Dear Joe and Vicki: We are in our late-twenties and have one child. Both of us are involved in our careers and enjoy tent camping. Our jobs are such that we are frequently able to take three and four day weekends in addition to an annual three week vacation. We're shopping for a self-propelled RV. Everyone seems to think we should get a large motorhome. What do you think?
Joe: I think you should take a close look at your personal interests, needs and budget. Where do you want to go? What do you want to do? Who will be going? How often will you use the RV? How much do you want to spend? The answers to these questions should help you zero in on the type and size RV that will satisfy your interests, needs and budget.
Vicki: Yours is an instance where smaller may be smarter. Look seriously at the smaller (up to 24 feet) motorhomes, van conversions and slide-in truck campers. Since you're accustomed to tent-camping you'll appreciate the advantages (sleeping above ground level, screen windows, solid roof and walls) of the smaller RVs and not miss the luxuries (hydraulic levelers, washer/dryer, ice-maker) of the larger motorhomes.
You'll find that smaller RVs have a number of advantages. Most are not much bigger than a full-size car so they are easy to drive and maneuver. They'll take you every place the larger RVs can go and a number of places where the bigger rigs won't fit.
Most smaller RVs are well within the size and weight restrictions that may be posted on roads, bridges and tunnels. You'll also find it easier to find parking space in shopping centers and tourist attractions.
Your smaller rig will fit in all of a campground's sites instead of just the larger ones. And, if you're not towing anything, you won't care if the campsite is a back-in or pull-thru.
Joe: Smaller RVs can be time efficient. You can leave a campground in the morning and visit tourist attractions in a crowded city. Then, because you don't have to return to the previous night's campground to retrieve your RV, you can continue down the road to your next destination.
When you take off for a day trip you won't have to transfer coolers, cameras and clothes from an RV to a car or truck (and hope you haven't forgotten anything).
Less rig means less stuff to load and unload. It also means less vehicle to clean. Because it's less trouble, you'll be more inclined to take that RV on day trips to the beach and quick overnight outings.
And, mid-day at a tourist attraction, you can retreat to your home-on-wheels for lunch, a change of clothes or a brief nap.
Depending upon the vehicle's gross combined weight rating, you may be able to tow a small trailer. You'll have the option of towing a boat, motorcycle or, if your family grows, a tent trailer.
Vicki: A van conversion or truck-camper also provides the financial advantage of being utilized as a second transportation vehicle. It can be used for commuting, taking the dog to the vet, hauling garden supplies and family transportation. By the way, there's nothing like a child to make you appreciate having a bathroom in your transportation vehicle.
Purchase price, vehicle registration fees, insurance, repairs and maintenance will probably be less than that of larger vehicles. At this stage of your life, saving for your child's college education or a down-payment on a house may have a higher priority than having a luxury coach.
Joe: Or, you may prefer a rig with hydraulic levelers, washer/dryer and an ice-maker. In which case ....
Read more about choosing an RV in "RV Buyer's Homework"
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