How to choose the right RV/Camper to travel the USA
Mini guide to the perfect RV for first timers (but not only for them)
Finding the right recreational vehicle for your on the road around the USA can be quite challenging, considering the huge choice the rental agencies offer. This is even more challenging when you are a newbie.
As the right choice really depends on your needs, there are a few things you should define before starting to look for the right RV/Camper:
- how many adults/kids are traveling?
- how long will the trip last?
- which areas are you going to visit?
- what kind of comfort you are looking for?
Let's have a quick look to the different types of vehicles: this might help you to find out which one is the right one for you.
Campervans are actually normal Vans equipped with a bed for 2 adults. In some cases the rental agency may give you the option for an additional extractable roof-bed. Most of them have at least a water tank with sink and some offers even a slide-out propane cooker.
Pros: low budget, low consumption, very versatile
Cons: narrow space, no shower/toilet, not ideal for longer trips
Suitability: max. 2 adults and 2 kids, ideal for city visits or other narrow places
As the name suggests, these are Pick-up Trucks with an additional cabine on the back that usually offers a double-bed. The big advantage of this solution is that you can drive almost everywhere as most of the trucks do have AWD and therefore are very agile. There are even bigger Truck campers which offer sleeping-space for 2 adults and a child and in some case even a sink and cooker. On the other hand there isn't much living space in it.
Pros: low budget, low consumption, very agile
Cons: narrow space, usually no sink, cooker and shower/toilet, not ideal for longer trips
Suitability: max. 2 adults, ideal for restricted areas or difficult terrain
Small Motorhomes (19-22ft)
The smallest Motorhomes start from 19 ft (5.8m) and end at 22 ft (6.7m). They usually are foreseen for 2 adults or 2 adults and maximum one child, as the 3rd bed is often small sized. They are usually fully equipped with a small kitchen, dinette and bathroom/shower.
Pros: mid budget, mid consumption, bathroom/shower, kitchen and dinette
Cons: limited space for more than 2 people in the living area
Suitability: max. 2 adults and 1 child, for budget conscious people looking for all amenities
Mid-size Motorhomes (23-27 ft)
Mid-size Motorhomes start from 23 ft (7m) and end at 27 ft (8.2m). They are probably the most flexible solution for most of the travelers, combining both compactness and usually sleeping space for 4 adults and 2 children. Most of the mid-size Motorhomes are also equipped with a slide-out: this is a huge plus in terms of space when you are parked!
Pros: big but still compact, bathroom/shower, kitchen and dinette and usually a slide-out
Cons: no big cons
Suitability: max. 4 adults and 2 children, for bigger families and groups
Big Motorhomes (28-31 ft)
Big Motorhomes start from 28 ft (8.5m) and end at 31 ft (9.4m). The big-size Motorhomes are the ideal solution for travelers, who want to have a bigger inner space when parked. They have at least one slide-out in the living area and in most cases even one in the rear sleeping-area. They have sleeping space for 4 to 6 adults and 2 children. Big plus is also a bigger kitchen, bathroom and shower.
Pros: big space when parked, bigger bathroom/shower and kitchen
Cons: fuel consuming, quite high budget needed, access limitations (e.g. some areas of the National Parks)
Suitability: up tp 6 adults and 2 children, for big families and groups and with need of more living space when parked
Class A Motorhomes (32-36 ft)
Class A Motorhomes start from 32 ft (9.75m) and end at 36 ft (11m). The look and also the drive experience is more like a bus than a camper, which by the way is not really a problem in the USA thanks to their large roads and parking lots. They have usually two big slide-out in the living area and one in the rear sleeping-area. They have sleeping space for 4 to 6 adults and 2 children. Compared to the Big-size Motorhomes, the Class A has much more living space and some other comforts and luxury like compressor-driven A/C, so no docking needed.
Pros: very big inside-space when parked, big bathroom/shower and kitchen. A/C runs without electrical connection. More luxurious equipment in general.
Cons: fuel consuming, high budget needed, access limitations (e.g. some areas of National Parks), moreover the bigger your rig is less availability you may find in the RV parks
Suitability: up tp 6 adults and 2 children, for big families and groups and with need of a lot of living space when parked and more luxury and equipment