5 Mistakes to Avoid When Buying an RV or Your First Travel Trailer

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Buying an RV, travel trailer, or camper is a purchase that will deliver When buying your first RV or travel trailer avoid these five common RV buying mistakes.  Purchase your new camper with confidence by following these RV buying tips.  absolute freedom. Owning one of these recreational vehicles lets you call home to oceanfront beaches, breathtaking mountain tops, painted sky deserts, and soothing riverfronts. Because when buying an RV, you purchase a membership into the ultimate traveler’s club. 

If you’re like me buying your first RV will murder your home buying dreams, and set you on a path of endless adventures.   Where friendships aren’t based on how well you get along with your co-workers, or the proximity to you neighbors.  RV life friends are born out of a genuine connection with one another.  That last a life time.  From the lobster boats of maine to the desert parties of Arizona.  Purchasing a recreational vehicle allows you to travel with no restrictions to where ever you choose to roam. No minimum or maximum stay requirements. Buying an RV means you will never have to cut the lawn again. You will never have to shovel your driveway or clean out your gutters. 

Pet deposits and reservations will no longer be a travel planning concern. No compromising on the gear you want to travel with. Friends and family can visit where ever you may be. 

5 Mistakes to Avoid When Buying an RV or Your First Travel Trailer Outdoor Adventure RV Travel Blog AOWANDERS Travel Blog

Wall Tent Wood Stove

  • Perfect RV Fireplace
  • Heavy Duty Construction
  • Chimney Included

Benefits of Buying an RV

Buying an RV is a rewarding longterm investment of complete travel freedom with the bonus of never doing yard work again. Owning an RV, travel trailer, or camper will let you call home to some of the country’s most iconic vacation destinations and automatically enroll you into “RV Life,” the greatest traveler’s club on the planet. Whos membership doesn’t charge extra for bags, pets, or even travel partners.

Cheap RV Living Benefits

There’s a cure to RV life envy, but are you ready for it? Can you handle sleeping below the stars? Would you enjoy a setting sun over the Arizona desert? Can you handle living with the sounds of crashing ocean waves in the background? Would a raging waterfall appeal to you? Does meeting new friends at every destination sound like fun? If you truly want to cure your “RV Life” envy, it starts with purchasing your first recreational vehicle.  

You’ve seen enough. You’ve heard enough. You’re now 100% convinced. It’s officially time to buy your first RV. And honestly, who can blame you? 

RV life is one big thrill, a never-ending adventure that’ll have you hooked from day one. Right?  

Of course, but getting to that point, however, can be a challenge. 

Purchasing a Recreational Vehicle

Buying an RV is a process. Often a tedious one. It’s also an investment. That any RVer will tell you it’s a rewarding longterm investment worth making, though.

Still, you want to make sure you get the best deal possible with the least stress possible. To do that, you’ll have to make an informed decision regarding your first RV. 

On that note, I’ve compiled five (5) mistakes first-time RV buyers make. I’m sharing these missteps with you so you won’t make them yourself. You know, that whole “learn from the mistakes of others” thing. 

So that you can have a pleasant buying experience that leads to years and years of RVing joy, here are five (5) mistakes to avoid when buying your first RV. 

Buying An RV

RV BUYING MISTAKE #1: Buying an RV that doesn’t meet your needs 

Imagine you’ve bought your first RV, and now you’re preparing to embark on your first RV road trip

You’re beyond excited and ready to hit the road in your new RV or travel trailer. It feels like Christmas morning, with all the anticipation and curiosity regarding what’s about to come your way. 

But then, as you’re packing your new RV, you realize that you simply cannot fit everything you need to bring. Even bare essentials won’t fit. At all. 

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There’s simply no way around it: the RV you just bought, the one you’ve been dying to experience, is waaaay too small.

This nightmare scenario might seem far-fetched, but it happens. All too often, actually. In fact, the reverse of this scenario is far more common than you’d think. 

American is a materialistic society, where, all too often, the default is “the bigger, the better.” Nothing could be further from the truth in the RV world. 

The bigger the rig you own, the fewer options you have, and the more expensive RV life will be. 

A 30-foot traveler may not seem like much. After you account for the tongue of your trailer and your vehicle, you’ll come to realize you need a 70-foot parking space for that 30-foot travel trailer. Urban boondocking will be more challenging because you’ll need two (2) parking spots, and you’ll still be overhanging or stretched passed those RV parking spaces. You can’t just whip a u-turn with a 30-foot travel trailer. I do all the time, but I’ve also been doing this for over a decade.  

The bigger the RV or travel trailer you purchase, the more camper accessories you’re going to need. Mirror extenders so that you can see when changing lanes. Backup cameras so you can park safely. Leveling jacks, generators, and adapters will be required to live comfortably in your big rig.  

5 Mistakes to Avoid When Buying an RV or Your First Travel Trailer Outdoor Adventure RV Travel Blog AOWANDERS Travel Blog

Goal Zero Yeti 150

  • Portable Solar Generator
  • Charge Laptops/Phones
  • Gas Free

To avoid buying the wrong RV, do your research before you buy your first RV. 

Make sure the RV you want meets all your needs. 

Make sure it has enough space for you, your family, travel partners, and gear. 

Make sure it has whatever amenities you’ll need while on the road. For the activities you do. If you’re a winter camping enthusiast like me, outdoor showers and kitchens are relatively useless, but this wall tent wood burning stove is priceless.  

5 Mistakes to Avoid When Buying an RV or Your First Travel Trailer Outdoor Adventure RV Travel Blog AOWANDERS Travel Blog

Wall Tent Wood Stove

  • Perfect RV Fireplace
  • Heavy Duty Construction
  • Chimney Included

Buying an RV is a significant investment, so you want to feel confident that you’re purchasing the right one. 

After all, an RV life filled with regret isn’t much of an RV life at all. Use my super popular RV buying guide to help you avoid RV buying regret.

RV BUYING MISTAKE #2: Not inspecting or doing a thorough walkthrough of your new RV

This RV tip coincides with RV BUYING MISTAKE #1. 

The only way to know if an RV sufficiently meets all your needs is to see it in person and do a thorough walkthrough. There’s no way around it. Sure, you might get lucky if you buy an RV online from someone on the other side of the country. But chances are you won’t.  Check out this handy RV buying and inspection checklist.  Print it! Download it! Use it!

Go view your soon-to-be new RV in person.

Before you go inside, check out the RV’s exterior. 

Take your time as you scope out your potential new home on wheels. 

You should make sure the doors and windows are properly aligned, test all doors and locks, and use a ladder to inspect the roof.  Ask for a garden hose and spray the entire roof down until it is soaking wet.  

After you’ve spent at least an hour (anything less is rushing it!) carefully inspecting the exterior of the RV, it’s time to head inside.  Start by checking for water leaks from the roof and window sills.

Once there, test every single light switch, as well as the radio and DVD player (if necessary). 

Open and close the closet doors. 

Make sure the kitchen counters are level and cabinets are secure. 

Carefully look over every single piece of furniture, checking for any damage. 

Sit in every seat in the RV to make sure they’re sturdy and comfortable.

Walk every inch of the RV.

And don’t make this #1 RV Buying Mistake.  Read very carefully and thorough!

Look at the kitchen counter. Where will you prepare food? Is there enough counter space to prep a meal for two? Do you have to continuously spin around to the table and back to the stove? Do you have to use some flimsy flip-up counter addition? Is your only option some temporary sink blocking countertop? How are you going to wash food if you need that counter space to chop veggies? Do you have to walk over to a kitchen island, or an illogical side counter five feet away from the stove? The absolute #1 RV buying mistake is buying an RV with a useless kitchen!!! Imagine the challenge it would be to cook your food behind the sink!!! Because thats where a drunk camper designer chose to mount it!!! 

Very few camper designers put any thought, if any, into food preparation. If you don’t want a buy an RV with a useless kitchen, you need to do a thorough walk-thru.  If you do buy a camper with a useless kitchen check out these essential camper kitchen accessories all for under $20.

It might sound excessive, but you want to leave no stone unturned. After you’ve exhaustively inspected the RV, make a note of your findings. Use, seriously, USE my Free RV buying checklist, you won’t regret it. 

You’ll be spending your precious money on something that you hope will last a very long time. Doing a thorough job now during your walkthrough inspection will save you tons of future money and stress should there be something seriously wrong with the RV.

Hopefully, there won’t be, but you won’t know unless you avoid making RV buying mistake #2.

***PRO RV buying hint*** If the RV owner doesn’t let me run a garden hose on the entire camper, including the roof, I won’t buy it, and walk away.   

RV BUYING MISTAKE #3. Not reaching out to the RV community

A big part of doing your homework is tapping into the RV community. The best way to know what to look for when buying your new RV is to hear from those actively involved in the RV community. They’re the real experts on the matter, so it makes all the sense in the world that you pursue their advice. 

5 Mistakes to Avoid When Buying an RV or Your First Travel Trailer Outdoor Adventure RV Travel Blog AOWANDERS Travel Blog

Solar String Lighting

  • RV Friendly
  • Portable
  • Festive

You might find them in an online RV forum such as https://www.rv.net/forum/ or https://www.irv2.com/forums/ or a local RV meetup group. Perhaps it’ll be a series of YouTube videos that give you the advice you need like this video I made about my portable RV generator. Facebook groups are an excellent resource full of knowledgeable RVers eager to come to your aid. The point is that the folks who know the most about buying a new RV are the ones who’ve done it.

Find them. Ask them as many questions as you need to feel confident in your upcoming purchase. 

And don’t worry about bugging them. The RV community is a tight-knit and open-minded group, and they’re always willing to discuss their passion for RV life. If you’re an aspiring RVer, chances are they’ll welcome you with open arms. 

RV BUYING MISTAKE #4. Stubbornly insisting on a brand new RV instead of buying a used RV or travel trailer.

Buying an RV from a dealership is a big mistake that way too many new RVers make. 

Think of it this way: that brand new RV you just bought lost more than 25% of its value the second you drove it off the lot. The average cost of a brand new RV from a dealership is $60,000. Losing $15,000 for turning a key and driving out of a parking lot isn’t on my bucket list.

If that’s not incentive enough to buy a used RV for your first RV, nothing is.  

Your best strategy is to buy an RV that is just a few years old from an owner who can produce records proving the RV was properly cared for. But, you need to avoid RV owners with a current loan out on their camper; otherwise, it’s just like buying from the dealership. It would be best if you looked for free and clear RVs that the current owner uses more as lawn art than they do as a recreational vehicle.  

That way, you know you’re buying something more recently made, and without any of the major boobie traps of a significantly older vehicle. 

Not only that, but you can typically buy a used RV for half the price it would cost brand new. 

As long as you find an RV that has been loved and cared for as much as you plan to love and care for it, buying a used RV is the way to go—plan on shopping for a used RV when buying your first recreational vehicle. 

RV BUYING MISTAKE #5: Buying your RV from a dealer with a less-than-stellar reputation

If you’re unable to buy a used RV directly from a private owner, you’ll have to deal with a dealer. Again, when buying your first RV, you’ll want to do your homework as it pertains to RV dealers. 

Remember: the sales guy or gal is not your buddy. Their job is to sell you something. Fair enough. Everyone has a job to do. In this case, yours is to find the best deal possible while buying your first RV and letting the salesman dictate the conversation won’t accomplish that.  

To get the best deal, check reviews of the RV dealers in your area. If someone has negative reviews because a customer took the time to type up their complaints, stay away. 

Please do not give them the benefit of the doubt. You don’t need to. You have options.

5 Mistakes to Avoid When Buying an RV or Your First Travel Trailer Outdoor Adventure RV Travel Blog AOWANDERS Travel Blog

Collapsable Camping Table

  • Portable
  • Lightweight
  • Rolls Up For Easy Storage

Here are some other items to discuss when negotiating the price of your first RV: 

● Does the dealer’s sale price include items such as the hitch, the equalizing system, the sway bars, and the electric brakes?

● Will the dealer, set everything up for you before you leave the lot? 

● Does the dealer offer a thorough training walkthrough? 

● Is financing an option?

● What kind of warranty does the dealership provide

● Where do you need to go for warranty maintenance

● Can you unload/upload your old camper accessories on their property

● Do you get a free RV membership club account

A truly reputable dealer will likely answer yes to most, if not all, of these questions. Keep that in mind as you navigate your dealership options while trying to buy your first RV. 

If you’ve decided it’s time to buy your first RV, let me help you with all the information I’ve published within this site by following this RV life link. And now that you’ve read this article, you know exactly what not to do when purchasing your first RV. 

Buying your first RV is an incredibly exciting experience. Fortunately, it doesn’t have to also be a stressful one if you follow RV travel blogs like this one. 

By paying attention to other first-time RV buyers’ mistakes, you can avoid the anxiety, wasted time, and lost money that comes from making the wrong purchase at the wrong price at the wrong time. Never a good combo when buying an RV for the first time.

Instead, you can find the perfect RV at the price that’s right for you. It seems like the best possible way to kick off what is sure to be an adventure-filled, long, and exciting life as an RVer.

Happy first-time RV buying, and even happier RVing after that!  Leave your questions and concerns in the comments below.  Happy travels everyone!


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Book Your Flight
Find a cheap flight by using Skyscanner or Momondo. These are my two favorite “flight” search engines because they search through websites and airlines around the globe and offer a calendar view to find even cheaper flights for flexible travelers.  Check out these UNIQUE destination deals or my favorite All Inclusive Booking Travel Tool!

Rent An RV

Find cheap RV rentals for your next adventure by using Outdoorsy or RVshare.  These are my two favorite “RV” search engines because they allow you to rent from private RV owners, and offer a wide variety of chooses at affordable rates.  Want to start making money by renting out your RV?  List it with Outdoorsy or RVshare.

Book Your Accommodation
You can book your hostel with Hostelworld. If you want to stay elsewhere, use Booking.com as they consistently return the cheapest rates for guesthouses and cheap hotels.  Get a $40 credit for booking with AirBnb.  Need to book a private campsite use my favorite RV booking site Hipcamp!

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Travel Packages & Tours

Are you looking for worldwide tours and travel packages?  Check out my go-to source — IntrepidTravel!  Looking for more family related travel packages and tours book with GAdventures.

Don’t Forget Travel Insurance
Travel insurance will protect you against illness, injury, theft, and cancellations. It’s comprehensive protection in case anything goes wrong and will cover things like transport security, crisis response and medical transports such as Life Flight. Why go on any trip without a safety net that costs less than a case of beer? I’ve been using SafetyWings for years without any issues.

My favorite companies that offer the best service and value are:

  • SafetyWings (ONLY $35 & Covers USA Travelers)
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  • Insure My Trip (for those over 70)
  • Medjet (for additional travel insurance coverage like medical transport, travel security & crisis response)

Looking for the best companies to save money with?
Check out my resource page for the best companies to use when you travel! I list all the ones I use to save money when I travel – and I think will help you too!

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