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
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
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