Buying a Camper Guide

STEP 1: Define Your Small Camper Travel Needs

How do you plan to use your small camper? 

A big deciding factor in over-the-rainbow-6_lwhat camper you should buy is what type of travel you will be doing. Are you planning on weekend outings, longer trips, one big adventure, going south in the winters or full time traveling?

STEP 2: Review Camper Types

Now that you know how you will use the camper, take a look at the different Camper types. You don’t have to make a decision now. We are just getting an idea of what is out there.Camper Types

STEP 3: Desired Camper Options 

Keeping your travel goals in mind, make a list of the camper amenities that you must have.  Also, make a second list of camper amenities would like to have.

STEP 4: Creating a RV costs budget

Based on what you’ve learned at this point, you will need to figure out how much money you are willing to spend on your small camper.

a.  Take into account reoccurring RV costs that you will run into on the road. Let’s start by making a monthly RV costs budget. Here is a list of common RV costs you will run into on the road.
b.  If you plan on paying for the camper using a payment plan, calculate how much your monthly installments might be. To get this number you will need to know the approximate wholesale value of the campers you like.

Use this guide to help find the ballpark price of the camper you would like: Camper Pricing Guide

Great camper financing resources:


STEP 5: Camper Rental Time

Time to rent a camper or two to get a first hand experience of what it will be like and make sure you’re getting the right type and size for your needs. Spending a few nights in a camper will give you the needed insight into what you need. I know camper rentals can be expensive, but it’s a worthy research expense. This is a very important step that many people regretfully skip. Here are some recommended camper rental sites:

STEP 6: Choose a camper type you would like

After renting a couple different types you should have a good idea of what camper is best for you. Take a look at our camper types, camper weights, recommended readings, camper tow vehicle requirements, RV insurance and RV Driver license requirements pages to help you make a decision.

STEP 7: Searching for the camper

Now that you have a general idea of what type of camper you would like to buy. It’s time to start the hunt. Here are some general helpful camper buying tips:Buying Camper

  • In many ways buying a camper is much like buying a car. New or used prices are usually open for negotiation and it’s generally expected to get a lower price than whats advertised.
  • To be prepared for negotiations, do your research first. Don’t talk to the dealer or owner until you know the wholesale or fair market value (FMV) of the camper.
  • Take the camper for a test drive.
  • Inspect the camper with using a checklist to make sure everything is in working order as described. Printable PDF Checklist.
  • Also check out these eight essential steps for not getting ripped off. 

Where to buy?

Buying Online
Buying online offers huge advantages. You access to almost all campers for sale in the country, you have access to a lot of information and most of all it will save you tons of time.

Buying Online Tips: If you are buying used you will still need to buy a camper in your general area, simply because you MUST have the camper inspected and should give it a test drive as well before purchasing. When buying from an individual always research the finance history, past ownership records and ask for maintenance records of the camper.

Best Websites for Buying Online:

  1. RVs & Campers (recommended for finding the best deals)

Also check out Pros and Cons of buying a camper online and Is it safe to buy a camper online?

RV Shows (Find RV Shows Near You)

RV Show Tips: Many times RV show representatives will sell the floor models at a great discount so they don’t have to have them moved back to their storage facilities. If you have one, bring your smart phone or tablet so you can google RV prices and details, before you walk up to the booth.

RV Dealers (Find RV Dealers Near You)

RV Dealers Tip: Don’t make any rush decisions. Despite what the dealer says, you can go home do more research, think it over and come back when your ready. It’s likely the whatever deal was offered will still be there the next day. Check out: Questions to ask RV Dealers 

Also Check out: Camper and RV Manufacturer ReviewsCamper Manufacturers Lists, and Camper Types.

STEP 8: Finish Line

Congratulations, if you have gotten to this point your ready to buy!

After you buy there are a few more small steps you need to take before you can hit the road:

  • Registration: If you bought used from a individual you are responsible for registering your camper. If you bought the camper new, the dealer is responsible for registering the camper. You will have to pay taxes on the sale during registration.
  • Insurance: Take a look at our Camper / RV Insurance Guide.
  • Tax Breaks!: You may be able to get state tax deductions, especially if you’re a full-time RVr. Talk with your tax advisor. 
  • Stock your RV. This is the fun part. You can get great deals and fast shipping at the Amazon RV Store.