Whether you are in the earliest stages of researching an RV purchase, or you are on the cusp of making the big decision, attending an RV show near you is a fun way to spend a day or a weekend, especially during the winter months. Heading to the show with a game plan will make it a better experience no matter where you are on your RV purchase journey.
Here are 8 tips for getting the most out of visiting an RV show. If you follow them, you’ll gain confidence in the decision-making process and soon find yourself well on the way to owning the RV of your dreams.
Research the Show’s Website and Map Before You Go
Spend some time researching the RV show’s website before you go. Familiarize yourself with the show's general location, parking, hours, and vendors. Note if admission or parking is cash only. Pay particular attention to the show map and take a picture of it or download it to your phone. Use the map to start creating your game plan for which RVs you want to tour--and the order in which you will visit them. Zig zagging back and forth across an RV show can waste a lot of time. Plan a route and you will master the show in no time.
Visit Your Top Choice RVs First
Use the show map to create a priority list of which RVs you want to see first. The day can go by quickly and you will probably spend more time visiting each RV than you anticipate--so getting to your top choices first is important. Don’t get to the end of the day at a show and realize that you missed seeing some potential favorites.
Plan One Day for a Smaller Show and Two Days for a Larger Show
If you are attending a small to medium sized show, then one day will probably be more than enough to check out all of your favorite RVs. But if you are attending a larger RV show like the Florida RV Supershow or the Hershey RV Show then we recommend spending at least two days, if possible. If you don’t own an RV yet, book a hotel room and make a weekend out of it. If you do own an RV, find a local campground or camp on the showground if available. Either way, book a campsite early. Camping onsite or near the major RV shows is generally popular and sites fill up quickly.
Wear Comfortable Shoes and Stay Hydrated
Many first time RV show attendees are surprised by how much walking they end up doing in a single day. Getting in 10,000 steps at a large RV show is easy--especially if the RVs you want to tour are far away from each other. Make sure to wear comfortable shoes and get ready to walk. Drink lots of water and stay hydrated, particularly in warmer temperatures.
Test Out the Whole RV for Comfort and Compatibility
If you are considering a purchase, make sure you test out the entire RV for comfort and compatibility. Sit on all the chairs (including the toilet!) and make sure you are comfortable. Imagine yourself packing the RV. Is there enough storage for all your gear? Slow down and spend some time in all the RVs that are at the top of your list. Picture yourself camping and having fun in the RV. Purchasing an RV is a big decision and you shouldn’t rush the process.
Have a System for Recording Information On Your Smartphone
This may be the most important tip of all, especially if you are looking at many RVs in one day. We highly recommend that you take a set of photos for every RV you walk through. Start by taking a picture of the make and model badge that is usually located right outside the main door. Then take a series of pictures of the key interior and exterior features that mean the most to you. Make sure you end each sequence of photos with a picture of the show price. This way you can review all of your favorite RVs when you get back to your home, hotel, or campground.
Talk to a Manufacturer’s Representative
Many RV manufacturers send their representatives to RV shows to meet consumers and answer questions. These “reps” are often product managers who are highly involved in designing the RVs at their respective companies. These reps are an absolute wealth of knowledge about the RVs at their displays. You can find them by looking for the manufacturer’s logo on their shirts or jackets. If you have specific questions about any given RV, then this is the best way to get those questions answered right at the show.
Attend the Educational Seminars
Many RV shows have educational seminars led by industry experts. These seminars often cover a wide variety of topics including choosing the right RV, maintaining and winterizing an RV, and many more. We highly recommend taking a break at some point during the day and attending one of these seminars. Have a snack, rehydrate, and rest your feet for a while before heading back out into the show.
Good luck and have fun! Remember that your first–or next–RV is out there waiting for you at an RV show this season.