Having wanderlust and wandering around the country does not mean you are abusing the natural landscape around you. Sustainable RV living is an exciting lifestyle choice that allows you to roam freely while minimizing your environmental impact. But with so many different types of RVs available, choosing the right one for your eco-friendly adventure can be a daunting task. Fear not! I’m here to guide you through the various options and help you find the perfect fit for your sustainable journey.
First things first, let’s take a quick tour of the main types of RVs commonly found on the road:
- Class A Motorhomes: Class A motorhomes are the giants of the RV world. They resemble luxurious buses with all the amenities you can think of. These vehicles offer plenty of space, making them ideal for larger families or those who crave extra comfort. While Class A motorhomes are equipped with advanced systems that provide a comfortable and convenient living experience, they are not the most sustainable RV living option. They have larger carbon footprints due to their size and fuel consumption. If living sustainably is your priority, you might want to explore other alternatives.
- Class B Campervans: Class B campervans, also known as camper vans, are much smaller than Class A motorhomes. They are typically built on a van chassis, making them easier to maneuver and park in tight spaces. Since they are more compact, they generally have better fuel efficiency, which is a significant sustainable RV living advantage.
Campervans offer basic amenities like a small kitchen, sleeping space, and sometimes a bathroom. If you are a minimalist traveler or a couple seeking a simpler and more sustainable lifestyle, a Class B campervan could be a great option.
- Class C Motorhomes: Class C motorhomes are a middle ground between Class A and Class B. They are built on a truck chassis with an attached camper section above the driver’s cab. These RVs offer more space and amenities compared to campervans, but they are not as large and luxurious as Class A motorhomes.
While Class C motorhomes may not be the most fuel-efficient option, they can still be a viable choice if you need more living space and prefer a smaller footprint compared to Class A models.
We live full time in a Class C motorhome and never feel cramped. When looking for this new RV my desire was a larger refrigerator and more closet space. We luckily found just the right fit for us. Everyone has their own requirements to make living on the road more doable.
Another reason we chose the Class C, after have a travel trailer for 20 years, is that we can tow a smaller car instead of driving the big truck everywhere we wanted to explore. When we upgraded, we towed an electric car. We traded that in for a car that gets 40 mpg because the range on the electric limited our exploration. Another electric is in our future that has a range of at least 250 miles. Its difficult to see some National Parks without such a range.
- Travel Trailers: Travel trailers are towable RVs that can be hitched to a compatible towing vehicle. They come in various sizes, from compact teardrop trailers to large fifth-wheel trailers. The great thing about travel trailers is that you can detach them from your vehicle when you arrive at your destination, allowing you to explore local areas without the need to drive your entire home around. Travel trailers can offer sustainable RV living, especially if you choose a lightweight model and tow it with a fuel-efficient vehicle.
- Fifth-Wheel Trailers: Fifth-wheel trailers are similar to travel trailers but have a unique hitching system that requires a special tow vehicle with a fifth-wheel hitch in the truck bed. These trailers often have spacious interiors and can be a good fit for larger families or those who desire more living space. While they provide comfortable accommodations, their environmental impact is like travel trailers, depending on the towing vehicle’s fuel efficiency. The new electric trucks may be a great option soon.
- Teardrop Trailers: Teardrop trailers are the tiniest and most minimalist RV option available. They are compact and aerodynamic, making them highly fuel-efficient. Teardrop trailers usually have a sleeping area, small kitchenette, and some storage space. If you are a solo traveler or a couple looking for a cozy and sustainable RV living experience, a teardrop trailer could be an excellent choice.
- Pop-up Campers: Pop-up campers, also known as tent trailers, are collapsible RVs that offer a compromise between tent camping and RVing. They are lightweight and can be towed by smaller vehicles, making them a fuel-efficient option. When set up, pop-up campers provide more living space than teardrop trailers but are still relatively compact. They are a great choice for budget-conscious and eco-conscious travelers who want a bit more comfort than traditional tent camping.
- Truck Campers: Truck campers are self-contained units that sit on the bed of a pickup truck. They are versatile and allow you to detach your living quarters from the vehicle, offering the freedom to explore. Truck campers are generally more fuel-efficient than larger motorhomes and offer a decent number of amenities. If you already own a pickup truck and want an eco-friendly RV that doesn’t require towing, a truck camper might be the way to go.
Now that we’ve explored the main types of RVs, it’s time to consider your sustainable RV living needs and priorities:
Fuel Efficiency: If reducing your carbon footprint is high on your list, consider opting for a smaller, more fuel-efficient RV. Class B campervans, teardrop trailers, and pop-up campers are generally the most fuel-efficient choices.
Solar-Ready or Solar-Powered: Living off-grid and harnessing solar power can significantly enhance sustainable RV living. Look for RVs that are solar-ready or come equipped with solar panels, so you can generate renewable energy on the go.
Lightweight and Compact Design: The lighter and more compact your RV, the less fuel it will consume during travel. Smaller RVs are also easier to maneuver, which opens the possibility of exploring more remote and eco-sensitive areas.
However, keep in mind that it is possible to overload an RV and can be dangerous if you do. Know what the rating is for your particular RV.
Sustainable Materials and Construction: Consider RVs that incorporate sustainable materials in their construction. Some manufacturers are now using eco-friendly materials like bamboo, recycled plastics, and low VOC (volatile organic compounds) products.
Energy-Efficient Appliances: Check if the RV’s appliances, such as the refrigerator, stove, and water heater, are energy-efficient and eco-friendly. Energy Star-rated appliances are a good indicator of efficiency.
Water Conservation Features: Water is precious, especially when living sustainably in an RV. Look for RVs with water-saving features, such as low-flow faucets and water recycling systems.
Composting Toilets and Greywater Recycling: To further reduce your environmental impact, consider RVs equipped with composting toilets that convert waste into usable compost and greywater recycling systems that treat and reuse water from sinks and showers.
Sustainable RVing Communities: Joining or forming sustainable RVing communities can amplify your eco-friendly efforts. These communities often share tips and resources for sustainable living on the road.
Vintage RV Restoration: If you have a passion for restoration, consider finding and restoring a vintage RV. Retrofitting an older model with modern eco-friendly features can be a rewarding and sustainable project.
Mindful Travel Practices: Regardless of the RV type you choose, your travel habits play a crucial role in your overall sustainability. Practice eco-driving techniques, minimize single-use plastics, and be mindful of your waste disposal to make your journey greener.
Staying in one spot for a week, month or longer will not only minimize your footprint, it also allows you to save money and deeply explore a region.
Ultimately, the best RV for sustainable RV living is the one that aligns with your values and meets your practical needs. Whether you prefer the comfort of a Class B campervan, the versatility of a travel trailer, or the simplicity of a teardrop trailer, living sustainably in an RV offers you the freedom to explore the world while treading lightly on the planet.
Remember, the RV you choose is just the beginning of your sustainable adventure. Embrace eco-conscious habits, stay connected with the RVing community, and inspire others to adopt greener practices on the road.