Have you ever wanted to sell everything you own and just "take off?" Travel the country's back roads, paddle down a meandering stream, experience breath-taking mountain views, walk among 100-year old trees, and just marvel at America's beauty? That is the dream that my partner, Betsy, and I decided to make a reality. This blog describes our adventure. The food we eat, people we meet, sights we see, and the enjoyment we find in traveling.

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Tampa RV Show 2015

We just got back from the Tampa RV Super Show and boy will that make your head spin like a righteous twister.  This was not just an RV “show” this was a “SUPER SHOW.”  If you have never been, you will be amazed at the mass of new RV’s assembled that represent all classes, sizes, configurations, colors, and materials ranging in price from the modest unit under $10K to those listed at an unfathomable $2.4 million!!!!!

040The show lures many tens of thousands of eager shoppers (and onlookers) to find their dream machine.  Thousands of RV wannabies, newbies, and long-time owners are on hand to peruse, and perhaps, haggle over a price that claims one as their own.  Hundreds of vendors are on-hand to sell you their rhinestone wares, funky gadgets, or draw you to their campground.  RV shows are a whirl storm of excitement for RV enthusiasts. 
That being said, we have amassed a few tips for surviving the show.

Have a Budget 

It is hard not to want to look at everything, especially the glitsy, shiny big new expensive motorhomes.  As soon as you entered the Tampa RV showroom you were hit with Prevost, Foretravel, and Airstream.  You couldn’t even get out the door to the corn dog stand before a Newell was staring you down and beckoning you to look.  Now, most of us would not even consider one of these multi-million dollar coaches but dealers bring all makes and models to tempt you.  When we looked at Newmar coaches we started with the King Aire (the top of the line $900K luxury coach) and then went down the list through the Essex, London Aire, Mountain Aire and finally to the Dutch Star (that was in the $300K range).  But guess what?  The Dutch Star didn’t look as good as the King Aire!  Hmmmm, wonder why?  So you may want to start off in your pre-determined price range (this is key) before you go looking at the budget busters.  What we’re really trying to say is don’t torture yourself.


Have a Plan 

Time flies when you are wandering around the show so if there are RV’s you really want to see and are considering buying, make sure you fit them in sooner than later.  We were there a day and a half and were surprised how fast the time went.  It is nice to be able to go back and see units on another day with a fresh open mind.  And don’t forget to save time for going by the vendors offering cool new gadgets and great prices.

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Take Notes and/or Pictures 

A great way to remember what you like (i.e., floorplan, color scheme, brand, etc) is by taking notes and pictures.  An ideal place to write your notes is on the manufacturers brochure.  Free tote bags are plentiful and ideal for keeping your brochures so you have two free hands to feel the couch and open drawers. 

Wear Comfortable Shoes 

In our RV world, high fashion is a new pair of sneakers.  Don’t try to be a fashionista because you are going to be doing some serious walking.  Just watch the Fitbit go off the charts.  [On this note, let me bring up the subject of food.  You might want to wear those loose fitting pants since you are surrounded by corn dogs, polish sausage, and fried dough disguised under powdered sugar.]

Talk to Owners 

Often we find the most valuable information comes from owners and not the salesperson.  Usually, owners of a particular manufacturer will be viewing the latest and greatest from the same manufacturer.  This presents a great opportunity for you to ask how they like their RV, how is the manufacturers service, what don’t they like, would they buy another, etc.  After all, these people have experience with the product and the service. 

Show Price?

rv-show-pricing-660x300Will you really get the best price at the show?  If you walk away will they never make that same deal again?  We think not.  Dealers love to show you the MSRP and put a red line through it with a tempting “show price.”  They will tell you they “don’t want to have to take the RV back home.” This is when eager buyers pull the trigger and buy on impulse.  Another problem with buying at the show is the wear and tear that RV’s suffer during the frenzy.  It is not uncommon to see units that have dings, scratches, drawers not closing, and cabinet pulls broken.  Check out nearby dealers where the craziness of the show is left behind and the pressure is less.  This is also a good way to see RV’s without so many people around.  We popped over to Lazydays where we saw a lot of coaches where there were no salespeople or other lookers. 


Keep An Open Mind

After you have seen the RV’s that were on your list to see, wander around with an open mind and see if anything else strikes you.  You may have come looking for a small travel trailer but maybe you are more interested in a really cool vehicle roof tent that is more practical for your backcountry roughing it idea of camping.

Here are Some of the Fun Things We Saw at the Show

The Dynamax Grand Sport GT outfitted as a party bus with an MSRP of $607,500.  There is no bed, shower, kitchen, or other necessary items if you are going to live in it.  Instead there is tons of seating, multiple televisions, and a bar.  It is the ultimate party on wheels.


The retro Winnebago Brave has everybody turning heads.  The classic style seems to intrique RV’ers looking for something with a little more character and brings back the fun-loving, free spirit of the 60’s and 70’s.  While the original carried a price tag of $4,000 this baby will set you back around $100K.

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Cascadia Vehicle Tents drew some looks from us and is a great product for those looking to the rustic side of camping.  These sturdy, waterproof tents allow you to sleep comfortably above mud, rocks, dirt, critters and (most importantly) in a pool of water.  Best of all, you can get into one of these for around a thousand and be camping in style and comfort.  Talk about glamping!


In case you are wondering, we did not buy anything.  Looking is always fun and much cheaper than buying.  Although I really did like the Foretravel!

If you have never been to an RV Super Show, we highly recommend it. 

Happy shopping . . . or looking!


  1. Is that a potted plant you are hugging??? Looks like a fun way to spend a day or two even if you're not in the market for new...RV's are always fun to browse! Thanks for taking me there!

  2. I am curious about that hugging plant, too! What company is he representing?
    Good tips for looking at a show. We finally stopped looking at the high end coaches when we went before buying ours. There was no need to have some things in our head that were not going to be in ours.

  3. So when are you taking delivery of that new 45 foot Prevost? :cD

  4. Your tips are spot on! We've convinced ourselves that our current RV (number eight) is our last, so now we go to the shows to look for decorating ideas. And it still costs us money....

  5. Great post. We love our Dynamax but ignorant look like that one! Hard to see any Dynamax out west. Guess we will,have to get back to Florida for the show someday

  6. Ahh iPad spell check. It doesn't not ignorant. Reason I try not to comment from iPad.

  7. Thanks for letting me post about my new car buying experience. We arrived with a car full of kids and were not sure which RV was right for us. The kids actually were out of control and I think the guys wanted to move us along quickly to get some peace. Score one for the kids and the killer deal we got.

    Liza Pilon @ Prairie City RV


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