RV Shopping: The RV Features that Really Matter

The RV Atlas Podcast

RV Shopping: The RV Features that Really Matter

Listen to The RV Atlas Podcasts…

RV Shopping: The RV Features that Really Matter

Many people approach RV shopping with lists of must-have items and no-go deal breakers. These lists might include outdoor kitchen, extra storage, rig length, or solar readiness. These features are definitely important and we think a good list of desirable features is crucial to finding the right RV.

But in our experience talking with RV owners, there are some very important features that people didn’t think about until they are out traveling in their rig. These are the things that are easy to miss when shopping at a dealership or RV show.

We constantly hear our listeners and readers say,
“I wish we had thought of _______ while we were RV shopping.”

In the upcoming months, folks will be attending RV shows all over the country. Heck, there’s going to be tens of thousands of shoppers at the upcoming Florida RV SuperShow. They are going to be falling in love with residential refrigerators and massaging recliners. They’re going to be complaining about brown cabinets and light carpeting.

But many of them won’t even think about the things that will really matter once that RV is parked at the campground.

How do we know? Because we’ve been there and so have many other RVFTA readers and listeners.

So we have put together this list of the top 5 features people overlook when buying an RV.

Tank size

You can’t see fresh water, gray water, and black water tanks, so it’s easy to forget about them when RV shopping. If you plan on doing any dry camping, or if you plan on staying in state and national parks with limited hook ups, pay attention to tank size. You will want to fill up with fresh water before arrival, and you’ll want your grey and black water tanks to handle at least a weekend’s worth of RV use. However, if you plan on camping exclusively at private campgrounds with full hookups, feel free to ignore this RV stat.

Movement/Access with Slides In

It’s so easy to overlook this feature when RV shopping. Dealers almost always have RVs completely open and set up for customers. They may even act annoyed if you ask to bring the slides in.

Make them do it anyway.

One of the huge benefits of RV ownership is using your own kitchen or bathroom while traveling from point A to point B. So if that is in your game plan, you’ll have to make sure you can actually open the bathroom door and refrigerator door, even when the slides are in. Check access to drawers and cabinets also!

Bathroom Size

No one want to be the person who sits on the toilet when RV shopping, so many folks just stick their heads into the bathroom and look around. Again, having your own bathroom is one of the biggest perks of RV travel.

Ignore any sideways looks and sit on that toilet. Also make sure you can stand in the shower. Imagine your entire morning routine, and decide whether it could happen in that space. Have little kids? Could you give them a shower or bath? Finally, close the bathroom door to get a better feel for the amount of space you will have. If you feel like it’s tight while shopping, imagine how you’ll feel a week into an RV vacation.

Doors vs. Curtains

The lightweight or ultra light RVs are perfect for folks with limited tow capacity. But many of these RV models stay light by swapping out doors with curtains. This was certainly the case for our Jayco White Hawk travel trailer. A few years into ownership, we were dreaming of having a door for the bunk house and the master bedroom. 

In all the hustle and bustle of an RV show, many shoppers don’t think about daily privacy concerns. While it may not seem like a big deal, really think about whether you need the privacy of a bedroom door if traveling with the kids or grandkids.

Walk-Around Bed

Again, many people feel silly climbing around and into the beds when RV shopping, but if you are uncomfortable with the bed arrangement at the dealership, imagine how you will feel after a week at the campground. If you are trying to keep the size of your RV on the small side, you may have to compromise and buy a unit with a “east/west” bed. However, think carefully about whether this will work for you and anyone you travel with. Also consider the ease of bed making. If you can’t walk around the mattress, this can become an aerobic feat.

We filmed a Facebook Live on this topic at the annual RVIA show in Louisville this past fall. Check it out to see us go into a lot more detail about the features that REALLY matter when RV shopping.

Take it from the thousands of RV owners that we have heard from over the years: paying attention to some of the smaller, less obvious RV features is worth it in the long run.

Happy RV shopping!

RV Shopping What Features Really Matter

Listen to The RV Atlas Podcasts…


  1. John Poynton

    I know that this is not a big item on a lot of peoples’ lists, but we look at gas mileage as an important part of the package. We still live in the inexpensive vacation world of RVing and getting low gas mileage just adds to the cost. As we have mentioned before, we also have a really small street and a narrow driveway so anything really big is also, for practical reasons, out of the question. I can understand people who want bigger rigs, and have the space and money to do that. For now, though, we go small and cheap!

  2. Cheryl

    I’m actually shocked more people don’t do those things already! Tank size is one of the first things I look at before even wandering inside a rig! Salesmen hate me after having to answer the menial questions like that… After checking out the capacities and weight/length I go into a unit like I’m walking into a home.. Opening and closing cupboards and doors, picturing where I’d put all the necessities of daily life and then, if it suits those things I do a runthru of a mock day inside the rig.. Pretending to shower, or use the toilet..simple things and make sure it works. I can always change the color of the walls or cabinets but I can’t change the layout or size of the rooms!

  3. Antonio Torres

    Last but not least. It’s time to develop and bring to market asap hybrids and rvs powered by cleaner fuels . Your kids will love them and will be grateful to the pioneers of this industry!


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