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Dear RVillage Expert: We’re heading to our first big RV show. How many days should I plan to attend, and where do we book our stay? —Karen S.
RV shows can be a great way to check out a variety of new rigs, floor plans, industry innovations, and more. But for first-time show visitors, these events can be overwhelming and stressful, if not planned properly, especially at major shows like the Florida RV SuperShow; Quartzsite Sports, Vacation & RV Show; and Hershey’s America’s Largest RV Show.
Big or small, if an RV show is in your future this year, here are a few tips to ensure you have a successful experience—from purchasing tickets and touring rigs to reserving campground accommodations for your visit.
RV OwnershipJoin the conversation
Shopping vs. browsing. Are you in the market for a new rig, or do you just want to get a look at all of the new model debuts? Determining whether you’re attending an RV show for shopping purposes versus browsing can help you adequately prepare. While browsing can be a more relaxed show visit, if you’re shopping for an RV, there are a few things you’ll want to do beforehand to get yourself ready.
- Research RVs online and determine what type (or types) you’re interested in to narrow down your search efforts once you’re at the show.
- Set a budget and find out what makes and models fall under that number.
- If you’re looking at towables, know how much weight your tow vehicle can haul to help with your search.
- Bring something to take notes with and photograph or video each rig with your phone, so you can go back and review all of the models you toured.
- Give yourself a more relaxed shopping environment by avoiding peak show hours and attending mid-week instead of on the weekends.
Get your tickets. Once you’ve decided which show(s) you want to attend, check the event website for ticket information. Larger shows will typically have ticket sales available online, and some of these events can sell out quickly, so you’ll want to purchase yours as soon as possible. Daily and multi-day tickets are also common for bigger shows, so it’s important to know how many days you plan on attending before making a purchase. Other shows may only have tickets available at the event entrance, with some being cash-only, so do your research before attending each show for admittance information.
Plan your visit. How many days should you plan to attend an RV show? For major shows, you should plan on attending 2 to 3 days, especially if you’re using this time to shop for a new RV. This way, you can take your time touring each rig, instead of rushing through as many as possible in a single day. Even if you’re not shopping, multi-day attendance is key for a more enjoyable, digestible experience. These shows are meant to be fun, informative ways to get a first-hand look at what’s new within the industry—approach them like a marathon, not a sprint.
RV TravelJoin the conversation
Book your stay. Possibly the most stressful aspect of RV show attendance is finding camping or hotel accommodations for each event. Booking early is vital for securing a stay that’s close to the show. Again, for larger shows, campgrounds and hotels can book up as soon as show dates are announced, which can be a year or more prior to the event.
Check event websites for the specific dates and times when tickets will become available to the general public. Set a reminder on your phone or calendar so you don’t miss open ticket sale dates and reservations.
If you plan on camping during your visit, use an app like Campendium to search for campgrounds nearby that meet your needs. Save money by searching for dry camping or boondocking sites, or consider booking a hotel that’s further from the event venue to avoid crowds and high nightly rates.
Use a map. Whether you’re shopping, browsing, or doing a little bit of both, have an idea of what vendors and manufacturers will be in attendance and how the event venue is laid out to help plan your visit. Most larger shows will have downloadable maps that you can use to navigate your way around and prioritize your day by manufacturers, dealers, or booths.
Ask questions. RV shows provide you with a multitude of industry experts under a single roof. Use this experience to ask questions, watch demonstrations, attend seminars, and chat with other rig owners. This is a great time to learn about new RVs, camping products, and upcoming technologies, so use it wisely by getting the most out of the wealth of information made available to you at each show.
Dress for success. For an optimal RV show experience, you’ll want to dress for the occasion. You can cover a lot of ground during an RV show, which means you’ll want to wear shoes and clothing that will keep you comfortable during long days of walking and standing. You should also dress for the venue type. While some shows are indoors, others can be outside, so plan for the elements and bring footwear and clothes you don’t mind getting dirty or wet in the event of rain and unpaved venue surfaces.
Bring your patience and snacks. Even if you’re shopping for a rig, don’t feel like you have to make an immediate decision at the show. Be patient, weigh your options, and take your time before deciding to buy. Many dealers will honor show pricing if you reach out to them after the event, so don’t panic if you aren’t ready to make your decision during the few days of your show visit.
And most importantly, stay hydrated and fueled for long days by bringing plenty of water and snacks with you. No good purchasing decision can be made on an empty stomach, so remember to always take care of yourself first.