Before my wife and I started traveling the United States in our new motorhome, we spent many of hours at the local RV store and even traveled hundreds of miles to big RV Showrooms to make sure we had all the facts before making a purchase. What we found was there are 4 different types of recreation vehicles on the market for use depending on what your camping needs are. No matter what kind of camping you plan to do or how many people in your family, there is a recreational vehicle out there to meet your needs.
Let’s spend a few moments discussing some of the pros and cons to each of the four groups. This info will help you decide what is best for you and you camping family.
Pop up Trailer
The Pop up Trailer is the first level of Recreational Vehicles above just old fashion tent camping. It gives you almost all the freedoms you have with a tent, except the hiking to remote places. It does however add a level of comfort that a tent doesn’t offer. You have Beds and a place to stay warm and dry from the rain without being on the ground. They come with basic toilet, a sink, sometimes a heater as an option and a small propane stove. They are actually perfect for the weekend getaway if you and your family are small in numbers. They also can be towed by almost any vehicle you already own without having to upgrade. Costs also are not that high and you can usually get a good used one for even less. I have even met one couple that full time in one, not to say that there is anything wrong with that, but you must have a very good relationship with your partner to attempt this.
This is the first level on recreational vehicles that are designed and built for travel and longer stays of more than a week. They come in all different lengths and you start getting some of your home amenities built into them. These also will work better for the larger family or ones that have older kids that need a little more room and privacy. Depending on the length you go with you can still get into many of the remote locations to camp and enjoy the great outdoors. The price here is just starting to climb a little based on what your needs truly are. One major drawback to these though is that they are just big enough to be effected by truckers on the road or any kind of wind gusts. Even with Sway Bars they have a tendency to move back and forth a little. You may find you need a bigger car to tow them but almost any truck on the market can handle even some of the larger ones.
Once you move up to the 5th wheel you start getting into some more of the serious type of camping with longer type stays or even permanently living in it. You can get full size fridges and electric fireplaces. They will have lots of storage underneath and designed more for the serious camper. These however, start having some major draw backs that require you to decide on what your real plans are for using it. They are usually larger than a trailer and thus are not as easily taken into remote locations. They also most of the time require a larger vehicle to tow them due to their weight. My wife and I actually started full timing in one and eventually traded up to the next category due to some issues we found with them. Once we found that having a larger truck sure hurt us on the gas mileage when just running around town not towing. Also the amount of time to hook up to your truck and set up at various campgrounds made it more cumbersome. They also are not really designed for stopping for quick over nights stays. You can do that but it just wasn’t for us. If you are going to be at one location for a very long time then it’s probably ideal but if you are going to want to move every week or two then we found it was just not right for us.
This is the last of the categories. These are really designed for the serious person planning to live or travel most of the year in it. Due to their size they will not fit at a lot of campgrounds and many state parks don’t allow them if they are over a certain size. We moved up from a 5th wheel to one though because they are easy to set up and take down when traveling. They also are perfect for stopping at rest stops or parking lots for overnight stays during your travels. They have everything you could find in a home. You do however need to have a smaller vehicle to use when driving around town when you are at your final destination. These are priced anywhere from the low $100K to over a million based on manufacturer and how many amenities you really need or want. You can get a good used one almost anywhere including E-Bay.
In closing, the most important factor for you when deciding on which recreational vehicle, is to first decide what kind of camping you plan to do and where you want to be able to take it. Cost is always very important but first decide on what you want then find one that fits your price range. If you purchase the wrong one these do not increase in value. Like a car they lose a lot of value the day you purchase it so make the right decision the first time or you will not enjoy it to the fullest.