What is an RV?
How do I Decide what kind of RV is Best for Me?
An RV is a vehicle that either has a driving compartment (motorhomes), or not (towables), that combines living quarters with transportation to allow families to travel for recreation and camping.
Who are some of the most Respected RV Companies?
Your budget is of vital importance in determining what type of RV will be best for your family. This is a big investment so take the time and make a smart decision.
We recommend having serious family discussions about the various RV types and purchasing options right from the start. Renting RVs can be expensive - why rent when you can apply the rental cost to a purchase and lower that monthly payment? If you do decide to rent, it is a good way to experience the pros and cons of different types to find out your deal-breakers before you buy. Keep a diary of your rental excursions where you make lists of the amenities you like and the deal-breakers as you experience them.
Here are some things to keep in mind when considering purchasing a trailer:
- Choose a type of RV first, then the size.
- Be sure to ask about special driver's licensing requirements which might put some models or sizes out of reach.
- After you start to narrow it down, call your insurance agent and get full-coverage quotes on the various models you are considering.
- Compare prices of the finalists wherever you can find comparable models that have recently sold to determine the fair market price as is.
- Be sure you buy from a respected dealer by checking the local BBB for complaints and note if they were resolved or left unresolved. Complaints are fine if the issues have been resolved.
Should I Buy a New or Used RV?
There are many great brands of RVs; however, these companies all have excellent products and responsive customer service:
What is the Average RV User Demographic?
The main advantage to buying new is you get the newest features in a brand new RV with close to zero miles on it. It is also an advantage to buy from a dealer close to your home when using your warranty for routine inspections and maintenance.
Many families seriously consider buying a used RV because of the obvious price advantage. New RVs, like cars, start depreciating the moment you drive them off the lot. If you are patient and look long and hard, you will eventually find a good price on a high-end, late-model RV. If you decide to buy used, don't be in a hurry. Shop at the end of the season and through the winter, not in spring.
If you are a first timer, take someone experienced with you or have an RV you are seriously considering professionally inspected so you don't accidentally buy someone else's problem. The NADA Guide will help you determine a fair price. Some RVs are "certified" to be pre-inspected at the sales lot and are usually a safe bet because the lot will guarantee the items on the checklist for a specific length of time.
Why do People choose RV Travel?
RV ownership has never been higher in the US. A recent 2011 University of Michigan study by the Recreation Vehicle Industry Association estimates that over 8.9 million households own an RV today. The average buyer is a married 48 year old homeowner with an income above $60K annually who likes to travel on average three weeks a year.
A big factor of the upswing in RV ownership is the bulk of baby boomers who are now over 60 and have been in this demographic for a decade. Secondly, typical buyers range in age from 35 to 75, so the market is huge and seems to be growing downward in age. Right now the 34-54 age group owns more RVs than any other 20 year age span. In that group, 11% of households own an RV, putting that age group above the 55 and over group in RV ownership per households.
What is the Current Trend in RV Travel?
Traveling around the U.S. by RV is the only way to be able to fully experience all that our country has to offer. Go where you want when you want in your own vehicle that includes traveling living quarters. Relax and enjoy yourself with no rushing around, no stress, no keeping track of tickets, luggage, time - any of that.
Plane and rail travel do not afford the same luxury as RV travel and RV travel is more affordable compared to other modes of travel. There are estimates that traveling in a trailer can cost families 59% less than other modes of travel. Traveling by RV is comfortable; you take your kitchen, sleeping quarters, and bathroom with you without waiting in lines, making advance reservations, long airport waits and body scans, and luggage restrictions. RV travel keeps the family together and alone, improving family time and encouraging communication.
You can stop anywhere to enjoy the scenery you run across: national parks, regional attractions and annual festivals, local landmarks and roadside attractions, mountains, beaches, rivers, lakes, waterfalls, tourist attractions, small towns, etc. RV travelers can also take their "toys" anywhere they want to enjoy their selected adventure: snowmobiling, canoeing, ATV hot spots, motorcycling, jet-skiing, and more.
Pets can accompany RVers on their trips and Kitty or Fido will not need to be left with family or friends. You can use your RV to arrive early at a sporting event and tailgate, or use it for local special interest groups like dog shows or horsing events.
The trend is toward shorter trips on weekends with less preparation time during the week. It's a "Let's Go!" trend. With 16,000 + private and publicly owned campgrounds nationwide, RVers are not at a loss for destinations and they are getting out there more and more. The trends in modern RVs include more lightweight towables and more fuel efficient motorhomes, making it easier for RV owners to enjoy traveling more often. Green options like solar panels are now being offered as well.
What are the Different Types of RVs and Their Advantages, Disadvantages?
What is Right for my Family, a Motorhome or Towable?
The number one factor towards motorhomes is that passengers can ride comfortably in the living compartment while on the road. In a towable, passengers must ride in the towing vehicle. Although rules prohibit moving about the motorhome while it is in motion, the bathroom is very close by and many families use it instead of stopping. Generally, these vehicles are pretty easy to set up with self-leveling features. The other huge advantage to a motorhome is that you can usually tow another vehicle.
However, a con to motorhome ownership can occur when your engine unexpectedly needs to be repaired in a shop and you are stuck for extra accommodations you may not have counted on. Also, motorhomes are generally more expensive, yet you can expect less living space and smaller kitchens as well as depreciating faster.
Travel trailers have their own set of advantages so consider carefully. Depending on the size, they generally have more living space for the money and hold their value better and longer. You have a place to sleep if your towing vehicle needs to be repaired in a shop. You also don't need to tow a vehicle to have something to drive locally. However, trailers have definite cons. They are more difficult for beginners to set up and level. Usually, lenders will only finance the trailer so you will have to own something appropriate to tow it with already.
In closing, the best advice I can offer is to read everything you can find. Join forums and chat rooms where travelers hang out and ask questions. Talk to people who have owned both because folks that have only owned one kind will be biased.
What is a Class A Motorhome?
What is a Class B Motorhome?
Class A motorhomes, also known as a coach or motor coach, look like a bus and are built on a truck chassis that has been totally stripped. The driving compartment is part of the interior of the inside of the RV.
There are definite advantages to owning one of these vehicles including:
- They are great on long highways trips.
- They are usually fairly large and roomy and are usually the first choice for full-timers and have a lot of storage.
- There is an added element of safety knowing you never have to get out of the RV because the living and driving compartments are connected.
- The raised driver seat gives a great view of the road and traffic.
- They can tow other vehicles with ease.
The negatives of owning a Class A motorhome include:
- They are the most expensive choice out there.
- They also can be very tough to turn on city streets requiring you to use alternate routes through large cities and a rental car for in-city driving if you aren't towing your own.
- They are very tall and clearance can be an issue, especially the right side - a drawback of the raised driver's seat.
- The Class A's seem to have more structural problems.
- They are very large and storage when not in use can be a problem.
What is a Class C Motorhome?
Class B motorhomes are built from minivans and are the smallest of the three classes. These are also called conversion vans or camper vans when they began their life as a conventional van and were converted sometime during their lifetime. These are especially good for weekend trips close to home. Living space is much smaller, although they usually have a raised roof for headroom.
On the upside, Class B motorhomes have the following positives:
- They are the least expensive RV type to own and operate.
- They are easy to drive around town and can be used as a primary vehicle if necessary.
- The driving and living areas are connected so you have that element of safety at rest stops. They can tow a small car or trailer.
- They fit in a normal residential driveway making them easy to store when not being used.
- The small size gives you many more options for campgrounds and parking.
On the downside:
- They are usually small and have limited space.
- Most owners would say they are good for short trips only.
- Any more than four people traveling at once makes for very tight quarters.
Class C motorhomes (mini-motorhomes) are RVs that are built on a truck chassis which includes the cab. The driving compartment and living area are connected giving that extra layer of safety. Their size can usually be compared to rental moving trucks and they are capable of towing a vehicle. These RVs seem to hold heat and AC better because of the reduced windshield size and customary curtain separation between driving and living areas. The other recognizable feature of Class C's is the sleeping area over the driving compartment.
Regardless of the obvious differences, Class C's can be just as luxurious and cost just as much as the best Class A's.
The downsides include:
- Difficulty driving around town or in tight spaces requiring a rental for in-city driving.
- Most of the Class C's are not large enough for full-timers, although huge models built on semi-truck chassis' do exist.
- They require a large storage area when not in use.
What is a Fifth Wheel?
What is a Travel Trailer?
Fifth Wheels are totally separate, self-contained living units that need to be hooked up to a vehicle and towed. The other main feature is the hitch is directly over the towing vehicle's axle causing a small portion of the weight to be borne by the truck's axle.
Pros to fifth wheel ownership:
- The vehicle used to tow a fifth wheel usually doubles as a family vehicle in the off-season.
- If the truck requires repair or towing, you can disconnect the fifth wheel while your truck is being repaired.
- They are safer to drive than travel trailers and much easier to back up.
- They have a lot of storage space because there is no driving compartment.
- A large-size truck is usually required to tow fifth wheels making them easier to drive, but requires more skill.
The downsides to owning a fifth wheel include:
- Being unable to tow vehicles behind fifth wheels.
- Being difficult to maneuver.
- Driving and living compartments are separate.
- Clearance can sometimes be an issue, and in-city driving can be challenging.
- Large storage space for the off-season is usually needed.
What is a Toy Hauler Trailer?
Travel Trailers are similar to fifth wheels except they are towed in tandem from a ball hitch mounted on the bumper of the towing vehicle. Other names for travel trailers are conventional trailers, travel trailer coach, tag-along, and bumper pull. Small travel trailers are one of the most popular RVs in use today.
Categories of travel trailers include:
- Expandable travel trailers that open up additional space either vertically or horizontally.
- Teardrop trailers that include tear-shaped trailers (the point is in the back), and all very small trailers.
- Park models are designed to be used in park facilities as there are no holding tanks or dual-voltage appliances. Park facilities are required to hook up to electricity, water, and sewer lines making park models especially suited for permanent or long-term placement and more resembles a small mobile home than an RV. The best features include being very large and open for their size and having the tow vehicle doubling as local transportation. Being lower in height, there is usually no clearance issue unless traveling with large items on top.
The drawbacks to travel trailers can include:
- Being unstable on the road.
- Requiring a good deal of skill to haul around.
- Having less storage than a fifth wheel because there is no raised section.
- Requiring a full-sized pickup or truck to haul for larger trailers.
- Being unable to tow anything behind it.
- The driving compartment and living areas are separate and not accessible while traveling.
What is a Pop-up (Folding) Trailer?
Toy Haulers are a sub-category of both fifth wheels and travel trailers. They are designed to haul toys: ATVs, motorcycles, dune buggies, etc. Toy haulers always have a back gate - usually the entire back wall folds down to double as a ramp. They can have a dedicated garage only or an added living compartment with fold-away furniture. They sometimes have a third axle to support the toys.
What is a Truck Camper?
Pop-up folding trailers are small and lightweight with living compartments that fold or collapses into a much smaller size for ease of travel and storage. This makes it possible for most all families to tow behind a mid-size family car, SUV, or smaller pickup trucks. Very small folding trailers can be hauled behind a large motorcycle. Folding trailers are also called pop-up trailers, tent trailers, camper trailers, or folding campers.
Pros to owning a folding trailer:
- Their low cost and the fact that they are very light and easy to tow.
- The towing vehicle can be used as local transportation and is most likely a primary family vehicle during the off-season.
- There are no clearance issues and no special storage requirements are needed.
- You will have a huge choice of campgrounds because of the small size and easy maneuverability.
Cons to folding trailer ownership:
- They are very short on space so they are only recommended for short trips.
- There is no living area available till you reach your destination and open it up.
- These units have very little insulation so are not recommended for cold weather trips.
Truck campers are a living space attached to and fastened down tightly to the frame of a pickup truck. Some RV campers can slide off the truck easily when you reach your destination, so you will have a vehicle to drive locally.
There are many benefits to truck campers including:
- Being a small RV, they are very inexpensive to own and operate.
- They are very easy to "install" and rarely require expensive modifications to the truck.
- Both in-city and highway driving is easy with truck campers.
- No special storage is needed when not in use as they can fit between the house and the property line easily, or just park it in your driveway.
- You will also have a large selection of campgrounds and campsites.
The cons include:
- You can experience poor road handling when attached to a truck with light suspension and their size makes them good for short trips only.
- The driving and living compartments are separate.
What are some of the most Common RV Features?
What are the most Common Feature Requests of RVs?
What are the Important Kitchen Features to look for in an RV?
Structurally, the most popular requests are awnings and (multiple) tipouts. Skylights are next, with generators for backup electricity close behind. For fifth wheels and travel trailers, tie-downs and trailer supports are common requests. For motorhomes, tow-behinds are very popular. In the last 10 years, the demand for dedicated office space in RVs has soared and is the current number one "new feature" request.
These days, the larger motorhomes, fifth wheels, and travel trailers have usually incorporated a mini-office area/station to hook up your computer equipment and leave it out. All you will need to make it a complete office is a rolling chair.
What Features are Popular in the Living Areas?
Certainly the most important feature in a kitchen is available counter space. Smart manufacturers have found ways to add counter-space without cutting into the living area by adding counter extensions that fold down and away when you're done preparing food.
Next on the list would be food storage space. Are the cabinet shelves adjustable? Do they pull-out and/or swivel? Both of those options make it much easier to get items in and out when you have the cabinets stocked full. Spice racks on the reverse side of the door are always a great feature. Are the cabinets easy to remove for cleaning?
Seasoned RV owners usually opt for vinyl or linoleum flooring in the entry and kitchen because carpet does not hold up well in those areas. Leave carpet to the bedroom and living room areas.
What about Bedroom Features, what's Important?
Families always want and appreciate larger windows, especially in the A, B, and C motorhome classes that allow passengers to ride in the living area while on the road. Skylights are a close second.
Although not as apparent until after you have used your RV a few times, the configuration of the seating to the television will be important to your family. Watching TV may not seem important at first but after a few trips, you'll be renting movies to watch after you settle in for the night - and you'll be fighting for the best seats. Since most RV TVs are in stationary cabinets, the things to look for are wall mounts or swivel stands for a flexible mount.
What about Bathroom Features?
For families with children, privacy is the chief concern. Look for real doors with locks on the bedroom and bathroom. Another feature that is appreciated but often not thought of till later is being able to walk on both sides of the bed so you can avoid crawling over your spouse on a middle of the night bathroom trip. It also makes it easy to make up the bed every day.
The most coveted feature, if you get a large enough RV, is ample closet space in the bedroom. Just like kitchen cabinets, look for flexibility such as adjustable shelves, bins, and clothing rods. If you find a model that you like without the closet luxuries, you can always add after-market adjustable shelving. A large mirror (usually on the bedroom closet door) is also a great feature in an RV because they help reflect light, but again, that can be added later.
What about RV Parks and traveling by RV?
Privacy is the chief concern with bathrooms and over the years, most manufacturers have moved the door to the bathroom from the bedroom to the hall. That said there are two schools of thought in regards to bathrooms. Some folks like the toilet and sink in the same room with the shower/tub. Others like them separated so they can be used at the same time. Of course you will favor a real door with a lock as well.
Is Internet Available in RV Parks?
What kinds of Parks and Facilities are Available to RV Owners when Traveling?
A park that allows overnight camping in an outdoor sleeping area is called a campground. This could be anything from a fully developed RV park or it may be accessible only by hikers. RV parks are usually privately owned and operated to serve short-stay or seasonal guests.
An RV resort park is also usually privately owned and is just like an RV park but allows recreational vehicles. An RV "resort" usually (but not always) means the owner has spent considerable money on extra amenities for guests. Extended stay sites normally have restrictions on older RVs and do not allow short-stays, say less than a month.
Federal parks sometimes offer reduced rates for those willing to work off part of their stay. These are run by the National Forest Service (NFS) or the National Park Service (NPS). There's always a lot of work to be done on federal park land so this is a good option for many! State parks have a variety of recreational opportunities including visitor centers at some of the most beautiful and scenic destinations in the U.S. This short list is but a sample of places to park your RV when traveling around the U.S.
What does it Cost to Stay in RV Facilities?
Sometimes. Ask if there is WiFi available in the park then ask if it covers the whole park or your specific site. Be sure to ask about the cost before logging in, and you may need to get the network name and key. If you are going to arrive at the park after hours, you will want to get this information when you make reservations so you can get online before they open in the morning.
There are other options. Many smartphones allow you to add a "hotspot" to your monthly service, although cell phone access is notoriously slow. You can purchase satellite service and have service everywhere, or you could get a nationwide access plan from a company like Boingo.
Is there somewhere I can Park my RV for Free when Traveling?
Of course, the more amenities, the more the cost. For primitive locations the cost usually starts around $3-4 a day and could go as high as $10 per day. These sites will have no hookups and instead will have a central bathroom, shower, and an RV dump station.
"Water and electric" (15-50 amps) parks start around $10 a day and go as high as $30 a day in popular parks or those close to popular destinations.
Full hookups (water, electric, and sewer) also start around $10 a day but could be as high as $50 a day or more.
How much should I Expect to Pay for Gas in my RV?
Yes. Walmarts all across the U.S. allow free overnight parking at the back of their parking lots. Here is a PDF with the Walmarts that do not allow parking. When it opens, push "control F" and enter the zip code you are traveling through to be sure you don't park at one that doesn't allow it. Additionally, be aware that some cities, towns, and municipalities do not allow RV parking anywhere except licensed RV parks.
There are always rest areas which are found on all major interstates starting a few miles outside of any major city. Some truck stops allow overnight RV parking; ask management when you pull in.
Where can I find Various Checklists for RV Owners?
The good news is that you can control the cost of your fuel consumption by carefully considering these factors: weight of the RV, engine size of the motorhome or towing vehicle, the type of fuel you use, the gear ratios, wind resistance, and your driving habits.
Secondly, consider the topography on the trail to your destination - is it flat, uphill, around mountainsides? The best way to find out what fuel consumption will cost in the models you are considering is to join an Internet forum and start asking members what they pay. Of course, if you have a big truck and a small travel trailer, you won't notice much difference and it goes up from there.
That said, you can expect to get anywhere from 6-13 miles per gallon (mpg) for the large motorhomes, travel trailers, and fifth wheels, and maybe a bit better mileage in a Class C, say up to 15 mpg tops. Class B RVs usually get the same or slightly less mpg's than the van they are built on, depending again on amenities added, total weight, etc.
The Internet is full of RV checklists of all types! Just enter "RV Checklist" into your favorite search engine and you will get over 3 million results. You can narrow it down by adding the type of checklist you are hoping to find: Checklist for on-board supplies, RV kitchen checklist, RV inspection checklist, RV or travel trailer road test checklist, inventory checklist for your first trip, checklist of common RV essentials, RV pet checklist, and the list goes on and on. We have complied a few lists of our own here
What are the Different Weights and Ratings and what do they Mean?
What is Gross Vehicle Weight?
What is Gross Vehicle Weight Rating?
GVW includes curb weight, cargo weight, and person's weight
What is Gross Trailer Weight?
GVWR is also called maximum loaded trailer weight. GVW or GTW weights should never exceed this number. GVWR is applied to trailers as well as vehicles, but you may see this rating referred to as the maximum loaded trailer weight.
What is Gross Combination Weight?
GTW includes all GAWs and tongue weight (also king pin) as well as the weight of all jacks in use.
What is the Gross Combination Weight Rating?
GCW is the GVW of the towing vehicle and the GVW of the towed vehicle.
What is the Gross Axle Weight?
GCWR is the GVW of the towing vehicle and the towed vehicle should never exceed this number.
What is the Gross Axle Weight Rating?
GAW is the actual scale weight. It is best to have an evenly distributed load so there is not too much weight on one axle. Tire ratings are taken into account as well. Divide the GAW by the number of tires on an axle to get the weight being borne by each tire.
What is Tongue Weight?
GAWR is the GAW of a single axle should never exceed this number.
What is King Pin Weight?
Tongue weight (or load) is the measurement of the weight on the hitch ball from the trailer. It is best not to exceed 15% of the GTW, and 10% is ideal.
What is Curb Weight?
King pin weight (or pin weight) is the measurement of the weight on the fifth wheel hitch from the fifth wheel. It is best not to exceed 25% of the GVW, and 15% is ideal.
What is Dry Weight?
Curb weight includes the vehicle weight with standard equipment only, with full fuel tanks, full fresh water tanks, full propane tanks, and all equipment fluids topped off. Some variations include optional equipment and the driver.
What is Unloaded Vehicle Weight?
Dry weight is the weight of the vehicle with standard equipment and onboard equipment fluids, sans the optional equipment, fuel, water, propane, and cargo. Sometimes includes RV batteries.
What is Cargo Weight?
UVW includes factory vehicle weight, full fuel tank, and onboard equipment fluids.
What is the Payload?
Cargo weight is the weight of your personal belongs on the vehicle (cargo), optional equipment weight, then add either your tongue weight or king pin weight.
First-Time RV Buyers need Support. Does RV Fourseasons Offer it for RV Motorhomes and other Types?
Payload is the cargo weight and the person's weight. This is a rating weight. Subtract the curb weight from the GVWR with standard equipment and the maximum weight allowed.
I don't Recognize the Abbreviations that Describe my Starcraft RV. What do they Mean?
When you purchase an RV motorhome or any of our recreation vehicles, you're going to get industry leading support. You'll get a complete and comprehensive walkthrough so you'll know every button and function of the RV before it's delivered to your home. It's important that you voice any questions and concerns you have during the walkthrough, but RV Four Seasons personnel are always available to answer your questions by phone. We believe in our products so much that we offer a 90-day service guarantee on any RV sold by us. RV Four Seasons also started the I'm Trailer Man Camping Club to provide real life hands on, mock ups for our 1st time buyers and anyone in who is interested in learning more about their specific RV or Motorhome along with having a good time with other RVers.
Does my RV Camper have a Serial Number?
It's easy to get lost in the sea of abbreviations connected to recreational vehicles. The abbreviations are defined by the Recreational Vehicle Industry Association and are standard for all units including your Starcraft RV. Here are some common examples:
- UVW: The unloaded vehicle weight is the weight of the vehicle as it rolled off the factory line. It includes the full fuel tanks, full generator fuel tanks, and engine oil and coolants if applicable. It does not include any additional cargo, LP Gas, fresh water, or any accessories installed by the dealer.
- NCC: The net carrying capacity is the total weight of all belongings including those not included in the UVW and anything else that can be put into the vehicle
- GVWR: The gross vehicle weight rating is the weight limit of the RV and is equal to or greater than the total sum of the UVW plus NCC.
- GCWR: The gross combined weight rating is simply the value of the total allowable loaded weight of a tow vehicle and a towed vehicle or trailer.
I don't have a GFCI Hookup for my Forest RV at Home, do I need One?
Yes, the serial number for your RV camper or other unit is found on the bill of sale, insurance paperwork, registration, and title. If you look carefully, you'll also find it stamped on the vehicle's frame, but exactly where that is depends on the manufacturer, model, and year.
Why Do RV Motorhome Customers choose You over the Competition?
No. Odds are your Forest RV or other brand already has one and it won't work with more than one on a single circuit.
The reasons why we are considered a leading and trusted provider of quality new and used RVs are too many to mention, but the biggest contributor is that we stand behind every vehicle we sell and provide unparalleled service to every customer.