Tuesday, December 5, 2023


How far would you go to get your perfect RV? These RVers went far…

Recently, RVtravel.com conducted a readers’ poll that asked: How far did you travel to buy your present RV? Turns out, most of the folks who participated in the poll drove between 25 and 100 miles. You can see the poll results here. Surprisingly, many, many folks (22 percent!) traveled more than 500 miles to buy their rig! To me, that says if an RVer locates a rig s/he wants, the miles don’t matter all that much. Or, as reader Kenneth said, “When you find a terrific deal on exactly what you’re looking for, you jump on it!”

My own story

We drove more than 1,800 miles round trip to purchase our current RV. Prices have skyrocketed in the two years since then, both for RVs and for fuel. I wonder if we’d still make the trip today. In any case, we were willing to go that far for two reasons. First, we wanted another Vilano. (Read how our first Vilano was destroyed in a windstorm here.) The RV manufacturer, Vanleigh, produces the Vilano. We were so impressed with the build quality, service reps, and model features that we wanted another Vilano.

The second reason we were open to driving so far? The price. Even with the fuel costs added in, we knew we’d come out ahead. Local prices for new RVs were steadily rising, as the pandemic was underway. Our local dealership had new Vilanos, but they were more than double the price of the previously loved RV we found for sale by a private individual. So, we drove from our home in eastern Missouri all the way to Castle Rock, Colorado. Was it worth the trip? Yes. No regrets!

Dealership as determiner

Several poll responders cited reasoning similar to Susan’s. She said, “We drove around 765 miles…. The RV we traded in had been purchased at the same used RV dealer.” Susan discovered what many RVers know—an honest, fair dealership is often worth the extra travel expense.

And then there were comments like Roy’s: “The problem we have is that no dealership within 500 miles sold the model we wanted, nor could they order one. The closest dealership that had it was a Camping World, and I won’t buy anything from them….” As I said, an honest, fair dealership earns customers’ loyalty, while the reverse may be true, as well.

Incentives offered

Lou said, “I drove almost 300 miles from Arizona to the Lance factory in Lancaster, CA, and purchased the trailer from the local Lance dealer. … It was the best price I found, and I stayed for two nights at the Factory Service Center to check everything out.” If you plan to buy from a dealership far from home, it’s great to have the overnight-stay option. I imagine Lou’s time spent at the Factory Service Center gave him great peace of mind about his purchase.

Solar Steve said, “Went to the Coach House factory in Florida to purchase our current RV. They pay airfare in that case.” Wow! That is certainly a perk I hadn’t expected! Good for you, Steve.

Close calls and upside-down sales

Bill narrowly escaped what might have been a disastrous purchase. He commented, “The closest dealer changed the price during the closing, was aggressive, and had a bad service reputation. I took a break from the closing desk to get water. Near the water was a service writer. I asked how long it would take to get warranty items fixed. He did not know I was in the buying process, and replied with ‘two months.’ We canceled the order, got a deposit refund, and searched for the best dealer in the Pacific Northwest. We decided that driving 275 miles for good service was better than waiting two months for service.”

Depending on when you purchased the RV, you might have been okay, Bill. In recent months, dealerships routinely have long wait times. We waited five months to have a fix performed last year. On the other hand, who wants to deal with aggressive people with a reputation for bad service? Not me!

Scott chimed in with a similar story, “Found the model we wanted with everything … but the only dealer for the brand [was awful]. Bit the bullet, bought it, and have been fortunate with no serious issues…. Found a local, family-owned dealer … where I can get service done if needed.”

When buying a new or new-to-you RV, it’s good to have a trusted local team to work on it. The problem we face is one local shop here has a policy to only perform service on units they have sold. I guess I can understand it from the dealer’s perspective. But I wonder if their policy may change as the industry cools.

Then there was Don, who wrote, “On our way to Arizona a blowout took the lower side of our fifth wheel off. Traded it in Columbia, MO, at Camping World on a 20-year loan. Are we upside down? Oh, yes!” Oh, no! So sorry that happened, Don.

Finding the RV

Poll respondents were all over the map as far as how they located RVs to buy. Several folks mentioned buying an RV from a sales event or organized RV show. Others named Craigslist and private dealerships as places where they discovered their RVs. Still others simply happened upon their new purchase.

Like Kathryn, who responded that they drove “3,000 miles…. We were on vacation on the opposite coast when we found it.”

Or, Don, who traveled “about fifty feet.” He explained, “I was cleaning out my A-liner at Allstar RV in Plano when a new Airstream with a ‘For Sale’ sign in the window appeared about fifty feet away.”

Keep responding to our polls, everyone! And be sure to comment, too. Happy travels!


Gail Marsh
Gail Marsh
Gail Marsh is an avid RVer and occasional work camper. Retired from 30+ years in the field of education as an author and educator, she now enjoys sharing tips and tricks that make RVing easier and more enjoyable.



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Neal Davis (@guest_256730)
1 month ago

Thank you, Gail.

Gary W. (@guest_256439)
1 month ago

I only buy used, so I don’t care about warranty work.
I would go anywhere in country for the perfect, for me, motorhome.

Jim Johnson (@guest_256413)
1 month ago

Story too long for the comments section. But would have driven close to 2,300 miles round trip.

Separate story- I’ve met one of those aggressive RV sales people who gave good numbers on a used trailer then tossed in close to a grand of junk fees at signing. The guy didn’t know I retired from 27 years in financial services and knew all the tricks, legal and not. He thought the sentimental factor would make me pay and was shocked when we walked. Should have turned him into the regulators.

John (@guest_196558)
1 year ago

Years ago flew to Florida and drove back to California.

Jason (@guest_195855)
1 year ago

Just drove from Washington state to a Lazy days RV dealer in Knocksville Tennessee for a Solitude 3740 fifth wheel that apparently doesn’t have a working fridge and old tires that explode and destroy the side of the trailer 1k miles from Tennessee (yeah I installed tpms but didn’t date check all tires 2019 to 2017 for a 2019 model) .

Also Clogged rear black tank and gray/ black tank release cables that are broken and cheap air admittance valves that leak and make the trailer extremely smelly. Other notibles include; microwave fell off, fireplace fell out of place and main door doesn’t stay latched… Out door kitchen door tends to fly open on the freeway (now gorilla taped shut). Brake wiring laying on the leaf spring and unertray ripped loose and hanging down (ripped loose from many fasteners)

Not a very grand design imo

Camping ready though lol 😆 😅

7k+miles and back to the home area now…

Kelli Perkins (@guest_195769)
1 year ago

We drove over the 5-mile Mackinac Bridge to Michigan’s Upper Peninsula in January (was there a storm? Of course there was), then boarded a car ferry to get over the St Mary’s River to Drummond Island where we promptly got our truck stuck on the ice and had to call for help! Loaded the camper and went back the way we came : island, car ferry, U.P. and Mighty Mac!

Sharon B (@guest_195704)
1 year ago

I had a pop up camper for a few years and loved it. It sold instantly. I watched the internet to get educated on prices and to look for a travel trailer. After several months I saw online a perfect fit for me: size, price, weight, new. I then flew from Miami to Milwaukee to see it. The company picked me up at the airport and went to the dealer. This gorgeous little 2010 16.5 Cikira was all lit up and so cute and just perfect for me. It was during the rough days for the RV business, but a good one for me. I bought it on the spot.
I still have it and it is still in perfect condition. I sold my home in Miami and off I went in my perfect little TT. Several months ago I bought a 5th wheel Keystone Laredo for my residence. That too has all the wonderful accommodations I could ever want. Yes ladies…a huge wall to wall closet! It’s like a one bedroom apartment. I live in the 5th wheel and use the TT for travel. Perfect fit.

Steve H (@guest_195614)
1 year ago

Bought our first two new RVs 1000 miles away and from the same Chicago-area dealer. Sold both, after 3 and 7 years and 27K and 33K miles, for about the same price we paid new (threw in the hitches and a few other extras). For our current motorhome, we traveled 2800 R-T miles to buy a year-old, low miles, “everything repaired” unit from a private party. The original purchaser bought from a dealer 800 miles from his home and had made 3 similar-length trips back to the manufacturer for warranty repairs. He also added a beefier rear sway bar and lithium batteries. That’s the kind of owner we all dream about buying from!

Tom (@guest_195484)
1 year ago

Traveled from Lower Alabama to Elkhart to purchase a well maintained used RV from the manufacturer. The previous owner has traded it in for a new version of the same model. 150,000 miles on the clock with no problems to speak of.

MattD (@guest_195758)
1 year ago
Reply to  Tom

Well, what is it???

Jesse Crouse (@guest_195482)
1 year ago

Bought the last 4 RV’s from the same dealer over a 20 year period. Also they are 3 miles from our house. And the best thing is they have a great service dept. with top notch mechanics. I think a large part is they are an ESOP co. The original family still runs the day to day operations but the employees have a stake in how well they do.

Richard (@guest_195472)
1 year ago

Buying at a distance often means that your local dealer(s) will simply refuse to do any warranty work on your rig. Get an independent RV inspector to look over your proposed purchase BEFORE you hand over that big check. Make sure everything is fixed prior to cash changing hands. The seller’s attitude may change drastically when the money is in their hands. After-sale service is never as quick as pre-purchase service. With money in your hand you are powerful. After the sale you are a beggar.

Bob P (@guest_256396)
1 month ago
Reply to  Richard

Agreed! RV industry warranty is not like automobile warranties. There is nothing in writing that says a dealer of the same brand has to honor your warranty. So beware if you buy from a dealer a hundred miles miles or more from home that’s the dealer you have go back to for warranty repairs or wait in line until they get all their customers out the door.

MevetS (@guest_195455)
1 year ago

For us it was not only a matter of the right model but also about a reasonable deal. In today’s era, the model (even if you have to wait months for it) is the easy part. Getting a reasonable deal is much harder.

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