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Everyone can agree that RV camping is a great way to explore the country. However, that is where many RVers stop agreeing and start arguing. Here are 5 divisive questions RVers can’t agree on!
- 1 Propane On or Off for Travel?
- 2 To Tow or Not to Tow?
- 3 Are New or Used RVs a Better Value?
- 4 RV Parks or Boondocking?
- 5 Are RVs Made for Pooping?
Propane On or Off for Travel?
Deciding whether to turn off propane tanks when traveling is a subject of much debate among RVers. In fact, there are many Facebook posts on the subject with hundreds of conflicting comments.
Many RVs come equipped with refrigerators with two potential power sources: shore power or propane. Many RVers wish to use propane to keep their fridge working during travel.
However, This can be a major safety concern for some RVers. Here’s a look at both sides of the argument.
Turning Off Propane: The Case For and Against
Many argue that for safety reasons, it’s always best to turn off your propane tanks while traveling.
- Safety: The primary reason for turning off propane is safety. In the event of an accident, a propane leak can have catastrophic consequences, including the risk of fire or explosion.
- Legal Requirements: Some state have laws restricting propane use on bridges and at gas stations, making it a non-negotiable in certain situations.
- Refrigeration: The most significant inconvenience is the inability to keep the refrigerator running, which can be problematic for long travel days or in hot weather. Food spoiling becomes a concern.
Leaving Propane On: The Case For and Against
On the other side of the debate, some RVers prefer to leave their propane on for various reasons.
- Refrigeration: Keeping the propane on allows the fridge to stay operational, ensuring your food remains fresh throughout the journey.
- Minimal Risk: Most RVers who choose to leave their propane on believe the risk is minimal (RVers also disagree if this is true).
- Safety Risks: The primary downside is the increased risk. A propane leak, especially if an accident occurs, can lead to dangerous situations.
- Potential Legal Issues: Ignoring regulations about propane use in certain areas can lead to fines or other legal complications.
Ultimately, the decision to turn off propane tanks while traveling is a personal one, heavily influenced by the specific circumstances of your journey and your comfort level with the potential risks.
Personally, we never leave our propane turned on while towing our RV. We would rather risk spoiling some food than endangering our lives.
For us, turning the refrigerator off has never been a problem. With the doors left closed until the fridge is turned back on for a few hours, the food always stays chilled.
RVers can also avoid this debate entirely by getting an RV with a 12 volt refrigerator that is powered by the house battery.
To Tow or Not to Tow?
The question of whether to buy a towable RV or a motorized one is the first decision most RVers make. It’s also a question that can lead to lively campfire discussions.
Both options offer distinct lifestyles on the road, and understanding the pros and cons of each is crucial for anyone looking to join the RV community.
Towable RVs: The Case For and Against
On one side of the debate are the towables. These include a variety of types like travel trailers, fifth wheels, and pop-up campers, all of which require a separate vehicle to tow them.
- Cost-Effective: Generally, towables are less expensive than their motorized counterparts. This can be a significant factor for those budgeting for long-term travel.
- Vehicle Flexibility: Once you unhitch, you’re free to drive your towing vehicle without lugging your entire home with you. This makes exploring local areas easier.
- Variety: There is a wider range of towable sizes and floorplans, offering a comfortable space for every type of RV family.
- Towing Vehicle Required: Although towable RVs are cheaper, many larger travel trailers require an expensive truck to tow the RV.
- Setup and Breakdown Time: Hitching and unhitching can add time to your RV setup and breakdown at each destination, which can be a hassle for some.
Motorized RVs: The Case For and Against
On the other side are the motorhomes, which include Class A and Class C RVs. These self-contained units offer a different set of advantages and challenges.
- Convenience: With everything in one vehicle, motorized RVs make it easy to just get up and go. There’s no hitching and unhitching, and transitioning from driving to living is seamless.
- Comfort While Traveling: Passengers can comfortably move around, use the bathroom, and access the fridge or bed while on the move. (Even though they should not!)
- Power: Especially in the case of larger Class A RVs, the power and stability can make for a smoother ride, which is a big plus for long-distance travelers.
- Price: Motorized RVs often come with a hefty price tag, both upfront and in terms of maintenance.
- Mobility: Once you’re set up at a campsite, if you want to explore the local area, you’ll need to tow a smaller vehicle behind you or rely on alternative transportation.
Ultimately, the decision between towing and not towing comes down to personal preference, travel style and comfort level. We personally prefer towable RVs because of their homey floorplans and lack of an engine (and engine maintenance).
Are New or Used RVs a Better Value?
When it comes to purchasing an RV, buying new or used is a tough decision. Many RVers swear that new RVs are a better value because they come with a warranty. Other campers can’t see how anyone would purchase a new camper when RVs depreciate so quickly.
New RVs: The Case For and Against
For many, the allure of a brand-new RV with its untouched interior and the latest features is hard to resist. But is it always the best choice?
- Latest Features and Technology: New RVs come equipped with the latest advancements in technology, design and energy efficiency. This can include more efficient layouts, solar power capabilities and advanced entertainment systems.
- Warranty Coverage: New vehicles usually come with a warranty, offering peace of mind by covering major repairs and defects for a certain period.
- Customization: When you buy new, you often have the option to customize your RV from the layout to the finishes, ensuring it meets all your needs and preferences.
- Depreciation: Like new cars, new RVs depreciate quickly. The moment you drive off the lot, the value can drop significantly, which is a critical consideration for resale value.
- Higher Initial Cost: The price tag for a new RV is invariably higher, which can be a significant barrier for those with a tighter budget or those who prefer to allocate funds to other aspects of their travel.
- Unknown Issues: While it might seem counterintuitive, new models can sometimes come with ‘teething problems’ or recalls that haven’t been ironed out yet.
Used RVs: The Case For and Against
On the flip side, buying used can be a more affordable entry into the RV lifestyle, but it comes with its own considerations.
- Lower Cost: Used RVs are substantially cheaper. This not only makes them more accessible but also means less depreciation and potentially lower insurance costs.
- Tried and Tested: Many used RVs have already had any initial manufacturer issues identified and fixed by previous owners, meaning they could be more reliable than you’d think.
- Character and Upgrades: Older models can have a unique charm and character. Additionally, previous owners may have added valuable upgrades or modifications.
- Hidden Problems: Used RVs can come with wear and tear or hidden problems that aren’t immediately apparent, potentially leading to unexpected repair costs down the line.
- Outdated Features: Older models might lack the latest technology and features that new models offer, from energy efficiencies to modern comforts.
- Limited Choice: You’re restricted to what’s available on the market, which might not always match your exact preferences or needs.
The choice between buying a new or used RV is a personal one, heavily influenced by individual priorities, budget and tolerance for risk.
For some, the security and excitement of a brand-new, fully warrantied RV justifies the higher price and rapid depreciation. For others, the savings and potential character of a used RV are far more appealing.
We personally purchased a new RV for the warranty. However, we soon learned that warranty work takes longer than our full-time RV lifestyle allows. Therefore, we will probably buy used next time (unless I’m distracted by a shiny new RV).
RV Parks or Boondocking?
The preference for RV parks versus boondocking is another divide in the RV community. Each camping style offers a distinct experience, and the preference often depends on campers’ needs and their comfort level with off-grid camping.
RV Parks: The Case For and Against
RV parks are designed specifically for RVers, providing a range of amenities and lots of neighbors.
- Amenities: RV parks usually come with hookups for electricity, water and sewer, along with additional facilities like showers, laundry, and sometimes even swimming pools and sports courts.
- Security and Community: These parks usually offer more security and a sense of community. They’re great for socializing and meeting fellow RVers.
- Convenience: RV parks are often conveniently located near tourist attractions, towns or cities, making them a practical choice for sightseeing and resupplying.
- Cost: Staying in RV parks can be expensive, with nightly stays often costing upwards of $50.
- Crowding and Noise: Some RVers find these parks too crowded or noisy, especially during peak seasons, detracting from the tranquility they seek in their travels.
- Less Interaction with Nature: RV parks can sometimes feel more like a parking lot than a camping experience, offering less direct access to nature.
Boondocking Spots: The Case For and Against
Boondocking, or dry camping, involves staying in undeveloped areas without hookups. It’s typically free and provides easier access to nature.
- Cost-Effective: Boondocking is usually free, making it an economical option for long-term travel.
- Solitude and Natural Beauty: These spots offer a more authentic nature experience, often with stunning views and peaceful surroundings.
- Self-Sufficiency: Boondocking can be a fulfilling way to test and enjoy your RV’s self-sufficiency, using your own water, power and waste systems.
- Lack of Amenities: There are no hookups for power, water or waste disposal. You need to be prepared and self-reliant.
- Accessibility and Legal Concerns: Good boondocking spots can be hard to find. There are also legal restrictions on where you can camp, and some areas may be inaccessible due to rough terrain.
- Isolation: While solitude is a pro for some, for others, the isolation can be a con, especially in case of emergencies or for those who crave social interaction.
Ultimately, the best place to camp depends on what you’re looking for in your RV experience. RV parks offer convenience, amenities and a sense of community but at a higher cost and with less privacy.
Boondocking offers a more authentic camping experience and closeness to nature, but requires self-sufficiency and preparation.
Many RVers, including me, find that a mix of both is the best option. We usually enjoy the comforts of RV parks, but sometimes it is nice to get away and enjoy the freedom and beauty of boondocking.
Are RVs Made for Pooping?
One of the more delicate topics that RVers disagree on is the use of the onboard bathroom for solid waste. Some campers bought an RV in order to travel with a private bathroom, while others would prefer to never have to deal with a stinky black tank.
Using the RV Toilet: The Case For and Against
Many RVers fully utilize their onboard bathroom, while others strictly limit its use. Here’s what both sides are saying.
- Convenience: The primary advantage of using your RV’s toilet for all purposes is convenience. There’s no need to seek out public restrooms, and you can maintain your privacy and comfort.
- Full Utilization of Amenities: You’ve paid for the RV and all its facilities, so it makes sense to use them to their full extent, including the bathroom.
- Maintenance and Cleaning: The main downside is the increased need for maintenance. Regularly emptying and cleaning the black tank is a task that some would prefer to avoid as much as possible.
- Odor Concerns: If not managed properly, the waste tank can emit unpleasant odors, which can affect the enjoyment of your RV.
Not Using the RV Toilet: The Case For and Against
Some RVers strongly advocate for using campground facilities or other restrooms for solid waste to avoid dealing with the potential downsides.
- Simplicity in Maintenance: By limiting the use of your RV toilet, you significantly reduce the frequency and complexity of waste tank maintenance.
- Odor Management: Less solid waste in the system typically means fewer odor issues, making for a more pleasant living environment.
- Inconvenience: The biggest downside is the inconvenience. You’ll need to rely on campsite facilities or public restrooms, which can be a hassle, especially at night or in remote areas.
- Underutilization of Your RV: You have a fully functioning bathroom on wheels, yet you’re choosing not to use it for all its intended purposes.
Personally, I use my RV toilet. In fact, my head has never spun faster than the first time someone told me they didn’t go number 2 in their RV. One of my favorite parts about owning an RV is never having to use a public restroom.
To each their own, but I highly recommend learning proper black tank maintenance and using all the features of your RV.
Thanks for reading about the silly and serious questions RVers can’t agree on. We hope you had a laugh and learned something new about RV life.
If you want some more RV humor, check our these 40 hilarious RV camping memes.
Christina Pate is a seasoned full-time RVer who, along with her husband Justin, has journeyed across the US, Canada, and Mexico. Drawing from her extensive travels, RV repairs and RV renovations, she founded Travels with Ted to guide and inspire fellow RV enthusiasts. Christina is also the co-author of The Owner’s Guide to RV Maintenance and the creator of My RV Log Book.