If you’re equal parts intrigued and intimidated by the RV lifestyle, a small RV might be the perfect solution. When most people imagine an RV, they picture a rockstar-ready, larger-than-life, mini-mansion on wheels. These are known as Class A motorhomes. They’re the largest RVs available, packed with every amenity and convenience of a luxury condo.
Small RVs offer a very different experience.
Their small size can still be surprisingly luxurious, but also provides freedom and mobility you just can’t get with a larger RV.
Imagine driving a 45ft Class A monster up a narrow incline, or winding it around the tight twists of a mountain road, even just fitting into your driveway or yard.
Typically, your RV is your only vehicle while traveling, so if you can’t get where you want to go in your RV, you can’t get there.
Buying a little less space might mean opening up a lot more options in terms of where and how you want to travel.
Here’s why you should consider a small RV
Living life on the road means a lot of…well…life on the road. All that driving, even in the most scenic areas of this gorgeous country, can get really monotonous.
While trailers or campers might be a great lower-cost option for people wanting to set up camp and stick around awhile, small RVs are ideal for people planning to spend most of their time in transit.
Small RVs are accessible
If you’ve got two or more people, you cannot beat the accessibility of an RV. Imagine having virtually everything you need in reach throughout your road trips.
Feeling hungry? Go snag something from the fridge or pop a pizza in the oven. Need a break? Snuggle up in bed for a nap while someone else takes over driving duty. Gotta pee? No need to take a bathroom break when you can use the restroom without a rest stop.
It is illegal to have occupants in a separate camper that’s being towed, meaning all those wonderful amenities of a trailer camper can’t be used until you park. Small RVs give you unmatched accessibility which can make for much more pleasant travel.
They’re easier to maneuver
Small RVs are also usually much more maneuverable than both Large RVs and trailers. This opens up endless possibilities for your adventures, like boondocking in remote areas.
Small RVs are also usually much more maneuverable than both large RVs and trailers, making boondocking easier.
Class B RVs, in particular, can go just about anywhere you want to take them. These RVs give incomparable freedom for exploration.
What exactly are small RVs?
Small RVs are categorized as either a Class B or Class C motorhome, in contrast to their larger Class A cousin we mentioned above.
Class C motorhomes
These small RVs feature the iconic “RV” silhouette with a large overhang above a truck cab chassis. These overhangs are most frequently used as a bed. This is great for fitting as much usable space into a vehicle as possible.
Their interiors tend to be quite spacious and can include some motorized extensions that bump out to create even more living space. Usually, they offer dry bathrooms and separate sleeping quarters, though some Class Cs on the smaller end are very similar in layout to Class Bs.
Class B motorhomes
Class B motorhomes are essentially vans converted or retrofitted into living quarters. While that description might have you feeling claustrophobic, some Class B RVs are actually quite spacious considering their tiny footprint. They are ideal for solo travelers or couples looking for a more rugged experience.
They are by far the easiest RV to maneuver and drive, and can fit in most garages and driveways. Their interior spaces can be utilized surprisingly well, typically including a living space, a small kitchen, a wet bathroom, and a multipurpose dining area or workspace.
Some of the top-end Class Bs also include bump-outs to increase the living space further, but those slides are typically reserved for Class A and C RVs.
The positives and negatives of small RVs
While seemingly chock full of benefits, small RVs have both ups and downs to consider:
The pros of small RVs
Mobility. Small RVs are the best solution for traveling rugged with all your stuff in tow. They can often fit into smaller spaces (like parking spots at national parks) much better than either Class A RVs or towed trailers, which often require special oversized parking.
Accessibility. As mentioned above, unlike trailers, RVs have connected living and driving sections of the vehicle, making all your stuff fully accessible while in transit. This isn’t a big plus for solo travelers but for couples or families, this can make for a drastically more enjoyable travel experience. Kids can play games, watch movies, take naps, eat snacks, even go potty, all without ever stopping the vehicle.
Efficiency. A small RV, in general, will be much more fuel efficient than a larger RV or towing a camper/trailer. This is particularly important for people planning to do a lot of driving because those fill-ups will add up even quicker than you think.
The cons of a small RV
Excursions. So, here’s the thing. Yes, small RVs can go more places than large RVs or a truck towing a camper/trailer. BUT, they cannot go as many places as that same truck without its trailer.
That means you can get to a lot of great spots to set up camp, but you don’t have the option to leave the bulky cab behind for a day trip or grocery run here and there. A solution to this is getting a small RV with towing capabilities so you can bring a smaller vehicle along for such occasions.
Price. While much cheaper than Class A motorhomes, RVs, in general, are much more expensive than campers and trailers, even when factoring in the need to purchase a truck.
The Best Small RVs for sale
Now, we’ll give you our top picks for the best small RVs for sale right now.
1. Unity by Leisure Travel Vans
Price: Starting at $134,210 USD
Length: 25’ 1”
The Unity RV is proof that small Class B RVs can still offer big-time luxury. Crafted with a European aesthetic and an aerodynamic exterior with sleek, frameless glass windows, this van makes quite the impression.
Boasting 5 uniquely efficient and innovative floor plans, this van can be fitted for almost any type of traveler. Their layouts include twin beds, a corner bed, a murphy bed, a total FX setup with dual entertainment areas, and a unique island bed layout featuring a rather grand bedroom with walk-around room and armoires on either side of the central queen.
2. Porto by Winnebago
Price: MSRP starting at $119,670 USD
Length: 24’ 7”
The Porto is perhaps the most classic Class C RV on our list, and as a Winnebago, you are pretty much guaranteed to get a great build and an expertly designed interior. Winnegabo has been in this game for 70 years and their trusted expertise is legendary.
As with all Class C RVs, the Porto includes a convenient overhead sleeping cab to maximize usable areas without crowding the precious interior living space. There are only two floor plans with this model, but their setups are two of the most popular layouts for this size vehicle.
This RV also offers some pretty stellar off-the-grid capabilities. With the largest holding tanks in its class, a massive exterior storage compartment, a 200-watt solar panel system, 1000-watt inverter, and dual group 31 batteries, the Porto can go just about wherever you want to take it, plug-in or not.
3. Revel by Winnebago
Price: MSRP starting at $149,299 USD
Length: 19’ 5”
The Class B Revel motorhome is an adventure junkie’s dream come true. Designed specifically for outdoor enthusiasts, the Revel packs some serious off-road power complete with high/low range modes and a 4×4 Mercedes-Benz chassis.
The Revel is by far the smallest on our list in terms of length, but its efficient interior makes great use of that space, including a power lift bed that effortlessly transforms into a 140-cubic foot gear garage. Winnebago themselves are calling the Revel “quite simply the most off-road capable RV Winnebago has ever built.”
4. Interstate Grand Tour EXT by Airstream
Price: MSRP starting at $173,194 USD
Length: 24’ 4.5”
Airstream’s Interstate line has been the #1 best-selling Class B diesel motorhome for the past six years, and for good reason. Airstream’s 80+ years of experience allow them to tailor virtually every design decision based on their expert knowledge of travelers’ needs. That means usable spaces, convenience, and ultimate efficiency.
The Interstate is designed for 2-person long-term travel, and both floor plan options deliver on just that. One option features twin beds that can slide together into a full-sized bed, where the other offers maximized seating area in the form of a convertible couch that easily transitions into a full-sized bed as well.
5. Chateau by Thor Motor Coach
Price: MSRP starting at $91,200 USD
Length: 24’ 0” – 31’ 3”
The Chateau is hands-down the most flexible option on our list, with 13 floor plans ranging from 24’ to over 31’. This means you can get just as much or as little space as you need, with a layout ideal for your travel priorities. Some of the larger options boast nearly full-sized kitchens, dry bathrooms, and living quarters large enough to comfortably house a small family.
These models are also a great bang for your buck, starting at an MSRP of $91,200 for a 25-footer up to $120,750 for their largest 32’ 7” size which can sleep up to 7 people comfortably, making it the ideal choice for larger groups and families on the road.
6. Navion by Winnebago
Price: MSRP starting at $136,921
Length: 25’ 5”
The Navion is shaping up to be one of the most luxurious and modern models in the Winnebago lineup. It combines the off-grid amenities of the Porto (200-watt solar panel system, dual group 31 batteries, etc.) with an ultra-lavish interior design to give you truly the best of both worlds.
There are 3 layout options, including twin beds, 1 queen, and 1 murphy bed couch-into-queen setup, giving buyers great options in maximizing their space to their unique needs.
Top questions and answers about the best small RV
Even if you’re pretty on board with small RVs at this point, it’s normal (and smart!) to have some questions. Fortunately, our experts have compiled a list of frequently asked questions about small RVs.
How do you determine what size RV is best for you?
First off, if you haven’t already, get to an RV show! Looking at floor plans and layouts on a computer screen or in a brochure is nothing compared to actually walking through the space. I cannot recommend this enough. Take the time to walk through a wide range of sizes, styles, and layouts.
You might fall in love with something you’d never thought to look at, or you might find bits and pieces (like smart storage solutions or multi-purpose furniture) from various units you can implement into your ultimate selection.
Try to imagine you/your family living in that space, think about storage and cooking, think about the day-to-day things like eating breakfast or getting ready in the morning. Sometimes an extra bed can be a godsend, sometimes it can be a waste of space.
Once you have a general idea of the size and/or layout you think is right, test it! Renting an RV for a test weekend might seem like an unnecessary expense right before buying the thing, but can save you a ton of money and stress by ensuring you get the right vehicle for you. You’ll be able to drive it around and see if it’s just too big for you to maneuver, you’ll also be able to live and sleep in it for a bit and see if it’s just too small for you and/or your family’s needs.
How small is too small to downsize into?
Downsizing, or as some people are now referring to it: rightsizing, doesn’t have to be about what you give up, but what you gain. Embracing the “small” lifestyle means something different to everyone, but one thing most seem to agree on is the odd sense of relief people feel when getting rid of the unnecessary stuff we all end up collecting. It’s rather freeing finding out just how little you need to function, and how happy keeping to the basics can make you.
On the other hand, nobody is suggesting to move a family of 5 into a 19’ Class B RV. There are limits to how little space you can comfortably and happily fit into. Consider what you spend your time doing. Watch lots of movies? You should probably have a comfortable living area and tv. Love to cook? Dedicate some extra square feet to kitchen space and upgrade to a larger fridge. Everyone has priorities, as long as you design with yours in mind, you might be surprised how little space you really need.
Can a family comfortably travel or live in a small RV?
Absolutely! Models like the Chateau listed above can comfortably fit a family of five, even offering separate sleeping areas for all 3 kids. In fact, many families report a sharp uptick in the overall family happiness meter after going mobile, citing the added time spent together (yes, even the hard parts) as major family bonding moments. Again, it’s about making the space work for you. Consider your kids’ needs and design accordingly. U-shaped dining areas make awesome craft tables, bunk beds can turn shared sleeping quarters into a fairy-tale fort, and the time spent outdoors is a huge draw for endlessly adventurous kids.
Are small RVs still a pain to drive?
It depends on your pain tolerance. Just kidding. Sorta. Obviously, an RV isn’t going to maneuver like a car would, but Class B RVs, in particular, can actually be really enjoyable rides. ALWAYS test drive the RV you plan to buy, you might be surprised by the difficulty or ease you have behind the wheel.
If you’ve driven (and been scared off by) an older RV, know that newer models have really upgraded the quality of ride you get.
Can you “test out” an RV before you buy?
Yes! Many sellers will even let you spend a night in the thing before you buy (just make sure to ask for this before you sign the paperwork). This is an awesome way to test out everything from the size and layout to the amenities and features on board.
Conclusion on the best small RVs for touring the U.S.
The mobile lifestyle is quickly growing in popularity, and for good reason. People are overwhelmed by modern life, and are finding sanctuary in getting back to their roots.
Life on the road means getting back to the basics in every way, from downsizing your closet to spending less time on screens and more time in conversations.
Small RVs in particular offer a pretty ideal compromise between the many options available and are absolutely perfect for short-term road trips and full-time nomads alike.
They are easier to park and maneuver than their larger counterparts, but still have enough space for an entire family.
The main downside is that you’re always driving an RV. There’s no leaving the RV behind to drive a more nimble truck on your daily excursions. Also, there’s a lack of space to deal with.
No matter what you decide, have fun RVing!