Buying a recreational vehicle (RV) requires certain knowledge to make an informed purchase. Whether buying new or used, first understand what constitutes a recreational vehicle. According to the Recreational Vehicle Industry Association (RVIA), a recreational vehicle is any “motorized or towable vehicle that combines transportation and temporary living quarters for travel, recreation, and camping.” Specialty dealers called RV dealers, not car dealers, sell recreational vehicles.
There are two basic differences in the types of recreational vehicles. A motorized recreational vehicle, or motorhome, offers all-inclusive transportation and temporary living quarters. There are different styles and sizes available, ranging from van campers to large, luxury motorhomes. The amenities, storage and sleeping capacities vary with the size of the motorhome. A motorized recreational vehicle is typically more expensive than a towable recreational vehicle, but the biggest advantage is having no need for a second vehicle for towing.
Towable recreational vehicles include truck campers, conventional travel trailers, fifth-wheel travel trailers, and sport utility RVs. The models vary in price, size and capacity, with conventional travel trailers often providing the most space. Most towable recreational vehicles require a pickup truck, and truck campers are designed only for mounting on a pickup.
Every type of recreational vehicle can be purchased new or used. Some things to consider before purchasing are whether you have or will have a vehicle suitable for towing a recreational vehicle, or whether you would prefer to own a motorized recreational vehicle solely for travel. Sleeping and storage capacities, as well as amenities like kitchens, baths and storage, should also be considered. Before purchasing an RV new or used, check for weight limits and the RVIA seal, which is prominently displayed on the outside of every recreational vehicle made by an RVIA member manufacturer.
Deciding to purchase a recreational vehicle should come after deciding what you will use it for, how often, what you will take with you, and how many people will regularly travel in it. RVs to suit every situation are widely available new and used. Recreational vehicle manufacturers and dealers recommend attending an RV show before purchase to gather more information and to compare makes and models.