by Ray Oberreuter
Buying an Airstream, Monaco, Beaver, Winnebago, Holiday Rambler, Jayco, or HitchHiker, recreational vehicle? Well you're not alone and in spite of high fuel prices, Class A motor homes is the only category experiencing a decline in sales. Motor home shipments to dealers for 2006 is down 11.9% but Class B and Class C motor homes are showing slight gains. Travel trailers continue to lead the way with sales to dealers up 15% for the year so the "doom and gloomers" can find little solace in the RV industry. It just continues to chug along quite well, thank you.
Consumer surveys addressing "RV use" are surprising as well as two thirds of RV owners plan to use their RV's more rather than less and 37% responded fuel cost would have no affect on how they would be using their RV's. This figure does appear high, however, as surveys also show, 45% of RVers would just travel shorter distances and 52% responded they would just stay in one area longer with their RV's. All this boils down to is Rvers are using their coaches and rigs because they not only love the lifestyle but also feel RVing brings their families closer together.
With so many RV types and options available, a return to the basics of RV types can serve as a timely reminder for the experienced RVer, and is the starting place for the novice RVer who just wants to learn more. The following is concise digest of the major pro's and con's for all the different RV types. The choice between motor home and travel trailer sometimes is the most daunting decision, and unfortunately statistics will be of little help to you because motor home sales and travel trailer sales are about equal at 45% each with the remaining 10% going to fold down trailers. Anyway, the following should provide a starting point in your quest for choosing the correct RV type for your specific needs.
CLASS A Box or Bus style RV on a large truck type chassis
Pro's: Motorized, self-contained, bestows a sense of "freedom". Motor homes are the best choice for those who move around a lot.
Con's: Emotion snuffs out logic with Class A buyers, either buy the wrong type (the Class A) or buy too big. Remember glitz, glimmer, and slick salesmen sell these beauties.
CLASS B Van Camper (Remember them from the 60's and 70's?)
Pro's: Van camper is still quite popular. Economical and easy to maneuver, will go just about anywhere. Appeal to many, especially the seniors who don't want to hassle with anything big. Van camper also rates very high when addressing RVsafety issues.
Con's: Small, limited living and storage space as well as fresh water, holding tanks, and LP gas storage.
CLASS C Cutaway Van Chassis (different size chassis available)
Pro's: Economical to drive, great for family use, relatively easy to maneuver and park.
Con's: Driving area restricted to driving (unlike Class A), can easily become overweight with slides or if they're too long
Tow hitch situated in truck bed
Pro's: RV that is most like home , best for extended stays, relatively easy to tow.
Con's: Not for you if you don't like to tow or to back up a towed vehicle.
Self explanatory. # 1 RV IN SALES
Pro's: Go from small to large, unlimited floor plans, versatile and flexible in use. Most households have a vehicle that can tow at least a small travel trailer.
Con's: Must be carefully searched and researched. Many manufacturers today use cheap materials and poor craftmanship. RV's may at first appear to be inexpensive in cost, but in the long run, inferior materials and craftsmanship will cost you money.
SPORTS UTILITY TRAILER
(toy hauler) Hottest RV innovation in recent years with manufacturers sometimes unable to meet consumer demand.
Pro's: Take your toys and family with you
Con's: Axle placement is key to safety. Hitch weight is greater when empty, may be too heavy. Be sure floor in cargo area will secure its contents.
Also referred to as pop-ups, tent trailers, and A Frame trailers
Pro's: Great for young family or anyone with their first RVing experience. Gets you off the ground (compared to tent camping) Have basic RV accessories; stove, refrigerator, furnace, water, and sometimes more.
Con's: Tent canvas is high maintenance. If ignored can mildew and fall apart.
Hard sided, raises to use, lower to travel
Pro's: Low profile while towing. Safe and economical to tow. A very viable RV alternative
Con's: Increased cost has kept sales down.
Mounts in truck bed
Pro's: Great option if you already have a truck. Still have ability to tow boat, horse trailer, etc.
Con's: Most truck campers are unstable when mounted. Prone to make vehicle sway. Note: truck manufacturers limit cargo capacity height to top of truck cab
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