Tips for first-time attendees RV shows

RV Shows: Tips for First Time Attendees

There are two times a year when our blood starts to boil. The first is Superbowl Sunday (more so if our favorite patriotic team plays). The second is the week of the RV show near me occurs. If you’ve never been to one, here are the greatest RV show tips for first-time attendees to make the most out of the event.

We’ll show you how to prepare, what to expect, and the best strategies to get the most out of the RV show. If you’re staying overnight, you’ll learn about how the RV community keeps the fun going after the show closes for the day. Finally, if you can’t make any of the shows, there’s plenty of virtual RV shows, and RV TV shows on cable networks to keep you informed.

RV Troop COVID-19 Tip: The producers and RV authorities take every precaution to keep people safe during these uncertain times. We’ll discuss what they’re doing and what you can do to enjoy the RV Show safely at relevant points throughout our discussion. 

How Do You Prepare for an RV Show?

There are two ways you need to prepare yourself for an RV show. We call it the Recon & Rambo method. You want to know everything you can ahead of time, to avoid surprises and the unexpected.

Check the Go RVing website to find an RV show near you. They do their best to stay up-to-date on the dates, locations, and any changes that happen. You’ll also want to find the RV show’s website to stay current on any changes they make. For example, the Florida RV Supershow in Tampa canceled their Industry day to give vendors an extra day to set up and prepare.

Recon Method

Step 1: Research Your Favorite RVs

Researching a favorite RV

If you’re going to compare specific units, learn what you can about your top contenders online first. Create a list of their pros and cons on your mobile device or an easy to carry notepad ahead of time. There’s too much information on each coach to try and memorize it all. 

The RV Troop website is an excellent source of information to start your research. Make sure you bookmark it so you can always find us. Not only do we show you how the ins-and-outs of specific models, but you’ll also learn how they compare to others in their category.

Step 2: Find the Best Prices:

You get better deals at RV shows than anywhere else. Check websites like RV Trader, RVT, and your local RV dealers anyway. The goal is to walk into the show with an idea of what’s a reasonable price beforehand. The show’s price should be the best deal, but you’ll want some perspective.

Step 3: Know Your Beacon Score

If you plan to finance the RV cost, use one of the many credit report websites to learn your credit score from Equifax, Experian, and Transunion. The RV dealer will run your credit anyway, but knowing your score ahead of time keeps you “in the know” when you’re still talking. Using an RV financing calculator online will also give you an idea of what your APR may look like too. Knowledge is Power.

Step 4: Buy Your Tickets Before the Show

Most shows allow you to buy your tickets before the show. You’ll get a better price, walk past the ticket office lines, and learn about any additional costs. The ticket sales go to the show producers, but parking fees and other charges mostly go to the event’s location owners. Parking may be a cash-only situation.

RV Troop COVID-19 Tip: At the entrance, staff members may take everyone’s temperature. If they find a questionable reading, there may be a designated waiting area so that you can retest a few minutes later. The staff may ask to see if everyone in your party has face masks too. You’ll learn about all of the specifics on the RV show’s website ahead of time.

Step 5: Learn About the Other Fees

If this is your first time, you’re going to see another version of the RV show in the parking lot. Many guests show up with their RVs. Most are going to dry camp for part or all of the show. Some shows have a designated area where they provide electricity. You can learn about these fees on the website. If you book early enough, you can reserve a spot in the electric hookup section.

Step 6: Bring the Family

RV shows are family-friendly. You’re going to find street performers, fair food, and a children’s play area so the kids can burn off some energy. You want to see how everyone in the family will move around in the coach and how well your growing teenagers fit in bunks. The length and width of some strollers measure similarly to travel cribs. Don’t forget to have the dog kennel or dog bed measurements handy.

Rambo Method

If you’ve seen any of the Rambo or other action flicks, there’s always that montage scene where the main character suits up, loads their equipment, and finishes with that signature tough-guy expression. 

You won’t need military equipment for an RV show, but having the right clothing and accessories will make the day more comfortable. If you need montage music, we recommend one of the various interpretations of “(Get Your Kicks on) Route 66” (we like the 1964 Rolling Stones version). Of course, the original 1946 Bobby Troup version is legendary.

Shoes

RV shows are big. Due to the requirement of space, many take place at state fairgrounds. Comfortable walking shoes will save you from a lot of aches and pain. 

Layers

Check the weather forecast before you go. You want to prepare for the whole day. It will get hot; it may get cold, rain, windy, etc.   

Bring Backpacks

We recommend using backpacks for your storage needs. You’re going to be collecting brochures, holding various clothing layers, and may buy other things. You’ll want your hands free as you climb in and out of the different RVs.

Suntan Lotion: The majority of the show is outside. Even if it’s cloudy, you’re exposed to the sun’s UV rays for most of the day. Make sure you protect yourself properly.

RV Troop COVID-19 Tip: Bring hand sanitizer and other Personal Protection Equipment (PPE) you feel comfortable using. Show participants may provide hand sanitizer, but if you prefer your favorite brand or feel better having your own, go ahead and bring it. 

Are There Any RV Show Navigation Strategies?

A luxury motorhome in an RV show

Walking around the RV show can feel like you’re in a Las Vegas casino. There’s a lot of pretty things (RVs and accessories) to distract you, and it’s easy to get turned around. The website will have a map on it. At the entrance, they’ll have maps of the show for you. 

Before you get going, find a place where you and your family can mark those sections you want to see. You know those shopping experiences where you go into a store to get one thing, and you end up getting everything else except that one thing? Even if you’re staying at the show for a few days, plan your route, so you see everything you want to.

You want to take your time in every RV you explore. You may have to wait until the people ahead of you leave the RV you’re interested in to walk out before you head inside. Don’t do a quick “fly by” while you’re in there. When you’re inside, this may be your one opportunity to try everything out. 

One strategy we recommend, if you’re the one responsible for driving the motorhome and/or the various operations, when we walk into an RV, we sit in the driver’s seat first. Check the layout of the command center. Afterward, we check the control panels and other controls inside. Once satisfied, then we check the creature comforts and features. Once we have an opinion of the operations, then we determine if we like the home-like comforts.

Have your notepad and pen ready so you can take notes and write down questions. Once you’re outside, find one of the RV dealer representatives. They are there for two reasons: sales and inquiries. Ask them all of your questions. Even if you feel your question will “out” you as a rookie, ask it anyway. Those questions are usually the most important. They are not here to judge.

You will learn more at this event about the RV lifestyle than anywhere else. Talk to some of the other guests at the show. Everybody can teach you something you didn’t know. If nothing else, you’ll learn about possible destinations, campgrounds, or their experiences with their RV. Learn, learn, and learn some more.

To avoid the crowds, many of the RV shows take place on weekdays and weekends. If you can get the day off work, going during a weekday generally has lower attendance. You can use that to your advantage. It’s easier to get the RV dealer rep’s attention, and you won’t have to wait to go through the RVs and many more benefits. If you’re interested in the various seminars, the ones during the week are the same over the weekend.

Should You Buy an RV at an RV Show?

A man selling RVs in an RV show

In 1970, the Pennsylvania Recreation Vehicle and Camping Association (PRVCA) and the Pennsylvania Manufactured Housing Association (PMHA) teamed up at the Pennsylvania Farm Show Building in Harrisburg to host a public showing. For the first time, people could walk through the newest models from every manufacturer, all in one location.

In 2005, the show moved to its current location, becoming the largest RV show in the U.S. In mid-September, The Hershey RV Show draws record-breaking crowds from virtually every state in the Union.

Whether your destination is Hershey or another one closer, there are good deals at RV shows. We mentioned before that knowledge is power. Know your credit beacon score, use an RV calculator, and have a good idea of what you want to pay. RV dealer sales reps are there to answer questions, but every coach they bring is there to sell. 

Sales reps are forbidden to use high-pressure tactics, but some sales managers may be offering their top sellers non-monetary bonuses at the end of the show. As you walk around towards the end of the show, you’ll see a significant portion of the RVs with “Sold” signs on them. You’ll still be able to walk through them, but the new owner will pick up that particular unit after the show. 

Dealers will have their finance team on-site to handle all of the paperwork. If you find that perfect RV, the dealer can take care of all the financial and titling paperwork on the spot. You won’t be able to take delivery of the coach until the show’s over. Your RV sales rep will discuss the details with you.

When it comes to taking a test drive, don’t be concerned. Many of the dealers have a designated lot outside the gates with RVs ready to test drive. The RV Show’s gate staff will stamp the back of your hand so you can get back into the show after the test drive.

Once you’ve bought your new RV, take a lap through the indoor section of the show. Here you’ll find vendors that sell accessories, discount clubs, campgrounds, RV resorts, and other RV-related things. The prices on the must-have accessories every RV needs, like hoses, jack pads, and sewer treatments, may have excellent prices. 

You may find a memory foam mattress company that offers heaven in a queen-size. There may be an RV resort at a booth that looks incredible and needs to go on your destination bucket-list. It’s also an excellent opportunity to get all of your questions answered by the Passport America or Thousand Trails discount club representatives at their booths.

Don’t forget to try the fried ice cream, fried butter, and other calorie killers.

Can You Park Overnight at an RV Show?

Parked motorhomes

Staying overnight at an RV show is its own experience. When the gates close for the night, the staff will walk through the RV section, ensuring those staying have their overnight pass displayed correctly in their motorhome or on their travel trailer.

If the location allows campfires, they must be small and stay contained in a portable fire ring that doesn’t harm the ground. Expect the not-so-gentle hum of generators throughout the night. The staff does their best to give everyone enough space for slideouts, but you might not have enough room to deploy your awning because the staff is trying to conserve space.

To cool down from all of the excitement, take a walk around the RV section. If you brought your good citizen dog, they’d need some outside time anyway. As you stroll through, you’ll come across fellow RVers to strike up a conversation. If you missed something, get their impression about what they saw.

You’ll see used RVs for sale in the parking area. Those looking to upgrade may try to find someone at the show to buy their RV. Many visitors at RV shows don’t realize the opportunities they miss because they don’t walk through the parking lot’s overnighter section. These private sellers are offering great deals. Have your Used RV inspection list with you if you see something that piques your interest.

What Can You Do if the RV Show Is Cancelled or You Miss It?

In 2020, Camping World, General RV, and Newmar held online virtual RV shows. You can check out clips of those shows on their website or YouTube. Many dealers have stepped up their websites to give you a virtual tour of their inventory as well. 

Another way to get your RV show fix are the TV shows you’ll find on the various cable networks. The RVers, Big Time RV, Flippin RVs, and Going RV are just some TV programs that explore RVs of all categories. 

Going to an RV show is a great experience. Even if you’re not looking to buy, it’s great to learn about the new innovations that came out for the current model year. Many people go just to dream and discover. RV shows are hubs of information for everyone. Have fun and enjoy the show.

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Tampa RV Show (Video)

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