Ready For Adventure? A Complete Guide To Recreational Vehicles

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Front view of a Class A Recreational Vehicle

Are you considering purchasing a recreational vehicle but don’t know where to start? It can be overwhelming. There are more options now than there have ever been before. From a Class A motorhome to a pop-up trailer. The options are endless and each class has a number of different models. When it comes to deciding what you want there are a few questions you need to ask yourself.

  • What length of time will you use your RV? Weekends, a week or two out of the year, or maybe full time?
  • How many people will you travel with? Friends, family, kids or maybe just you?
  • How much room do you want?
  • Do you want a car to drive around in or just hang out at the campsite?

These are a few questions that will help you decide what kind of recreational vehicle you should get. Looking for the cost range of the different RVs, check out these cost comparisons. So, let’s dive into what each class offers that will fit your needs when on the road.

History of the RV

When it comes to the history of the recreational vehicle you will be surprised to hear it dates back to 1915. That was the first time a family traveled in a motorized vehicle across the country fit with the luxuries of a house. Camping for fun dates back even further to 1869. Then you either backpacked, rode a horse, or had a wagon. But it didn’t really become popular until the 1960’s when it exploded onto the scene. From there the industry has grown to a $114 billion industry today.

An antique recreational vehicle

Classes Explained

There are many different options today. But while options are nice, too many of them can be overwhelming. Here is a list of all the different types of recreational vehicles and what makes them different.

Class A RVs: The biggest beasts on the road

The Class A RVs are the ones that look like a bus. They are flat in the front and can be very long. They come in gas or diesel. These are great because of the size, space, sleeping arrangements, and towing abilities. If you plan on traveling for extended periods of time the Class A is great. It’s your home on wheels and if you want to tow a more fuel-efficient car, you have something to get around in. The downside is they are more expensive. These recreational vehicles cost more to purchase and they are more expensive to maintain.

Class C RVs: A mid-size option

The Class C RVs are another great option for those expecting to be on the road for more than a weekend. They are also great for larger groups. There is lots of sleeping space with a bed over the drivers’ cab. They also have the ability to tow a vehicle but the capacity won’t be as much as a Class A. They are great recreational vehicle because it’s another model that has all the amenities of your home and a decent amount of space. Although typically smaller than a Class A and less storage. But if your budget is a little smaller these are great. They are cheaper than the Class A but still cost the same to maintain.

Class B RVs: Van life and so much more

The Class B RVs are the larger vans that have been transformed into a living area. These are great because of their mobility. You can get in and out of places the larger RVs can’t get into. These are perfect for two people and those that like to go out for a week or two at a time. It would be hard to live in them full time because of the space and limitation on appliances. But it takes adventure to the next level. The downside is they are expensive to purchase and maintain. You also have to pack up every time you want to drive and explore. You wouldn’t have a tow vehicle for driving around. 

Travel trailer: Big, small, and everything in between

A travel trailer is a great option if you have a vehicle that can tow. Travel trailers range in all different sizes and features. Whether you are looking for a weekend toy or something to full time in, the travel trailer can do it all. They are also much cheaper than a Class A, B and C. The downside is setting up your campsite and breaking down to leave. These take a lot longer to back in, level out, and get situated. But you don’t have to purchase any new vehicles if you have one that can tow. Just make sure whatever size you get does not exceed the tow capacity of the vehicle. 

Pop-up trailer: Compact and easy to store

The pop-up trailer is a really fun recreational vehicle option. They are small and lite. You don’t need to purchase a new vehicle to tow them and they are easy to store. They are perfect for summer camping. It would be very hard to use them during the winter because the mesh siding doesn’t do well insulating. They also don’t have many or any appliances. It’s really just a bed and table. They also take a while to set up and break down when leaving. But if you want a cheap option that gets you off the ground and in a bed these are perfect.

Fifth wheel: The largest trailer you can buy

The fifth wheel RV is the largest trailer out there. They are the big behemoths you see driving down the road that look like you need a diesel big rig to tow. And you do. In order to tow these, you need to have a heavy-duty truck that has the towing capacity to tow them. If you don’t this option could be very expensive because not only do you need to buy the trailer you also need the truck. But these things are luxurious and have lots of space. If you want to feel like you are taking your house with you this is the option for you. Fifth wheels aren’t that expensive either as long as you have the proper tow vehicle. The downside to them is they are very big and it can be tricky towing them. The other is setting up your camp. They are hard to maneuver and take a while to set up and break down.

Truck campers: From weekend campers to expedition-ready vehicles

Truck campers work well if you have a pick-up truck. They are campers that sit in the bed of your truck and away you go. Some of them pop-up to provide extended headroom or some even had a slide. They are small so they are perfect for 2 people at the most. There isn’t a lot of space for appliances but some can fit them. These are great recreational vehicles because they aren’t expensive and they fit in your already existing truck. It also makes you very mobile because you are small and might even have four-wheel drive. The downside is they are small and you have to pack up your camp every time you want to go explore.

Toy Hauler

Lastly, there is the toy hauler. These are perfect for those that have dirt bikes or other fun toys you want to take out to the mountains or desert. They have a garage in the back to easily load up your toys. Then when the garage is empty you can use the door as a patio or even an extra room if designed for it. These aren’t very expensive if you already have the tow vehicle to use them. The drawback like any trailer is having to take the time to set up camp and break it down when leaving.

Class A Motorhome towing a vehicle

What is Considered an RV?

At the end of the day it really just depends on what experience you are looking for. Whether it’s just a weekend toy with the family or full time. There are lots of recreational vehicle options. An RV is a moving vehicle that provides living quarters. So, whatever you decide all you need is a place to sleep and eat and your adventure awaits. If you are looking to purchase for the first time, check out our printables to help you through the process.

  1. We went, at first, with a 20 foot single axle travel trailer. The reason for that was because of my wife’s childhood, her family had a travel trailer and that’s what she wanted. We had it a couple of years until June 2019. We were on a trip from southern NM to western NC when disaster struck in the middle of TX. The trailer was broadsided by wind that was funneled between two wind breaks and tipped the trailer on one wheel and bounced around a bit. We were stuck at an RV park that was just down the road for around five days dealing with insurance. Finally got a mobile mechanic to straighten out the sheet metal in the wheel wells so we could drive it back to MN. It took three days to limp back what took us a day and a half to get out to. A little over a month later the insurance finally totaled the trailer, no big surprise there. We took the money and put it towards a new Class C as I did not want to tow another trailer ever again. For us the big things we looked for in the Class C was headroom, a bed that neither of us had to climb over to get to the other side, and shelving on both sides of the bed for our CPAPs.

  2. We have yet to purchase it but we’re going big. Class A tandem axle. Will be hanging a Harley on the back of it an flat towing our Lexus so the reason for the tandem. The size doesn’t worry me and boondocking will be limited since I (Micheal) will be retired but my bride (Melodee) will be working on the road till a suitable time. Many more aspects for our reasoning but we truly believe the class A is best for us.

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