Road trips are very nearly part of the American DNA. There is practically an entire movie genre devoted to them. In 2022 alone, more than 200 million people planned to one.
Of course, road trips mean different things to different people. For some, it means throwing a duffel bag in the truck and driving their car. For others, it means traveling in a bit more comfort with an RV.
If you’re reaching the point where buying a motorhome sounds like the better option, keep reading. We’ll provide an in-depth buyer’s guide to help you find your way in the world of motorhomes.
One of the first things you discover when you want to buy a motorhome is that there are several motorhome classes. There are even more RV types, but several of those don’t qualify as motorhomes. So, let’s look at the three that do qualify.
The Type A motorhome is generally the largest of the motorhome classes. You can think of these as the tour bus-style of motorhomes.
You can get them in either gas or diesel engine models. However, the fuel economy isn’t great with either version.
What the class A motorhome gives up in fuel efficiency, it makes up for in perks and luxuries.
These models often include:
- Full kitchen
- Multiple sleeping areas
If you’re willing to pay for it, you can even get models that include a washer and dryer. Depending on how far you plan to travel and for how long, that can prove a boon.
The class C motorhome is a step down from the class A in a lot of ways. These models are generally smaller, in part because of different construction methods. The class C is generally built on a commercial van chassis, while the class A often has a commercial bus chassis.
Again, you can get these as gasoline or diesel models. The good news is that the class C is generally a step up in terms of overall fuel efficiency.
The bad news is that you generally sacrifice some amenities when you pick a class C.
You still generally get a bathroom, a functional kitchen, and even a TV. You will sacrifice in terms of breathing room. You’ll also lose in the number of people you can comfortably sleep in the vehicle.
Finally, you have the class B motorhome. These are typically the smallest of the motorhomes. These are typically built on top of a consumer-grade van chassis.
The smaller size and lighter chassis do generally mean better gas mileage, but you give up a lot. While you may get a bathroom, expect a cramped space. Showers are hit-or-miss.
While you may get some kind of cooking surface, don’t expect an equipped kitchen. You will usually get some kind of refrigerator, so food storage shouldn’t be an issue for you.
One of the main advantages of a class B is mobility. You can generally take these motorhomes anywhere you would normally take a truck or other van. Parking can prove tricky, but not impossible.
This is the bare-bones version of motorhome travel. It can prove efficient for those who travel light or plan on camping at their destination.
With the motorhome classes covered, let’s look at some other considerations.
When you decide to buy a motorhome, the first thing you must decide after that is if you will buy a new motorhome. New motorhomes offer a set of advantages and disadvantages.
The biggest advantage to buying a new motorhome for many people is that you know it doesn’t have any wear and tear. Unless something went dramatically wrong at the factory, everything should work great.
Other advantages include the latest technology on offer, or that you’re willing to shell out for. You can also customize the motorhome to meet your specific needs.
The biggest pitfall of buying a new motorhome is generally the cost. Depending on the class and amenities you want, a motorhome can cost hundreds of thousands of dollars.
You must also plan for higher insurance premiums, as the vehicle is new.
If you value knowing that the vehicle won’t have any problems, new is probably the way to go.
Your other option is buying a used motorhome. Much like the new motorhome, you get advantages and disadvantages when you buy a used motorhome.
One of the key advantages of a used motorhome is that you can often save a lot of money on the asking price. You can also change the interior or features to your own specifications without paying a manufacturer premium. You even get a break on the insurance premiums.
On the flip side, you take a chance on a used motorhome the same way you take a chance on any used vehicle. The motorhome might look and sound fine. However, you may discover that it actually needs some very pricey repair work before it’s roadworthy.
Beyond that, any kind of upgrades may prove so costly that it eats away at what you saved buying a used model.
If you value saving or relish the idea of revamping a motorhome yourself, used will probably serve you best.
Another factor you must consider is the finances of it all. As noted above, motorhomes can prove expensive. Even used motorhomes can run you tens of thousands.
If you plan on paying out of pocket, then the main challenge is making sure you have enough tucked away. If you plan on using financing, things get a bit more complicated.
You can get dealer financing for a motorhome, in theory. This is usually just for those with good credit and a hefty down payment. If you have shaky credit, you may struggle to secure dealer financing.
You can potentially get third-party financing with less stellar credit but expect a rough interest rate on that loan.
Something that many potential motorhome owners don’t consider is the secondary expenses. After all, the monthly loan payment isn’t the only thing you must pay for.
Minimally, you’ll face insurance premiums. You may also need to pay for somewhere to store the motorhome. After all, not every home has a garage or outbuilding big enough for one.
You must also plan around maintenance and repair. This is often a shock for new motorhome owners.
The reality is that most garages don’t offer repair services for class A or even class C motorhomes. You must usually take them to a shop that specializes in motorhome repairs.
It’s easier to find places to repair Class B motorhomes.
Let’s say that you’re prepping for a trip. You must also consider things like propane for cooking, internet access, and paying for parking.
Brand isn’t a big deal to every potential motorhome owner. Some people do go into the buying process with a particular vision in mind. For example, they may want an iconic brand because the trip is promotional in some way.
In instances like this, someone may not settle for anything but a Winnebago. If you’re picky, you can usually find dealers that specialize. For example, you can find Winnebago motorhomes for sale here.
You should understand that focusing on a particular brand or particular model can drive up the price. It can also turn a short buying process into a long buying process.
After all, you may have to wait for one to come onto the market if you want something very specific or vintage.
Before You Buy
If at all possible, there is something you should do before you even start looking at motorhomes for sale. Ask around and see if anyone you know actually owns a motorhome.
If you can find people who own motorhomes, ask them if you can look inside the motorhomes. Seeing something in person and seeing it in a picture are very different experiences.
While you might think you want a class A, an in-person look may dissuade you from buying that big.
Where to Buy
If you’re wondering about the best place to buy a motorhome, the answer is pretty straightforward. There are motorhome and RV dealers all over the country. If you’re sure where the nearest dealer is, you can do an online search for “buy a motorhome near me.”
You can also buy motorhomes from private owners. If you go that route, you should ask for a professional inspection of the vehicle before you actually pay.
Buying a Motorhome and You
For those who dream of road trips but like the idea of a bit more comfort, buying a motorhome makes sense. As you enter into the process, though, keep in mind the advantages and disadvantages of buying new or used motorhomes.
If you can, tour other people’s motorhomes to get a feel for what you’re actually dealing with. Figure out your finances and determine if you can afford the secondary expenses.
Looking for more tips on buying motorhomes or other vehicles? Check out our Automotive section for more posts.