Recreational vehicles provide an affordable way to travel and vacation, particularly for families. In the biannual Campfire Canvass of RV owners conducted by the Recreation Vehicle Industry Association, 75% of RV owners said they save at least 25% when they travel by RV and a quarter save 35% to 50%. Buying a used RV cuts your costs even more and is a great choice for buyers on a budget.

Buying a gently used RV allows you to get more vehicle with more premium features for your money than buying new. However, before you buy a used RV, it pays to do your homework. Decide how much you can comfortably afford to spend. Remember to include insurance and storage if your community doesn’t allow residential RV parking, and make sure you leave room in the budget to enjoy your RV. Take your time researching the best RV for your needs:

  • Consider how you like to travel. Do you like roughing it in the backwoods or do you prefer to travel with all the comforts of home?
  • Think about where you want to travel. State and federal parks provide smaller lot spaces than RV campgrounds and resorts.
  • Determine how big an RV you need. How many beds and how much storage space will you need?
  • Consider driving preferences. Do you prefer a motorized or towable RV?

Spend some time at RV shows or visit an RV showroom to get a feel for the physical space available in different models. Rent your top RV choices and try them out for a weekend.

Once you decide on the type and price RV you’re looking for, take your time searching and comparing used RVs until you find the perfect match for your needs. To avoid getting scammed, buy from a reputable online RV sales site like Before you buy, review the unit’s maintenance records, check the vehicle’s history with a free Carfax report, and always make a thorough personal inspection of the unit. If you don’t feel qualified to assess the unit’s systems and engine, arrange to have it inspected at an RV service center. A thorough inspection will prevent unpleasant maintenance problems down the road.

The most comprehensive resource on buying an RV, whether new or used, is the Better Business Bureau’s informational DVD Buying a Recreational Vehicle. Available on the Internet, the hour-long video walks you through every aspect of buying an RV from choosing the right vehicle to avoiding scams. RV buyers will also profit from joining RV web forums, reading RV magazines and talking to RV owners. You’ll also find helpful articles on buying an RV and links to many popular RV resources on the website and blog.