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9 Signs Your RV Is Too Small

When you pick out an RV for the first time, sometimes it works for a while, but then you realize it’s not suiting your needs. The floorplan might not work out, or the size isn’t big enough. Let’s examine some signs that might indicate it’s time for a larger RV. We have owned a lot of different RV’s over the years and have some clear signs to share that your RV is too small. Let’s dive in!

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What Is the Average Size of an RV?

There are different types of RVs. Within each type, there are average lengths. For example, motorized RVs include Class As, Class Bs, and Class Cs. These are all very different and have unique features. The largest of these motorhomes is the Class A coach reaching 45 feet long. Generally, the average size is 35 to 38 feet long.

On the other hand, the smallest type is the Class B camper van. These aren’t much larger than a box van and average about 20 feet long. Finally, the Class C motorhome is in the middle, with an average length of approximately 28 to 30 feet.

Towable trailers have an even broader range of sizes. From pop-up campers to travel trailers and fifth wheels, it’s easy to find a 20-footer or a 40-footer. Keep this in mind when searching for a towable trailer.

Overall, travel trailers average anywhere from 25 to 30 feet in length, while fifth wheels average anywhere from 32 to 36 feet long. If you’re searching for a bunk room, the size will increase by at least five feet.

Pro Tip: Want to try tiny living? Check out these 6 Best Small RVs for Compact Camping, Living, and Travel.

What Are the Benefits of a Small RV?

A small RV could be a 22-foot travel trailer or a 20-foot Class B camper van. Whether you have a motorized RV or a towable trailer, there are some benefits to traveling in a smaller RV. For example, a Class B can easily take you to the grocery store and park in a parking space without worrying about the room to turn around. When the camping season is over, you’ll also find more options for storage with a less extended RV.

Campsite options increase when you own an RV less than 25 feet long. Whether you want to stay inside a national park or boondock off a dirt road, there are more sites because you have fewer size restrictions.

Cost also decreases, both in the initial purchase price, fuel consumption and maintenance. Large RV’s have lots more to go wrong and consume a lot more fuel. For example, our 45-foot motorhome gets 7 mpg and each tire costs $1000. With a small RV you could see fuel economy approaching 20MPG.

Finally, smaller towable trailers are much easier to maneuver. You don’t have to worry as much about sway, and backing in can be less tiresome. Drivable RVs are similar. A smaller rig will be easier to drive, resulting in less stress on travel days. 

However, sometimes the benefits don’t outweigh the disadvantages. Although there are perks to owning a small RV, you might find there isn’t enough room.

Interior of small RV
Small RV living offers up flexibility when it comes to travel, but it is easy to outgrow the space.

9 Signs Your RV Is Too Small

It’s crucial to consider the advantages that you’ll lose when you switch to a larger rig. However, if space becomes an issue, you may not have much choice. Here are nine signs that it might be time for an RV upgrade. 

1. There Aren’t Enough Places for Everyone to Sleep

This should be a point to consider when looking for an RV. But if you’re a weekend warrior who thought converting the dinette to a bed every night wouldn’t be too bad, it’s understandable that you would have chosen a small RV. However, sometimes this constant conversion gets tiresome. If you don’t have enough room for everyone to have a sleeping space, it might be time to get a larger RV.

This issue also includes pets. If your pets can’t comfortably sleep on the floor or inside a crate, you might need a larger space. If they like to snuggle with you and the bed isn’t roomy enough, it’s time to consider whether the small RV perks outweigh the nightly struggle to be comfortable.

2. You Can’t Go More Than 2-3 Days Before Your Tanks Are Full

Dry camping is a significant part of camping for some RVers. These RVers don’t want to rely on the hook-ups at campgrounds. Instead, they want to explore off-road options closer to nature. But if your holding tanks can’t last more than two or three days of dry camping, you might consider a larger RV.

When your tanks are at capacity, you must empty them. If you want to enjoy boondocking for a week or more, this will be problematic. So finding a rig with larger holding tank capacities may be the best idea if you want this camping lifestyle.

3. Preparing Dinner Stresses You Out

Meals shouldn’t be stressful. However, you can’t roast hotdogs over the campfire every weekend. If you don’t have enough countertop space to prepare and cook a meal, dinner becomes a nightmare. You might eat out all the time or order takeout every night. This habit can get costly. So if your kitchen space isn’t cutting it, that might be a sign that your RV is too small.

4. You Use Kitchen Cabinets to Store Your Clothes

RVs come with many floorplans. Sometimes you don’t know which floorplan works best for you until you get an RV and start camping. If you realize that the wardrobe storage in the bedroom is non-existent during your first trip to the campground, this is going to be a problem.

You might have a tiny closet, but if you’re traveling with another person, there’s no way all of your clothes will fit into such a tight space. So you may end up using kitchen cabinets as clothes storage. This method won’t work for very long. Ultimately, you might want to look for an RV with more storage solutions in the bedroom, which means finding a larger RV.

5. You Can’t See the Floor 

Whether you have kids or not, there may come a time in a small RV when you can’t see the floor. Shoes litter the entryway. Dirty clothes pile up in the bathroom. If you have children, toys will overtake the living space. It might be time to find a floorplan with a bunk room to keep all the toys confined. Or you may prefer a floorplan with a storage closet where you can put coats, shoes, and a dirty laundry basket. When you can’t see the floor, it’s a sign that your RV is too small.

Small travel trailer parked at campsite.
If you start dreading your RV adventures, it may be a sign it is time to upgrade your rig.

6. You’re Relieved to Get Home

Most campers dread Sunday when they have to pack up and head home. The daily grind will begin again on Monday morning. But if you don’t feel this way and are relieved to get home and into a roomier space, this might indicate it’s time for a more spacious RV.

You might start to feel claustrophobic on the weekends. Even with nature as your playground, it can reach a point where a small RV starts to feel very tiny. So if this is the case, you might want to start looking at RVs offering more interior space.

7. You Can’t Have Company Over

Camping is sometimes a solitary activity. You might enjoy the tranquility of parking your Class C  on the Bureau of Land Management public land with no one else around. But many people enjoy entertaining friends and camping in groups. However, in a small RV, this can be a problem. Where will your friends sit? How will you all gather to watch the big game? How do you cook a meal for eight with no countertop space?

If you like to have company over but don’t have room for seating for entertaining, you probably won’t enjoy the camping experience. Instead, look for a larger RV providing the entertaining space you need.

8. You Hate or Can’t Use the Bathroom

RV bathrooms are notoriously tiny. Showers provide very little room, if any, to turn around without knocking your elbows into the wall. Wet baths can drive some Class B campers nuts with the water all over the entire bathroom.

Frequently, RV bathrooms can turn into storage while travelers use campground bathhouses for showering. This could be because you don’t have enough storage solutions in other parts of the RV, or it could mean your bathroom is too tiny, and you don’t want to use it. Either way, a bathroom that doesn’t suit your needs is a problem that you likely can’t ignore.

tom Morton in a tiny RV shower
Our truck camper shower is pretty tiny

9. Lack of Privacy

Finally, sometimes you’re ready to go home for privacy. Particularly if you have kids, a weekend camping trip might result in little time with your partner. No matter your situation, if you feel you have no privacy, you may resent camping instead of enjoying it.

With a larger RV, you may develop that love again. There will be more interior space for everyone, and you won’t feel like you have to lock yourself in the bathroom to enjoy some peace.

How Do You Know What Size RV to Buy?

Sometimes you don’t know what floorplan or size RV to buy until you get in one. However, there are a few suggestions to help narrow down your choices. First, consider how long you plan on staying somewhere and where you’ll sleep overnight. If you’re a weekend warrior hitting the local campground a few times during camping season, you can probably get by with any size RV. But if you want to spend winters in Florida, you might need a larger space for more long-term stays.

In addition, where you travel is equally vital. National parks have restrictions on RV length, and so do state parks and even private campgrounds. If you want to visit these locations, you’ll need to consider a smaller RV. Otherwise, you must plan on staying nearby and driving into the parks.

Small RV
Before you buy an RV, consider how often you will use it and what your needs are to help you decide which size is best for you.

If you don’t like towing and have never driven anything larger than an SUV, starting with a lengthier RV may be daunting. So consider how comfortable you feel learning to tow or operate a large vehicle. However, it’s also crucial to realize that with practice, you can become confident in your skills no matter what size the RV is.

Finally, how many people will camp with you? If you have a family of five, you’ll want space for everyone to sleep and sit. A floorplan with a Murphy bed and single couch won’t do it. To avoid the above signs that your RV is too small, think about how convenient it will be for everyone to go to bed after a long day of adventuring. Also, consider where each person will put their clothes, toys, and hygiene items.

Pro Tip: Ready to buy a new RV, but unsure how you’ll pay for it? This is How to Finance Your Camper With an RV Loan.

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What’s a Good Size for An RV?

The right size RV might not be the correct size for your camping neighbor. In fact the right RV for you now might not be the right RV in a few years. The sad truth is there is no perfect RV for all situations. However, there is always a perfect RV for your current needs. A camper van may be a perfect option for a solo traveler wanting to hit all 63 national parks. However, this option won’t be ideal for a family wishing to camp with their friends at a local state park.

By considering your travel lifestyle and needs, you’ll make the best decision regarding an ideal size RV for you. Smaller RVs have their perks, but are they worth it?

Would you enjoy the camping season in an RV less than 30 feet long? Tell us your thoughts in the comments!

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About Tom and Caitlin Morton

Tom & Caitlin Morton of Mortons on the Move gave up the stationary life for one where they are constantly on the move. They are full-time travelers, television hosts, and digital media producers.
They left their jobs, sold their house and possessions, and hit the road in September 2015 in their full-time “home on wheels”. Since then they have traveled the US, Canada, and even internationally by RV.
Now, they are Discovery Channel & PBS TV Co-stars of “Go North” on Amazon Prime Video, co-founders and instructors of RV Masterclass, and contributing authors for Hwy.co and an Arizona travel guide.

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Sondra Childs-Smith

Sunday 30th of April 2023

We love our 2023 Regency Ultra Brougham, a B+ camper van. We like to “follow” the weather/sun. The amount of time that it takes to set up or take down when moving is minuscule compared to most others we have seen. We can move in or move out of a campsite in around 10 minutes. There are only the 2 of us and our small dog. It would not work well for a family or multiple or large dogs.

Jeaniny

Monday 10th of April 2023

We’re ready for a truck camper. Your suggestions are very useful, but not as flexible with a truck camper in mind. Do you have any suggestions for people like us? We are a couple with one large dog.

Mortons on the Move

Monday 24th of April 2023

We have written lots about truck campers and traveled extensively in ours. In episode 3 of our go north series we showed how we utilized the space best in our truck camper for Alaska https://www.mortonsonthemove.com/go-north/

Susanne

Thursday 23rd of March 2023

I think another factor to consider is cost of upgrade or to buy your first rv. Is it worth 10k more with 2 feet more of space? I also buy used - it's a lot less $$.

Personally my hubby and I bought our 2015 Keystone hideout travel trailer - 20ft with no slide in October 2019 cheap and paid it in cash. We debated about a 2013 lance- 22ft with slide with double propane and slightly larger tanks and more insulation, but was it truly worth 10 k more plus it was 2 years older? Would it be hard to get into some rv parks as we would rv age out soon ( 10 year rule at rv parks - is it often enforced?)?

We camped a few weekends and then we spent 2 months traveling in it february and March 2020. We stayed at the base of the sierras close to freezing but it was ok plus we had a heated water hose but yeah - heated tanks would have been nice and double paned windows like the other model has. But it was fine. We also stayed by rivers and kayaked and had no issues. Lance seems to have better storage but we have a truck with a carpet kit and a shell - so is it needed? and you can really only load so much anyways.

We have found that as long as we have the bed separate from the dinette so we can go to sleep at different times if we want is crucial. When it rains and there is wet stuff everywhere, the trailer feels small. Add a gsd that blocks the fridge to it when we cook but most of the time he wants to be outdoors and he doesn't bark so it works.

We will see how it works when we go fulltime doing early retirement hopefully in 2024..but I'm ok with single axel, single propane, 27 gallons of water and grey and black - lasts a week boondocking, single pane windows, not heated tanks, but I think I may upgrade max a foot or two and with a slide next time as it will be easier to work in the kitchen together at some point. It has been hugely beneficial to fit in our, my brother in laws and our friends driveways when visiting and at stripmalls and shopping centers, and getting sites most other rvs can't get into - we can get that last spot very few can fit and it opens a LOT of options. It can at times be VERY difficult to get sites and having a smaller unit really opens up options.I think we also are going to have our axel flipped so we can fit bigger tires and get an inch more clearance to make it easier to travel on more dirt roads.

Frankly even if I had unlimited money, there is NO model that completely fits all my wants at the moment. I want to not just go to nice rv parks, national parks, state parks etc but also be able to go off into the wild - have great clearance and good suspension with a large boondocking package and stay in all seasons if i want to. Outdoor backcountry travel trailer at 25 ft is the closest but a little too long and too heavy for my current ram 1500 hemi v8. Maybe if I at some point upgrade my truck....

Anyways, if I was staying more put or moving around less frequently, I'd choose a larger travel trailer for comfort but when we fulltime, we want to travel to do a lot of outdoorsy stuff like hiking, biking, canoeing, skiing, snorkling etc in different places so smaller unit for that.

Mortons on the Move

Sunday 26th of March 2023

Thanks for your thoughts, yes budget should always be considered! There is only the right RV for the right time, for the right price.

Ed Bugash

Monday 20th of March 2023

My wife Dianne & I presently own & completely enjoy our 2006 LTV class "B" RV. We purchased it used in Sept. 2018 in Calf. We live in Maryland & were searching for almost a year for this very model. Due to the LTV reputation & the 5-cylinder Mercedes diesel motor in this unit, it was extremely difficult to find one at a reasonable (or any) cost. This motor is known as "the million-mile motor" & it always gets 20 to 25 MPG as long as I stay below 70 MPH. I've done many upgrades & improvements along the way, and we've traveled across the country 3 times. After the 3rd time, Di thought it would be a good idea to get a larger unit, a class "C", so we did. We purchased a used 2018 Winnebago View 24D and sold our beloved LTV locally, without any trouble. Well, that's when the fun of RVing took a turn, downwards. We only had the View for about 6 months when the couple that bought our LTV called and asked if we'd like it back. Due to medical problems, they couldn't use it anymore. Needless to say, Dianne couldn't have been happier to hear that her wonderful LTV van would soon be back where it belonged, in our driveway. The Winny sold fast and we truly love a class "B" RV. We not only use it for camping & traveling but because it handles so easily & gets that fantastic MPG, we use it as an extra vehicle during the week as required. A class "B" may not be for all, but it sure has its advantages.

Ed Bugash, Gaithersburg, MD.

Herb

Monday 20th of March 2023

Really important issue when starting out.

We used to use a Pop-up camper when we were only doing weekends or similar short stays. When we decided to go on longer trips and travel long distances with just the 2 of us we realized that we would have to consider the first hard shell trailer would have to be an experiment on what worked, what didn't and how it was to actually live in it for several days or weeks.

So we looked for a used (about 6-8 years old) and initially looked for the following features:

- A bed for the 2 of us that we didn't have to climb onto to make up. - A kitchen with enough counter to actually work in it and cabinets for cooking supplies and equipment. - A dry bath with shower stall and privacy. - Closet space for long trips in multiple climates. - An arrangement that allowed us to use the bath, bed & kitchen while hooked up and traveling (think lunch & overnights at rest stops & Wallmarts) without having to put a slide out. This turned out to be a big plus when trapped by snow in a Wallmart lot overnight and when highways closed down for hours (Wyoming interstate with no exits or alternative routes). - Enough sitting space and walking space to allow us to stay in the unit on really crappy weather days without bumping into each other (think up to three days inside).

We found this (29 ft box TT) and after a coast to coast trip and a couple of years we had sizes all figured out and bought a 1 year old 5th Wheel with a 30' Box, and have been happy with it for the last 5 years.