Here’s the thing about RVs—for the most part, they are made like absolute crap.
Even with the high-dollar brands parts are bound to rattle loose, because the other thing about RVs is that they sustain a thousand little earthquakes each time you haul them down the highway (especially if that highway is between Sacramento and Modesto, Calif.) With that said, I continue to stand behind the RV lifestyle. Although craftsmanship is almost nonexistent, the bright side is that everything is relatively easy to fix, and truthfully, you’re better off going the DIY route, because the guys who work on these big rigs are about as competent as the folks that made them. But, just because they’re all slapped together doesn’t mean they are all created equal or that one size fits all. Choosing the right RV for your lifestyle is key. That’s what I’m here for. Wah-la. Some call me the “RV Fairy.” OK, not really. No one calls me that, but I’ll allow it for all intents and purposes.
Weekend Warrior: Campervan or Travel Trailer
Maybe you’re not ready to commit to the full-time RV lifestyle. Maybe you just want to test the home-on-wheel waters. Hey, I’m all for it. You don’t want to drop the big bucks on a Class A motorhome only to realize you actually hate your spouse and you’re claustrophobic. Then again, if you’re claustrophobic, a campervan is also a bad idea. But, I digress. Campervans are a nice, neat package perfect for the weekend warrior (i.e. camping trips, three-day concerts, road trips). If a campervan isn’t quite spacious enough for your liking, look for a travel trailer. These hook up to your trailer hitch and vary in weight, length and accessories. You can go with anything from a pop-tent trailer that squishes down like a giant collapsible camping cup on wheels.
Hipster with money to burn: Airstream or Teardrop Trailer
If you generally prefer lumbersexuals and Apple products, an Airstream or Teardrop trailer is right up your alley. Hey, I would buy an Airstream if they were more practical, but they’re not. Sure, Airstream owners love to tout the rig’s aerodynamics, but don’t forget about livability. Airstreams normally don’t have slides so the space is narrow and the ceilings are low, and if you’re living in it, the walls may close in quick. As for the Teardrop trailer, it’s just another gimmick. It’s basically a tent on wheels—an expensive tent on wheels, at that. If you’re going to spend that kind of cash, just buy a campervan. Heck, if you really are a hipster, buy a VW van. Even I can approve that purchase.
Working full-timer or part-timer: Fifth wheel
This is our RV of choice, and I may be biased, but I think it’s the best buy out of the lot for the space and what it offers. Fifth wheels are great because they hook into the bed of a pick-up truck instead of onto the hitch; therefore, it tows better and sits up higher. Because it sits up higher, the ceilings are higher than those in a travel trailer. I mean, my husband and I are hobbits, so we don’t really need the extra headspace, but it’s nice to have. Heck, we even have a ceiling fan. No friends, this isn’t mom and pop’s rickety, old meth wagon Winnebago. Nope, this thing has two flat-screen TVs, two La-Z-Boy recliners, an outside beer fridge and an electric fireplace. Still think we’re bums?
Full-timer or part-timer with a toy habit: Toy hauler
Just because you’re on the road doesn’t mean you can’t keep your toys. You can have your home one wheels and ride your four-wheeler, too. Toy haulers are simply fifth wheels with a back compartment that will hold larger toys such as ATVs and dirt bikes, kayaks and bikes. While we considered the toy hauler, they are a little too sterile. They are geared toward men, so they are all chromed out with leather couches (and probably mirrors over the bed). While you can take along all your toys, they just aren’t very homey.
Full-timer with money to burn: Class A Motorhome
Calling anyone over 60. Yes, grandma and grandpa are pioneering these RV behemoths. Yes, the same grandma and grandpa that drive 10 under the speed limit at all times and barely passed the vision test at the DMV. It’s easy to see why the gray hairs are the only ones driving around these big rigs though; they’re the only age group that has cash to spare. And, these babies are not cheap. You would have to sell your house just to buy one. There’s no other option. Aside from the steep price tag, the other major downside to a Class A is that it’s your home and vehicle all in one, so if the rig breaks down, you’re on the street, my friend; not to mention, you have nothing to drive. Most people with these RVs tow their vehicles, which also is not ideal. My advice if you want a Class A motorhome: Save yourself a couple hundred grand and get the nicest fifth wheel and nicest pick-up truck money can buy. You’ll still save money. When purchasing any RV, just remember that bartering is all part of the game. Do your homework first. Check rvtrader.com for prices, as they can vary by as much as $10,000 depending on where you buy your rig. Aside from working with a dealer or private party, also check out wholesalers, which usually sell for the bare bones price, though you’ll have to pay to have the RV shipped to you. Above all, make sure you test out RV living before you jump into it, and make sure you get something that suits your lifestyle. After all, you want to be comfortable in your new gypsy lifestyle, and if you’re like me and traveling with your spouse, you want to keep from killing one another.