Yesterday I spent the day (yes, the Whole day) online at a virtual RV show. Great fun! I loved looking at all the RVs from the comfort of our couch. No walking needed and snacks, drinks, and a bathroom were always nearby.
I kept a notepad handy and jotted down things I liked about the various RVs. I ended up with Lots of notes! Today, I’m going through my notes and making a list of things we Need and Want in an RV. We had already narrowed our search to a travel trailer of some type since those would be easier to use as a home base — just park them and use the tow vehicle to get around town.
There are So many models and brands of RVs and they All looked so nice! How to decide? One way is to start with a list of things you consider necessary. An additional list of things that would be nice to have can help narrow the list further. And of course, you want to do your research on which manufacturers are the best.
For reference, here are my lists. Yours may be different and that’s fine. It’s all about what You need!
Things on our “Need” list:
One level living
As someone with bad knees, I need an RV with the least number of steps possible. Getting in and out of the rig can be modified (if needed) with a portable ramp but the inside needs to be on one level. So, while I love the looks of 5th wheels, my knees wouldn’t appreciate the stairs. We spent a weekend in a rental 5th wheel once and it seemed like things I needed always required a trip either up or down steps. That could get old real fast, so best to avoid extra steps and save the wear and tear on my joints.
An electric fireplace.
A fireplace? In an RV? Heck Yeah! Great for the ambiance, sure, but also practical. An electric fireplace can safely and efficiently heat your RV, and they “light” with the flip of a switch. As someone who Isn’t a great fire-starter, I really appreciate that aspect! Also, no need to worry about gas fumes or flames when the heat is provided with electricity. That sure would help me sleep better at night.
I researched these fixtures online, to be sure they weren’t just “decorative” and RV owners claim they have used them to heat their 38–40-foot rigs with no problem. As someone who is perpetually cold (and it’s gotten worse since we have been living through Arizona’s 110–120-degree summers!), this is a definite necessity.
As someone with bad knees, the last thing I want or need is more trips up and down steps, lugging a bag or basket full of clothes. Having a washer and dryer (or an all-in-one unit) right in the RV would eliminate that issue.
A bunkhouse or Toy Hauler “garage”.
If you plan to work out of your RV, separate office space is a Must for tax purposes. Note — you must use this space Just for an office, in order to qualify, but then you can write off that portion of your “dwelling”. You can’t take any deductions if your office is the couch or your kitchen table.
A Residential Refrigerator/Freezer
This is just something we can’t do without, in order to feel at home. I don’t mind cutting back on the pantry stock, but a good-sized refrigerator is a must for fresh produce, dairy, and leftovers that we want to make use of for future meals.
Some smaller RVs have just the dinette for seating, which may be fine for short trips. But for longer trips or full-time living, comfortable seating is aa must. I’m not talking about those “captain’s chairs” in the Class A’s or C’s that swing around to become part of the living area. Sorry — if it’s something we’ve been sitting in for 8 hours+ on the road, it’s Not going to feel comfortable to me, no matter how plush they are. So, I’d need something else. I really liked the theater seating I saw in several RVs. Complete with cup holders and storage consoles, some with heat and massage — nice after a long day of driving! Couches that fold into beds are nice but not necessary, so comfort is the main concern.
I love sitting outside when the weather permits (translation: unless it’s too hot). Watching people, listening to the rain on the canvas, smelling the campfire. All of these are things I love, and an awning that shades and protects from the elements is just one of those things I would have to have. If the RV doesn’t have an awning for some reason, we’d probably have to tote along one of those canopies.
Not Needed/Not Certain Items:
The jury is still out on whether this is a “Need” or not, so it’s on my “Maybe” list. Love the extra space for sure, but I worry that the slide mechanism is another thing that can go wrong. So, this is something I would still have to research before I put it on the list.
This is another thing I could probably do without since we don’t have children. It might be handy for watering outdoor plants or washing a dog, but it certainly isn’t a necessity for us.
A second bathroom
This may be a “gotta have it” for people with children, but we have lived in a 1-bathroom home for some time, and don’t need the extra hookup, stocking (More toilet paper and soap, etc.), or disposal concerns of a second bathroom.
This might be nice so we could eat outside without having to make trips in and out for food and beverages, which my old knees would appreciate. But it isn’t a must-have since it would also mean extra work stocking and cleaning the outside area.
Outside TV hookup
Ok, I admit, this might be nice for those days when we are wanting to be outside but still keep an eye on how the Buffalo Bills are doing, but again — not a necessity. Outside should be entertainment enough, with the sights and sounds and smells of the campground. Or why are you there? Plus, more work to tote the TV outside and hook it up. Some RVs have TVs in a locked cupboard outside, but I would worry about that being an attractive target for thieves.
As we start the process of actually looking at RVs this list may change. And that’s okay. There are things you can’t determine from a virtual visit but if you go with a list in hand it will make the selection Much easier.
Remember — life is a journey, not a destination. Enjoy the ride!