choosing an rv, fifth wheel, or trailer

Choosing an RV can be overwhelming! There are so many different makes, models, layouts, and options. Do I want a Class A or Class C? Do I want to tow my RV or do I want to have a tow vehicle? Do I want gas or diesel? The questions are endless! If you’re anything like we were when we first decided we wanted to RV full time, you could use a little guidance. That’s why we created a video to help you with the challenge of choosing an RV. We talk about the different types of RV, campers, and vans, as well as the pros and cons of each and ultimately why we went with our rig!

Why We Chose Our Rig

It was a long journey choosing the perfect rig to fit our needs. We had a few major check list items that had to be checked before we would consider purchasing any RV setup.

  1. How to bring our motorcycle along with us
  2. TOAD car (smaller vehicle to get around in once we make camp). What did that set up look like?
  3. Overall floorpan, living area layout, and kitchen space.
  4. All of this had to be within our budget!

Considering that we were moving into an RV straight from a 2/1 duplex with a carport we were very hesitant to go too small so, we started looking at class A’s but creating a rig setup that would allow us to tow the motorcycle & additional car busted our budget immediately! Luckily our eyes were opened to the world of fifth wheel toy haulers! Setting up this way gave us the interior layout & space of a class a with the ability to unhook the truck from the trailer eliminating the need for an additional vehicle to get around in once we made camp. Plus the added bonus of the garage keeps the motorcycle out of the harsh elements and allows room for guests. We get all our must haves checked off and we stayed under budget!

If you’re on the hunt for your first rig or your next rig, we suggest writing down a list of the the things that are most important to you.


Considerations for Choosing an RV

  • What’s my budget? Will I be financing or paying cash?
  • How will you be camping? Boondocking with no hookups, or RV parks with hookups?
  • Are you comfortable driving a larger vehicle like 35+ ft.? Even if you tow your rig, consider your total length of trailer connected with your truck or tow vehicle, it will be considerably longer!
  • Is convenience of parking and getting around in towns and cities easily more important than overall living space inside the rig, or is living space more important?
  • Do you have toys (i.e. motorcycles, atvs, golf cart…etc.) you want to bring along with you? If so…do you want them covered and protected either inside the rig, or in a separate cargo trailer you’ll have to tow (adding to your overall length) OR are you okay hanging them on a carrier off the back of the rig out in the elements?
  • Do you want to have your own washer-dryer or are you willing to do laundry at RV parks or public laundromats?
Important things to think about when choosing an RV 
  • The majority of national parks do not have camping options for anyone over 35 ft. Most options being 30 ft and under with a few spots for 35+. Your size matters.
  • Height is important. While there is almost always a route you can take to avoid low bridges, etc. trees and low hanging branches are often unavoidable. The taller you are the more susceptible you are.
  • Tow Vehicles can often mean double the repairs. If you have a travel trailer (pull behind), air stream, or fifth wheel, you will need a tow vehicle to pull your rig. Things don’t just go wrong with your rig (and things will go wrong even if it’s brand new), they also go wrong with your tow vehicle. You now have double the cost and double the maintenance. The tires alone can kill you!
  • Smaller isn’t always better nor is bigger always better. If you go small, you have the ease of travel and parking where you want however, you are sacrificing space and comfort (like having a real bathroom and smaller water capacity). If you go bigger, you get more space and comfort, but you may have a harder time as you travel, park, and sometimes can’t go where smaller rigs can go (especially when boon docking). There is always a cost!

Choosing an RV guide

In the guide below we share with you the style or type of RV, what we feel are the pro’s and con’s of each, and we use a pricing guide of cheap $, moderately priced $$, and expensive $$$ to gauge cost. We realize everyone’s budget is different and their understanding of cheap, moderate, and expensive may range widely from our own. Keeping that in mind, we are tying to stay as general as possible o use to make it easier for all of our readers.

Class A | Diesel

Diesel Pros:

  • Large living space
  • Powerful engine – you can drive most places confidently in terms of power
  • Lots of storage
  • You stay inside while you drive
  • On board generator
  • Often have extra areas for guests to sleep
  • Lots of amenities (can have heated tile flooring, washer-dryer, multiple TV’s, walk in closets, fireplaces, etc).

Diesel Cons:

  • Higher Cost (this is often the most expensive option when choosing an RV) expensive $$$
  • Larger size (normally 30 ft. – 45 ft.)
  • Harder to park and drive in general
  • Need a tow vehicle if you want to have a separate vehicle for driving around town

 Class A | Gas

Gas Pros:

  • Cheaper in price compared to a diesel Class A, moderately priced to expensive $$ – $$$
  • Large living space
  • Lots of storage
  • You stay inside while you drive
  • Often have extra areas for guests to sleep
  • Lots of amenities (can have heated tile flooring, washer-dryer, multiple TV’s, walk in closets, fireplaces, etc).
  • On board generator

Cons:

  • Larger size (normally 30 ft. – 45 ft.)
  • Harder to park and drive in general
  • Not as powerful as a Diesel Class A
  • Need a tow vehicle if you want to have a separate vehicle for driving around town

Pros:

  • Cheaper in price compared to a Class A, moderately priced $$
  • Large living space (high ceilings, large living space, often with full living room and kitchen with an island)
  • Lots of storage inside and out
  • Feels more like a home
  • Often have extra areas for guests to sleep
  • Your tow vehicle (what you pull it with) gives you a way to get around town without your rig
  • Lots of amenities (washer-dryer, multiple TV’s, walk in closets, fireplaces, etc).
  • On board generator

Cons:

  • Larger size (normally 30 ft. – 45 ft.)
  • Cheaper made than a Class A
  • Harder to park and drive in general
  • Need a separate vehicle to tow the rig (which can get pricey for a good diesel truck)
  • Have to get out of the truck or RV to pack up
  • Most of the time, no on board generator (not always but one coming stock is uncommon

Pros:

  • Comparable to a Fifth Wheel in pricing, moderately priced $$
  • Full garage to store extra toys, washer-dryer, and guests
  • On board generator
  • Large living space (high ceilings, large living space, real bedroom and bathroom, etc.)
  • Lots of storage
  • Feels more like a home
  • Your tow vehicle (what you pull it with) gives you a way to get around town without your rig
  • Lots of amenities (can have heated tile flooring, washer-dryer, multiple TV’s, walk in closets, fireplaces, etc)

Cons:

  • Larger size (normally 35 ft. – 45 ft.)
  • Harder to park and drive in general
  • Need a separate vehicle to tow the rig (which can get pricey for a good diesel dually truck)
  • Can’t always get to your toys once parked if it’s a back in site, so you have to pre-plan getting your toy out before you park
  • Have to get out of the truck or RV to pack up

Pros:

  • Cheaper than a fifth wheel. Basic pull behind is typically cheaply priced $ (Airstream is moderate to expensive $$ –  $$$)
  • Smaller than a fifth wheel (normally 21 ft – 35 ft. but can be smaller)
  • Easier to park and tow because it’s smaller and lighter
  • Typically a real bathroom and bedroom with a kitchen and living room
  • Your tow vehicle (what you pull it with) gives you a way to get around town without your rig

Cons:

  • Need a separate vehicle to tow the rig (which can get pricey if you don’t already have a tow ready vehicle)
  • Most (not all) have no slides so it can feel smaller and tighter
  • Less storage to no storage outside compared to a fifth wheel.
  • Have to get out of the truck or RV to pack up
  • Depending on the size of your pull behind it can put a-lot of pressure on your tow vehicle (need the right tow set up)
  • No on board generator

Pros:

  • Cheaper than a toy hauler fifth wheel
  • Smaller than a fifth wheel (normally 25 ft – 32 ft.)
  • Easier to park and tow because it’s smaller and lighter
  • Garage to store your toys
  • Typically a real bathroom and bedroom with a kitchenette or small kitchen area.
  • Your tow vehicle (what you pull it with) gives you a way to get around town without your rig

Cons:

  • Need a separate vehicle to tow the rig (which can get pricey if you don’t already have a tow ready vehicle)
  • The garage isn’t separate so you’re living space blends into the garage making it feel less like a home and more like a trailer
  • Can’t always get to your toys once parked if it’s a back in site so you have to pre-plan getting your toy out before you park
  • Have to get out of the truck or RV to pack up

Pros:

  • Cheaper than a Class A Diesel, moderately priced $$.
  • Easier to drive and park because it’s smaller in size (typically 24 ft – 35 ft)
  • Some outside and inside storage
  • Typically a real bathroom, bedroom, and small kitchen area
  • Often times extra space for guests to sleep
  • No tow vehicle needed, you can drive your rig most places you need or want to go
  • Stay in your rig while you travel (no need to go outside to pack up)

Cons:

  • You have to move your rig every time you want to go somewhere (you could loose your camping spot)
  • Not as much storage as a Fifth Wheel or Class A
  • Depending on size still have to be careful where you park as you are considered an RV not a van

Pros:

  • Cheaper than a Class A Diesel, moderately priced $$.
  • Easier to drive and park because it’s smaller in size (typically 18 ft – 25 ft)
  • No tow vehicle needed, you can drive your rig almost anywhere
  • Stay in your rig while you travel (no need to go outside to pack up)
  • Since you have less space, you have less stuff – which we feel is almost always better
  • On board generator

Cons:

  • You have to move your rig every time you want to go somewhere (you could loose your camping spot)
  • The least amount of storage of all the options thus far
  • Living space is often dual use
  • Often has a wet bath or no bathroom at all

Pros:

  • Cheaply priced $
  • Easy traveling because of compactness
  • Can sleep a lot of people

Cons:

  • Open to the elements
  • Great for weekend getaways or extended trips, not as great for full time living because of layout and amenities in general
  • Sometimes no bathroom
  • No on board generator
  • Have to set up fully each time you move (can’t just open the door and be “home”)

We hope you found this guide helpful on your hunt for choosing an RV! Let us know what you think are the pro’s and con’s of each type of rig or why you choose your rig! We’d love to hear from you! 🙂

 

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About Us

About Us

We are Dennis and Liz! We’re two travel loving, real estate investing, foodies exploring North America full time in a Grand Design fifth wheel toy hauler. We share our lessons learned as full time RV’ers, travel tips and tricks, and the best places to eat and see in the US with you!

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