All types of RV classes, including airstreams, campers, and more are great ways to explore outdoors. When you choose a life of travel and outdoor recreation, the next step is picking the right vehicle for you and your desired lifestyle. This guide will help you choose which of the RV classes is right for you.
Before you take out your checkbook, you need to consider what style of RV or camper best suits your needs. Start by asking yourself a few questions:
- Are you traveling alone or with a family?
- Are you looking to spend more time at a campsite or on the road?
- What does your budget look like?
Whether you’re buying or renting, these are all important factors to consider. Luckily, there are so many different RV classes that you’re sure to find one that’s a good fit for you.
Types of RV Classes
Class A Motorhomes
Class A RVs are some of the largest vehicles you’ll see on the road. This makes them perfect for family travel. Built on either a commercial truck or commercial bus chassis, these behemoths range anywhere from 22 to 45 feet in length. They’re available in either diesel or gas engines and can have their engine in the front or rear. Most importantly, they come with all of the amenities you can imagine! A word of caution though: the more amenities in the RV, the more cash leaves your wallet.
If you’re the type of traveler that wants to enjoy all of the perks of a mansion while on the road: flat screen TVs, large beds, TV satellite systems, full bathrooms, etc., then this is definitely your type of RV.
Some downsides to Class A RVs are the hefty price tags, high maintenance costs (not a huge problem if you’re renting), and low fuel efficiency. Additionally, they can be difficult to drive due to their enormous size. Moreover, they’re impractical to use for transportation after you’ve already set up camp. If you’re camping somewhere where you’ll be frequently driving from your campsite, it would be convenient to tow a smaller vehicle behind your RV.
Class B Motorhomes
The Class B RVs, also known as van campers, are built on a van chassis and are much smaller and easier to drive than their Class A counterparts. Although they have much less space, they can still be fairly pricey, as many of them come with the same amenities as Class A RVs. Some of the more expensive ones can contain hot showers, toilets, air conditioning, heater, and freshwater tanks.
The biggest advantage of having a Class B RV is that they’re suitable for frequent driving. Unlike a Class A RV, once you set up camp you can frequently drive on and off the campsite to go shopping or sightseeing.
Its small size, however, is also its biggest disadvantage. The Class B is only suitable for 1 or 2 people, so it’s not the most ideal type of RV if you’re planning a trip for the whole family.
Class C Motorhomes
Also built on a van chassis, the Class C is ideal for families who want the amenities of Class A on a smaller budget. Although they’re not quite as sizable, Class C RVs usually have slide-outs that create adequate space and utility for their passengers. Unlike Class B’s, this RV is family friendly. It has lots of sleeping areas and storage space.
Due to their bulky size, it’s not uncommon to see other vehicles being towed behind a Class C. However, it should be noted that the Class C RV towing capacity is much lower than the Class A. Even so, this RV’s versatility makes it suitable for both short and long trips with the family.
Fifth wheels are easily recognized by their gooseneck that usually extends over the bed of the truck that tows it. These towables can be anywhere from 22-40 feet in length and have more living space than any other trailers their size. Preferred by many full-timers, fifth wheels can have multiple floors, contain slide-outs for extra space, and have more living space than other RVs.
Depending on their size and weight, you might need a medium-duty truck (MDT) or heavy-duty truck (HDT) to safely tow one. If you’re concerned about the hefty price tags of other RVs, you’ll be happy to know that the price of a luxurious, spacious fifth wheel combined with an MDT is actually cheaper than most luxury RVs.
There’s a good reason why travel trailers make up a majority of trailer sales. Travel trailers can range anywhere from 14-36 feet in length and are, on average, a few thousand dollars less expensive than fifth wheels. They’re also available with all of the amenities of other luxury trailers. Depending on their size, some can be towed by a 6-cylinder sedan, so there’s no need to worry if you don’t want to buy a truck. Another awesome perk of the travel trailer is that since they tend to have a lower profile than other towables of the same size, they put less of a burden on your fuel economy.
The downsides of travel trailers are few but still worth mentioning. For starters, they don’t have as smooth of a ride as fifth wheels. They’re known to sway. Also, like any other towable, the larger the trailer, the more difficult they are to drive.
As far as quality is concerned, travel trailers can be either garbage or amazing. If you’re looking to purchase one, it’s especially important to do your research and not just rely on the salesperson.
Easily distinguishable by its uniquely rounded structure and its shiny, chrome exterior, Airstreams are without a doubt the most recognizable luxury trailers in the world. Even though they’re classified as a type of travel trailer, they’re unlike any other one on the market. There’s no mistaking an Airstream for anything else.
Being one of the most high-end luxury trailers on the market, Airstreams are not particularly well suited for buyers with low budgets. They come with all of the amenities that you’d expect from luxury trailers: heating, air conditioning, fresh water, gas, electricity, sink, kitchen, toilet, etc. Furthermore, they can range anywhere from 16 to 30 feet in length, so depending on which model you’re interested in, it can be a trailer suitable for the entire family, or just 1-2 people.
The downsides to Airstreams are the same as any other luxury trailer: initial price tag and higher maintenance costs.
Hip and iconic, the teardrop trailer was extremely popular from the 1930s through the 1960s. Despite their popularity, these stylish relics of the past almost completely vanished from the camping scene by the 1970s. After a nearly 30-year hiatus, they began making a comeback in the late 1990s and have experienced a resurgence ever since.
Due to their small size lightweight build (ranging from 4×8 to 6×10 feet and only 4-5 feet in height), the teardrop trailers are one of the more easily towed travel trailers. This easy-tow feature makes them suitable for a wider variety of vehicle owners since you don’t need a large or powerful truck to tow them (most weight less than 1,000 pounds).
If you’re the type of camper that wants to spend the majority of your time outside and only need a small shelter to sleep in, you should consider using a teardrop. The main downside to their small size is they’re only suitable for 1-2 people. They’re not ideal for large family camping, to say the least.
If your goal is to find the most affordable option, look no further! The pop-up camper is your match made in heaven. These folding camp trailers are the least expensive in the RV industry. Small, lightweight and very portable, in most cases pop-ups can be towed by ordinary mid-sized vehicles. But don’t let their small size fool you, pop-ups can come with a host of amenities like heating, a faucet and sink, electricity, gas, freshwater, and cooking facilities. Some also come with pull-out beds so they’re able to house up to 6 people for a good night’s rest.
The downside to the pop-up is that setting one up can be a hassle or more laborious than you’d think depending on weather conditions. Additionally, they have very limited storage space and leave you more exposed to weather conditions due to their soft exterior.
There are RV classes that are right for anyone. Large families can choose from Class A’s, Class C’s, Travel Trailers, and Airstreams. Small families, couples, and solo travelers can pick a Class B, Fifth-wheel, Teardrop Trailer, or Popup Camper. Whether you’re buying or renting, whatever type of RV you decide on, it’s a fantastic way to wander across the country.