If you are just that little bit fed up with being on the grid, or perhaps you’re fine with that but want a break from it for a while, then you may be looking at the highway and thinking about escaping.
Getting yourself an RV is one way to take your living quarters with you wherever you go. You and your RV can just get on that highway and skedaddle off to wherever your fancy takes you.
As with all things in life, the dream and the reality may not exactly match up. It’s one thing to imagine yourself on the open road, no cares in the world, and it’s another thing to actually do it.
Before you even consider doing it, you need to understand the RV lifestyle and ensure you can handle it.
We’ll go into more detail on this later. But, for now, let’s focus on the more exciting part! Here are 12 of the best RVs for beginners.
OUR TOP PICK
Made with premium quality material and having a myriad of features, this is for the RV beginner who wants their RV to be like a residential home.
There are power stabilizer jacks, Secure Stance steps, Keyed-A-Like lock system, outdoor speakers with LED accents, power awning with LED lights, LED lights in interior, and a fireplace.
It even comes with residential furniture, an outdoor shower, an air conditioning system and a completely enclosed forced air heated underbelly. And all this at an affordable price.
Travel trailers, or pull-behinds, are towed by means of a bumper hitch in front of the unit.
They vary in size and weight, from 8-40 ft and 1000-10000 lbs. Size and weight determine what type of vehicle does the towing: trucks, crossovers, SUVs, or motorcycles.
Travel trailers are self-contained units with:
- Living area
- Can be built with slide outs.
- Sleeping capacity of 2-8
Hybrid models have expandable, fold out, sections made of durable fabric, rather than hard-sided slide outs.
Travel trailers and especially small travel trailers are one of the best options for beginners to RV because they are easy to tow and affordable.
As travel trailers are usually less than 25 feet in length, with a dry weight of fewer than 5,000 pounds, they can be towed by a wide variety of vehicles.
In addition, well-equipped travel trailers with full kitchens, dry baths, and heating and cooling are usually priced very reasonably.
Modern interior. The dinette folds down into sleeping space for two. Very lightweight and easy to haul with truck or SUV.
16 ft, so easy to manoeuvre. Simple to park in even the tightest campsite. There’s a corner bathroom, a sofa and 9′ Awning.
A simple RV for an easy transition into the RV lifestyle, especially if you’re used to tent camping.
Toy haulers, or sport utility RVs, are actually a subcategory of Fifth Wheelers and Travel Trailers.
They are built with a garage for carrying cargo. They can haul motorcycles, ATVs, kayaks, golf carts, and snowmobiles for your outdoor activities.
The back flips down, transforming into a ramp. The cargo area can also be converted into living or bedroom space.
These sport utility vehicles can be 18-40 ft, and weigh 3000-10000 lbs. They can sleep 4-8 people.
Toy Haulers are not a good choice for beginners because they are specialized.
A motorhome that’s also a toy hauler. This motorhome would really suit an RV beginner with mobility issues because there’s more than enough space for a wheelchair and other such requirements. You could have an office.
The cargo space could be adapted for a lot of uses. In the Outlaw 29J the cargo area has a door separating it from the rest of the vehicle.
This is a real bonus. You could also tow a trailer. The Ford E-Series chassis is great. The ramp can be used as a patio.
Note that the driver and passenger seating positions face inwards so check state laws as to whether you can transport people not facing forward.
Pop-up trailers, or fold-out campers, have a base that’s like that of a utility cargo trailer and a top that’s made of extra strong canvas.
They fold up into a compact 4 ft, easily pulled trailer. Hybrid models may have hard wall sides for better insulation.
They are raised with a powered system or a manual crank, a length of 8-20 ft and a weight of 1000-4000 lbs.
Pop up Campers are the smallest RVs and the most affordable. They aren’t luxurious by any means.
A lot of these RVs don’t have a bathroom and the walls are made of canvas, but they do come equipped with electricity and running water and will have a kitchenette and a dining booth.
There’s also a queen size bed. They don’t have the internal amenities and systems of other RVs.
If you’re used to tent camping, and want to venture into RVs then pop-up campers are a great transition.
A popular choice for affordability, range of designs and quality.
As winner of Trailer Life Readers’ Choice Awards Bronze Award in 2016, this trailer comes with expertise and experience in its design and craftsmanship.
The guarantee, which is two-year restricted and three-year primary is great for those beginning to RV. Their Climate Shield gives you four-season setting up camp insurance.
This is a fine-looking, reasonably priced option that gives a lot of reassurance.
Truck campers fit into the bed of trucks with an overhang that extends over the cab. There may be slide outs or canvas fold outs.
The truck must be rated to carry the weight and this can sometimes require heavy-duty trucks.
They can be called cab-overs or slide-ins. They are good choices for off-roading. Length 6-12 ft and weight 1000-3000 lbs.
Truck campers can be designed with sleeping space for 2-4, dining area, kitchen. A wet or dry bath can be included.
Versatile and maneuverable. Compact and easy to park. They slide into a truck bed and extend over the truck cab for more space.
Hard-sided models need heavy-duty trucks or half-ton trucks that have been maximized for heavy payloads. There are models for mid-sized trucks as well.
Hybrid or Expandable Trailer Truck Campers deliver the best of both worlds, space without the added length and weight.
The expandable design allows you to extend your living space and still maintain the insulation of hard body siding. Generally, you may use a smaller tow vehicle for this style of trailer.
This truck camper is spacious and offers a great deal for the money in terms of kitchen amenities, a comfortable queen size bed, internal and exterior LED lighting and ample storage.
A slide out storage tray is very convenient. There are many features and it is designed to ensure a beginner RV has everything he or she could need.
A well fitted out camper that is ready to get out there and explore. It has massive checker plating, external speakers, an external slide out kitchen, easy to access storage, rock sliders, stone guard, dual jockey wheel, security door, ample external lighting and even a lit entry grab handle. Everything an intrepid RV beginner could wish for.
Motorized RV Types
Class A Motorhomes
A Class A motorhome looks like a bus. They can use a gas engine or a diesel engine. Diesel engines have a longer lifespan and are more durable. Class A RVs are not fuel-efficient or manoeuvrable.
People often tow a small vehicle from the RV to get about in. They can double up as a Toy Hauler. Length 25-45 ft. The motorhome’s engine can be installed in the rear of the RV or up front.
Interior furnishing can be luxurious.
Class A RVs can work for the RV beginner if they opt for the smaller choices. The elevated cockpit and large front windshield can be very reassuring.
CLASS A MOTORHOMES
The Winnebago Intent 28Y is a short Class A, which is a good thing for an RV beginner.
There are copious premium features, so those beginners who want extra space and some luxury will love it.
The price is very reasonable given all the updates and design features.
CLASS A MOTORHOMES
The Thor Motor Coach A.C.E. 32.3 ACE refers to Class A/Class C/Evolution. It’s an unique Class A that is a hybrid between A and Class C. It has the body of Class A and the layout of Class C.
At 33 feet 5 inches long, it’s long for a beginner but handles comfortably once you’ve had some practice. It’s pricey but good for the Class A price range.
Class B Motorhomes
Class B motorhomes, or camper vans, are built on a van chassis. They are the smallest at 20- 26ft, most fuel-efficient, and maneuverable RVs. Gas or diesel engine. Functional and versatile.
CLASS B MOTORHOMES
The Thor Motor Coach Sequence 20A is one of the lowest priced Class B RVs on the market. It has a pop-top, which allows four to sleep. At nearly 21 feet and weighing 9,350 pounds, it’s maneuverable.
The Thor rides on the RAM ProMaster chassis which is one of the most popular van chassis in Class B RVs. The chassis is affordable with lots of safety features.
CLASS B MOTORHOMES
The Winnebago Travato 59G, has a wet bath in the corner and a fixed bed so you can leave the bed; which is not usually the case with campervans.
The Winnebago Travato rides on the RAM ProMaster chassis which is one of the most popular van chassis in Class B RVs. The chassis is affordable with lots of safety features.
Its small and compact size, easy drivability and the fact it can fit into any RV campsite make this an excellent choice for beginners.
Class B+ Motorhomes
Class B+ RVs have good points from both Class B and C motorhomes because it’s a cross between Class B and Class C.
A Class B+ RV utilizes a van chassis like the Class B, but uses a cutaway body, similar to Class C, rather than constructing the RV within the van body.
Class B+ has more interior space and offers greater flexibility. This is perfect for beginners to RV. Compact and spacious.
CLASS B+ MOTORHOMES
Coachmen Cross Trek 21XG, has wonderful storage capacity. It has an exterior door and this, along with the convertible Murphy bed, means the space is optimized. Outdoor gear, bikes, even kayaks can be transported.
For beginners who enjoy outdoor sports, this is the one.Easy to handle. The chassis is a Ford Transit, as is the engine, and this gives this RV a lot of power with good braking.
Class C Motorhomes
Class Cs have a cab-over for a bed or additional storage. Class Cs can also double as a toy hauler. Super C is bulkier. Class C motorhomes are built on a truck chassis. Gas or diesel engine.
Not as large as Class A so able to go to more places. Self-contained unit with designated rooms for sleeping for 4-8, dining and cooking, living area, bathroom. 22-35 ft.The smaller Class C RVs can be good choices for RV beginners. Built on a chassis that is strong they tend to have lots of inner space, so suit families. They are the cheapest drivable RVs on the market.
CLASS C MOTORHOMES
The Thor Four Winds 22E is a well-equipped motorhome that’s affordable. Built on a chassis that’s either Ford E Series or Chevy Express, the RV feels dependable. Interior space is maximized. At 25 ft it’s easier to drive than larger Class C and A motorhomes.
Rent Or Buy
Once you’ve decided on the RV you want you may consider whether to rent or buy the RV.
Renting might suit you better if you travel infrequently, or are unsure of the lifestyle.
Regular travel and a commitment to the lifestyle would suggest that you should buy.
Advantages Of Renting An RV
- Test out makes and models
- Get an idea of RV lifestyle before committing
- Practice RV driving skills.
Disadvantages Of Renting An RV
- Costly per night rates, plus insurance and extras like added mileage and deposit.
Advantages Of Buying Your RV
- Avoid high rental charges
- Not limited by mileage or distance
- You can customize
- No rental process
- Equity in the value of your RV
Disadvantages Of Buying Your RV
- High storage and maintenance costs
- Insurance payments
- Financing payments.
Driving An RV Is Not The Same As Driving A Standard Car
You may consider yourself a driver extraordinaire and you may very well be, but driving an RV is not the same as driving a car.
Some things to consider include:
On the freeway, cars tend to come up close to the bumper of slower moving RVs and may cut in front of you. It’s dog eat dog out there on the freeway and many car drivers get frustrated with RVs which, as they see it, are clogging up the lanes.
The coach or trailer sits behind the pivot point which means it will swing in the direction that’s opposite to that in which you turn.
This may take you by surprise if you’re not expecting it. Get used to this and learn how to handle the vehicle on turns because one thing is for sure, you are going to have to turn when driving.
Safe Following Distance
You’re carrying a load and you’ll need more braking distance, so account for this and keep your distance behind other vehicles. Know your vehicle length and add one second following distance for every ten feet vehicle length and then add another second.
Multiply your answer by four seconds if there’s heavy rain and by ten seconds if there’s snow.
Keep in mind what is above you as well as what is around you. Know the length, width and height of your RV and add on any dimensions affected by satellite dishes or AC systems.
Be terrain-aware regarding low bridges, narrow back roads, roads with lots of dirt or potholes and so on.
Keep In The Right Lane
The increased weight of your RV, and consequent loss of maneuverability, means you’re better off getting into the right lane and staying there, rather than trying to change lanes all the time.
Your RV when it's loaded up with all your stuff is going to be heavy. This is going to impact braking times in a way you never have to deal with with standard cars.
Try the braking capacity at a range of speeds before you set forth. Always know what to expect with the weather. Get a weather app.
Driving your RV may turn out to be something you love or just cannot do. If the latter, then it’s time to find another dream.
It might be a good idea to take an RV driving course. Get some tuition in how best to handle these bigger, more cumbersome vehicles.
Be Comfortable With The Lifestyle
There’s no use waxing lyrical about the RV lifestyle if you don’t like living in close quarters, you don’t like sharing compact space with others, you don’t like driving, you shudder at the thought of having to empty tanks of your own effluent and so on.
RV living is a lifestyle. It requires you to think minimalistically about belongings.
It requires you to utilize space optimally. It requires the bravery of the unknown and ease with nomadic ways. Route and destination need to be known and all particularities taken into account.
Less personal space, lack of privacy and close proximity with others requires psychological adaptation and preparation.
Know Your Budget
If you don’t need the luxury add ons don’t get them. If you’re new to RVs you may want to make your RV feel as close to your home as possible, but remember, this is about adventure, not domesticity.
You will be doing things you don’t normally do at home so there’s no need to get the same appliances and luxuries.
Once you have a feel for the lifestyle then by all means get the add ons you know you’re going to use.
Talk to other RV owners about which add ons are good and worth the cash.
Choose The Right RV With Your Needs In Mind
What are you going to do with your RV? This will be a very important factor in your choice of RV. Remote camping for a long time is different from a day trip with friends.
Location will also be a factor. If you and your RV are going to be somewhere warm this is different to camping in snow and ice.
Number of people
Not only will the number of people affect your psychological preparation, but there are also practical considerations, like bedding and bed facilities and storage.
New or Pre-Owned
If you’re thinking of buying a pre-owned RV and you’re new to the game, then there are a number of pitfalls you’d better be aware of.
Always see before you buy and use reputable dealers in favor of private sales till you know more about RVs.
Things to look for in pre-owned RVs are:
Choose Your RV
This is something you need to really put some time into. Do your research so that when you do part with your cash you’re getting the RV you expect because you know what it offers and what it offers is what you want.
Towable And Motorized RVs
There are two overriding categories: towable RVs and motorized RVs.
Towable RVs, or trailers, are pulled by another vehicle. The bigger and heavier the trailer the stronger the pulling vehicle will have to be. The trailer can be detached from the pulling vehicle.
There are five types of towable RVs:
- Fifth wheels
- Travel trailers
- Toy haulers
- Pop-up trailers
- Truck campers
Motorized RVs, or motorhomes, have engines. The cockpit and living space are encapsulated under the same roof. There’s no hitching or unhitching involved.
There are three general classes of motorized RVs:
- Class A
- Class B
- Class C
Towable RV Types
The fifth wheel is the largest towable RV, weighing over 7000 lbs and 20-40 ft long. They are hitched to a full-size, one-ton truck by a fifth wheel hitch, which is located in the truck's bed.
They have a ‘gooseneck’, the front overhang which rests on the bed of the truck. This is a raised forward section which contains the bedroom or living room area.
- Spacious - can sleep 4-8
- High ceilings
- Multiple slide-outs really increase the living area
- Living room
Floor plans will vary according to design. They can be customized for a level of luxury, automated technology, and appliances.
RVs have benefitted from an enormous amount of design innovations and advances in materials and technologies.
There is a market for the RV lifestyle, and manufacturers of RVs know this and are constantly seeking new ways to update their RVs to satisfy consumer demands.
The choice is immense and it could be quite daunting for an RV beginner. Just remember that the key is to find an RV that suits your needs and your pocket.
Select that type of RV with these factors in mind and then do your research on the options in that class.
Try renting the RV you fancy first, so you get a chance to try it out before you part with your hard-earned cash.
Frequently Asked Questions
What Are RV Capacities?
RVs have black, grey, and freshwater tanks. Know what each is used for and how much capacity each has, so you get an idea of how regularly you’ll need to empty them.
What Tools And Spare Parts Should I Have?
Light bulbs, connectors, a four-way wrench, jumper cables, nuts and bolts, fuses, spare tyres and similar. These things may become paramount at some point on your heady wanderings.
Why Is It Important To Park The RV Level?
Always keep your RV level because if an RV is parked off-level this can be very hard on the refrigerator. It can also mean that the tanks give you a false reading.
Why Is Overloading An Issue?
Don’t overload your RV. Why put an excess weight burden on the trailer or coach as this just makes the RV harder to drive?
Should I Read The RV Manual Carefully?
The RV manual gives the GTW to prevent excess gas consumption and dangerous driving.
The manual will also tell you what needs to be checked off to ensure your RV is road ready and the physical checks that ensure your RV stays operational on the road.
Are Domicile Requirements And Insurance Important?
Rules about domicile requirements vary between states. Domicile is absolutely essential because it affects taxes, bank account licenses, vehicle inspections, voting and a myriad other things involved in the system of life. Insurance is clearly very important.
Why Do People Name Their Campers?
Naming your camper gives it character and most importantly it's really fun to do so. I have seen some wild RV names over the years that have given me a good chuckle. It's also really fun to come up with something creative collectively as a family.