Finding the Best RV Size for Your Needs: What You Need to Know

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What happens when you pack a tweenaged daughter, rambunctious seven-year-old twin boys, a claustrophobic mother, and an introverted father into a converted camper van for 1600 miles?

You don’t want to know…

The freedom to travel at your own pace, bond with your family, and explore new destinations with all the comforts of home is the quintessential dream that RVing offers. But only if you choose the best RV size for your needs and preferences.

Finding the best RV size for you means understanding your needs so that your dream doesn’t turn into a nightmare.

How do you find out the ideal RV size for you? 

You answer these questions…

  • What size RV fits my family/travel companions best?
  • What size RV fits the most campgrounds?
  • What’s your budget?
  • What are your camping preferences?
  • And do I have space to store my RV?

Here’s the Plan

  1. Assess your RV lifestyle needs.
  2. Consider possible limitations.
  3. Go on a test trip. Rent the RV you’ve got your eye on before you buy it.

Understanding RV Size Categories

A family standing in front of a large fifth wheel RV

Whatever your budget, there’s an RV to fit it. From compact camper vans to luxurious Class A motorhomes to affordable teardrop trailers, each RV appeals to a different type of camper.

The main types of RVs include pop-up campers, travel trailers, Class B RVs, Class C RVs, fifth-wheel RVs, truck campers, and camper vans.

Keep in mind there isn’t a one-size-fits-all solution for selecting an RV size. That’s why you should start by assessing your RV lifestyle.

Best RV Sizes for Different Camping Locations

A family camping in a travel trailer in a national park campground (

The main factor here is your camping preferences. There are luxury campgrounds, and there are those quiet places where you disconnect.

Do you prefer campgrounds stocked with amenities, like a national or state park campground? Most campgrounds accommodate RVs up to 32 feet in length–but others impose RV size limits. Be sure to research these size restrictions ahead of time.

Note that larger RVs, such as fifth wheels and Class A motorhomes, are more challenging to park in tight spots. When boondocking or camping without hookups, a smaller RV is a better fit, given its ability to navigate to off-the-beaten-path locations.

If you’re pulling a trailer, make sure your tow vehicle can handle the load on inclines and in reverse. Small trailers are easier to take more places, but they’re more difficult to back up.

Save up to $1,200/year on RV storage & parking

Legal restrictions and campground limitations that might impact your travel plans are limits on the length, width, and height of recreational vehicles, so check out your state’s DMV website to find these regulations before hitting the road.

Additionally, many RV parks, particularly state and national parks, only accommodate trailers less than 32 ft. As national park campgrounds are a crowd favorite, you’ll want to be sure your RV fits.

Finally, your local municipality or HOA may have restrictions around what kind of RVs are allowed and how they should be stored. Don’t forget to check those before you buy.

Assessing Your RV Lifestyle Needs

Your RV lifestyle should inform the RV size you select.

Are you planning to be a full-time RVer? Are you bringing your family along? Do you like to entertain while you travel? Do you have any big boy toys like kayaks, mountain bikes, or ATVs that you like to take with you when you travel?

Your RV lifestyle boils down to three factors:

  1. Full-time living versus occasional use
  2. Family size and sleeping arrangements
  3. Outdoor activities and space utilization

Full-Time Living vs. Occasional Use

Full-time RV living is most successful when you have the basic amenities covered, which usually includes a kitchen with refrigeration and a bathroom. It’s also really nice to have a full laundry setup.

RV length will dictate the amount of living space you (and your family) have at their disposal. Ultimately, the longer an RV is, the larger the kitchen and bath areas will be. 

But how long are RVs with livable, full-time-friendly kitchens? Again, there’s variance. Even camper vans can have small kitchenettes. But…if you’re shooting for full-time RV life, then I’d opt for a longer RV with a full kitchen and bath setup (around 25ft long or even longer).

Remember, if you’re only using your RV occasionally, you may be able to cope with cozier surroundings and less private space. But if you’re living it full-time, you want to be sure everyone has at least a little personal space.

Family Size, Travel, and Sleeping Arrangements

The number of people (and pets) traveling with you in your RV is the next factor in deciding which RV size is best for you. Start with, how many beds do you need?

Smaller RVs offer sleeper sofas, convertible dinettes, and over-the-cab bunks to maximize space.

Longer RVs provide stationary beds and more private sleeping accommodations. Separate rooms are nice for families of young children because they allow the kids to go to bed early while the adults stay up to socialize.

Making sure that everyone on this full-time RVing journey has their own comfortable sleeping space will make the time spent in the RV that much more enjoyable.

Outdoor Activities and Space Usage

Do you spend more time outdoors or indoors? Some RVers may spend the majority of their time outside, hiking, biking, or enjoying other outdoor pursuits, while others enjoy relaxing indoors with a good book or movie.

Small RVs are great if you only plan to use it as your base camp. You come back to eat and sleep. You don’t need fancy, just functional. That means storage for bikes, skis, kayaks, and whatever else your adventures need.

On the other hand, if you work remotely or prefer relaxing indoors, a larger RV with a workspace and a TV is a better fit.

Budget Considerations

Now it’s time to get real and consider your limitations. After you get a picture of what you want, it’s time to see what you can afford. The bigger the RV, the more expensive it is both to purchase and to keep up.

Beyond the initial price, don’t forget insurance, taxes, and ongoing fees such as campground fees and maintenance costs.

Rent Before You Buy

                     A family renting an RV before buying (

Nowadays, there are a lot of options for renting RVs. So, once you get your eye set on an RV you like, try it out!

You’ll get valuable insight into all aspects of RV life, like driving and backing up the vehicle, along with what it’s like to set up and break down camp. By renting an RV, you’ll also gain a better understanding of what the space feels like after spending a week on outdoor excursions and living in close quarters with your loved ones.

When renting, you get to experience firsthand how the RV suits your lifestyle, travel preferences, and comfort level, so you can make an informed decision before buying an RV.

Conclusion, Storing Your RV

There’s one last consideration in determining the right size RV for you, and that’s where should you store it? If you’re storing it yourself, make sure you have covered storage space to accommodate your RV. Not all RVs fit in your garage.

If you don’t have room, no worries. Neighbor is a peer-to-peer storage marketplace where you can find the perfect spot to keep your RV stored safely and close to home. It’s simple. Just neighbors helping neighbors.

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