The Hippo


Apr 26, 2019








A high-profile 5th wheel, made by Keystone RV, sits in the Camping World showroom. Courtesy of BJ Hallett.

Home away from home
The best way to go glamping

By Ryan Lessard

 With recreational vehicles, or RVs, campers can set up all the amenities of home at a camp site.

Basic vs. luxury
Howard “BJ” Hallett has been a salesman at Camping World of New Hampshire in Chichester for 12 years. He said the most popular types of RVs are travel trailers.
“They tend to be bunk houses because it’s a family vacation kind of thing,” Hallett said.
Travel trailers are the most basic boxy camper that is towed by another vehicle. On the small side, they can be 15 to 16 feet long, Hallett said. If they’re being towed somewhat regularly, the larger sizes tend to be 35 to 36 feet. If they’re meant to be stationary at a permanent location, they’re more likely to reach up to 40 feet in length.
The next most popular are “fifth wheel” trailers, which are identified by their front extension that slopes prominently over a flatbed hitch, followed by motorhomes, which are RVs where the automobile and the camper are one and the same.
The motorhomes are divided into classes A, B and C. The Class A motorhomes are the large bus-style vehicles. They are made with gas and diesel engines, but Hallett said the diesel pusher models are the least popular because they’re more expensive and less cost-effective to maintain.
The Class B “looks like a conversion van with a raised roof,” but Hallett said the smaller Class C motorhomes are the most popular, in part because they are less difficult to drive.
“They feel more comfortable in a smaller cockpit of the van style with the body on the back versus the Class A with the big monster windshield in front of them,” Hallett said.
On the smaller end, the most common size for Class C motorhomes is about 24 to 25 feet long. Most standard Class Cs are built on a Ford E-450 chassis, which can go up to about 32 feet.
Class A motorhomes can range in size from 26 to 38 feet, according to Hallett, and diesel pushers range from 34 to 45 feet on average.
Buying vs. renting
Hallett said the average customer pays about $200 to $300 per month for a new financed camper. On the high end, he calculates customers would be paying somewhere around $910 per month on his most popular high-end model, the A.C.E. Motorhome by Thor Motor Coach. That’s assuming a customer puts 10 percent down on the $141,000 vehicle with an interest rate of about 5.99 percent.
Buying an RV is like buying a home in the sense that one needs to account for things like appliance maintenance and utility costs on top of the regular finance payments. But when it comes to the investment, it’s more like a car, which reliably depreciates in value. 
“If you buy something for $100[K], you could go to trade it the next day, it’s worth about 70 to 75 thousand,” Hallett said.
Some people prefer to rent campers, often as a way of testing the waters and seeing if they like it enough to buy one. For others, it’s a simple matter of not having a place to store a camper. 
Carl Sylvester, the owner of Northeast RV Rentals in Northwood, said it can cost anywhere from $95 per night for a pop-up trailer to $295 per night for a luxury Class C motorhome. Some smaller trailers that can be towed by motorcycles can cost as little as $50 per night.
For motorhomes, Sylvester said it costs 45 cents per mile for every mile over 100.
Home away from home
Kelly Wood, the property manager at Sandy Beach RV Resort in Contoocook, calls camping in an RV “glamping,” a portmanteau of glamorous camping, because RVs provide almost all the amenities of home.
“A camper is a minihome, ultimately,” Wood said. “Everything is inside of your camper that you could possibly need.”
Hallett said most Class C motorhomes include standard amenities like a kitchen, a bathroom, a cable hookup for a TV and connections for electricity, water and sewage. 
Some campsites, including Wood’s, offer all those connections at their RV spots, but some parks have dump stations for sewage on the way out of the park. 
The quality of the features varies based on the model. For instance, all RVs come with a basic kitchen, but higher-end models come with Corian countertops instead of the typical Formica, stainless steel appliances and, while all provide a space for a TV, pricier models come with the TV already installed.
Better models have porcelain toilet bowls, compared to plastic toilet bowls, or medicine cabinet mirrors rather than just a mirror. They all come with a shower but upscale models replace shower curtains with Plexiglass doors. 
All models generally have air conditioning and a water heater. 
Mattress sizes vary in RVs and the more high-end motorhomes will have more comfortable pillowtop mattresses or memory foam mattresses that keep sleepers cool by maintaining air flow. 

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