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Everything You Need to Know About Self Contained RVs

12.09.20

There are some beautiful landscapes and sights to see all around the United States. Buying hotels and plane tickets can add up quickly. Is there a better way to travel around the country? Yes!

A self-contained RV can give you the gift of travel while still having the comforts of a hotel or home. So what is a self-contained RV? An RV, or recreation vehicle, is basically a mobile home for campers. 

Self-contained RVs include all the amenities of a house. You’ll get running water, a bathroom, and electricity, all while being able to drive across the country! What more could you need?

But what is the difference between a self contained RV and other options? Can I get away with a B class motorhome or truck camper? It all depends on what kind of adventure you’re looking for. Let’s get into all those nitty-gritty details to help you make up your mind. 

Why Choose A Self-Contained RV

Investing in an RV is truly one of the best ways to travel. So what makes a self-contained RV a top choice? Well, this class A RV can give you a lot more freedom. 

With a self-contained RV, you won’t be confined to a campsite. Yes, there are tons of free campsites out there where you can hook up to local water and sewage systems, but this can get pretty boring.

For those of you looking for a more remote setting, self-contained RV rentals can give you the luxury of being out in the wilderness without campsite neighbors. Traveling without relying on campsites is called “boondocking” or “dry camping” and has a ton of added benefits.

With this kind of RV, you can wake up among the trees and still be able to shower, use an actual bathroom, and access appliances such as A/C, stoves, and heating. You can have the best of both worlds with this travel trailer.

Most class A RVs have a surprisingly roomy sitting area and can typically house 2-7 people, depending on your comfort level. If the weather is not ideal or there are too many bugs outside, you can still enjoy your trip with the option of taking your adventure indoors. 

The hardest part about camping is sleeping in a cramped tent and a hard, uneven ground. Imagine being able to enjoy nature, and still retire to a cozy sleeping space at the end of the night. Self contained RVs have comfy beds and sleeping areas that will ensure a good night’s sleep. 

Your meals won’t be limited to hotdogs and hamburgers, as RVs have full-capacity stoves and sometimes ovens. Washing dishes is a breeze with running water. Cabinet and food prep space allow you to cook in a clean environment without dirt or bugs getting in the way.

You can even stay fresh throughout your trip with a warm shower and a flushing toilet! No need to wander down the path to find your campsite’s hole-in-the-ground toilet. 

How Long Can You Be Self-Contained in an RV?

So far, this self-contained RV sounds pretty enticing, but how long can your adventure actually last? There are a few different factors you’ll want to consider when determining how long you can actually be self-contained in an RV. 

Since fully self-contained RV doesn’t need a campsite hookup to run, they have to have an alternative for energy. These RVs have big batteries that can keep small appliances, such as toasters and microwaves, running on their own. 

You can upgrade your batteries to last longer and be able to handle higher capacities. Batteries alone are typically not enough to keep everything in your RV running. 

Generators are able to support larger appliances such as air conditioning and heat. Having a high-quality generator can significantly extend your RVs energy life and allow you to camp for longer. It’s important to take good care of your generator and get regular maintenance to ensure it is running at full capacity. 

To get the most out of your batteries and generators, you can practice some smart energy use. Maybe cook over a campfire rather than using your stove every night. Or cook a big meal one night that can be used for leftovers for the rest of your trip. Heating your food in the microwave takes less energy than cooking an entire meal every night.

An alternative to batteries and generators is investing in some solar panels. Solar panels use energy from the sun and convert it to the energy you can use to power appliances in your RV. Solar panels for RVs are smaller than residential solar panels but can be used to give added power to small appliances and even larger appliances like stoves and air conditioning. 

Using campfires, flashlights, or battery-powered string lights can save you from powering up your RV lights each night. The point is to enjoy the quiet nature around you, so using less energy will not only extend your battery life but will add to your camping experience. 

Your RV will also have a freshwater tank that is used for sinks and showers. This tank can last between 2-3 days, depending on your usage. The more conservative you are with your sink and shower use, the longer it will last. 

You also want to consider the size of your waste tanks. Self-contained RVs have two different tanks: one for black water, and one for greywater. Greywater is the water collected from your shower and sinks. Blackwater is all your sewage waste. 

These tanks can typically hold up to 3 days worth of waste. These tanks can be dumped at any RV campsite. If three days isn’t enough for you, you can always upgrade to larger tanks or be smart about your water use. 

Things to Consider Before Investing in a Self-Contained RV

Before choosing a self-contained RV, there are a few things you’ll want to consider to make sure you’re investing in the right recreational vehicle. These tips can help you decide the perfect travel trailer to fit your needs.

Price

Self-contained RVs come in a variety of different prices, depending on what your needs are. You can get used or new, big or small. 

The price depends on what exactly you are looking for in an RV. You can get a fifth wheel RV, which has all the amenities of a conventional travel trailer, but instead of driving the actual RV, you will tow it behind your vehicle. These run between $8,000 and $25,000. 

Mobilized RVs cost more, but instead of towing it behind a vehicle, you drive the actual RV itself. These trailers can range from $80,000-$300,000 depending on the size and appliance quality.

You also want to factor in the expense of gas and insurance. A standard RV can hold about 55 miles of gas. Insurance for class A RVs can cost you between $900 to $5,000 per year, depending on what state you are insured with. 

Size

Self contained RVs come in a variety of sizes. The bigger the size, the higher the cost. If you are traveling as a couple, you can definitely get away with a smaller RV. Bigger families will feel more comfortable with added space.

You also want to consider how much kitchen and hangout space you want. Counter size can be seriously limited in an RV. If you are planning to prep and cook a lot of meals, you might want to increase the size of your kitchen space.

If you want to turn in after sundown and be able to play games and hang out inside your trailer, a larger hangout space would be ideal. If you are planning to spend most of your time outside the trailer, you’ll probably be okay with less. 

How Much You Will Spend in Your RV

Suppose you’re looking for a quick getaway for a weekend. In that case, you can probably get away with a smaller, tighter fit, especially if you’re going to spend most of your time sitting in camp chairs and enjoying a fire or your natural surroundings outside of the RV.

If you want to enjoy your RV’s luxuries for longer, decide on the type of internal space you’ll need. Do you want a comfy seating area where you can hang out and play cards inside? Do you like a lot of room to lounge and sleep at night? 

If you are spending more time inside the actual trailer, you might want to consider a bigger size.

What Kind of Campsite Will You Be At

The further away from civilization you want to go, the more you’ll need out of your RV. If you plan to travel off the grid and really want that wild experience, you’ll want to invest in a self-contained RV with high-battery capabilities, a strong generator, and big tanks. 

The higher the energy capabilities, the longer you’ll be able to go without stopping, and the further you’ll be able to get from city life. 

If you plan to stop at standard RV campsites along your trip, you can get away with more affordable RVs with a shorter energy lifespan. 

What Amenities Do You Need

Standard self-contained RVs have most of the amenities that a normal hotel or house would have, but the quality can differ quite substantially.

Consider whether you’ll need an efficient stove with multiple burners for cooking large meals. Decide if you need your shower to have reliable hot water. 

Air conditioning and heaters can make a huge difference when you’re traveling across the country. If you want to feel completely comfortable, no matter what the outside temperature is, you might want a higher-powered generator that can keep your RV at an ideal temp.

How Do You Want to Travel

There are also two different types of self-contained RVs: tow-behind and motorized. Tow-behind RVs require you to tow the trailer behind a truck or SUV. This is great if you already have a vehicle that can handle towing this large load. 

This is also beneficial if you want to be able to use your vehicle to drive around and explore while leaving your trailer at the campsite. 

If you don’t already have a vehicle with this capacity and don’t want to invest in one, you can invest in a motorized RV. This type of RV does not require a separate vehicle to drive, but you won’t have the luxury of hopping in a separate, smaller vehicle to run to the local store for supplies.

Do You Need a Self-Contained RV

A self-contained RV has tons of perks for any type of camper, but is it the right choice for you? You have other options, such as class B rv trailers and truck campers, or only camping out in your truck bed.

A self-contained RV is an excellent choice if you don’t have all of your stops planned out. Instead of worrying about finding the next RV campsite where you can hook your trailer up, you can wing it a little bit better. RVs are legally able to stop overnight at Walmart parking lots, truck stops, and even some casinos, making last-minute stops easier.

If you are traveling solo or as a couple, you can probably get away with a smaller class B motorhome that doesn’t include all of the self-contained RV amenities. Some of these trailers have a bathroom, but rarely have running water or heat without hookups.

More adventurous campers might even decide to camp in their truck beds instead. Truck bed camping is a great way to immerse yourself in the outdoors. Check out this article to find the best sleeping pads for truck bed camping. 

If you want the full experience of nature while still having the comfort of your home, a self contained RV is the ultimate choice. You can have all the freedom to travel while still enjoying great meals and comfortable nights. Honestly, it’s one of the best ways to get out, travel, and have a good time. So, what are you waiting for?

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