New to RVing? Here’s what you need to know.

In the wake of a pandemic that requires social isolation, it makes sense people are more interested in RVs — it’s a roving home where you can isolate but still go on vacation. Dealerships across the country have reported a recent rise in sales of recreational vehicles, often from first-time buyers. 

For clarity’s sake: lots of things can be considered an RV, including motorhomes, trailers, vans, and campers.  

“Summer vacations are in the forefront of everyone’s thoughts right now,” Gigi Stetler, founder of The RV Advisor and RV Sales of Broward told Mashable. “People that normally travel to Europe, they’re not doing that. People that normally get on a plane to go somewhere else, they’re not comfortable with doing that.” 

RVing seems like a natural alternative to your typical vacation. So let’s say you want to dive into the RV world. Where do you even begin? 

Well, bless the internet, there’s a community for everything. Here’s are some great RV communities where you can learn everything you need to know about taking your home on the go. 

Reddit

Poking around the ol’ world wide web, Reddit is a good jumping-off point if you want to immerse yourself in the RV community. There are a few different subreddits you should check out, including r/GoRVing and r/RVs. GoRVing, with more than 30,000 subscribers, seems to be a great place for asking questions and troubleshooting issues, which is perfect for a beginner. There’s a bit of that sort of info on the r/RVs subreddit, as well as just some cool stuff about classic RVs. And since you’re likely to need info on camping while on an RV trip, you’ve got to check out r/camping, which is a very active subreddit with some 1.4 million subscribers. It’s chock full of info, advice, and recommendations for other subreddits that’ll help you on RV adventures. The subreddit r/vandwellers is really popular as well, providing a nice mix of practical advice on living on the road, tips for building stuff in a van, and some fun travel content.

RV websites, forums, and YouTube channels

If you want your super-detailed questions answered, you’ll probably want to head over to iRV2, a forum dedicated to — you guessed it — everything RVs. Recent threads have drilled down on everything from pop-up canopy recommendations to the “skinny on heat pumps.” This is stuff you might just encounter with an RV — whether you’re buying or renting — so it’s nice to have a resource for crowdsourcing answers. 

The website RVLife could also prove to be an invaluable resource. It has a navigational app specific to RVs as well as content on recommendations and resources for RVers. For instance, here’s an article on an RV Masterclass and here’s one recommending the best YouTube channels about RVing. Not for nothing, the YT channel RV Love is really interesting, documenting the life of a couple that sold their home and hit the road six years ago. The channel RV Lifestyle, meanwhile, has more than 100,000 subscribers and documents travels while also going over cool gadgets that’ll prove useful for RVers.

RV influencers

OK, so the usual caveats  about influencers apply here, too: RV influencers might not be giving you the full picture of what life is like on the road. That being said, there are some cool RV influencers to check out. There’s @MavistheAirstream, which documents the picturesque travels of a couple in a 1975 Airstream RV. The Insta account @TheTouringCamper follows a couple named Jarrett and Kristin, who provide tips while showing off their family’s travels. @Wheresmyofficenow follows a couple doing the whole van-life, travel-forever deal. @Adventuresonwheels, well, you probably get what happens on the account by its name.

RV Advisor

Stetler herself spends a fair bit of her time and energy working to help folks get into RVing and avoid common pitfalls. Her RV Advisor service costs $25 per year. Its goal is to help folks navigate complicated contracts, mechanical issues, and the myriad other complications that might come up. There’s also an RV Advisor podcast that talks with experts about trends, advice, and info from the road 

“Buyer beware,” Stetler said. “It’s a very complex industry.”

Renting (you should do it)

So if buying can be complicated, you should almost certainly rent before you buy if you’re new to RVing. It just makes sense financially. An RV can be a big investment. 

“The point of renting first is to see if you like the lifestyle, the RV, the type, and all that would come later,” Stetler said. “After three, four days in a rental RV you’ll know exactly what type of bed you want, where you want the bed, where you want the kitchen… all of those features you know you’ll learn in a couple of days.”

RV Share is basically Airbnb but RVs. It’s done online and you can surf around so that might be a good place to start poking around. But you can also check for places locally that’ll rent.

Resources for trips

OK, so you’ve figured out you want to go RVing. You’ve looked around at rentals, perused forums, etc. How do you plan a trip? Well, again: all of those websites, subreddits, and forums have reams of advice on the best trips, campsites, and everything else you might want to know. 

But here are a few cool resources that’ll help you along the way in a trip: Overnight RV Parking for good parking spots), Gas Buddy (for cheap fuel), and Campground Reviews (for, you guessed it, campsite reviews). 

All these resources are well and good, but Stetler had a solid piece of advice for anyone looking to get into RVing: Really dive into all of these communities and learn what you don’t know from the people who know. 

“Listen to some of those RVers, and go look at some of the full-timers,” she said. “Follows some of their social media… a lot of them will tell you the mistakes they made the first time buying, the first time renting.”

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