Try Before You Buy
Author: Malcolm Street
For a newcomer, there is one thing you should almost do before you buy a motorhome and that's to try it out! That does not mean a quick drive around the block. It’s more like spending a few weeks’ travelling in either a friend’s motorhome (if you are really lucky) or more likely, a hired rental.
It is not always possible to hire the same motorhome you plan to buy, but the point is to get an idea of the RV lifestyle and what you may or may not like. One person’s happy compromise is often another’s constant irritation, so recommendations while helpful are not always totally relevant. For instance, I like to avoid making a bed up every night, particularly if I’m travelling for work. On the other hand, there are other travellers quite happy to do that, particularly if it means getting around in a smaller motorhome or one with a great daytime layout. Attitudes towards double and single bed layouts are equally divisive, where double beds might be preferred but single beds could be the practical reality.
Bathrooms are another issue. Some want the full kit with a separate shower and toilet but that takes up a considerable amount of interior space. Others are happy with a combo unit that offers the essentials in a relatively small floor space.
Confinement can also be an issue for some. After a few weeks, you'll quickly know if you are able to make the most of this lifestyle with the person you are travelling with.
It’s much better to discover this after spending a few thousand dollars on a rental motorhome rather than $150,000 on a brand new setup.
COPING WITH THE DRIVING
Driving a motorhome is different to driving a car and it takes a bit of getting used to if you’re not experienced with larger vehicles. That said, it’s not difficult and there are many who enjoying piloting larger vehicles around the country. The current generation of cab-chassis that power small to mid-sized motorhome are usually European in origin and are almost car-like and easy to drive.
HOW RENTALS DIFFER?
Given most rental motorhomes are designed to be multifunctional, the layouts tend to differ from those in the retail market, but if you can find one that’s roughly similar in size to your intended purchase it can still help. Of course, rental motorhomes often have a maximum length of around 6.7m (22ft) so hiring anything much longer could be difficult. Furthermore, rental motorhomes are often narrower at around 2.2m (7ft 3in) than motorhomes designed for the retail market at around 2.5m (8ft). That might not sound much but it does make an incredible difference to the overall interior space, so bear it in mind.
What all this underlines is that extensive research into any motorhome purchase is vital, and it can be done not only by reading RV magazines and hammering away on the computer keyboard checking out websites, buy by getting out on the road and giving it a go.