Are you thinking about getting an RV?
We promise to teach you a few things that may come in handy when you decide it is time to upgrade from that tent to something a bit more substantial. We get that and, in a way, we’re here for you. But before we get into the nitty gritty about RVs let’s look at a few reasons why you may want to go in that direction in the first place.
1 – The Spouse Won’t Use An Outhouse/Pit Toilet
This is usually a pretty good reason to move your camping dreams up a couple of notches and purchase a vehicle designed just for this purpose. Many RVs are built in such a way that they contain shower stalls, toilets and even fairly decent washroom facilities. The general rule of thumb here is that the more money you throw at it, the better the bathroom.
2 – The Spouse Won’t Cook On A Campfire
Its okay and in some cases rather normal. If your kitchen queen can’t perform the cooking miracles you are used to when she is completely out of her element (using a camp stove or open fire), you need to address this situation promptly. That is, unless you’re okay with eating bark and lichen until you get back home. Some RVs have nice kitchens in them.
3 – The Spouse Won’t Sleep On The Ground
For many, this sort of defeats the whole purpose of camping. You know, spending your nights on the damp, uneven ground sheltered by a flimsy film-like covering. For some reason, there are girls out there who can’t do this. However, depending on the amount of money you throw at it, RVs usually come complete with a great bedroom or sleeping area.
Now To Look At RVs
There is something we have to point out before we dig any deeper into this topic. You are aware of the fact that facial tissue, regardless of the brand, is typically referred to as Kleenex, right? The same basic thing applies to all snowmobiles being called Ski-Doos. Well, you can add RVs to the list. An RV (recreational vehicle) is essentially a large tent on wheels with some added stuff to make your camping experience somewhat more enjoyable than roughing it.
However, the term RV has also become commonly used to describe many different types of wheeled camping gear. To help you sort through the confusion, we will attempt to break it all down for you.
The Different Types Of RVs
For easy figuring, we will categorize RVs into three very different types. Within each type there are a few different options. Depending on our mood when we get to any of the specific options, there may be further information regarding each to give you a bit more to work with when trying to sell the wife/life partner on the option that best fits your current budget.
Category 1 – Starter RVs
The main difference between these and the other two categories of RVs is that Starter RVs are small and lightweight. Of the three options, only two of them can be towed behind any type of vehicle. Yes, your vehicle will have some impact on the particular tow-behind Starter RV that is best for you. Here they are:
Okay, we know what you are thinking but we warned you. The term RV is used to describe a lot of very different types of camping vehicles. While we would normally put Truck Campers in the ‘Camper’ category, there isn’t one in this article so it will stay here.
There are many different types of Truck Campers out there including models with slide outs to give you some extra room. Because they technically sit in the bed of a pickup truck, you can take your camper virtually anywhere your truck can go which means you are not restricted to established campgrounds or RV parks.
Because of the compact size, you won’t see hook ups for kitchens, appliances or bathrooms in one of these. This means that you would use a Truck Camper mostly for sleeping and sitting around and playing cards or reading while all other activities (like cooking and cleaning) would take place outside of the camper.
These buggers have a lot of names – many of which we can’t publish but you may know them as fold downs, pop ups, tent trailers, camp trailers, that thing that drives me nuts, etc. What makes this a good option is that you can tow it behind your vehicle on a regular trailer hitch. They are lightweight enough that most any vehicle can tug one behind it.
If you have a small family and are just exploring the world of camping, this is an effective tool to get you into the hobby without spending a lot of dough. The way in which these work is that when folded down, the entire unit looks like a trailer box that you are hauling behind you. Once you get to setting up camp, you pop the lid off of this puppy and it opens up to form a comfortable tent on wheels.
Depending on the amount of money you invest in this Starter RV, you can end up with hot water, a kitchen, some appliances and even a bathroom.
No, this is not a Sylvester Stallone movie sequel. An expandable is kinda like a pop up that has been through a major upgrade. That means it has hard sides with expandable tent ends.
There are models that are somewhat heavier than your typical pop up so you may not have much success towing it behind your Volkswagen Bug, but a medium sized vehicle would be able to handle the load.
Expandables feature all the good stuff you would expect in a pop up with the addition of slide outs for extra room. If you are just looking to move up slightly from a pop up, this is a logical step to take.
RVs For Regular Campers
If you are what you would consider a hardcore camper – one of those types that would travel for miles to find that perfect spot to park your vehicle – then this is a category you will find to your liking. There are basically just two options here but within each of those options are scads of choices.
This is a much larger tow-behind-a-big-freakin-truck type of RV. It is so special a unit that it requires a special fifth wheel hitch that will generally render your truck box useless for any other purpose. But that is also what makes a Fifth Wheel such an attractive option. They are very easy to tow simply because of the unique hitching system.
A Fifth Wheel is going to have a ton of room and you can go up in size quite a distance and still remain legal on the road. This means you can have a seating area, a bathroom, a kitchen, lots of sleeping space as well as storage for all the things you need to take with you that will no longer fit in the truck box.
A Fifth Wheel is perfect for long holidays on the road and will give you enough room to enjoy it even if the weekend of your getaway gets rained out. These are probably one of the more popular types of RVs that you can tow and once you start using one you’ll never go back to the old tent and tarp system ever again.
When you hear the word ‘camper’ this is more specifically what you are referring to. A Travel Trailer is a monstrous RV that gets towed behind an equally large truck requiring either a frame hitch or a bumper hitch. If you were planning on traveling across the country on an extended holiday, you’d likely want to do it in a Travel Trailer.
The main attractant to Travel Trailers is that they are much like having a small home on wheels. Plus, because of their size, you can find one with the floor plan that best suits your needs. Inside there is plenty of room for entertaining, cooking, sleeping and showering. For a large family, this is your best tow behind option.
These are what you probably think of as an RV. Instead of something you pull behind you, Self-Propelled RVs are the bus-like things you see on the highway that you can’t see through while tailgating. They make tremendous obstacles on the Interstate but if you had one and took it camping, you’d see why there appear to be so many of these rolling billboards out there.
Because you can easily live in one of these for extended periods of time, they are often referred to as motor homes. Many retired and semi-retired people have sold off all their belongings and their home for a motor home. No, that’s not because of what they cost. Motor homes make life on the road in a permanent no-fixed-address way possible and something a lot of people have chosen to do. There are three main types of motor homes:
Class C Motor homes
This is the smallest of the motor homes, if you could call one of these small. They come with a cab-over profile which helps the uneducated RVer in becoming capable of distinguishing this type of motor home from all the others.
Although the Class C Motor home is the smaller option, it is the perfect option for a single RVer or a couple seeking adventure minus the tent and tarp. The size also lets you get into some fairly remote locations but still gives you the room you need to function and stay warm and cozy. Also, a Class C Motor home is pretty easy to drive as it can take tight corners, narrow roads and even a bit of off-road travel to get you away from the hordes of campers in their pop ups.
As for what you’ll find inside one of these, it’s fairly loaded. Expect your typical amenities such as a kitchen, seating area, bathroom and bedroom just a bit smaller than in the other motor home options. However, there will be much more room than you may be accustomed to if you’ve been using a smaller tent trailer.
This is the bus-like vehicle you honked at the other day because it was going so freakin slow. It’s also the bigger version of a Class C Motor home. So big, in fact, that you can deck it out on the inside with your own livingroom furniture if you wanted as it has the space. Plus, Class A Motor homes are the pick for fulltime RVers or those who just want to creep across the map and set up camp in places for longer than a couple of nights.
The gear on the inside will most definitely make you feel right at home. You’ll find slide outs, full-size appliances, full-size furniture, full-size beds and depending on the amount of money you throw at it, full-size washers and dryers. You could easily live in one of these long-term and as we’ve already stated, it is already happening.
Class A Diesel Motor Homes
The main difference between the Class A Diesel Motor home and the Class A Gas Motor home is related to the fuel type used. With the diesel models, the large diesel engine is situated at the back of the vehicle. It is because of this that this type of RV is usually called a diesel pusher. Here’s why – the diesel engine in the back of the vehicle is actually pushing the motor home down the highway. Just a visual for you there.
The diesel fuel will be cheaper in the long run if you are using the motor home for an extended holiday. Also, with the engine in the back, the motor home is quieter. Other bonuses of that include more power, more durability and a somewhat smoother ride.
The Class A Diesel Motor home is nothing short of a luxury house on wheels as it can be fully decked out in such a way that you can easily move into one and live in it as long as you desire. The design options are numerous providing you with all the amenities you would have at home minus the nosy neighbor.
How To Choose The Right RV
Now that you know that the term RV means a lot more than motor homes how will you know which one is best suited for your type of camping? Well, you really have to take a good, hard look at what you are currently doing and take it from there. To help you out a little, we offer some guidance.
1 – The Newbie
If you happen to be a complete newb to camping, you may want to tread lightly on RVs. If you are a solo adventurer that wants to get a little bit away from the tent and tarp style of camping, you have a few logical choices. Provided you have a reliable vehicle you can use, you may find a Truck Camper to be all you need to stay out of the elements and still be able to get out and spend time in nature. The cool thing about a Truck Camper is that it doesn’t really require all that much in set up. Once you park and level the camper, you are good to go.
2 – The Slightly Advanced Newbie With A Partner/Dog
While you may be experienced somewhat in camping but desire something a bit more lightweight to haul into campsites, there are some good choices for you. Pop Ups and Expandables make good camping choices if you are camping with someone or need some extra room because you have taken Rover along for the ride.
One of the bonuses of having a dog on any camping trip is that he/she will alert you to some dangers you may not otherwise be aware of, so keep that in mind if your experience in the backcountry or interface is limited.
3 – The Small Family
When tenting is no longer appealing and you have the family along for the adventure, you are going to need some additional space. Depending on the age and number of children, a Fifth Wheel or a Travel Trailer will be your best fit.
Not only will you be able to get the family where you want to spend your camping holiday, there will be enough room to keep everyone happy on those days when fishing on the lake or hiking are not an option. Plus, with a Fifth Wheel or Trailer Travel you can set up a solid ‘home base’ while away from home to make those hours more enjoyable with each other and away from wifi.
4 – The Large Family
More people on the camping trip calls for a vehicle that gives you not just more freedom to explore but also the extra room you will need to enjoy the experience. This is when you would need to take a closer look at what a Class C or A Motor home can do for you and your large camping family.
These units are great in that they are standalone camping vehicles that you basically park into your camping spot, block the wheels, hook up any required hook ups and start living the dream. There is enough room for you, your spouse, your kids, their friends, a couple of dogs, a cat, the hamster and everything else you need to live on the road far enough away from home that you aren’t making emergency runs there to grab more clothes or blankets.
5 – The Full-Timers
Whether you are semi-retired, took early retirement or won the lottery and never plan to work another day in your life, a Class A Motor home can easily become your never living quarters. Not only can you move into one of those houses on wheels and live out of it for the rest of your life, it will afford you the option of living here for a few weeks, there for a few more and somewhere else for yet a few more weeks. In other words, this is your most economical way to see the countryside without worrying about house sitters, collecting mail or having to deal with door-to-door salesmen.
What Can You Afford?
We’ve hinted throughout this article that if you could throw money at any of the options, you could go bigger and better. However, the reality is that not everyone can afford to spend piles of money in order to get a RV for regular use.
This is why it is so important to determine what kind of camper you are and what your budget is before you start kicking tires. Maybe the best you can do is a second hand used truck camper. There’s nothing wrong with that in the long run and if you decide to upgrade from there, you’ll have an idea of what it is you need and what you can afford before making that upgrade.
What Did We Learn Here Today?
First off, RVs are not just massive buses that take up room and block your view when following too close on the highway. There are many different size RVs, each that serve a specific function depending on the type of camper you actually are. Plus, each RV has many different options depending on your budget.
They range from lightweight pull-behind-your-vehicle types right on up to heavier tow options and beyond to self-propelled houses on wheels. Regardless of the type of RV you choose, you will have amped up your game from a tent and tarp into something a bit more substantial.
Plus, if you happen to reach retirement and have a few bags of money left, you could sell your house and finally get out of that crappy neighborhood by becoming a full-time RVer. It’s a bit romantic and a bit crazy but once you meet some of them in your travels, you may get bitten by the bug yourself.