Wednesday, November 29, 2023


RV buying dilemma — Couple can’t agree on type to purchase


Dear RV Shrink:rvshrink
My wife and I are on the verge of becoming RV owners. The biggest roadblock turns out we cannot agree on which type of RV to buy. I want a 5th wheel and she wants a motorhome. I tell her we get a lot more living space in a 5th wheel for half the money. She wants to be able to get up and move around while I drive. How do others work this out and agree on a rig that makes everyone happy? Please let me hear from you soon as I have a tight wad of money burning a whole in my pants pocket. —Anxious in Austin

Dear Tight Wad:
Keep it in your pants until you have sorted out all the options. There are many ways to look at how a rig will serve you and what is important to you and your wife. Size matters. Some folks like a small living space that is easy to drive and park, and others want the Queen Mary on wheels. You should consider fuel. Not mpg on the rig only, but total travel mpg. Example: Your 5th wheel might cost more in fuel over a long period of travel compared to a motorhome pulling a small, high-mileage tow vehicle. Most people put on many more miles sightseeing than when actually pulling a rig.

Be sure to ballpark total trip mileage if a fuel budget is a concern. Another factor would be gas or diesel. Manufacturers are beginning to produce shorter diesel pusher motorhomes (Ex: Allegro Breeze) and class C Sprinter body rigs (Ex: Winnebago View). If everyone who joined the RV family could try before they buy, I guarantee most would make a different choice than what they end up with. I would suggest you and your wife visit a few local parks and talk to people with various rigs. You will find most RVers approachable and more than willing to share their thoughts and considerations on buying an RV. You will also find a wide variety of camping options from pop-ups to slide-outs.

Another important factor often overlooked by first-time buyers is an efficient floor plan. When buying a rig, looks are only skin deep. Make every square foot of living space count. Let’s not forget the ever popular “Toy Haulers.” Yes, RVs in America need a garage. Some people with a lot of toys find this a must. There is comfort in knowing your Harley Hog is sleeping right next to you in an adjacent room. Before you know it you and your wife will be on the same page — totally confused. The point is, there is no perfect rig. You need to find the most comfortable, affordable options that make the two of you the most happy before you unroll that wad. —Keep Smilin’, Richard Mallery aka Dr. R.V. Shrink

Can’t get enough of the Shrink? Read his new e-book: Dr. R.V. Shrink: Everything you ever wanted to know about the RV Lifestyle but were afraid to ask or check out his other e-books.




0 0 votes
Article Rating
Subscribe to comments
Notify of

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Oldest Most Voted
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments

Dan Weaver (@guest_38545)
4 years ago

I prefer motorhomes myself. However, ” She wants to be able to get up and move around while I drive” is NOT SAFE!!!! Sit with a seat belt on when the vehicle is in movement!

John Koenig (@guest_38535)
4 years ago

I’ll second the comment re FLOOR PLAN. Many newbies don’ t give enough consideration to the floor plan (to their later regret). It’s the little things that will drive you nuts. RV kitchens and baths especially, are “compact” (to put it kindly). I bought the Super-C diesel puller because, after three+ years of searching, my 2015 Dynamax DX3-37RB had the BEST floor plan I’ve seen (and after 5+ years of ownership, I STILL haven’t seen a better floor plan). My rig is (99% usable with the slides IN). Most of the rigs I’ve seen over 10 years are NO WHERE near that useable. ALWAYS see any rig you’re considering fully closed up, ready to travel BEFORE you buy.

If you decide on getting a trailer, BUY THE TRAILER FIRST, then get a tow vehicle for the load you have. Many newbies do it the other way around winding up with a tow vehicle that’s NOT up to the task. Towing on flat ground is easy. Driving I n hills and mountains, especially when you need to control and stop a big trailer is NOT the time to find out you DON’T have enough tow vehicle.

One final thing you and your wife might consider. Start with a VERY basic rig (I started with a new 17’ Casita Spirit Deluxe Travel Trailer. It was less than $19,000 new). It was a GREAT way to get started and, I learned a GREAT deal of what I needed and wanted in the Dynamax I finally “graduated” to.

JB (@guest_11426)
6 years ago

If you are gonna run the worn out roads in this country a lot,get a motorhome,not any kind of trailer unless you want to constantly fix loose parts and replace suspension parts.America’s highways are wearing out fast due to lack of maintenance over the years,and travel trailers or fifth wheels take a beating while most modern motorhomes can stand more banging around and those bomb craters in the driving lanes. On the other hand..if you are gonna live in an RV full time and not move often,then a fifth wheel is better. They just don’t make em like they used to.

Patti (@guest_11126)
6 years ago

We have a lovely fifth wheel and it is great to live in and pulls like a dream. I agree with those who advised renting a few different types of rigs before making a big investment. Everyone has their own comfort levels, that’s why there are so many types available. Just remember this isn’t a Lucy movie, all travellers should be seated and belted in (where there are belts) while on the road because anything can happen at anytime. Be safe and have fun.

Mike Bacque (@guest_10887)
6 years ago

Motorhomes provide little crash protection to its occupants seat belted or not, whereas a pickup truck pulling a travel trailer / 5th wheel is designed to provide some crash protection (crush zones, air bags).

suzanne (@guest_10871)
6 years ago

Nope, Darrel. Thats what I used to think! We were on a straight stretch of freeway, no one around, EXCEPT a driver of a passenger car who claimed she bent down to pick something up off the floor (maybe she was really using cell phone). She looked back up and in trying to correct herself she plowed right into the side of us. It felt like a locomotive hit us! Our Sprinter motorhome left the road sailing through a field, tires hitting soft dirt causing us to roll over. Motorhome was demolished. Picture a flatbed with only the couch still attached. Cabover gone. If I had been up for even a second when this happened I would be dead!!! I suffered little physical damage, but my husband now suffers from a brain injury and PTSD which has completely changed our lives!

Lynn Decker (@guest_10857)
6 years ago

We have a 5th wheel that my husband drives. My question to the wife is “why is it important that you be able to get up and walk around while he drives?” He needs to move around also. Pull into a rest area or truck stop and you can both move around. My assumption is that you are retired, so speed and time should not be an issue…..We drive about 2 hours, pull off somewhere, use the facilities, get coffee, get a snack or just walk around and smell the outdoors. It is good for your joints, prevents blood clots and is just good for the soul to be outdoors….

Elaine (@guest_10848)
6 years ago

We have had motorhomes only, three class Bs, two class Cs and one class A. I like the option to get up and get a quick bite or drink or close up something that is not latched properly. But, please let the wife know, it is not safe, does not feel safe, and I always take care of the business as quickly as possible and get back in my seatbelt. As far as using the bathroom underway, uh uh. I don’t want to go out as the lady with her pants down in an accident.

Jake & Linda (@guest_10826)
6 years ago

We have had many RV’s since 1977 and it seems that we have figured out that any unit with wood is a nightmare including of late our “Travel Lite truck camper” thus we are heading for the “all aluminum Livin Lite trailer” next including floors, walls, cabinets and NO WOOD to rot or mold ever again for us and overall considering maintenance and depreciation we are TT travelers and loving it..Being retired Navy we use military base Fam-Camp RV parks and feel really safe so onward for us. Glad to get my feet on the ground versus flying for 30 years..

Terri Foxx-Wishert (@guest_10821)
6 years ago

Rent or borrow; ask others why they made the choices that they did, and what they would do differently. Figure out how much storage you need and why. Do you cook a lot or a little. How big of a fridge do you really need, and do you want it do be able to run on LP? In the heat of summer, and parks that are having difficulty with their power, we’ve put the fridge on LP to help keep the AC running.
Do you want a washer/dryer? Is the shower big enough?
Is the pantry big enough? Do you use your slow cooker and is there room to store it?
We don’t pass up too many rest areas – but both of us need to get out and stretch our legs.

Dale (@guest_10802)
6 years ago

I have had 3 pickup campers, 3 travel trailers, and 3 5th wheels over 40 years of camping. The 5th wheels are my choice easy to tow. Have truck to use when you get to where you are going. 2007 Dodge diesel gets 20 solo driving, pulling 12.5 to 15 MPG depending on your towing conditions. Live ability is the best.

Michael (@guest_10779)
6 years ago

If you are going to full-time it. The one option everyone forgets, if your vehicle breaks down (so it can not move itself), being in a 5th wheel your house will be still livable while the shop is fixing the truck. In a MH your house is in the shop as well and then you have to figure out where to stay if it is in the shop over the weekend.

rvgrandma (@guest_10767)
6 years ago

We’ve had them all – TT, 5th, MH. For traveling I prefer the MH. You can see better, have the basement storage, have an economical car to drive around. Yes, I am one to get up while my husband was driving. I don’t know of any state that will ticket you. It was better than having him pull into every rest area to use the bathroom. I could get us drinks easily. Always something left not locked or a drawer that comes open you can get up and close – usually find out before even getting out of the park. You don’t know that in a TT or 5th.
Neg: if hearing your dishes and pans rattling bother you, then no MH. I got use to all the ‘regular’ noises so knew when it was something different.
Now that we are parked due to my husband’s illness living in a MH is not so great. Still have to ‘exercise it’ which can be a pain when you are settled in one place.

Overall the MH was great when we were workamping and I loved the better view. Just keep in mind where you plan to go when thinking of how big a rig you are going to get. Anything with a slide in the livingroom – TT, 5th or MH – mandatory for FT.

Bill (@guest_10740)
6 years ago

Getting up and moving around is a calculated risk. It may or may not be illegal, I think most seat belt laws only apply to front seat passengers and children. Yes, it is better to be seated and belted in, but like on a boat or a Greyhound you can move around and do most anything you want if you are careful and aware and ready for sudden movement. Oh, and the driver shouldn’t do it in any event 🙂

Bill Claypool (@guest_10717)
6 years ago

You can rent many types of motorhomes to give them a try. Not so much for 5th wheels and travel trailers (but some). There are several commercial companies that are available but with limited choices. You can also try some of the private companies (like that have a greater choice of units for rent.

Hazel Lorane (@guest_10712)
6 years ago

The pros and cons would be different for different people. We enjoy our Class A motor home but due to its size, we tow a Jeep. Our first motor home, a Class C at 24 ft. didn’t require a tow vehicle as we could park it easily almost anywhere. With a truck and 5th wheel, you can unhitch and use the truck for exploring. One vehicle to maintain. Trying to walk around in a moving motor home is dangerous and illegal. Usually there is a place to pull over and park for a few mins.

Rusty (@guest_10697)
6 years ago

The convenience factor of traveling in a motorhome cannot be overlooked. When the weather is nasty, pull in and park, turn on the generator and heater/ac, and wait it out. You are however adding another engine that must be maintained and repaired…an added expense over the fifth wheel setup.

Greg (@guest_10693)
6 years ago

I own a truck and fifth wheel but I deliver class A motorhomes to dealerships. I would prefer traveling in a motorhome over a fifth wheel and pickup from my experience. Living space is not much different between the two if they are the same length.

Storm (@guest_10682)
6 years ago

The most important point?? It is illegal and dangerous to be up moving around while driving!! Ever heard of seatbelt laws? If that is her sole reason for a motorhome, get the 5th wheel.

Darrel (@guest_10668)
6 years ago

We are motorhome people, but to let any passenger “get up and move around ” while you are driving is dangerous and illegal almost everywhere.

“Maybe” once in a great while on a straight stretch with very little traffic get up long enough to use the bathroom, then immediately return and buckle up.

Sign up for the

RVtravel Newsletter

Sign up and receive 3 FREE RV Checklists: Set-Up, Take-Down and Packing List.