By Russ and Tiña De Maris
You can tell that fall has come: The geese are flying in formation and the RV shows are busting out all over. Looking to buy an RV – or just get a feel for what’s out there? Making a trip to an RV show can broaden your horizons. It can also be an exercise in frustration because there is so much to see. Here are a few thoughts on making your RV show sojourn a bit more useful.
Timing: If big crowds aren’t your bag, by all means, hit the shows early in the day. The crowds will be smaller and you’ll stand a much better chance of being able to concentrate, and to get the attention of sales people.
Don’t wear yourself out. Take time to visit the displays, but allow yourself time to take a break, have a snack, and rehydrate your system.
What to bring: Before you ever head out to a show, sit down with your significant other traveling partner and discuss what you want and need in a rig. Draw up a list of those desires and carry it with you. You could even make more than one copy of the list, and use it to “check off” for each rig you visit. Later you’ll be able to do side-by-side comparisons of possible “hits.”
• You’ll probably collect lots of brochures and giveaways. A backpack or a reusable grocery store shopping bag makes a great goody-grabber. You can also put in a few snacks and a couple of bottles of water.
• Don’t forget your digital camera or cell phone to take photos of features that appeal to you and you want to visualize again. An extra set of batteries is a good idea to keep the camera going, as you’ll likely be using the flash a lot.
• If you’re serious about shopping, a tape measure, paper and pen are good ideas. You may want to know just what size a bed really is – not just what the sales folk claim that it is. How much room is there on that “workstation” for your computer or laptop?
• Is your smartphone, iPad, or tablet equipped with a QR code reader? You may spot products or even appliances in a rig that have a QR code. Want more information? “Shoot” the QR code with your device and that should take you out to the website with more information.
• RV shows often have plenty of prize drawings. If you don’t already have “return address labels” like you’d use on mail that you send out, take the time to print some up yourself. Bring them with you and stick them on the entry forms to save time filling out all that information repetitively.
What to look for:
• Obviously you’ll want to make sure that the floor layout of any rig you’re interested in buying lives up to your expectations and needs. But here’s a hanger: If the rig comes with slideouts (and what doesn’t?), ask to see the rig with the slideouts IN. Make sure that you can comfortably move around in the rig with the slides in. Why so? When traveling, if you stop for a break or want to stay overnight somewhere on the stealth, can you actually live with the rig with the slides in? What drawers, cabinets, and accessories will be blocked?
• Is there room in the bathroom and the shower? Maybe you don’t do yoga on the john, but if you’re “fair sized,” is there room to comfortably shower? Step inside and check it out. We highly recommend leaving your clothes on for this test; besides, if you fit with your clothes on, you’ll obviously fit with them off. Sit on the toilet and make sure you’ve got lots of leg room for those contemplative times.
• Look over the cabinets, the drawers, the quality of the trim and moldings. Often these will speak volumes about the quality of construction. If they’re chintzy and thrown together, is it possible everything else about the rig is too?
Dealing with sales people: Expect nearly every sales person you talk with will want to secure a deal today. Don’t fall into the trap — you’re spending a lot of money. If they insist that “today’s the day, and tomorrow the price goes up,” be suspicious. While some dealers will offer “special show pricing,” they’d be pretty dumb to queer a sale by telling the customer they MUST buy at the show.