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How to Find the Best RV For Your Summer Family Vacations

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Summer will be here before you know it, which means it’s the perfect time to start planning a getaway with your family. If you’re determined to take a road trip, you might want to think about upgrading your current car to something a bit more accommodating — especially if you’ll be camping or bringing lots of friends and relatives along. A recreational vehicle can be a great option for adventurous families, as the 30 million RV enthusiasts throughout the U.S. will tell you. But how exactly should you go about purchasing an RV? Here are a few key considerations to keep in mind.

Category or Class

Before buying an RV, you’ll need to determine the right category for your needs. Essentially, there are two main varieties: motorhomes and towables. As you might already realize, motorhomes are vehicles that can be driven, while towables must be towed by another vehicle (like a truck or SUV). If you go the towable route, you’ll need to ensure that your main vehicle is equipped to haul that weight; unless you already own a vehicle that fits the criteria, this will factor into your overall budget.

Motorhomes themselves fall into a few different classes. Class A motorhomes are large, bus-like vehicles that are equipped with just about everything under the sun. They typically come with a full bathroom and even full-sized appliances. Class B vehicles are sometimes referred to as camper vans. They’re smaller and tend to be more affordable, but they still come with many luxurious amenities. They can comfortably sleep two to three people and are suitable for even a few weeks out on the road. Class C vehicles are actually a bit of a hybrid between A and B; they have the front end of a truck but look like a small bus throughout the rest of the frame. They can typically seat more people than Class B options, making them roomy enough for the entire family. The plus side is that they don’t cost nearly as much as a Class A, but they’re still ideally suited for a long holiday weekend or even a two-week trip.

When evaluating the different types of RVs available to you, the class of vehicle will determine how much you can expect to spend, how much room you’ll have, and what kind of features you’ll be able to use. Once you figure out your budget, the amount of storage and space you will require, and the amenities you’d like to see, you can narrow down your choices of vehicles to find one that checks all the boxes.

Condition

Another major consideration you’ll want to discuss prior to buying an RV is whether you want to purchase a brand new vehicle or opt for a used one. The average vehicle will have three owners during its lifetime, and buying a used RV can save you quite a bit of money on both the purchase price and your insurance. This will also give you the option to rebuild or redesign, though upgrades can sometimes be pricier than you’d think. If you do buy a used RV, it’s important to ensure the seller is reputable and that you have the vehicle inspected prior to purchase to avoid being stuck with a damaged RV.

Of course, buying a new RV will allow you to sidestep that scenario altogether. Not only will there be absolutely no wear and tear, but you’ll also benefit from hi-tech features and being able to obtain the exact vehicle you have in mind without making sacrifices on design. That will require a bit more money, but you may also benefit from greater fuel efficiency with a newer model (which can save you money in the long run).

You’ll need to determine whether you like a bit of retro grit or would rather have something shiny and new to help you traverse across the country. Again, your budget will likely play into this decision prominently — but remember that it’s not all about upfront costs. Older vehicles may require more extensive and expensive repairs, so costs may not be automatically more manageable. Do your research on specific RVs and obtain vehicle history reports or inspections before reaching a final agreement.

Intended Use

Yes, you’ll be using your RV for family vacations. But what kinds of trips will you be taking? Are you planning on heading out on the open road and camping out for months at a time? Or will you predominantly be using this vehicle for shorter weekend getaways? If you need to be able to take the vehicle off road, your vehicle must be durable enough to handle that. Temperature can play a part too, as your RV might need to withstand 90 degree days and freezing nights, depending on the climate. Be sure to think carefully about the type of weather conditions you’ll typically face when using your RV, as well as any other considerations that could wear down on the vehicle over time. Your intended use will also have an impact on how much storage you need or the advanced amenities you might want to include. If you always keep your intended use in mind, you’ll be able to get the type of vehicle that will serve you best without falling for fancy but unnecessary features.

Over one-third (37%) of families say taking a vacation makes them happy. If you plan on spending your summer traveling cross-country with your loved ones, investing in an RV can be a great idea. But before you sign on the dotted line, you’ll want to get a more exact idea of your must-haves and use those factors to narrow down your choices. That way, you’ll spend only what you’re comfortable with and will have a high-quality vehicle that can take you on all kinds of adventures.

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