I am an RV enthusiast with more than 50 years of experience owning, driving, traveling and living in recreational vehicles.
One of the most important things for RV buyers to consider is comfort. Whether you plan to live or travel in a recreational vehicle, you should want the time you spend in it to pleasant. Campers, travel trailers and motorhomes are not pleasant to use if they keep you from sleeping well, create neck and back problems or make you feel cornered while eating.
These and similar issues are the very reasons why people sell or trade their travel units. When this happens, it can cost owners plenty!
I met a couple who sold a gorgeous and costly motorhome because the shower was too small for the wife. These people could have saved a ton of money if they had just taken the time to make sure that the size of the shower in their coach met her needs!
There is no "one size fits all" when it comes to recreational vehicles. Nonetheless, there are some things all buyers should take into consideration before signing on the dotted line.
Few people realize what important roles awnings play in their overall RV living comfort.
- On extremely hot days, they help to lower internal temperatures considerably.
- When it’s raining, they allow you to keep windows open so that you can enjoy the cool breezes.
- They also help to keep you dry on rainy days when entering or leaving a coach.
- Additionally, they provide external living areas that you can enjoy with family and friends.
Not all RVs come with awnings and not all come with complete sets. They are also costly to install, so it is best to make sure they are already on a coach when you buy it.
2. Flat Slide Room Elevation
Newer recreational vehicles have mechanisms that allow slide rooms to sit on the same level as the rest of the floor when they are in the open position, but many older ones do not.
What this means is some units have a step that is easy to trip over. This is a continual problem that cannot be fixed, so when purchasing a coach always ask the seller to open the slides.
Although the rise is not high, it nonetheless puts owners in the position of always having to take care when using their travel units.
3. Well-Designed Slide Rooms
Some units have wide slide rooms or slides that face one another. These are fine when they are in the open position, but when closed, some of them barely leave enough room to walk, get to the bathroom, or even be able to prepare a meal during daytime travel.
These can become very uncomfortable problems for travelers, especially when they must park in areas that don’t allow enough room for them to open their slides.
For these reasons, when checking out an RV, always ask sellers to close the slide rooms.
Then test them to see if you can open the bathroom or refrigerator doors or easily access closets that are located on the back of the coach behind the bed.
4. Spacious, Well-Placed Closets
Those who don’t travel much in RVs don’t realize how often they must be able to access their closets.
If they are located in hallways or walk-through bathrooms, there is no problem. However, many units are designed with the main wardrobe at the rear of the coach behind the bed.
These usually are elevated on a step, which means that for most men and some women, standing upright while using the closet is impossible.
Another problem is that the person who sleeps on the closet side of the bed has to remember to step down when leaving their bed. Especially for half-asleep people or those who are older, this step can lead to falls and serious injuries.
Finally, make sure there is plenty of closet space, especially for hanging clothes.
5. A Comfortable Mattress
Many recreational vehicles come with thin, cheap, and uncomfortable mattresses that make sleeping a miserable experience.
They are easily replaced, but the cost of doing so can be significant.
Some people buy air mattresses because they are comfortable and lightweight. However, due to road vibrations they must be aired up regularly, which is hard to do if you are not hooked up to electricity or don't have a generator.
An owner's best bet is to install a standard mattress that is constructed for RV use so that the weight does not become a problem.
No matter what you choose, you want a mattress that is comfortable because not being able to get a good night's sleep can become a safety issue.
A good mattress also helps to relieve back and neck pain, so installing one is a good investment.
6. Lighted Mirrors
Very few RVs come with well-lit mirrors. This may not seem important, but for people who need to see what they’re doing when putting on makeup, plucking eyebrows or flossing teeth, need a well lit magnifying mirror to make doing so easier. This is especially true for people who have vision problems.
If you own an RV that does not have this type of mirror (and few do) you can resolve this problem, as I did, by purchasing a double sided lighted mirror that is standard on one side and has 10x magnification on the other.
The one I've been using for years is made by Mirrormore. When I'm not using it, I slide it into my underwear drawer to that it will be padded during travel. It allows me to see without straining so that I can do the things I mentioned above and has made taking care of my personal needs without any issues or eye strain.
I use the mirrors that are already mounted in my RV bathroom for daily hygiene and this one for more visually challenging tasks. It works great for me and costs much less than trying to reconfigure my RV!
7. Well-Placed Medicine Cabinets
One of the worst design flaws in RVs is a poorly placed medicine cabinet. This would be one that is directly above the sink that has a mirror on the front of it and opens directly towards the person using it.
A cabinet made like this is very awkward to use because you have to step back each time you need to take something out or put something in.
If you leave it open when brushing your teeth or shaving, you won’t be able to see what you’re doing!
A double-door cabinet is a much better choice for obvious reasons.
If a coach doesn’t have a two-door medicine cabinet, don’t buy it!
8. Roomy Bathroom Counters
It’s important to have room on a bathroom counter for items such as toothpaste, combs and razor blades. If you wear glasses or hearing aids, counter space becomes even more valuable.
RVs that don’t offer this option can make personal care awkward and difficult.
Using a small basket or group of baskets may help, but bathroom counters that are too small are always a problem.
9. Spacious Dining Areas
Some manufacturers cut corners by installing extremely small dining tables that cannot be extended.
These look good, but when you try to use them, there’s barely enough room on them for your food! You can also forget inviting friends over for dinner, too!
Eating should be a comfortable experience, but an overly small dining table keeps you from having it!
Sit down in the dining area and think about the amount of space the table will have for the food you normally serve.
10. A Big Shower
Showers that are too small present similar problems.
They should be high enough for taller people to easily fit in and wide enough to allow people to move around without bumping their arms, heads or legs.
One of the great pleasures of owning an RV is to be able to take a relaxing shower, but people can’t do this if there isn’t enough room!
To make sure yours will work, stand in it. Move around. Make sure it has plenty of head and elbow room.
11. An Area for a Computer
If you are someone who uses a computer often, you want to make sure that there is an area in your RV that will give you enough space to do so.
Many people use small laptops, but the problem with these is that data on the screens can be hard to see. Thus, if you use a standard sized laptop, you'll want to have room for it. This will be especially true if you carry a printer with you.
Some coaches have areas dedicated for this use, but others require you to improvise. The point here is that if you must do this, make sure that you can!
12. Solid, Comfortable Furniture
Every piece of furniture in a motor home, camper or travel trailer should have good lumbar support and well-padded seating.
Without them basic daily activities can cause back problems and make travel miserable.
Fortunately, furniture can be removed and replaced, but the cost can be substantial. On the other hand, the increased comfort level may be well worth the cost.
Your RV Is Your Home
A recreational vehicle is more than just something to travel in. It’s your home away from home.
There are many things you can do to improve a travel unit, as the attached video shows, but it's so much better if you can buy a unit that already has the items you need for comfort enhancement.
You should want it to be livable, which means that it’s important that it provide you with as many comforts as possible.
Living with design flaws has caused many people to sell their coaches. However, if they had paid closer attention to livability issues when shopping, they might well have saved themselves thousands of dollars.
Doing this may take more time, but in the long run, you’ll be much happier and will enjoy your vacations much more.
Whether you are buying or trying to make improvements, remember that the 12 items mentioned here that improve comfort are very important to have.
This article is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge. Content is for informational or entertainment purposes only and does not substitute for personal counsel or professional advice in business, financial, legal, or technical matters.
© 2018 Sondra Rochelle
Sondra Rochelle (author) from USA on April 30, 2018:
Dora Weithers: Thanks. I try to be as helpful as possible with the info I provide
CaribTales on April 30, 2018:
Your presentation makes RV life look appealing. Buyers would certainly appreciate this guide.
Sondra Rochelle (author) from USA on April 28, 2018:
G Maria: Thanks. There is a lot to consider when buying an RV, so the more info you have, the better off you are. Thanks for commenting.
Shan Moore from Philippines on April 28, 2018:
Hi. This is a very informative hub for people looking into buying an RV. Thank you very much.