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RV Basics - RV Education

RV education is an important part of the RV buying process. This is a brief overview and introduction to the different types of recreational vehicles and several RV manufacturers. The RV pictures below will make it easy to identify the different types of RVs as well as describe some of the advantages and disadvantages to the various RV types.

RVing is a fun and economical way for families to vacation, travel, and spend time together. Choosing the right RV for you can make your life on the open road more satisfying and enjoyable, and the staff at Fretz RV will be happy to assist you in selecting the perfect RV. You can also read our "RV Buying Tips" for more helpful information or visit our "Camping Links" to find information on campgrounds, vehicle tow ratings and other RV related topics.

Also referred to as fold-downs and tent trailers. Pop-ups are a great way to get into camping. Their low cost, ease of towing, and sleeping accommodations make them an excellent choice for families. This camper can be towed with a variety of tow vehicles including mini-vans and smaller cars and trucks

  • Price Range: $1,500 - $12,000
  • Size Range: 8' - 14'
  • Sleeping: 4 - 10 people
Click here to view our NEW & USED Pop-up RVs for sale.

Part tent trailer, part travel trailer. These are also called expandable trailers. They have all the amenities of conventional travel trailers, but with tent-bunk-ends they offer a shorter towing length and lighter weight. Compared to the pop-up, they are easier to set-up, better insulated, and offer more storage. This type of RV is popular with SUV owners due to the towing weights.

  • Price Range: $8,000 - $25,000
  • Size Range: 17' - 26'
  • Sleeping: 4 - 10 people
Click here to view our NEW & USED Hybrid Travel Trailers for sale.

These are probably the most popular type of RV. They are affordable and have a variety of floor plans, options, sizes, and price range. As with all tow-able RVs, when you get to your destination and unhook, you are free to explore with the use of your truck or SUV. Owners also have the option to pick a vacation destination and leave their travel trailer there and set-up on a semi-permanent basis. Then they can simply commute back and forth like a second home.

  • Price Range: $5,000 - $50,000
  • Size Range: 16' - 40'
  • Sleeping: 4 - 12 people
Click here to view our NEW & USED Travel Trailer RVs for sale.

When you are ready to do some serious traveling, the fifth wheel trailer should certainly be considered. The fifth wheel is the nicest towing trailer out of all of the tow-able trailers due to the hitch or pin weight being centered over the rear axle of the tow vehicle. The taller profile of the fifth wheel gives the owner height interior ceiling heights and a lofted bedroom many customers find "home-like". These come in a broad range of sizes, floor plans, and amenities (especially when referring to the high end vehicles.)

  • Price Range: $10,000 - $100,000
  • Size Range: 20' - 40'
  • Sleeping: 2 - 10 people
Click here to view our NEW & USED Fifth Wheel RVs for sale.

Toy Haulers provide the best of both worlds for outdoor enthusiasts and have become increasingly popular. Whether you want to haul along a motorcycle, four-wheeler, or dirt-bike the toy hauler offers you a enclosed and lockable garage area, and all the amenities of a travel trailer. There are a multitude of floor plans, and toy haulers also available in Fifth Wheels as well. Some popular options include a fuel station to refuel the "toys" you're hauling, a generator, and a rear screen package just to name a few.

  • Price Range: $15,000 - $100,000
  • Size Range: 20' - 40'
  • Sleeping: 4 - 12 people
Click here to view our NEW & USED Toy Hauler RVs for sale.

The truck camper is designed to be mounted in the bed of a pickup truck. Also referred to as the slide-in camper, or pickup camper, the truck camper offers the owner the ability to haul a boat or other trailer behind him. This type of RV is the least popular, primarily due to the price, small interior living space, and difficulties in loading and unloading the camper from the truck.

  • Price Range: $5,000 - $30,000
  • Size Range: 8' - 14'
  • Sleeping: 2 - 6 people
Click here to view our NEW & USED Truck Camper RVs for sale.

These are also called van campers and could be the most versatile of all RVs. Many owners use them as a second vehicle. They possess most of the features and amenities of larger motorhomes in a compact, easy to drive package. In addition to being used for camping, they make great vehicles to a group of friends out in or short day trips. Because of their size and ease of parking, people tend to get a lot of use out of their Class B motorhomes.

  • Price Range: $20,000 - $100,000
  • Size Range: 17' - 24'
  • Sleeping: 2 - 4 people
Click here to view our NEW & USED Class B Motorhomes for sale.

The Class C Motorhome or Mini-motorhome is great for families. They offer a reasonably priced motorhome with plenty of sleeping for large families. These motorhomes are a great way to travel because everything can be done on the fly. If optioned with a generator, you can make popcorn in the microwave will sitting in a shopping center parking lot. Commonly called the Class B+ motorhome is actually a Class C defined by the chassis they are built on.

  • Price Range: $20,000 - $200,000
  • Size Range: 20' - 35'
  • Sleeping: 2 - 10 people
Click here to view our NEW & USED Class C Motorhomes for sale.

These motorhomes can be diesel powered or gas. The have the three "L's"... LARGE, LUXURIOUS, & LOTs of money. The high end coaches look more like a palace on wheels than something you would take "camping" (certainly not roughing it). Amenities can include dishwashers, washer & dryer, automatic leveling jacks, and just about anything you can think of.

  • Price Range: $50,000 - $300,000+
  • Size Range: 25' - 42'
  • Sleeping: 2 - 8 people
Click here to view our NEW & USED Class A Motorhomes for sale.

RV Vacations Are the Least Expensive Way to Go

Can you put a price tag on happiness? Turns out you can and it's very affordable. For families, RV vacations are the most economical way to go.

Parents who took RV vacations as children are more likely to want to recreate that experience for their own children because of the life-long memories forged on the road together.

Plus, RVs are an affordable option today as families look for ways to fit leisure time into the family budget. Typical RV trips remain the least expensive type of vacation, according to a new Vacation Cost Comparison study.

PKF Consulting, an international consulting firm with expertise in travel and tourism, found that "typical RV family vacations are on average 27 to 61 percent less expensive than other types of vacations studied." Even factoring in RV ownership and fuel costs, the study reveals that RV family vacations tend to be significantly less expensive than other types of vacations.

"This study re-affirms what RVers have long known, that RV vacations deliver greater economic value compared to other types of vacations," says Richard Coon, president of the Recreation Vehicle Industry Association (RVIA). "RV vacations continue to be the most affordable way for a family to travel because of the tremendous savings on air, hotel and restaurant costs. And these savings offset the cost of fuel."

PKF analyzed major costs that would be incurred by a family of four taking eight different types of vacations for three, seven, 10 or 14 days to such popular travel destinations as the Grand Canyon, Cape Cod, and Napa, Calif.

"On average, RV vacations were more economical than the other types analyzed in all but one case," says Kannan Sankaran, PKF's lead researcher for the study. "Even as fuel prices increase, our findings show that almost all RV vacations are still significantly less expensive than non-RV ones."

Fuel prices would have to more than double for typical motorhome vacations to become more expensive than other forms of travel, according to PKF Consulting who conducted the study in late spring 2008 when gas averaged $3.63/gallon. The study also shows that fuel costs would have to more than triple for trips in lightweight travel trailers or folding camping trailers to be more expensive than the least expensive non-RV vacation. Almost 80 percent of the RV market consists of towable RVs, including lightweight units which can be towed by car, van or pickup.

The study showed that a family of four traveling from Phoenix, Ariz. to Napa, Calif., with their folding camping trailer for 10 days, staying in campgrounds at the local average of $33 per night, would save 52 percent, or $2,379, over the same trip taken by car, staying in hotels averaging $122 per night and eating in restaurants. Taking the same vacation by a Type C motorhome would save $1,704, or 37 percent, over going by car. (see sample table below for details)

A week-long family vacation towing a conventional travel trailer from Salt Lake City to the Grand Canyon compared to the cost of taking the same trip by airline, renting a car and staying in a hotel would be $2,647, or 65 percent less expensive.

Shorter getaways by RVs were also found to be more economical. For example, a family taking a three-day vacation from Pittsburgh, Pa. to Lancaster, Pa., would save $323 or 31 percent by towing a conventional travel trailer, rather than going by car, staying in hotels and eating in restaurants. The savings would be even greater for families taking the same trip by a Type C motorhome rather than flying.

Among the RV vacations analyzed by PKF, even those taken in an ultra-luxury Type A diesel motorhome were less expensive than flying and staying in a hotel. Only a family taking a vacation by personal car with hotel or renting a condo and cooking for themselves would spend less than a family taking a trip in a Type A motorhome. "Type A owners say the added space, comfort and convenience while traveling justify the added investment," noted Coon.

In addition to major expenditures required from the start to finish of each vacation, PKF factored in an estimated cost of ownership of the RVs analyzed: a folding camping trailer, conventional travel trailer, and Type C and Type A motorhomes. Research included documenting average ownership periods, residual values, annual days of use, insurance and applicable interest deductions.

The PKF study considered only quantifiable economic factors, not the comparative quality of each vacation. As a result, the convenience, flexibility and quality family time cited as major benefits of traveling in an RV could not be addressed.