Wednesday, November 29, 2023


What size RV should we buy?

Dear RV Shrink:
We are shopping for a new RV. My husband wants a giant bus-type motorhome and I would like to see us in something smaller. I don’t care if it’s a trailer, 5th wheel or motorhome, I just think it will be easier to travel in something less large. He thinks he needs the biggest thing that rolls on tires; I think we might feel more comfortable in something more conservative. Do you have any suggestions on finding a happy medium? —Bigger not always better in Birmingham

Dear BB:
Size has a lot to do with how much you can afford and how you plan to use your rig. I always suggest talking to people who actually own the types of rigs you are seriously thinking about buying. Go to a campground or RV park and walk around. You will find most people are generous with their experience. You will hear a lot of people with 40+ foot rigs mention it does have some drawbacks as to where you can take them. It’s not only your skill as a driver, but also the vegetation and terrain you find yourself navigating. If you plan to visit a lot of Forest Service campgrounds, you will find yourself limited. Many National Park campgrounds have put size limits on RVs.

You have many more options today in the space department. Manufacturers are putting slideouts on everything from mega motorhomes to pop-up campers. If you can’t go long, go wide. I had a problem one year with my 27-foot Class C in a Florida State Park. After playing computer campground bingo, I finally snagged a site reservation. When I arrived the ranger said I would not fit in the site. I assured her I would. She followed us down to the beach and watched as I backed into our compact little piece of heaven. I made it by the hair on my chinny-chin-chin. If I had not fit, she would have given me my walking papers.

Any length will take planning. Rig size will also determine where you stop for spur-of-the-moment sightseeing. On a trip on Hwy. 70 across the top of Wisconsin, my wife and I saw two mature bald eagles and their young feeding on a deer carcass. We wanted to stop, but there was not enough shoulder to pull off with a Class A motorhome. We also pull a toad, which sometimes makes you think twice about historic sites that come to a dead-end.

Information is king. The more you know before you plunk down your hard-earned money, the more it will help you make the right decision, big or small. —Keep Smilin’, Richard Mallery a.k.a. 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.





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Rory (@guest_21075)
5 years ago

I guess I will be the guy in two left shoes here. I’m a retired FT’er driving a 45′ DP with a toad. I have yet to find a place I didn’t have access to because of my size. I worked my butt off to get to this point, and was forced into minimalism early in my life, because of financial restraints. I’m not rich, but I’m comfortable, and I intend to be just that. This is my home on wheels. I have been to NP’s and even boondocked on the Eastern rim of the Grand Canyon, just to mention one place. According to my records for the last five yrs, lodging has cost me $20.26 a night. I do some boondocking, but the majority of my time is spent docked in a private RV park/resort, and I do my exploring and touring in my toad. Before I bought I rented a class B, a class C and a class A. I spent several weeks in each, made my decision and have never been happier. Remember the size rv for you is determined by how you plan to use it, and how /when you travel. I got lucky on the first try, most people I talk to on the road have traded up or down in size several times. Do your due diligence first, then buy, you’ll be a lot happier…….

Stanley Sokolow (@guest_19696)
5 years ago

Here’s an informative video by a guy who checked the maximum RV length (combined length of the RV and towed or towing vehicle) allowed in state and national parts around the United States.

Here’s his summary: . Example: RV’s over 40′ long fit into only 7% of national park campgrounds, while RV’s less than 25′ fit 93% of them. Of course, if you’re only going to travel from commercial RV resort to resort, length isn’t an issue because they cater to the big rigs.

My brief experience looking at California state park limits tells me that 24′ or less is ideal to fit nearly all of them.

So, your first decision is how do you want to travel and stay. Do you want to be able to stay in national parks, national forests, state parks, dispersed camping in national forests, or just commercial campgrounds like KOA and Good Sam RV parks? Do your research and then choose your RV accordingly.

Ron Reagan (@guest_19515)
5 years ago

WE started out with a small pop-up trailer and eventually graduated to a 25 travel trailer and did a LOT of camping as I could fit either in a spot almost anywhere. After kids grew and camping was no longer a requirement for them, we decided that the two of us would do some traveling around this great country of ours. We sold the trailer and got a 35 foot DP and put almost 100,000 miles on it and visited the majority of our 49 states, including and entire five months in Canada and Alaska. As we grew older, we became a little tired of all the traveling and decided that it was time to “settle down”. We bought a really nice lot in a RV resort on the Oregon coast and determined that the 35′ DP was a little small and traded it in on a 44′ DP. We now spend May through October on that resort lot (with an occasional small trip to fairly close rallies or quilt shows) and then put it away for the long winter months at our S&B home in Sou Cal.

So, my point is, the size of rv depends upon first, your financial capabilities and secondly, on what you are going to use it for.

Gene Bjerke (@guest_19508)
5 years ago

I rarely see any mention of Class B motorhomes. They seem to be the poor relations no one wants to talk about. It is even hard to find any statistics about them. We travel in a 22-foot, Sprinter-based motorhome. We have no problems with being on the road for a couple of months at a time. We know of people who full-time in them. It is just a matter of simplifying your life. In return you get lots of mobility and almost infinite parking ability.

Robbie (@guest_19464)
5 years ago

Full timers for 12 years, happy with a 36′ diesel pusher and toad.

Marvin Thomasson (@guest_19449)
5 years ago

Best advice is as the doc says, visit several RV parks and talk to folks. Some may invite you in to check out interiors. Or like many of us, try the different ones. We’ve been through a Class C, a 5th wheel, and 2 A’s (29 & 35 Ft) to find what made us sell two homes and two building lots so we could full time without worries. We’re small enough to get into most places and big enough to be comfortable.

Bob Godfrey (@guest_19410)
5 years ago

Our first and only RV was a used 40′ motorhome and since we are full-timers it is a wonderful place to live while visiting North America. Keep in mind that if you decide to go large and tow a vehicle behind you, you may be around 60′ long overall and that can be a real factor in where you can “pull over” or even simply attempt to make a U-turn. I think if we had to do it all over again I would buy a slightly smaller Class A of around 34 to 36′ only because it would be easier to maneuver. One additional benefit of a Class A is that if you have to use the bathroom it’s right down the hall. ‘Nuff said.

Mike (@guest_19405)
5 years ago

As national parks get more crowded it gets much harder to find a place to pull out or park an RV. The smaller units give you a better chance of stopping when and where you want to. The OP never mentions pulling a toad so stops and parking become high importance. Also they don’t say whether they will be “travelers” or “Full timers”. Different needs for different styles.

Jay French (@guest_19309)
5 years ago

It is all about fit for use & purpose. To explain:
Fulltimer – 36′ or longer Motorhome or huge luxury 5th wheel with multiple slide outs as you will likely not move every week or longer.
Retired weeks at a time long distance traveller – High End 5th wheel or 36′ or shorter Motorhome easier to navigate roadways.
Retired weeks at a time in 1 or 2 places 6 or more times per year – 5th wheel or luxury 32′ or longer Travel Trailer.
1 week at a time several times per year & a few weekends – 32′ or longer Mid to High End Travel Trailer with multiple slide-outs.
1 week at a time vacation & a few weekends – Low to Mid-range Travel Trailer 32′ or shorter with 1-2 slide-outs.
Have owned a 43′ Diesel Pusher, initial cost, maintenance & maneuverability issues.
Started out with a 27′ with 1 slide-out used mainly for weekends & 1 week vacations. Inexpensive to buy & low maintenance costs.
Now own a 32′ Mid-Range Travel Trailer with 2 slide-outs as this fits our personal camping style & we seldom pull it out of state.
****Money is not an issue for us but rather we associate cost with practicality & usage.

Darrel (@guest_19290)
5 years ago

In my opinion for full timers, a 36 to 40 ft motorhome is the ideal size. For part timers, 34 to 36 foot.

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