A friend recently vacationed at an Airstream Hotel. You know, those places where 20 or 30 vintage and/or current day Airstreams provide “rooms” for vacationers wanting something different. She came back hooked by the whole experience and wants to purchase a motorhome. So next month we’re taking her to her first RV show.
Narrowing the Field
As we talked with her about this new adventure, we asked a few questions. If you attend one of the large supershows, like the Hershey show earlier this month or the Tampa Show in January, it is nearly impossible to see everything. Preparing for your first RV show may require you to narrow the field a bit. We are not suggesting that you fixate on one or two brands, but rather create some broad criteria;
- Towable or motorhome
- If motorhome, will you tow a car or motorcycle
- What is the budget?
Creating a Plan
Once you think you know what you are looking for, it is time to create a plan. Preparing for your first RV show takes a bit of time. When we purchased our first motorhome, our criteria included:
- Class B or C under 25′, for ease of driving and since we didn’t plan to tow
- Must not have corner bed (two women over 60 get up a few times a night)
- No wet shower (didn’t want a wet seat)
- Under $50,000 (since Nancy was sure we would be reselling it after our first trip)
Since we didn’t know very much, we didn’t have a long fancy list. But that is okay. With a list as limited as this, the internet is your friend. If you type “class c motorhome under 25 feet and $50,000” you will be returned a list of RV dealers….not very helpful. Instead, go to RVTrader. Using their advanced search feature, you can select the type of RV, length, price range, and much more. There isn’t a no corner bed, or no wet shower option…but you have a place to start. Take time to browse the options shown. Look at the pictures and videos.
Also, spend some time on YouTube. Though you won’t be able to limit the search by budget, there are videos that compare RVs, or “Best Of” videos that will educate you about the pros and cons of different models. If there are a few models that caught your eye on RVTrader, just plug them into the YouTube search…you are sure to find more videos than you care to watch.
Plan Your Route
With your list of manufacturers and models in hand, it is time to plan your route. Most large shows provide a detailed map, online, showing where the different vendors and models will be located. We use the Disney method when we plan our route…start at the furthest point and work back toward the gate.
We are not suggesting that you put blinders on as you move through the exhibit area. As we discussed previously, we were on route to purchase a Leisure Travel Van when we purchased Olga, a Renegade Villagio. However, assuming you have done the research above in preparing for your first RV show, it would be wise to see the models that to this point you were most interested in.
Plan Your Day
Attending an RV show can be a very long day. Here are few things to consider as you prepare for your first RV show:
- Whenever possible, attend on a weekday (it will be crowded, but less crowded than the weekend)
- Get there early. We are early risers and often plan to get there as the gates open.
- Wear comfortable shoes! You won’t have any difficulty getting in your 10,000 steps.
- If budget or dietary needs are a concern, pack some food and water.
- Bring a small backpack for all the brochures you will acquire.
- Plan for an adventure…a fabulous learning experience, not a shopping trip.
- Give yourself time to experience the RV. Sit in the seats for a while. Turn around in the shower. Imagine how you might cook a meal.
After the Show
If you are a first-time buyer, it may be difficult not to pull out your checkbook. There will be signs everywhere saying, “Show Special” or “Lowest Price Available”. Don’t believe them! Those prices will be available after the show. The process of negotiating price may be long and make you feel like you need a shower afterward….but take your time. In fact, take time to rent an RV or two before your purchase. You may think you will love a particular feature or design, but after a few days come to a different conclusion. You aren’t limited to CruiseAmerica. Today you can rent just about any make or model through peer-to-peer rental sites.
Purchasing an RV is a major investment for most folks. And unlike other “investments”, this one won’t appreciate. A new RV will depreciate 30% when you drive it off the dealer’s lot. So take your time. RV shows are a great way to learn about what is available and help you narrow your search. Make the most of these experiences by preparing for your first RV show.