If you’re searching for your perfect RV, there are some things to consider to determine the best RV size for you and your family. Some people need larger rigs with many beds and others only need room for one. Finding the best RV size for you depends on who you are and what your goals are.
Best RV Lengths for National Parks
The best argument for a smaller RV is that larger RVs won’t fit in the RV campgrounds at the National Parks. Get something under 30 feet, they say. It’s not as bleak as all that. Some of the National Parks have limits of 30 feet for an RV or trailer and tow car combined, but others allow up to 40 feet combined or unrestricted lengths. Know before you book what the capacity is for the campground. When booking, make sure the long site you need is available. The National Parks are looking at upgrading the facilities in the near future to accommodate larger rigs and more of them.
Want to camp in National Parks? Make sure you will fit or get turned away!
If you book a site but your RV is too long, they will not let you stay and it could ruin your vacation. Enter your email to join our email list and get a complete list of RV length and other restrictions for National Parks.
Benefits of Choosing a Smaller RV
More Parking and Storage Options
It is definitely easier to park and maneuver a smaller RV. When parking something under 30 feet, there are just more options. Some fit in traditional parking spots, others only take up one or two spaces.
When it comes to storing the RV, finding places that will store the RV inside can be tricky and expensive since you pay by the foot. The larger the RV the more expensive it will be. Not all storage lots are created equal. A small RV can be tucked away next to your house or under an RV cover or roof structure, which is free.
Driving a big RV can make you feel like a boss. However, driving a smaller RV is usually easier and more fun. Not having to worry about the big swing when turning a corner or freaking out about driving a large RV down a city street, is a bonus. Taking a Class B or a van into downtown areas is going to be simpler and more convenient than trying to take a Class A RV into Downtown Boston.
More Campground Options
It’s not only National Parks that have limits on sites, but also State Parks and private campgrounds. Owners of larger RVs know to book early for the large sites. Those with smaller rigs can generally have more options when booking a site. Some RVs can fit into tent sites, and some campgrounds have sites on the water that are smaller and back-in only. You don’t want to miss the best sites because your rig is too large.
Boondocking happens. It may take someone a little longer to jump on the bandwagon, but whether it’s overnight in a Walmart parking lot, at a Harvest Host location or BLM land, it will happen. Smaller RVs are able to get into more remote, scenic locations, compared to bigger RVs. They might have to do a little more prep to have enough water and storage tanks for black or gray water, but they have the advantage of maneuverability. They also can stealth camp, which means parking in a neighbor on the street, or somewhere else that most RVs would draw attention. This could be a big point in making the decision for the best RV size for you.
A Flexible Travel Pace
It’s easier to drive a smaller RV. Not just for the flexibility, but it takes less brainpower to drive a 23-foot van than it does to drive a 40-foot RV with a tow vehicle. There is so much more that can go wrong with a larger unit on the road. Drive days with a smaller rig can be longer if that’s what you choose since you won’t be as fatigued after 3 or 4 hours. Want to stop and visit friends? Mooch docking in a driveway is easier with a smaller unit.
Purchasing an RV is a big decision. Ask yourself some of these questions before you head out to determine which size and type of RV would be best for you.
Use (weekend, living, vacations)
How often are you going to use the RV? Smaller RVs are great for weekends and vacations. After a few weeks or a stretch of bad weather, you might be wishing for more space from your travel mates that a small RV can’t offer.
Number of People/Pets
Consider how many people will be traveling with you, or should it be how many bodies are traveling with you. One person and three big dogs it a lot for a small van camper, but it would be the same with two adults and one big dog. If you as a couple plan to live in your RV, but your adult children might want to stay for a while, you want to keep that in mind when searching for smaller RVs. How many people do you want to be able to sleep in the rig?
Where do you want to camp
If you are only going to camp in traditional RV resorts, it won’t matter the size of your RV, but if you want options like boondocking, stealth camping, National Park campgrounds or at friends’ homes, you might want to explore smaller RV units.
Spend more time indoors or outdoors
If you like to eat outdoors at the picnic table or spend time around the campfire, rather than being inside watching TV, eating at your dinette, then a smaller unit should be fine. Using the outdoors makes your living space larger. Some campers choose to get a screen house to create a larger living space free from bugs and falling acorns.
Do I have a truck to use? Is the truck BIG enough?
If a trailer is in your future, do you have a vehicle to tow with? What is the towing capacity? It is possible you will need to upgrade your truck to tow a fifth-wheel or a larger tow-behind trailer. It’s better to be safe than sorry. Also, don’t rely on the salesperson to tell you if the truck you’re considering buying will be good to tow your camper. Get the info from a reliable source before signing on the dotted line.
What is my budget?
Do the math. Can you afford a payment of $1,000 a month between truck and RV payments? Or, is your budget more like $350 a month? This will help determine the age and type of RV you can afford. Generally, newer RVs will be more expensive, as will smaller RVs. Don’t forget to budget for insurance, taxes, doc fees, and other miscellaneous fees.
Who’s going to drive?
Buying an RV that everyone feels comfortable driving is ideal. It’s hard if one person is the only driver and travel days will be shorter due to fatigue. When checking out the RV, make sure you and your travel companion are at ease behind the wheel.
What are the three most important features of my lifestyle?
Name three things that you don’t think you can live without while on the road. Is it being nimble and able to get into most areas? Do you need a dishwasher (other than your spouse)? Is it a comfortable bed that you don’t have to convert every day into a living space? What are those things for you?
How long do you plan to RV?
You don’t have to set a time and stick to it. If you choose to RV for six months and you love it…extend your journey. If you have decision fatigue and want to have consistent hot water for long showers…maybe after six months you return home. However, keep in mind, when looking for RVs, you’ll be staying in this RV for a long time, or at least until you trade it in. Can you be comfortable here and is this the right RV size for you?
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