RV shows, especially those hosted by RV associations, offer attendees the best opportunity to check out a wide variety of models and manufacturers all in one place.

It’s an opportunity to look around and talk with manufacturer representatives and dealers to better understand their products and accessories. They want to educate you on how their RV, product, or accessory can make your RV life more comfortable and convenient.

Think of an RV show as the “ultimate hands-on comparison shopping” experience – and the chance to learn more about all that the RV life can offer.

Some RV shows can be quite expansive, with hundreds of models on the floor plus dozens of other exhibitors. These shows can make it difficult to see everything in one day — there’s so much that it can make your head spin. Even smaller shows with a couple hundred models are enough to keep any camper and potential buyer busy. To ensure that you get the most out of your time at an RV show, follow these few simple tips:

1. Know what you’re looking for – and what you’re willing to spend. This will simplify the experience by narrowing in on a particular type of RV, feature, etc. The size of your family, the expected use of the RV, and your storage facilities (if you’re not a full-timer) help with that decision as well. Before the show, consider doing some online comparison shopping so that you have realistic expectations of what RVs at the show should cost.

Sometimes, dealers and manufacturers will offer special discounted pricing just for the show; but even then, it’s a good idea to compare with other sources – mobile phones give buyers a lot of flexibility and immediate feedback in this department – to make sure it really is a good deal. Knowing what you’re looking for ahead of time and having a budget will also help you from making an impulsive purchase. That’s not to say don’t look at models outside of your wish list or price range – it’s fun to look, too!

2. Take a test drive. Just like we would play “Pretend” when we were little, pretend that the RV is your own. Can you see yourself in this RV? Are the beds comfortable? Is the kitchen workable? Explore the floor plan and compare across models. RV shows are a great chance to explore a potential purchase.

3. Bring the family. If you’re seriously considering a purchase at the event, bring the kids along to help with making the decision. Their feedback during test drives is important since they will also be spending time in that RV. In addition, it turns the discovery and eventual purchase of the recreation vehicle into a family affair, one that all can have a stake in.

4. Be prepared to walk. As RVers, we know how important it is to have the right gear. For RV shows, that means wearing comfortable shoes and layers of clothing that you can put on or take off. This sounds a bit like advice for going out on a hike, but you’ll be more comfortable throughout the day if you plan ahead and wear the right gear.

5. Bring a notepad or pick up a show directory. Use the directory as your guide to mark off models, dealers, and exhibitors you’re most interested in – as you go along. Alternatively, use a notepad to jot down notes as you move through the show, take an RV for a test drive, and after conversations with sales personnel.

6. Take photos. There is so much to see that it’s easy for it to get muddled as the day wears on. Most exhibitors won’t mind you snapping a photo or two with your phone or camera to help you remember what you liked or didn’t like about a particular RV. You can review them once you’ve made your way through.

7. Don’t forget the exhibitors. Campgrounds, RV parks, and RV resorts – as well as RV rental companies – often have a presence at the show, sometimes with special deals or prizes to win. Products with the latest technology and advancements are on display or demonstrated. It’s different than reviewing these places and products on the Internet; it’s an opportunity to talk with people directly and see first-hand the quality of the products. Plus, many are available for sale on-site.

The Michigan Association of Recreation Vehicles and Campgrounds hosts five camper and RV shows throughout the state of Michigan. Attend one near you!