• RV Life and Living

What Camper Is Right For My Family?

No matter your family's size, there is a camper out there that will provide you with reliable shelter and protection from what Mother Nature throws at you. These campers come in various shapes and sizes. There are many Name Brands of these campers. However, only a few manufactures make all of these name brands. Also, you have many different levels of amenities to consider in your first travel trailer or RV.

What Items to Consider When choosing your First Family Camper? Top items for you to consider when making your first family camper purchase:

  • Size of your Family and how many beds you will need?

  • Will you use your existing family vehicle or buy a tow vehicle?

  • How much are you willing to spend?

  • Which do you prefer, a travel trailer or a 5th wheel trail?

  • What is your type of camping: weekend getaways or long-term camping?

  • Will you need heat and Air Conditioning?

  • Do you need an outside Kitchen?

  • What camper amenities are essential to your family?

Answering these questions, truthfully, will get you pointed in the proper direction. Obviously, you will be touring major camper retailers such as Camping World and others. However, be aware that these dealers will all carry different brands of trailers with varying sizes, amenities, and price tags.

Some of you starting out might want to start out small or with a Micro-Trailer. This option will allow you to utilize your existing vehicle to tow the camper, not to mention that the starting price tag will be less.

In a nutshell, campers that use an aluminum siding construction will tend to cost less money than the fiberglass shell models. These aluminum models will typically weigh less and also have lower durability. Also, the trade-in value on these models tends to be lower than that of the fiberglass models.

I'm not saying that you should ignore the aluminum models to make an excellent family option. My family has been using these models for years, even for long-term camping. Sometimes, these models make since they are less expensive but will still offer you lots of amenities.

Also, be aware that most campgrounds want your trailer to be 10 years old and under if you are planning on a long-term or annual site. That means that you will be changing your trailer for these locations more frequently, so expensive fiberglass models may not be attractive.

However, we have always considered the three most significant factors: price, quality, and amenities. There is a wide range of products, all with varying quality levels. So, take some time and look into many of the different brands and models. Many manufactures make many brands, all at different prices and quality levels. No, it's not as easy as walking in and making the purchase. Education is key. I would suggest trying at least two different dealers to get a feel for the market you are looking into.

What will the size of the Travel Trailer fit my family?

Yes, count up your family, and consider if you will be bringing along friends and family. Campers are all rated by the number of sleeping areas. However, this does not mean beds. It also includes fold-out sofas, turning your dinette into a bed, and even chairs that turn into beds.

While these options are places to sleep, they are not the height of comfort. If you are camping for short stays, then this will isn't much of an issue. However, if you will be extended stay camping, then you might want to consider a bed for all of your occupants.

With this in mind, you can purchase trailers with bedrooms in the front and back of the camper. Usually, the back bedroom is a bunkhouse where you can offer a bunk to all of your children while taking the bedroom in the front.

Are you towing the camper with your existing family vehicle?

If you are using the family values van to tow your new camper, you will need to check the maximum allowable towing weight for your van, car, or SUV. You can find this information in the information tag inside the driver's door, or you can indeed see the information online.

This weight limit is crucial to the proper towing of your new camper. You may need to at an electrical connector for the camper lights and brakes. This component can be installed where you purchase the trailer, but keep in mind that they will need your vehicle for the day to get it all hooked up.

This weight limit will also designate the size you can tow. Campers are rate by empty weight, so you will need to add in for your gear, water, and other items.

If you are just starting with this new camping adventure, you might be entirely comfortable with the family sleeping close with little privacy. Like Micro's, little travel trailers can offer you great flexibility to get away quickly for the weekend. An advantage is the smaller the trailer, the easier the setup. With less setup, you have more time with the family, and you can quickly move your trailer from the campground to campground.

How much are you willing to spend on your new travel trailer?

You need to set a limit before you hit the dealership. Like auto sales, these salespeople want to offer you the best product, and sometimes this will blow your budget. Set this number and stick to it. Keep in mind that campers depreciate quickly, similar to your car.

What you will be paying for:

  • sleeping quarters

  • the number of slide-outs on the trailer

  • number of air conditioners

  • Length of the Trailer

  • Outdoor amenities such as awnings, kitchens, entertainment area.

  • Aluminum or Fiberglass Shell

  • Quality Level of Construction

  • Leveling jacks, hitch jacks, and backup cameras

As you look through the inventory, you will notice that the amenities change while many trailers are similar. You need to decide what you need and what you will want. This way, you will have some control when it comes to the price. You can then narrow your search to trailers that fit into your price and amenity level.

Are you looking at a travel trailer or a 5th wheel?

It used to be that you needed a ¾ or 1-ton pickup to pull a 5th wheel. Today, manufactures have realized the large price tags on these trucks and have now started to construct 5th wheel models that can be towed by your ½ ton.

So, this leads to the question if you want a travel trailer or a 5th wheel. I've had both and currently have a travel trailer, but the high ceiling height is the one tangible item that I miss. If you are looking a the ½ ton 5th wheels, they will be a smaller size, but you will still get the ceiling height—just another item to consider.

No matter what, travel trailer or 5th wheel, you will need at least one slide-out in the trailer's living room. This item noticeably increases your living space. You can purchase a smaller trailer with 1 or 2 slides and have more useable living space than a more extended unit without slides.

What type of camping are you looking to enjoy?

If you are going for weekends and want to be quick and agile, then a smaller travel trailer is a great choice. They are light and easy to move around. They can still offer you lots of amenities such as showers, air conditioning, heat, stove, refrigerator, and even exterior awnings and cooking areas.

Inside these smaller units, you will find less privacy, but who cares for the weekend, and it's an excellent way for the family to bond.

Now, if you look at more extended stays, weeks at a time, you may want to consider a larger travel trailer or 5th wheel.

Here you can obtain separate bedrooms, lots of space, a stand-alone bathroom, good sized interior kitchen, and excellent storage space for your clothing and gear. Again, keep in mind the bigger you go, the bigger the price-tag.

Will you need Heat or Air Conditioning for your camper?

Yes, most campers come with heat and air conditioning. However, I bring this up as a stand-alone item because you need to consider what you need. If you're camping in the North, you will need less air conditioning than in the hot and humid South. The Opposite goes for the furnace in your new camper.

You will pay extra to upgrade these hardware pieces, so have an idea of what you want and need.

Most campers have a base or standard level of heat and a/c that is supplies with the units. You can opt for campers with larger furnaces or additional air conditioning units, usually up to three in total.

Do you need an Outside Kitchen or Entertainment Center?

For some of us, these are excellent options. But, if you plan on cooking outside the camper while on your travels, then an outside kitchen is a must. These kitchens come in different levels with many amenities.

Some kitchens give you cabinets and a small fridge. Others add sinks and a stove or, at a minimum, a convenient propane hook-up near the kitchen that allows you to connect a propane grill or stove.

No matter the level, this is an excellent amenity as you have a location to help store your groceries and cooking materials.

Now, when it comes to an exterior entertainment center, this too can be very useful. If you have chosen a smaller trailer, this adds space for you and your family to enjoy the outside while still watching favorite shows or sports—no issues with close quarters inside the camper. You have the added space under the awning to enjoy and relax.

What amenities are important to you on your first camper?

There are so many amenities that can be available in your first travel trailer. These can range from the number of beds to the size of the awning. These items are all items you need to consider and rank in the level of importance to you and your family.

Items that you need to consider.

  • Outside kitchen

  • Outside Entertainment Center

  • Size of your Awning

  • Number of Air Conditioners

  • Size of your Furnace

  • Insulation Rating of the Camper

  • Stabilizing Jacks versus Leveling Jacks

  • Solar Power Ready or Solar Power Included

  • Number of Batteries

  • Shower versus tub/shower in the bathroom

  • Number of Beds

  • Dinette versus table and chairs for eating

  • Recliners versus Couch

  • Size of the Gas/Electric Refrigerator

  • Backup Camera

  • Number of Slide-outs

  • Awnings for the Slide-outs

  • Flooring, many types can be considered options.

  • One entry door or two entry doors

  • Size of the water heater.

All of these items may vary from manufacturer and model. This selection means that you will have a tremendous amount of legwork to narrow down the trailer for you and your family. Remember, when making these choices, consider what you are looking for in your camper regarding your type of camping.

These amenities will most likely vary widely depending is you are a short-term camper or a long-term camper.

If you take your time to consider all of the above items, you will purchase the best travel trailer for your needs. You will determine the comfort level that you and your family want and need while enjoying the beginning of your camping adventure. Whether interior or exterior, these items will all affect the price of your unit. This price is why you need to make a prioritized list to keep within your budget.

Now it's time for you to make your lists and start looking at campers. Take your time, and don't get pressured to blow your budget. Stay true to your needs, desires, and budget.

We are RV Life and Living. We have spent lots of time looking at Travel Trailers and 5th Wheels to be the perfect fit for our family. We know that this information will help you to make the best decisions for your family.

We have more information on our website at www.rvlifeandliving.com. You can view top lists, product reviews, and other educational articles that will help you get started with your RV or travel trailer camping adventure. Head over to the site and see how we can help you make the best decisions with your hard-earned money.

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