Family road trip in an RV: How to choose THE right vehicle?

Let's be honest, choosing THE right vehicle for a family road trip is a real headache . Especially if the RV world is completely new to us. Getting to know the different models, the advantages and disadvantages of each, adopting the jargon of vanlife... it's a whole new world! Choosing an RV for a family road trip is not something you can do on a whim, but the good news is that all the RV options for our family road trips are good! It's simply a matter of making choices, based on our needs, our family, at a specific moment.

Let's demystify the world of RVs and the options offered, if it can help other families because I've had a headache from it several times!

​👉🏻 To find out everything about our first family roadtrip in an RV in Gaspésie, consult the article Family roadtrip in Gaspésie

Contents :

  • Definition of VR
  • Types of RVs
  • How to choose your RV
  • The advantages of motorized
  • The advantages of the trailer

Family road trip in VR: What is the definition of VR ?

Family roadtrip in an RV: How to choose THE right vehicle? - Familleonthego

Let's start with a short definition of what an RV is. We are talking about a Recreational Vehicle here, and not virtual reality, stay with me 😜!

According to the Canadian Recreational Vehicle Association , an RV "includes a structure designed for temporary accommodation for the purpose of traveling , vacationing or recreational use, and may be driven, pulled, parked or transported ". Makes sense, right? So that includes motorcycles, ATVs, boats... but for our family roadtrips, we'll consider the more classic options!

Family roadtrip in an RV: What are the types of RV?

Family road trip in an RV: How to choose THE right vehicle? - Familleonthego

1. Motorized RVs: the name says it, they have an engine, so can be driven. They are also called campervan, motorhome or even motorhome. There are 3 classes of motorized RVs. Class A are the biggest, luxury ones that look like a passenger bus. Our snowbirds love them! The B classes, much smaller, are the typical #vanlife vans, or converted vans. The C classes are a bit in between: they consist of a box at the rear with a van front and an overcab on top (where there is often a bed).

2. Towed RVs: these are the famous trailers, which must be pulled by a vehicle. They are also called caravans, or travel trailers among our neighbors to the south and again, there are different types: classic caravans, fifth wheel caravans (also known as fifth wheel), mounted caravans, tents -trailers and hybrids.

​​🤯 As we want to keep it simple for the article, we will talk about motorhomes for the 1st category and trailers for the 2nd.


Family road trip in an RV: How to choose your RV?

Family road trip in an RV: How to choose THE right vehicle? - Familleonthego

This is where the puzzle begins. Remember, there is no wrong option, it’s about choosing based on:

- the type of roadtrip desired
- the desired level of comfort
- the age of the children
- from the budget

The advantages of the motorhome (medium size, class B or C):

Family road trip in an RV: How to choose THE right vehicle? - Familleonthego

1. More compact.

Classes B and C are generally of medium size and can easily move anywhere. Above all, they are shorter and more mobile than the car-trailer combo and easier to park. Venturing into a national park with a motorhome is more accessible than with a trailer.

2. Easier to drive.

This goes to the other point. More compact = easier to drive on winding or steep roads, but above all, easier to reverse!

3. Less management.

That is to say that it is often quicker to settle in when traveling in a motorhome than in a trailer in terms of coupling/uncoupling. As a good Quebecer, pinning takes time!

4. More boondocking opportunities .

This is another word in RV vacationer lingo. Boondocking is the act of camping, wandering and completely free, almost anywhere. By motorhome, it is easier to stop anywhere at any time when the landscape calls, to spend the night.

​💡 It is entirely possible to boondocking in a trailer, however we strongly recommend having a good lock if you wish to leave the trailer in an unsupervised place to explore with the car.

The advantages of the trailer:

Family road trip in an RV: How to choose THE right vehicle? - Familleonthego

1. More space, less management.

The trailer generally offers more interior space (especially than a class B). Larger fridge, regular toilet, shower... all very practical with young children! More space also means that it is not necessary to transform the benches into beds every night, which in our case would involve having to install/uninstall the child seats twice a day.

2. More secure.

Don't throw rocks at me, I'm just the messenger! 😅
Motorhomes do not have adequate facilities to accommodate child seats and are not required to comply with current laws on the carriage of child passengers. The seats are often attached to the bench or floor or walls of a motorhome, which are made of cardboard and therefore do not pass crash tests.

​⚠️ When it comes to booster seats for children and babies, there's nothing as safe as a car for a family RV road trip. 👉🏻 Source and details here

3. Cheaper.

Generally, a motorhome sells for more money (for equivalent size, equivalent range) than a trailer. The cost of purchasing a trailer is lower and so are the operating costs (registration fees, insurance, etc.).

4. The ability to actually settle down.

When traveling with young children, we try to simplify our lives as much as possible. The biggest advantage of the trailer, in our opinion, is the fact that we can unhitch (unhitch!) and install our little house anywhere. When we go exploring, we leave the household as is and explore with the car (where the child seats are in place at all times).

​❤️ It was this last point that was the big advantage for us, the one that influenced the decision. If, for example, we have to make a quick run to the grocery store because the baby is out of milk, there is no need to pack up the whole household and leave in a troop.

Frankly, having tried several vanlife roadtrips (with and without children), our heart is with the motorized option, but now our mind as parents of 3 young children is with the trailer option for our family roadtrips.

Family road trip in an RV: How to choose THE right vehicle? - Familleonthego