RV shows are a great way to see all of the new models and floor plans of motorhomes, fifth wheels, campers and vans. They’re also great to pick up the latest and greatest RV accessories and listen to speakers share how to RV the correct way. These RV show tips will help guide you on when is the best time to attend an RV show, what you should expect and how to make the best of your RV show experience!
Cover photo courtesy of Hershey RV Show – America’s Largest RV Show (Facebook)
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RV Show Tips – What to Expect, See, & Do at RV Shows
Planning to attend an RV Show
Get your discount tickets ahead of time
Once you know which RV show you’re going to attend, we highly recommend visiting the particular show’s website to see if they have downloadable discount tickets. Also, check to see if they have prescribed discount days. Oftentimes, RV shows will offer military and first responder discounts as well as a few bucks off for seniors.
Get a sneak peak of what to expect
To get the best RV show experience, I highly encourage you to review the show guide, usually their website, to give you a feel of the layout of the grounds, which vendors will be showcasing their products, where the vendor halls are, scheduled seminars, etc.
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When attending an RV show, know that you’re going to be there for at least a few hours. You’re going to be walking a lot as well as stepping up into RVs, in and out of buildings.
Since RV shows are both outside and inside, so check the weather before packing into the car to head out.
And because of that, expect sudden fluctuations in temperatures going in and out of buildings and RVs; especially if it’s cold outside. It’s best to layer your clothes. You can always shed them off once the day progresses and temperatures get more comfortable.
My suggestion for really warm days is to wear a long sleeve top to protect your arms from sunburn. But also, they’re just enough to take the chill off on breezy days. And, if it’s really hot and muggy, consider a long sleeve wick away shirt.
Now, there’s not many places you can really sit down to take a load off. So, it’s super important to wear really comfortable shoes. Do skip wearing heals, ladies. You’re going to be climbing up and down RV steps. And that asphalt isn’t very comfortable to traipse around in for hours at a time.
And, don’t forget your sunglasses! The sun bouncing off of the white campers can cause a little blindness and may give you a headache. Also, a wide brim hat or ball cap will help keep the sun off your face.
So, check these off before heading out the door:
- Dress in layers
- Comfortable shoes
- Sweater or sweatshirt
- Sun hat or ball cap
- Rain poncho or jacket (if necessary)
Hydrate and eat a good breakfast
It’s important to hydrate the night before and morning of the RV show. This will help keep your joints from rusting and keep those nasty dehydration headaches away so you can enjoy the show.
In addition to hydrating well, ieat a healthy breakfast with lots of protein to sustain you until lunch time. Because it never fails, you’ll be hungry when the food vendor booths are the longest.
Set your budget; watch your expenses
RV shows can be quite tempting to overspend. So, set your budget even before entering the gates. This not only goes for an RV you may be itching to buy but also, any accessories, meals and other incidentals. Take one credit card and use it wisely.
Leave your pets at home or in the RV
RV shows are crowded. They are not ideal places to take pets. Some RV shows will tell you to leave them at home.
But even if they don’t, know that you will be subjecting your pet to getting their tails and paws stepped on, loud speakers and music, crowds, zooming golf carts, people running into each other, etc. Your pet(s) will be uncomfortable and full of stress as will you too. Plus, others (including other dogs) may not react to your dog as you do.
And really, there’s no room for dog strollers; especially inside the vendor halls and seminars. Also keep in mind, pets are not permitted inside RVs.
This does not apply to ADA Service Dogs.
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What should you bring to an RV Show?
Pack a daypack
A daypack (small backpack) is a must when attending an RV show. In fact, each person in your party should have their own. I say daypack because you’ll want your hands free to be able to really enjoy the venue. There are daypacks that can also accommodate a hydration bladder as well as your other essentials or layer of clothing.
Or, if you prefer, a water bottle with a filter is fine. However, you may set it down somewhere and lose it.
- Healthy snacks – Nuts, granola bars, etc.
- Hand sanitizer – Great for hanging on belt loops and purses. Use it often!
- Antibacterial hand wipes
- Battery bank & charging cable for phone
- Lip balm
- Pain reliever – Advil or Tylenol
- Tummy relief – Tums or Mylanta
- Travel tissues – the bathrooms run out of toilet paper
- Face mask – for touring RVs and crowded spaces
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Decide what you’re going to eat
There’s lots of food vendors peppered throughout the RV show grounds. Some will also be located in the vendor halls. The food variety is typical of large outdoor venues; from fried dough, pizza, sausage hoagies, hotdogs and hamburgers to what-is-that-meat-on-a-stick. Just fair warning though, the lines will be long especially at lunch and dinner times.
And of course, it’s fair food which is unhealthy and may end up making you ill; especially if you’re not use to it. But if that’s going to be your food of choice, bring a big wad of cash because the food prices at RV shows are quite pricy.
But, if you’re not keen on eating fair food or waiting in line, just bag lunch it. But, keep your lunch sac small enough to keep your daypack. That way, you’re not having to walk all the way to your vehicle (or RV) to fetch your lunch cooler.
Oh, and don’t forget to slip in a small bottle of hand sanitizer and antibacterial hand wipes to wipe off surfaces before sitting down to eat.
RV show supplies
Another of our RV show tips is to bring your fully-charged smartphone with enough space on it to take photos and videos. Because there’s no possible way for you to remember all the manufacturer models, floor plans and features. Take photos of brochures, sales person business cards, etc.
If you’re more of a pencil and paper RV show attendee, bring a small notebook and pen to write down manufacturer and floor plan models, salespersons names and phone numbers, show prices, etc.
But also, make sure you bring a coun ple pens to fill out contest raffles and sign up for emails. Usually vendors will set out one pen causing a pileup of attendees wanting to fill out a raffle. If you have business cards or travel cards, bring those too. Another tip is to print out your information on address labels. That way, all you do is just stick one on their raffle and voila.
Don’t worry about bringing a tote bag for promotional items, flyers and samples you’ll collect at the event. Each RV show typically will give out a free bag to each show attendee at the show entrance. Individual vendors may offer them as well.
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When is the best time to go to an RV show
One of our best RV show tips is telling you when the best time to attend an RV show. Like every other large event or venue, RV shows are the busiest on weekends with at least 50% more people in attendance than during the week.
But, we get that not everyone can take time off of work during the week to attend an RV show, weekdays are the best time to attend an RV show. It’s much less crowded which means, less time standing in lines to tour RVs, get food or meander the vendor booths. So, perhaps you can plan your work schedule or take a day off during the week to take in these great RV events.
To make the most of your 1-day visit to an RV show, you’ll want to be there when the gate opens. Typically, the gates close around 5:00 or 6:00 pm. So, plan your day at the RV show accordingly.
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Once you arrive at the RV Show
Take a photo of your parking area
Parking at the large RV shows can leave you a little bewildered trying to locate your vehicle after a long day. I highly recommend taking a photo of the light pole letter and number and/or number that’s oftentimes painted in the parking space. Or, if you’d prefer, drop a pin on your location on Google Maps to get you back to your vehicle.
Another suggestion is to leave an Apple AirTag in your car so you can locate it quickly using your iPhone.
Use the shuttle service
Some larger RV shows may have shuttles to get you to and from the parking and entrance of the RV show. So, don’t worry about having to park really close to the gate if they offer shuttle service. Just make certain you know which parking lot your vehicle is parked in.
One of the most important RV show tips I can share is patience is the name of the game. There’s so much to see, do and experience at RV shows.
But, expect there’s going to be slow walkers, fast walker, scooters and wheelchairs, aimless toddlers, happy people, crying children, zooming golf carts, long lines to the food line and bathroom, etc.
So, before arriving, eat a piece of humble pie and bring your A game.
Make sure you eat and stay hydrated
As we mentioned earlier in this article, other than the Nut Lady selling roasted almonds, there is really no healthy food at RV fairs. Again, if you or those in your party have dietary restrictions or you’re a bit strapped on cash, bring a sack lunch instead.
Also, hydration is one of the most important RV show tips we have to share; especially on hot days. Look at the RV show grounds layout map to see where the water fountains and restrooms are located.
Keep track of your party
RV shows are great family events that involve children helping to pick out the perfect RV or camper. It’s important to include them in seeing which floor plan works best for your family.
But, keep a keen eye on them. Don’t allow them to run, push buttons, or even use the toilets in the RVs. And make sure they don’t wander off. It’s so easy for your family to become separated.
But most importantly, kids of any age will eventually reach their point-of-no-return meltdown. Know your children’s limits (and yours too!). So, when children signal ‘they’ve had enough’, there’s no shame in calling it a day.
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Only Tour RVs that you can afford
While it’s tempting to step foot into every RV, know your budget limit. Sure, it may be fun to see a million dollar Prevost. But, if you can only afford a less expensive camper, don’t waste your time and other perspective buyers’. Be realistic. Trust me, there’s tons of motorhomes and campers at the show. Refer to the RV show guide layout to pick out the dealerships and brands you want to see.
Collect brochures of floor plans
When you tour a camper or motorhome that you really think is a plausible purchase, ask for that floor plan model brochure. Because at the end of the day, who could possibly remember all the floor plans and set ups? Also, have the salesperson include their name and contact info.
Check out the floor plans
Another one of our RV show tips is when touring RVs that may be in contention for a future purchase, this is a great time to look at everything without being scrutinized by a dealership sales staff constantly looking over your shoulder.
So go ahead and open every cabinet, check out the storage compartments, and inspect the build quality. Sit on the furniture as well as in the driver and passenger seats. Try to picture your family IN that camper or motorhome.
Ask whether the onboard generator is diesel or propane. Look around to see if there’s enough electric and USB outlets, how sturdy is the awning, etc.
Because seriously, if you see something that fails your expectation of a unit ‘at the show’, it will definitely rule out possibility of pursuing it further. Know when to walk away and say, “NEXT!”
Know how pricing works
If you’ve set your sights on buying an RV at an RV show, know how RV pricing works, financing, etc. Remember, brand new RVs can be negotiated to a reasonable price below MSRP.
However, RV dealerships will post their show prices. They’re usually set in stone and equal about 25-30% off MSRP. But, you may be able to haggle them down a little more, include accessories, or even a lower interest rate.
But, never allow yourself to be coerced by a smooth talking salesman making questionable promises. If the deal looks ‘too good to be true’, it probably is. Don’t let them use the ‘this is the last one’ sales tactic. Trust me, there’s more out there.
If you do make a downpayment, know the state law of where the RV show is taking place should you have a change of heart or change your mind about the sale. If you’ll be financing with the dealership, know their interest rates UP FRONT.
There’s so much more but just keep your wits about you. It’s easy to get swaggered into a deal that once you get home, you’ll wonder what they heck just happened.
Attend the FREE seminars
The free seminars are a big part of attending an RV show. They may be about the RV lifestyle, a new product, how to finance an RV, camping locations, understanding GVWR, how to boondock in your RV, etc.
So, look in the RV show guide to see the seminar schedule, what building and what time. Be aware though, some seminars are very popular. So, you’ll want to get there even 10-15 minutes before the talk begins.
Plus, they’re a great way to take a load off your feet. Who knows, perhaps you’ll learn something valuable to enable you to enjoy RVing all the more!
Visit vendor booths for great deals
Lastly, part of the RV show experience is visiting the vendor booths! And trust me, there’s tons of them!
From camping memberships, Workamping opportunities, RV park site sales, technology gadgets, RV upgrades, RV mattresses, RV furniture, sewer hoses, electrical adapters, RV surge protectors, and tons of RV accessories that’s on the market.
Heck, there’s even pet supplies, cellphone accessories, jewelry dip mixes and even glass fingernail files (I’m not kidding). So, make it a point to visit the vendor booths. They too, will be listed in the RV show guide and where they’re located.
♦ RV SHOW TIPS ♦ New to RVing? Read Why an RV Surge Protector is Needed for Motorhomes and Campers
Get Your COMPLETE LIST of 2023 RV SHOWS
Final thoughts on our RV show tips
We hope our RV show tips will help you make informed decisions about what to expect at an RV show, when is the best time to attend an RV show as well as other tips to help guide you to having a pleasant RV show experience.
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