does not contain driving and engine compartments
Lower profile allows easier entry than fifth wheel trailer
Tow vehicle doubles as local transportation
Cons to Travel Trailer
Least stable on the road of all RV types and requires the most skill to tow and back up
Less storage than fifth wheel trailers because it lacks a raised compartment
Living area inaccessible while moving
Truck Camper: If you're looking for the bare bones RV model, consider the truck camper. The truck camper fits directly into the bed of a pickup truck. While it offers little space and even fewer amenities, many find it to be a nice alternative to sleeping on the ground in a tent. There's no bathrooms, dining areas, or living space, but it's convenient to drive around and still allows for the towing of a small trailer. It's small size and ability to fit on a truck bed also make it ideal for maneuvering in small spaces and tight campgrounds. It can easily be parked on a standard driveway, so no need for storage.
Pros to Truck Camper
Can reach less accessible camping sites that are hard to maneuver for larger RV's
Mounts in the bed of most full-size trucks with minimal modifications
Easy to drive, back up, and park
Cons to Truck Camper
Limited space, practical only for short trips
Living area inaccessible while moving
Does not include amenities like a bathroom or kitchenette
A few other things to take into consideration when choosing your RV are the hardware and operation costs, ease of parking and backing up, and storage. Traditional RV's are considerably easier to back up than trailers, but if you are in the market for a trailer in particular, fifth wheels are generally considered the easiest to maneuver. Storage of the vehicle itself is also something to consider as many of the larger RV's do not fit in standard driveways. The cost for RV storage is normally the same for an RV or a trailer of the same size, as the storage space is usually priced per foot. It is usually not a large cost in comparison to keeping up with the motor and compartment upkeep, but
is still an additional budgetary note. Far and wide though, the single most important thing to consider is the lifestyle you want your RV to serve. If you like ample space and plan to take longer trips, a truck camper wouldn't be ideal. If you keep these things in mind and do a little research before making your purchase, an RV can make a wonderful addition to the family and will surely become your closest travel companion.