RV Camping Guide For Beginners
RVs… great for tailgating and for taking a bit of luxury on the road to any campground across North America! With so many different places you can end up, it can be a lotta bit daunting. This guide (brought to you in a few parts) is going to do a few things:
- Give you a reader’s digest on all the opportunities RV excursions will put in front of you
- Help you decide if renting or buying is your best option
- The basics that you need to know to keep your wheels turning and your exploration endless
- Like all of our articles, to tell the full story, to give you the BEST advice, it’s going to take a few more articles to make sure we are thorough. This guide is to help get you started and answer some of the most common questions that we’ve been asked.
RVs: Rent Or Buy?
Is it better to rent or to buy?
Tricky but important question. It boils down to what is best for you at this moment in time because there are definitely perks to both. Most experienced RV owners do recommend renting an RV for at least a week to help determine what you need and don’t need to live comfortably with your spouse, family, pets, etc… My partner’s mother and boyfriend spent a few years RVing across the US and Canada from spring through the fall. In the beginning they had a blast but by the end of it, his mother may or may not have plotted her boyfriend’s death at some point. She flat out refused to RV anymore BUT they had health and mobility issues that made RV living cumbersome and stressful. Needless to say, they sold the RV.
Perks to Renting
No long term commitment
No additional monthly/annual financial expenses
Storage isn’t an issue
Ability to test out different types and models of RVs to determine what features are necessary and which you can live without (can doesn’t mean you have to)
Some questions to ask yourself to alleviate pain points are:
- Is that 24 foot motorhome on a truck chassis easy to drive, or did your significant other drive it for ten minutes and refuse to get behind the wheel ever again? Do you need to rethink your plan for splitting the driving?
- How did it go getting along in a small space for a week? Stef and I do fine here, but hey, it’s not for everyone.
- Did you realize that one of you gets up early, and you need a floor plan that can close off the sleeping space from the living space – with something more than a curtain?
- Speaking of getting up, how was getting out of the bed? Did you have to climb over your partner? Or get out of bed at the head or foot of the bed? Those things can be difficult. Imagine doing them for weeks at a time.
- Did you watch that outdoor entertainment system with the subwoofer and the 28 inch TV, or not? How about the oven? Sure, it seems cool, but did you use it?
- How did it go with the bathroom? Would a split bath arrangement work better for you? How about showers? If your rental RV had a shower, did you use it? Or did you find yourself using campground showers? Why?
- Did you have enough storage space? Did you have too much – and wound up bringing many things that you never used? Storage is a big differentiator in RVs, so this one is important.
Perks To Buying
Disclaimer: Before you buy an RV, do an insane amount of research on the Class type that fits your needs best and the towing requirements (if any). Evaluate your current status of automobile and determine if it affects your purchasing decision. Don’t buy beyond your driving comfort level.
The perks to buying your RV is, first and foremost, ownership. You can use the RV whenever you want with no need to reserve a rental making spontaneous trips an absolute possibility. The RV can serve as a camping tool or be used for tailgating or family reunions. You aren’t worried about Renter’s insurance and you can really LIVE in your own RV.
Jen over at To Wander Freely does a fantastic job laying out the most important questions to ask yourself when it comes to buying an RV. She also goes above and beyond with her Pro/Con breakdown of each type of camper. As a full time RVer, she knows a thing or two about finding the perfect RV for your adventure lifestyle.
You will have to secure storage for your RV and any and all maintenance will fall on your shoulders to do yourself (or hire someone to tackle the more difficult tasks). A lot of people will find peace-of-mind in owning over renting because the more you drive/pull it, the more tuned into the RV you will become. You will also find assurance that all mechanical and technical maintenance has been completed because you supervised the progress yourself.
One thing to consider if you think you want to buy is the overall cost of the RV. Along with a monthly payment, the costs of gas, insurance, campsites, renovations (if any), gear to stock the RV, food, and annual/seasonal maintenance should be factored in before you sign on the dotted line.
“P.S. Always sit on the toilet before you buy. Is there room for your legs? Do you feel claustrophobic?”
In Part 2 of the RV Camping Guide for Beginners, we will discuss HOW RV rentals work and the best places to rent or buy your RV. Then we will discuss RV campgrounds, RV skills to know, and what you need to stock your RV for your next adventure!