RV camping is a unique way to experience the outdoors. We were tent campers for years before we bought our first RV. I have always enjoyed any kind of camping. Spending time outdoors, especially in the evenings, around a camp fire, is a special experience whether you are in a tent, in a travel trailer, or just sleeping out under the stars. Camping is great! What more can I say? Plenty!
This is our most recent RV purchase, an Imagine 30-footer, by Grand Design. It is 6 feet longer than our first RV and has one large slide-out that makes the inside comfortable and roomy.
One major difference between tent camping and rv camping can be summed up in two words, climate control. With an RV, you can spend an entire day and evening outside, enjoying nature, and when it is time to go to bed, you have air conditioning (or heat) and a soft bed to sleep in.
Since we began RVing, we have experienced three types of RV camping; RV Parks, State and National Parks, and my friend's back yard.
We generally stay in RV Parks, when state parks are too far away. The camping sites in RV parks tend to be much closer together than the RV camping sites in state parks. They also tend to be a little more expensive. Many RV parks provide discounts if you are a member of a club, like Good Sam.
RV Parks have some advantages over state parks. All of the RV parks (that we have been to) have full hookups - cable TV, internet access, sewer, and laundry facilities. Most state parks don't have those amenities, although there are a few that do.
State parks generally have larger campsites than RV parks and, when possible, are separated by patches of trees that provide a little seclusion between you and your neighbor.
Camping in my friend's back yard was a departure from real camping. In fact, when I think of camping, real camping, I think of backpacking in the mountains with all of my food, water, and shelter on my back.
This trip was different, our RV provided a place for us to stay while we were visiting our friends. Sort of like a portable hotel room. It allowed us to have food and drinks into the late evening hours without having to worry about driving home afterwards or inconveniencing our hosts.
Choosing an RV
We weren't ready to buy an RV when we first started going to RV shows, but knew that we would buy one someday. My Toyota Tacoma was still new and I wasn't planning to sell it any time soon. I knew that it was perfectly capable of pulling pop up campers and maybe even a small camping trailer like the Casita, but we ultimately wanted an RV that was in the 20+ foot range, which would require a larger tow vehicle.
Choosing an RV to buy can be lots of fun, especially when you're not in a hurry. We went to RV shows for several years before we were ready to purchase our first RV. At the RV shows, you can walk through a variety of camping trailers and motor homes without feeling pressured by a salesman.
A decent size RV show will have plenty of models to choose from, ranging from small pop up tent trailers under $5,000 to large motor homes over $250,000.
When we went to our first RV show, we didn't know what features we wanted, because we weren't aware of what features were available. As we looked at the different models, we began to compile a list of things that we found appealing. For instance, one model had an outdoor cook stove that slid out from the side (I liked that feature). Another model had a shower surround with a door (that we both liked), as opposed to a tub with shower curtain.
Everyone has their own specific needs, depending on the size of your family. The good news is that there is an RV available for just about every lifestyle and budget.
Here are some of the items that we wanted for our first RV:
- Price range near $15,000
- Ultra Lite
- No slide-outs (this was my personal preference)
- Optimized for sleeping only two people (no extra bunks)
- Outdoor shower
- Shower surround
- Range with oven (some models didn't have an oven)
- Outdoor slide-out cook top
- Refrigerator / freezer
- TV / DVD / AM/FM radio
- Exterior speakers
- Cable TV hookup
- Patio awning
We found all of these features in the Passport (195RB) by Keystone. Since we bought it, in 2010, we have taken it on several weekend getaways around Texas, as well as longer adventures to the Rocky Mountains of Colorado, and to the coastal plains of Disney World, Florida.
For years, after we purchased our Passport, we continued to attend RV shows to check out new RV features and designs (which change every year). During one show in February of 2019, we decided it was time to upgrade to our latest RV, the 30-foot Imagine. It has quite a bit more room and storage than our 24-foot Passport and will be more comfortable on longer journeys. Stay tuned!
Which ever RV type you choose to buy, whether it be a pop-up camper, a small travel trailer, a fifth-wheel, a toy hauler, or a motor home, do lots of research and read about the experiences of fellow RVers. There are lots of brands and styles to choose from, and you want your RV camping experience to be fun and trouble free.