Roll With It, Baby: A Newbie’s Guide to RVing in Utah
Wanna satiate your wanderlust? Live the RV life? You’re not alone. In the era of social distancing, Zoom meetings, and blended learning, an increasing number of people are choosing to roam rather than stay home. Of course, retirees and RVs still go together like popcorn and soda. But more younger adults are becoming digital nomads and working remotely. Parents are incorporating travel into their children’s curriculum (who doesn’t want to be a “roads” scholar?!) and bonding more than they ordinarily would. Before you roll, answer these questions to find the right recreational vehicle, get road trip ideas, and make the journey as enjoyable as possible.
What’s your type?
Like dating, everyone has their own personal preferences when it comes to RVs. Size matters. So does your level of commitment. And don’t get us started on balancing wants and needs.
Recreational vehicles in this category have engines. You can ditch the hitch and roll with everything under one roof.
When your relationship status with the road is serious, consider a Class A motorhome for the long haul. Also called touring coaches, these luxury RVs range in size from 21 to 45 feet long and sleep up to 10 — perfect for the “average” Utah family. Many have slideouts to provide more room inside. All have storage galore and amenities aplenty. Some even have washers and dryers. But bigger isn’t always better. (Do you really need that washer and dryer? Or can you get by using laundromats?) All that comfort and convenience comes with a cost; Class A motorhomes are more expensive to rent/buy and they use more gas.
Commitment phobes, rejoice! Also called campervans, Class Bs are better suited for short-term thangs like weekend getaways. They typically sleep two or four people and have a small kitchen. Some have a combined shower/sink/toilet called a wet bath, but not all. What campervans lack in space, however, they make up for maneuverability and affordability.
Just when you thought you’d never find “the one,” you see a Class C and fall deeply, deliriously in love. These mid-size motorhomes are built on a truck frame and range in length from 20 to 33 feet. They comfortably sleep up to eight people and combine the best amenities of Class A's with the easy maneuverability of Class Bs. Goldilocks approves.
As the name implies, recreational vehicles in this category must be towed to your destination by a truck or SUV. The two most popular towables for extended road trips are fifth-wheel trailers and travel trailers.
That retro Roadrunner your family took on camping trips when you were a kid may have been your first love, but that doesn’t mean it’s your true love. There are lots of different shapes and sizes in this trailer category, from 4-foot teardrops with just enough room for you and your sweetheart to share a sleeping bag to 35-footers that sleep eight people in multiple bedrooms. Some can even be towed with a compact SUV or a minivan.
No one likes a third wheel, but fifth wheels? Love, love, love, love, love. Woo! Large and luxurious, these trailers range from 20 to 40 feet and have a gooseneck that extends over the back of a large pickup truck. This provides more stability than a travel trailer while driving, as well as more sleeping space when parked — fifth wheels typically sleep up to eight people. Slideouts are a common feature that offers more interior living space.
Are you a renter or a buyer?
Whether you rent a rig or buy one is totally your call. Each has its own pros and cons. Renting allows you to play the field, taking out different sizes and styles. Rent a campervan one weekend, leave the kids at home, and hit the hot springs with that someone special. Or go all out with a 45-foot Class A and invite Cousin Eddie and company on an extended adventure across the state.
Another advantage of renting is affordability. You don’t have to take out a loan, shell out more money to store the rig when you’re not using it, or pay for annual upkeep. Outdoorsy — a service similar to Airbnb but with wheeled accommodations — has a wide selection of vintage rides, pet-friendly rigs, and other RVs for rent. In many cases, the RV can be delivered to you.
Buying a recreation vehicle, on the other hand, allows you to customize it to fit your exact needs. You don’t have to pack it and unpack it every time you go out. You have complete freedom to extend your trip longer if you want. New RVs usually have a manufacturer’s warranty that covers the cost of repair for a few years, but the initial cost is more than a used RV. Insurance premiums and depreciation are usually higher on new versus used rigs as well. Though used RVs are usually more affordable, you may have to sacrifice a few of your wants (or needs) based on what’s available at the time.
If you’re a buyer, KSL Classifieds has a wide selection of recreation vehicles to choose from, both previously owned and new.
Have you done your homework?
Read the instruction manual before you go anywhere in an RV. If you’re renting, ask the owner to give you a walkthrough so you know where everything is and how it works. Familiarize yourself with all the gizmos and gadgets inside the cab of the motorhome. Pack a few tools in your travel trailer so you can change a tire or make adjustments as needed. Spare fuses and jumper cables are also a must. The best road trips DO NOT involve waiting around for roadside assistance or a tow truck!
What’s your money plan, Stan?
Living on the road ain’t free. You still need to make your rental or loan payment and consider other expenses as well. Basics like insurance, food, gas, tolls, and campground fees add up in a hurry. Cha-ching! You probably need to take increased cell phone data usage into account as well. Make a budget and consider ways to make your travels more affordable.
If you’re planning a Utah national parks road trip, for instance, an America the Beautiful Pass could save you some dough. Have a fourth-grader along for the ride? Even better. Entrance into all the national parks is free thanks to the Every Kid Outdoors initiative. You might also be able to save money by joining an RV club-like Passport America or Good Sam. AAA offers discounts on many Outdoorsy rentals, as well as certain RV parks.
Have you mapped out a route and made reservations?
Whether you head straight to a classic like Arches National Park or want to take the road less traveled through Kanab, we’ve got itineraries for the best road trips in Utah. We’ve even got multi-state road trip ideas, including one from Logan to Jackson. Of course, you can always map out your own adventure.
Stop rolling your eyes. We know spontaneity is part of the fun of RV travel, but there’s nothing enjoyable about trying to pull a long trailer over a steep, icy mountain pass because you didn’t plan accordingly. When it comes to weather, timing is everything. That’s also true for special events, whether you want to attend them or avoid heavy traffic from them.
Availability at RV parks is also a consideration. Advance reservations are usually necessary during peak season at some of our favorite places: Ruby’s Inn RV Park & Campground, Wahweap RV Park & Campground, and Castle Gate RV Park. Be sure to inquire about the size of their spaces if you’re driving an especially long recreation vehicle. Headed off-road? Take your rig’s ground clearance into consideration.
Knowing when and where you’re going also makes it easier to pack. Weather-appropriate clothing? Hot chocolate? Extra blankets? All musts for winter road trips in many parts of Utah. If you’ll be working or studying while you’re out and about, be sure to bring portable solar panels, a generator, and/or chargers for all your electronic devices. Other things to put on your packing list include:
First aid kit
If you don’t already have everything you need, keep your budget in check by shopping KSL Classifieds.
Get outta town!
Once your rig is packed, grab your travel companions (yes, even Fido!) and go. Quote lines from your favorite “National Lampoon” movie. Sing “Sweet Caroline” at the top of your lungs. Swap stories around the campfire. Check things off your Utah bucket list and enjoy everything our six-sided state has to offer!