Motorhome Basics

Motorhomes are popular recreational vehicles making up about 15% of all RVs sold. They are built in a wide variety of configurations, lengths, and styles to satisfy the needs and wants of RV campers. If you’re new to RV travel, here’s what you need to know about Motorhome Basics.

Motorhome 101

A motorhome is simply a motorized vehicle with living quarters included: motor and home. Motorhomes also are called motorized recreational vehicles or motorized RVs. Beyond that general description lies numerous configurations, referred to by “class”. A Class A motorhome typically is 21 to 40 feet in length and sleeps up to 8 and are more spacious than others. The Class B motorhome (sometimes called a van camper) is 16 to 22 feet in length and sleeps up to 4 and are nimble, getting into smaller campsites than other RVs. A Class C motorhome is 21 to 35 feet in length and sleeps up to 6 and are a compromise in spaciousness and drivability. Class A and C sometimes have slide-out units that expand interior living space.

A truck camper is 8 to 20 feet in length and sleeps up to 4. A truck camper is a hybrid, a combination of a living compartment (the camper) mounted on a motorized vehicle (pickup truck). It offers some of the advantages of a motorhome and some of a travel trailer in that the living space can be separated from the vehicle and left at the campsite.

Choose a Motorhome

All motorhomes have similar features: a driving/passenger area, kitchen, bathroom sleeping area, and storage. Given that the largest Class A with slides can have five times as much square-footage than the smallest Class C, the difference is in the details — and your camping needs. To choose the best motorhome, ask:

  • How many people and pets will be traveling and camping in the RV?
  • How long will the camping trips be (days and miles per year)?
  • Where will the trips be (city, mountains, snow, desert, rural)?
  • New or used (used offers dramatic savings, but more maintenance and repair issues)?
  • What type of bathroom (a “wet bath” with toilet below the shower or full bath with separate shower, toilet, sink, and storage)?
  • Where will you store the motorhome (at home is cheaper and more convenient)?
  • Will you camp at commercial campgrounds, basic public campgrounds, or dry camp/boondock (dry camping requires solar or generator electricity and a larger water system)?
  • What services will you need while camping (water, electricity, propane) and how will you get it (onboard tanks, plug-in electricity, generator, solar)?
  • What is your RV camping budget?

Motorhome Tips

  • Class A motorhomes are most popular with larger families who need the space for longer trips. They also are popular with full-time RV couples.
  • Class B motorhomes are most popular with couples, sometimes with small pets. They are preferred for travelers who want to drive smaller RVs.
  • Class C motorhomes are a compromise offering medium-size families or extended-stay vacations both space and agility.
  • Many motorhome owners also pull a towable car (typically with manual transmission) or a trailered car to drive around at destinations.
  • Motorhomes also can tow a boat, enclosed trailer, or even a small travel trailer (depending on GVWR) for additional fun or living space.
  • Make sure the motor in your motorized RV is strong and will meet your travel needs. A motorhome without a motor is a travel trailer.

>>Dan Ramsey, FrugalRV.com
Travel more – spend less!

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