Buying an RV is a very personal choice with many variables to consider.

And with all the different models — travel trailers, fifth-wheels and motorhomes to name a few — I mean, honestly, what’s the difference? Hopefully, this week’s column will provide some clarity and get you one step closer to purchasing.

Let’s start with truck campers.

Truck campers are great for those who want their life to be as simple as possible. With little setup or breakdown by resting it in the back of your pickup, it’s the best get-up-and-go type of rig.

Used mostly for weekend getaways and hunting trips, there are a few people who DO full-time in a truck camper, so it is possible. Amenities in truck campers can range from very simple to having multiple slide-outs with crazy luxury touches for such a small space.

Negatives are that they are going to be small, no matter what (though surprisingly big with slides), and if you want to go off-roading, you will have to take the camper off your truck, which can be a bit of work. Still, it’s doable.

Travel trailers are the most common type of RV on the road. They have the benefit of being able to set up and leave it at camp while you can take the tow vehicle out to easily get around town and explore. Travel trailers are less expensive than motorhomes. If you already have a vehicle that can tow a travel trailer, your initial cost to get an RV will be considerably less than if you purchase a motorhome. Maintenance expenses most likely will be lower than if you had a motorhome.

Travel trailers come anywhere from 12 feet in length to almost as long as you want. A 38-footer is VERY long, considering that your tow vehicle adds to that length. Amenities can be as minimal or as luxurious as you want (with prices reflecting this).

Storage can be OK to excellent, depending on the model. They start out at a very affordable price for entry-level models and offer so many options that there is a trailer out there for just about every situation.

Fifth-wheel trailers are usually quite luxurious, typically more so than any other type of trailer. However, if you are planning to spend a lot of time in state parks and smaller campgrounds, or if you KNOW you can’t get used to driving and backing up such a large house, you may want to stay away from buying one.

The benefit of a fifth wheel in regards to towing is that it can be easier to maneuver than a travel trailer. The connection is in the middle of a truck bed as opposed to the end of the truck on a hitch. The downside of this is that you are confined to using a truck as a tow vehicle. If you have a large family, this can be less than ideal for a long trip. Also, trucks aren’t as comfortable to jaunt around town in as some other vehicles you could otherwise pull with.

On the other side of things, if you want your RV to mimic a house as much as possible, a fifth-wheel trailer might be good for you. Some of them can even come with a washer and dryer. If you plan on staying in commercial RV parks for the most part or exclusively, and especially if you don’t plan on traveling much, a fifth wheel can be very cozy indeed.

Motorhomes provide an all-in-one house on wheels. Fully self-contained, engine included, motorhomes provide an easy and luxurious way to RV. It’s much simpler than pulling a travel trailer and having to unhitch and hitch up all the time.

They are generally more expensive than a travel trailer or a fifth wheel and the learning curve of having a motorhome will be greater than that of a travel trailer. However, it’s by no means hard to learn — there is a little more to know.

These monsters get only about 8-10 miles per gallon (if you are lucky), so they have the worst fuel economy of the lot (though a monster fifth-wheel trailer will easily vie for the title of gas hog). However, they provide a roomy interior and plenty of storage and are frequently used for full-time RV living.

My advice: go to your local RV dealership and have them show you a few RV’s to give you an idea of what would be best for your situation. Now is a great time to buy, RV dealerships like Kamper Korner RV, are having clearance sales a giving out great deals.

This column will work to make your RV lifestyle a little easier, more fun and stress-free. If you have suggestions on RV subjects, you’d like us to write about, call Paul Hemphill at Kamper Korner RV at 541-673-1258.

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(1) comment

CitizenJoe

We towed a fifth-wheel around North America for five years. Full-time RVing was wonderful, and now we have a "studio apartment" next to the house, for visitors--and as big "go-bag" during fire season. When you consider buying an RV, do consider what other uses you'll have for it.

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