By Russ and Tiña De Maris
Here’s a question that some new-to-RVing wonder about: “I’ve never had an RV before, and I’ll be traveling alone with my dog. I’m intimidated by big vehicles, and I want fuel efficiency but comfort, too. What do you think about a Class B motorhome?” Here are a few things to think about.
Depending on your circumstances, a van-conversion RV may be just the ticket to getting into the RV lifestyle. It’s small enough you can park it in your garage, but still has the comforts of a kitchen and bathroom. It looks so much like a large van, why, it couldn’t be all that difficult to drive, could it?
All these things are true, and it may be a Class B is, as Goldilocks said, “Just right.” But before you plunk down your money, let’s explore a few areas. First, the concern about being ‘intimidated by large vehicles.’ Experienced motorhome drivers will tell you that there’s not a whole lot of difference between driving a car and driving a big motorhome. It’s largely a matter of practice – they don’t drive a whole lot differently, there’s just a couple of things to catch onto, and you’ll soon get the hang of it.
Driving a smaller Class C motorhome (a van chassis with a motorhome built onto it), is a breeze. But what about fuel economy? Class B motorhomes aren’t really that much better in terms of fuel economy than a Class C motorhome. That’s because you’ve still got plenty of weight tied up in the conversion stuff, and with the ‘bumped up’ roof, aerodynamics aren’t all that great. Still, you may like that part of parking your rig in the garage.
Where the real differences between a Class B van conversion and a Class C motorhome come into play are in the living space. Class B rigs, are by necessity, very compact. You probably won’t have the luxury of sticking your legs out and relaxing while “sitting on the throne.” When it’s time to fix a meal, you’d best keep it REAL simple, as the typical amount of counter space is a bit like a postage stamp. Storage space is at a premium, so don’t expect to bring much “stuff” with you. Holding tanks, too, are much smaller, and so you can count on more frequent trips to the waste dump station.
If you’re into quick weekend trips where you’ll be out and around, away from the RV, that’s one thing. If your plans take you into longer trips and you’ll be spending time in the RV, the tightness of the space could begin to wear on you. If claustrophobia is an issue, be sure to step into the shower space of any Class B you’re looking at buying – it could be a real eye-opener.
Here’s what may be the best suggestion: Rent a Class B unit and take it out on a trip. Do your cooking, showering, and sleeping. Then rent a Class C unit and do the same. It’s a whole lot less expensive than picking one or the other and buying it, only to find you’ve made the wrong choice.