How to Buy an RV

by Contributor

Buying an RV can be as complicated as buying a home. Start with the basics--running water, cooking and bathroom facilities, and a power source--then explore amenities such as entertainment systems, kingsize beds and even hot tubs. Now you're ready to bust out the Willie Nelson and hit the road.

Understand that RVs are usually designated by length. The longer the RV, the more opulent and expensive. Height and width measurements do not vary significantly.

Remember that you need to drive the RV. What size vehicle can you handle confidently? Are you comfortable backing up? Will your spouse be comfortable driving it? Do you need a special license in your state?

Decide on which class vehicle is right for you. Class A motorized models are the largest. Class B motorized models are modified and have expanded van conversion: They are smaller, with better mileage, but you may sacrifice some comfort and amenities. Class C motorized RVs are even smaller and have a bed over the cab. The largest towable RVs are travel trailers, up to 35 feet (10.7 m) long. Fold-out camper trailers are smaller. A truck camper, fit to the back of a pickup, is considered a towable RV. If you already own a truck, this type may make the most sense.

Class A motorized models start at about $100,000. Class B range from $42,000 to $68,000. Class C models are about $50,000 to $100,000. Folding camper trailers and truck campers start at about $4,000, while larger travel trailers start at $9,000.

Negotiate the purchase price as you would with a car; in fact, you may have even more room to bargain. There are far more RV manufacturers than car manufacturers; use this competition to your advantage. If you can't find the style and options you want at a price that you think is reasonable, keep looking.

Go to an RV show. These are frequently advertised in newspapers and on TV. Talk to owners, dealers and other shoppers.

Try before you buy. Two of the largest rental operations in the United States are El Monte RV ( and Cruise America ( Prices run from $90 to $200 per day (depending on the model) and peak in the summer.

Ask for deals. Most manufacturers offer rebates and significant kickbacks to dealers, who will pass along some or all if they think it will make a deal. Late summer is the best time to shop, as dealers are looking to get rid of the previous year's stock.


  • check If you're a novice, consider taking driving lessons with your RV to make sure that both you and your fellow drivers are safe.
  • check Many RV fans suffer from what industry professionals call 2-foot-itis--the urge to constantly get a larger RV. This can be fun if you have the money, but don't overlook the advantages of the RV you own.
  • check Books on RV travel are available at many bookstores. Go online to to order a free video about RV basics in exchange for filling out a survey.


  • close Look into insurance specifically for RVs. Your auto insurance may not cover total loss replacement, emergency living expenses, and campsite liability.

About the Author

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