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RV Show Survival Guide

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January 29, 2020

Photo: Chickery's Travels RVs lined in a row at an RV show.

RV show season is upon us, and you’re bound to find one near you! If you’ve never been to an RV show before, you are in for a real treat. In addition to RVs of every shape and size, there are vendors, factory representatives and seminars to enjoy. If you aren’t prepared for all the action, you may quickly become overwhelmed. Our RV show survival guide includes tips to help you shop smart and get the most of your time at the show.

RV Shopping

Taking a little time in advance to think about your priorities for the show will help you get off to a good start. If you’re looking for an RV, make a list of your “must-haves” and look at a few floorplans online. Once you arrive at the show you will see that many manufacturers display the floorplan outside the RV. This will help you focus in on the RVs that meet your needs. Without this approach, you may get “information overload” with all the different options.

RV with pie chart superimposed

Photo: Getty Images

Even if you’re not sure what type of RV you want, you can at least set your budget in advance. This will help narrow down your options and save you from looking at RVs outside of your range. You can typically find great deals with special “show pricing,” but you still need to know your bottom line upfront.

As you work your way through different makes and models, be sure to take note and plenty of photos. Start with a photo of the make/model that is typically displayed outside the RV. If there is a special show pricing poster, take a photo of that too. As you take more photos, make notes of what you did and didn’t like about different features so you can refer to them to provide context later.

Rving Industry RV Dealer. Modern Camper Vans Dealer Lot.

Getty Images

Multiple Day Events

Most RV shows occur over a weekend, providing you with more than one chance to visit. In fact, I highly recommend taking advantage of multiple-day shows.  You can go on the first day and tour several RVs making note of what you like and didn’t like. Later, at home, you can spend more time thinking about all you’ve learned. When you return, you may only have one or two that you want to revisit and spend a little more time exploring. Spend more time in your top choices and imagine yourself actually using the space. Sit on the sofa, act as if you are cooking, or even try out the bed.

Factory Representatives

Many of the larger shows will even have representatives of the RV manufacturers that can answer even more questions. They can share upcoming innovations and point out features that the sales staff aren’t as familiar with. Factory representatives are especially helpful with differentiating between the different models their company offers to assist you in making a more informed decision. Don’t be afraid to ask questions. That is what they are there for!

RV vendors showcasing their wares.

Chickery’s Travels

Vendors

If you’re not in the market for an RV, you can still get a lot out of attending a show. Vendors selling all the new gadgets and RV accessories line the aisles. Even if you’re in love with your RV, updated accessories and technology can improve your camping trips. You’ll find everything from camping and outdoor supplies to replacement awnings and custom mattresses. Pretty much all the toys you need to enjoy your camping trip are on display at the show. Find the perfect kayak or bicycle for active days, a hammock for lazy afternoons and a propane fire pit for making campfire memories in the evening.

In addition to vendors, you’ll also find numerous campgrounds, tourism boards and other destination information. This is a fabulous way to learn about everything your region has to offer. Many displays include pamphlets, maps, photos and videos about all the attractions. Those manning these booths are a wealth of information and happy to answer all your questions. Many of the campgrounds that attend these shows offer discounts and packages for future stays.

Man giving presentation with projection screen in background.

Sean Chickery with Chickery’s Travels shares RV travel tips. Photo: Chickery’s Travels.

Seminars

Another great thing about RV shows is learning more about RV travel. Check out the show’s website in advance to see the seminar schedule and make note of the presentations that are interesting to you. You will see topics like choosing the right RV, finding the best campgrounds and simple RV maintenance tips.

These seminars offer a terrific opportunity to ask questions and meet other RV enthusiasts. You’ll find the presenters are enthusiastic about RV travel and eager to share tips and advice.  It’s also a great way to connect with fellow RV travelers. That way you can ask questions of people who actually RV and may even have experience with the model you’re interested in.

RV Vendors promoting campground destinations.

Photo: Chickery’s Travels

Practical Tips

Start your planning with a look at the show website. You can often get an online discount for purchasing the tickets online. The website will also list if there are any discounts for specific memberships or days of the show.

Next, take a look at the show map if one is posted. Some will even show which RVs will be on display. Decide what you want to see and map out your route so you don’t have to go back and forth. Many people are surprised by the sheer size of these events. RV shows are typically held in large expo halls, convention centers, or fairgrounds with thousands of square feet of display space. You’ll be doing a lot of walking around, as well as up and down the RV steps. Keeping that in mind, wear comfortable shoes and take your time. The seminars previously mentioned offer a wonderful opportunity to sit down and take a breath while soaking invaluable information.

Many shows start on a weekday and have fewer crowds. Arriving early and heading directly towards what you most want to see will also maximize your time. Many folks start upfront and stop along the way so the RVs farthest from the entrance doesn’t get crowded until well after the show has started.

Click here to find a Good Sam RV Show near you!