Why Smaller Can Be Better in an RV

Bryanna Royal  |  07.09.2017

When we first made the decision to travel in an RV full time, our general consensus was the bigger the better! “45 feet? Heck yeah! Look at all that space. I mean, we are going to be living in this thing.”

Fast forward about two years on the road, and we really started to realize that bigger isn’t always better. Yes, there are certain ways of traveling where something larger makes the most sense – like if you are going to be going to one place for months at a time.

If that is the case, and you are basically setting up a home base, I am all for a bigger rig because you won’t have to move very often. However, if you plan to travel and move around a lot, I would highly recommend something smaller.

A couple months ago we transition from our 39-foot diesel pusher motorhome into a 23-foot Winnebago View. This is with my husband and I, 4 kids and 1 dog. Yup, 6 people in a 23-footer!

Here are my reasons why smaller can be better when RVing.

1. Finding Campgrounds

Since moving into the smaller rig, we can always find a campground. With our 39-footer, I always held my breath when they would ask the size over the phone. I knew with a larger rig, many campgrounds couldn’t accommodate something of that size.

With the smaller rig, it is much easier to find a place and less of a hassle to get into our spots! Not to mention, when you try to stay in National or State Parks (which we like to do), a lot of them have size restrictions of 30 feet or less.

2. Driving

Man, in that big diesel pusher it sure felt like every time we drove by a semi our windows were going to hit! Now in the smaller rig, we are more like a car driving down the road and there is more room all around us.

3. Getting Gas

Getting gas with the diesel pusher was always a headache. “Is there a truck stop close by? No? Now what? Well that one has diesel, but who knows what size station it is. If it doesn’t work, is there somewhere for us to easily turn around?”

Getting gas in our larger rig often turned into a logistical nightmare. But with the smaller rig, we can pull into any gas station that offers diesel with ease. It definitely is less trouble than trying to find the right gas station for a bigger rig.

4. City Driving

We always got a kick out of people asking us where our rig was when we were in Key West or some other city. We never felt comfortable driving the diesel pusher in those areas. We wouldn’t fit, and even if we did, it would be way too stressful.

With the smaller rig, we can drive around pretty much anywhere with ease. Yes, we have to be aware of the height of bridges. But for the most part, we can pull in and park on the street or in a lot right in a downtown area. We can also fit in any parking lot, even the small ones.

5. We don’t need to tow a car

There are reasons why having a car is nice. But on the other hand, it simplifies things when we don’t have to worry about towing a car and we can just take our rig.

It also means we don’t have to pack a lot when we go out for the day because our whole rig will be with us! No more packing lunches or getting extra clothes ready. It is all there with us.

6. You can’t carry the extra junk

Yes, we felt it was close to impossible to downsize from 2,700 sq. feet into a 39-foot motorhome when we first moved out of our house. Now that we are in a 23-footer and space is even more limited, it has really made us evaluate each item we have with us.

That means we aren’t keeping the extras we never used. We are also aware of EVERYTHING that we have with us. There are no little hiding places or extra room to misplace something.

7. We are organized

We are more organized now than we ever were. Why? Because we have to be! There isn’t room not to be. By being organized, things are more simplified and add less stress. It is easier to stay on top of groceries and laundry, since everything has to be taken care of right away.

Don’t get me wrong, there are times I wish I could just let things pile up and be lazy. However, I also love the idea of being organized on a level that I don’t think would have been possible in a larger space with more things.

Is a smaller rig right for everyone? No. But if you are having the itch to go smaller and simplify your life even more, I highly recommend giving it a go!

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  1. sarah Posted on 07.13.2019

    I’m more curious to know how large your dog is? Weird I know. But right now, I have a 26’ Bumper Pull without a Slide. My 55lb dog cannot turn around except in one tiny corner next to my bed, or by backing himself under the dinette. I looked at quite a few Class Cs and very few offer a slide at all, or if they do it seems to be in the bed area, not the dinette.

  2. Bryanna Posted on 12.02.2017

    Here is our post about how we manage seat belts: https://winnebagolife.com/2017/06/buckling-up-kids-in-an-rv There are 4 seat belts in the booth area of our View. Here is our story about how we got started on the road: https://winnebagolife.com/2017/04/crazy-and-amazing and you can learn more about our journey at http://www.crazyfamilyadventure.com Thanks for all your great comments!

  3. Mike Ault Posted on 12.02.2017

    Would like to know the answer on the six seat belts? Most of the View models are 3 or 4 seatbelt positions. Other models maybe sleep 6 or 7, but do not have the seatbelt positions for that many.

    1. Don Cohen Posted on 12.03.2017

      I’ve wondered about this too so I asked the product team and this is what I learned: Winnebago determines the number of seatbelts based on a variety of conditions such as overall weight balance and load distribution, overall weight limits set by the chassis manufacturer (including carrying capacity at each tire), and their internal standards for storage carrying capacity. Each condition is calculated based on the theoretical weight of person at each belted position.

      Just recently I was looking at a competitive product and learned that their rated carrying capacity was a little over 500 pounds. That’s roughly half of the View/Navions. I’m sure it was items like the solid surface counters and heavy cabinet doors that (while looking nice) reduced carrying capacity. While carrying capacity is less of an issue in larger Class A rigs, it’s a complicated balance of usability, comfort, and safety in Compact C coaches.

  4. David Kannas Posted on 08.06.2017

    My wife and I are now parked on a lake in Northern MN where we awoke this morning to the songs of Loons. We have owned our View since2006. Although we have had mechanical issues with it – turbo failed three times, transmission failed once, engine light is now on but will be address when we reach a rare M-B dealer in Rochester, MN – we love it. I cannot, however, imagine six people and a dog living in one. To the person who wondered about seat belts, there are six seat belts. Great story, and we wish you happy travels.

  5. Frank Brocato Posted on 08.05.2017

    My first RV was a new Winnebago Brave 1999 model. It was too big to enjoy day to day so I downsized to a VW Westfalia, yep …. too small.
    16 years of mechanical breakdown claims for the RV World I noticed the Winnebago View was one I never heard from about broken things. I now am the proud owner of a 2016 View 24G. Oh man what a fine vehicle . Drives like a car ,gets better fuel mileage than my Toyota Tundra, park anywhere and never fails to get compliments from people with MUCH larger units. last year I read the Story by Don Cohen ,” The finest Class C on the road” (see this blog for story) Yes, I agree and have enjoyed it so very much Thanks Mr. Cohen . The Mercedes Dealers are rapidly gearing up for our vehicles RBM of Sandy Springs Ga. is a first class operation for example. No ,I do not work for MB or for that matters any dealer but I am confident they have heard the calling.
    Hope to see you all on the road someday.

  6. GALE Posted on 08.05.2017

    How can six people travel if you only have seat belts for four? Did you purchase more seat belts?? I looked in the article and didn’t see the answer. I would like to know. Thanks in advance.

  7. Terry Duffy Posted on 08.05.2017

    We have traveled over 100,000 miles, visiting and driving in many major cities. Drove through the French Quarter during the day. Los Angeles, Washington DC (this was a little tight) and others. The only problem in the big cities is parking. If I wanted to park for the day I would rent a car. Only about 5 times in all our travel did I say to myself “I had better not go there”. The View/Navion size RV is great for traveling. If I were going to stay onr place for anymore than 2 to 3 weeks, I’d probably go big with a toad. Terry

  8. Jon Posted on 08.05.2017

    Nice article giving all the terrific reason to own a View (we own a Navion), but those reasons don’t explain how 6 plus dog live in such close quarters. Would be interesting to know the ages of the children and sleeping arrangements, how you coordinate school study time and bed times.

  9. Henry L. Coffman Posted on 08.05.2017

    The main problem I have with my View is trying to get someone to work on it. Dodge nor Mercedes wants to and I live in the Dallas/Ft. Worth metroplex!
    Probably not buy another one and the sad thing is I really like my View.

  10. RJ Posted on 08.05.2017

    Where can I get a 39 foot RV with 2,700 sq ft?

  11. Roger Coleman Posted on 07.14.2017

    I enjoyed reading your article, even more so since tomorrow morning I am going to pickup my new Spirit 22R! A few years ago, I lusted for a big beast of an RV, but I’ve changed my thinking. The whole point of traveling is to get outside and explore when you get to the destination, in our opinion. My girlfriend, two dogs and a blue and gold macaw will be out there soon! Who knows, maybe we will see you out there too!

  12. Chris Posted on 07.14.2017

    I see people posting with personal information in pictures all the time. Your license plate is clearly visible in your pictures and even though some might not think so, it is a security risk. Please be safe when posting pictures on-line everyone.