Cherokee Wolf Pup at campsite

The Ultimate Guide to Choosing Your First RV

When you’re ready to buy your first RV, you probably have a lot of questions. What are the different types of RVs? Which one is right for me? How do I budget for this purchase? Luckily, you’ve come to the right place. At Cheyenne Camping Center, we’re experts in RVs, and we enjoy helping people find the right one for their needs and lifestyle. That’s why we’ve put together this helpful first-time RV buyer guide for choosing an RV.

Types of RVs

Cherokee Wolf Pup at campsite

When shopping for your first RV, it’s essential to know the different types available so you can compare factors like size, cost, and maintenance. In general, you have two options for an RV: motorized or towable. Each type has a variety of options.

Towable RVs

A towable RV requires a separate vehicle to pull it. They usually cost less than motorized RVs, and many people prefer having a separate vehicle they can drive after getting to the campsite. These are the different towable RVs you can consider:

  • Fifth wheels: A fifth wheel gets its name from the fifth-wheel hitch you need to tow it. This setup gives fifth wheels a two-level design, offering extra privacy and living space. The fifth wheel design provides better weight distribution and stability, resulting in smoother towing, reduced sway, and improved maneuverability. Fifth wheels generally range in length from 30 to 40 feet. They offer more interior room, storage space, and higher ceilings for more clearance in areas like the shower. They are likely to have more luxury features like larger residential style kitchens, bedrooms, and bathrooms. They’re great for full-time RVers and serious travelers who spend a lot of time on the road.
  • Travel trailers: This type of trailer has a classic hitch design, meaning you pull it behind a towing vehicle. Travel trailers offer more versatility regarding towing, available lengths, price point, and where they can be taken to camp. Travel Trailers can be towed with SUVs, trucks, and properly equipped cars. They typically range from 10 to 40 feet in length and tend to cost less than fifth wheels. They can have a smaller turning radius as well, making them more suitable for camping in remote or confined areas. There are many styles and variations of travel trailers. Common features in travel trailers include slide-outs, multiple sleeping spaces, full bathrooms, dinettes, and outdoor kitchens.
  • Pop-up campers: Lightweight and collapsible, pop-up campers are easy to tow with smaller vehicles and set up at a campsite. They can vary in size and weight, but most come with standard features like a sleeping area, sink, and cooktop. Some also come with toilet and shower. A pop-up camper offers an excellent transition from tent camping to exploring the world of RVing, providing a comfortable and convenient camping experience while maintaining a close connection to nature. If you enjoy camping under the stars but prefer some protection from the elements, a pop-up camper is a good choice.
  • Toy haulers: Toy haulers are ideal for the outdoor enthusiasts that want to bring recreational toys such as ATVs, motorcycles, bicycles, kayaks, or other large gear without sacrificing comfort or living space inside the RV. A toy hauler may be equipped with features like power beds, convertible sofas and entertainment centers in the garage area and ramps that convert to a patio deck for additional outdoor living space.

Motorized RVs

A motorized RV, also called a motorhome, is a vehicle and living space all in one. You can drive a motorized RV without towing it. The different types of motorized RVs include:

  • Class A motorhomes: As the largest motorhomes, Class A’s usually come with desirable features, like full-sized appliances and spacious bedrooms. They’re a good choice for full-time RVers or travelers who want some extra luxuries on the road.
  • Class B motorhomes: Also known as campervans, Class B motorhomes are the smallest motorized RVs. Despite their smaller size, they usually have a bathroom and kitchen area, making them popular with weekend campers.
  • Class C motorhomes: In terms of size, Class C motorhomes offer a middle option between Class A and Class B RVs. They can be a good compromise for people who need plenty of living space but want a more cost-effective option than a Class A motorhome.

Truck Campers

A truck camper gets its name because it loads onto the bed of a pickup truck. These are smaller RVs, usually ranging from 8 to 20 feet. Though compact, truck campers can have all the essentials, including a kitchen, sleeping area, dinette table, and bathroom. Truck campers are often favored by adventurers who enjoy off-road travel, exploring remote areas, or who want to tow a boat or trailer. Their compact size and rugged construction make them well-suited for navigating rough terrain and accessing secluded campsites that may be inaccessible to larger RVs.

Key Features To Consider

Each type of RV offers benefits and potential drawbacks. When choosing an RV, consider the features that are most important to you, such as:

  • Size: How much room do you need in your RV? This usually depends on whether you’ll be traveling primarily by yourself, with your partner, or with a large group of friends or family.
  • Layout: The layout of an RV can influence your purchasing decision. Some come with multiple bedrooms and bathrooms, while others have smaller living spaces.
  • Amenities: Consider the amenities you want to have in your RV. Some come with top-of-the-line features, such as entertainment systems, full-size refrigerators, and washers and dryers, while others come with just the essentials.
  • Storage capacity: While shopping for an RV, don’t forget to look at the storage capacity, such as external storage and interior cubbies, cabinets, and closets.

Lifestyle Considerations

Besides the practical features you need in an RV, you’ll also need to consider your lifestyle. In other words, how do you plan to use the RV? If you’re going to use an RV primarily for weekend getaways, you may not need all the bells and whistles that come with a fifth wheel or Class A motorhome. On the other hand, if you plan to be a full-time RVer in your retirement, you may want the premium amenities and extra space these RVs offer, so you can be comfortable while on the road.

Budgeting for Your RV

An RV is a big investment, and most people need to budget for it. When budgeting for your first RV, decide whether you’ll need to finance your purchase. Many RV centers, including Cheyenne Camping Center, offer financing plans when purchasing an RV. Financing can offer an affordable way to purchase an RV by making monthly loan payments toward the total cost.

In addition to the purchase price, you should also consider other factors as you budget for an RV, including:

  • RV insurance.
  • Maintenance and repairs.
  • Gas costs.
  • Camping costs.

Navigating the Buying Process

Once you’ve chosen an RV and set a budget, it’s time to buy. Research RV dealerships in your area and browse their selections online. When you’re ready to see a model in person, head to the dealership and speak with a member of the sales team. Tour the RV and thoroughly inspect its features. For example, check out the kitchen appliances, try all the slideouts, and view the storage compartments.

Don’t leave the dealership (or purchase an RV) without asking all the questions you might have, such as:

  • What features and amenities come standard?
  • What’s included in the warranty?
  • What towing vehicle do I need to have?
  • What financing options are available?
  • What are the recommended maintenance and service levels?

Additional Resources

Want more RV buying tips and advice? Consider these additional resources:

  • RV shows: Attend an RV show in your area to tour different types of RVs and meet with other camping enthusiasts.
  • Online forums: An online forum, such as Forest River Forums,, and the Facebook group RV Tips can be a great way to get insights and tips from other RVers.
  • Cheyenne Camping Center: Visit the Cheyenne Camping Center in Walcott, Iowa, to view our wide selection of RVs. While you’re here, you can speak with our experienced staff members, who can help you make this important decision.

Visit Cheyenne Camping Center in Walcott, Iowa

Ready to join the RV community? Check out the Cheyenne Camping Center RV selection to find the right one for you. Better yet, come visit our dealership in Walcott, Iowa, and view our selection in person. Contact us for more information.