Spend several hours in an RV before buying it

Whether you plan to spend $10,000, $50,000 or $550,000 for that first or fifth RV, you need to look at it “differently” before plopping down your cash.

Walk into any new RV and you will likely see various decorative accessories – e.g., vases, scarves, flowers – tastefully placed to enhance the “look.” My RV doesn’t look like that and yours won’t either.

You must ignore this sales tactic and try to put your own “stuff” in there mentally. Once you seriously narrow your choice to one or two RVs, try this. Politely ask the sales rep to leave. You need to take some time to look at the RV alone.

• Spend some time alone with the rig – allow four to six hours or more.

• Sit down. With the slides out, sit and talk. Every chair is comfortable for a few minutes, so relax for an hour or so, like you would if you were watching TV or visiting. Then trade seats with your spouse or with whoever is along with you. If the RV is a Class A, make sure the driver and passenger seats swivel.

• Lie down. Spend 30 minutes on the bed. If you are “elbows out” sleepers, then do this. Do you have room? Does an elbow hit the light switch? You might be able to change your sleep style for a few nights but not for a few months!

• Slides in and out. Sit. Spend time sitting and moving around with each slide in each position. What is not accessible when a slide is in? Some RVs cannot be used with the slides in. Can you use the bed and bathroom? There are campsites where you cannot put out certain slides due to trees, boulders, etc. Can you watch TV, cook, and bathe with the slides in?

• Coffee pot. Where will you store it with the slides in (traveling) and out (parked)? Can you get to it with the slides in? How about your toaster oven, trash can, computer, shoes, etc.

• Outside stuff. All compartments look big when empty. Stick your head in all of them – what’s hanging down from the roof of the storage compartments? Will your garage-full-of-tools fit? What about that new nine-burner grill? Will you have to move the tools to get to the grill?

• Utilities. Pull the electric cord all the way out, screw on the water hose, and attach the sewer hose – just as if you were hooking up. Is it easy, difficult, awkward? Did you have to get on your knees or stand on your head? Now put them away. How easy would it be in the dark, kneeling on gravel, and during a cold downpour?

• Leveling. Do it. Level it. Now move it and level it again.

Looking at an RV is serious work. Spending lots of money for something you really can’t use or are uncomfortable with is not good. Look carefully, choose carefully, and take your time. It’s a significant investment.