What Everyone Ought To Know About RVing!

If you’re new to the RVing community, welcome!  Here are a few things that every RVer should know about RVing. I remember being completely overwhelmed when I first became interested in RVing.  I didn’t know where to start. I didn’t understand the language and I knew so little about RVs that I couldn’t even ask an articulate question.  If that’s how you feel, this article may help you from making a costly mistake. 

Be Curious – Ask Questions

As a newbie, you need to be curious about all things RVing. That means asking a lot of questions and hanging out in places where RVers hang out.  You can go to RV dealerships and RV shows to talk with salespeople, vendors, and other RVers. You can start conversations with people in these venues, or you can even spend time in campgrounds talking with people about their RVing experiences.  People love to tell their stories and your curiosity will prompt them to open up and share their opinions and what they know about RVing.    

In addition to seeking places where you can have personal contact with RVers you can also access hundreds of YouTube videos about everything from replacing an RV toilet to where are the best campgrounds near Oklahoma City or Albuquerque, New Mexico. In addition to YouTube content, there are dozens of books, websites, and forums that cover all aspects of RVing, and I have listed a few high quality on-line resources at the end of this article.

My advice for newbies is don’t get overwhelmed. The language is different, and it takes time to assimilate all the new concepts. Not understanding all the RV jargon can make it more difficult to ask the right questions but if you hang out around RVers and spend time reading digital content you’ll pick up the language quickly.  To keep from getting overwhelmed, find a few resources with broad information about all things RV and just dive in.  I was an RV newbie in the 90s and didn’t have access to online content: it’s much easier today to educate yourself using digital resources. 

Asking questions and learning from those who have experience in the hobby is a good way to learn.

Be Informed

The worst thing an RV newbie can do is go to an RV dealership or show and buy the first RV that some salesman declares is a perfect fit. Dealerships and RV shows are a great place to ask questions and gather information, but they can also be a seductive trap for people who are overly eager to get started RVing. You can start to learn the language in these venues, but all that beautiful inventory is intentionally displayed to create an irresistible desire to start your RVing adventure. It takes discipline to stay focused and not buy an RV before you’re ready.   

Use these places to build your RV vocabulary and to learn about the subtle differences in RV types, manufacturers, RV systems, financing, warranties, and functionality.  Do you remember when you first started learning about computers; with all the bits/bytes, RAM/ROM, internal drives, downloads, right click, drop-down dialog boxes, jpgs, pdfs, and on and on? You stuck with it and learned the new lingo as it continued to evolve.  That’s exactly what you need to do as an RV newbie. Start learning the language: 

  • black, gray, and freshwater systems, 
  • pop-ups and campers, 
  • AC/DC and shore power, 
  • LP system, 
  • slide outs,
  • travel trailer and fifth wheel 
  • Class A, Class B, Class B+, Class C, Super C, and Van conversions, 
  • diesel puller and diesel pusher,
  • pulling capacity vs load capacity,
  • tongue weight, 
  • toy hauler,
  • and on and on. 

The more informed you are the better your questions will be, which will enhance what you know about RVing.

Analyze Your Needs

Once you get some of the basic knowledge under your belt, you’ll be able to analyze your needs and preferences, which is an essential step you must take before you commit to any RV purchase. Surprisingly enough, many people make this momentous decision to buy an RV before they have even considered their own needs, which could have disastrous consequences.  If you don’t know what you want, you’ll probably buy an RV that is too small or too large, doesn’t have the essential features you need to enjoy your camping experience, and it will eventually result in you trading in one RV for another.

Knowing the type of RV that will best fit your needs is a good place to start. Do your research before you start your buying journey.

This problem is larger than you might think. 

Most people make the WRONG decision when they buy their first RV. This results in the average ownership being less than 3 years before it being resold.  We have met dozens of people who acknowledged buying the wrong RV.  Many of them deeply regret their decision. It’s obvious that spending more time understanding their own needs could have prevented those tragic errors. We know one couple who just couldn’t get it right. They bought five RVs in  six years, because they never took time to understand what they wanted in an RV. This is a frustrating and costly mistake, and it can be avoided.

There are many different types of RVs, from vans and campers to full size motorhomes. They vary in length, floor plans, equipment, appointments, conveniences, and cost. Before you buy an RV, consider what you want to do with your RV. 

Things To Consider:

  • How many people will be using it? 
  • Will you need extra space for kids, pets, toys, or a work area?  
  • Will you be camping a few times a year, or do you plan to camp in your RV many times each year or even live in it full time? 
  • Will you be camping in warm dry climates, or will you need it for all weather conditions?  
  • Will you be content to stay in developed campgrounds or do you want to get off the beaten path and camp in remote locations? 
  • Will you need 4-wheel-drive (4wd) to get your RV to all the places you want to camp? 
  • Do you want to drive your RV or tow it?

Some people are drawn to the idea of a small, nimble, van size, RVs but they haven’t thought through all the limitations of space.  Other people assume they need all the extra living space of a large fifth wheel or Class A motorhome, only to discover after buying one, that they don’t need that much space and it’s stressful to drive and park large RVs. One of the best ways to determine what type of RV will match your needs and expectations is to rent a few different types of RVs and go camping.  You may quickly realize that the tiny galley in a van doesn’t work for you or that a wet bath is more of a nuisance than a convenience, or that you don’t need all the extra space of a toy hauler or class A motorhome. 

Set Your Budget

The most important things you can do as an RV newbie is determine what you want from your RV experience. Many newbies get hung up on the price of RVs and they let that one factor direct their decision process.  That is a terrible trap, and it usually results in a poor choice.  Certainly, you need to set a budget (because most people do not have limitless funds) but the cost of an RV should not be your first consideration.  You can find a wide range of prices in virtually every class of RV. 

Searching the private used RV market has never been easier or safer so when you know what you want and you have your budget set, you can start searching for the perfect RV to fit your needs.  At this point it might be helpful to team-up with trusted allies in the industry, like the professionals here at National Vehicle to help you search for and negotiate the purchase of an RV that fits your personal profile.

Take Your Time

Finally, the best thing RV newbies can do is take your time. Slow down, even if you’re crazed to get out into the wilderness and go camping.  If you rush the process, you are more likely to make poor decisions.  Take as long as you need to learn the language, to do a self-evaluation regarding your own needs, desires, expectations, and preferences. And finally, thoroughly search the market for the right type of RV, but also the exact match to your needs.  There are hundreds of thousands of RVs for sale all the time. At least one of them is a perfect fit for every RV newbie. Your challenge is to find the right one for you.

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About Peggy Dent

Peggy Dent is an author, writer and full-time RVer, currently traveling in the US and Canada. She's driven a motorhome more than 130,000 miles and learned the secrets, delights, and pitfalls of RVing through her own experiences. She shares her knowledge and insights in numerous RV industry publications. You can contact her through her website at www.apeninyourhand.com