In Hershey, PA this week (Sept 9-15), the largest RV show in the world will be drawing tens of thousands of shoppers in search of their dream machine.
In fact, let me give you one tip that you’ll thank me for: Don’t try to do everything or see everything in one day. Pace yourself. To see it all in Hershey, give yourself three days.
If you're attending Hershey, with as many as 1,000 RVs on display, booths from vendors selling RV accessories and the many educational seminars and offerings going on, let me tell you that if you try to take it all in at once you will be busy from first light to late at night and still miss things.
If this is your first time, or if you’re looking for ways to better pace yourself at Hershey or whatever RV show you attend, maybe this little list will come in handy.
Here are our top ten things to do to make your visit less exhausting, more fun and full of pleasant memories. The same advice applies to any RV show, even if its not as big as Hershey.
1) Arrive early, as soon as you can check-in. Grab the map you received from registration, and thoroughly familiarize yourself with the exhibition center and outdoor spaces. The Giant Center is huge, with 28 football fields of new RVs and thousands of RVing accessories. Before you start moving around, get the lay of the land, directions and the names of various areas.
2) Wear comfortable shoes. That should go without saying but even though there will be shuttles and transportation vehicles to get you around, you’ll still do a lot of walking. And standing.
3) If you're driving there in your RV, plan your meals before arriving. Even though there will be lots of food all over the complex, sometimes it’s not only less expensive but it is much more convenient and relaxing to have your own food and refreshments at your own coach.
4) Plan each day the night before. If you are going with your spouse or friends, divide and conquer. Attend different seminars. Then you can share highlights with each other afterwards. You’ll also want to arrive early for them. I’d say at least 10 minutes early. You’ll be surprised at how many fill right up.
5) Schedule breaks. One in the morning, one in the afternoon. Get off your feet. Go back to your RV and take a nap. Believe it or not, these events are stressful. Stress comes from good things, too. There’s so much stimulation and fun that you can tire very easily. You’ll want to spread your activities out over manageable blocks of time.
6) But don’t over-schedule. Seriously. Take your time. Enjoy the sights and sounds and entertainment. Right from the time you arrive, you’ll meet new friends. Talking about your collective travels, sharing ideas, visiting each other’s RVs and seeing all the little mods folks do to personalize their space is as much fun as seeing the displays.
7) When you visit the vendor displays, don’t buy the first thing you think you need. Chances are, another vendor has the same item, or offers it at a better price, or has it in different styles or colors. Do comparison-shopping and find the best price and selection before purchasing.
8) Look for freebies and contests. RVers are bargain hunters by nature, it seems to me. But beyond the pens and candies and normal giveaways, many vendors have drawings for RV accessories or free stays in RV resorts. Somebody’s going to win these things. Why not you?
9) Carry a camera with you or use your smartphone to take lots of photos. You’ll see things you wish you had in your coach in some of the new motorhome display models. Take a photo of it so that you have a visual record to follow or to show a handyman who can customize your setup. Take photos of the new friends you meet, too. Back home and in the months to come, the photos will be a great visual aid.
10) Finally, don’t be pressured to buy. Yes, there are some very aggressive dealers and some great pricing. But next to your home, an RV may be one of the most expensive purchases you'll ever make. Try and get a quote from a competing dealer. Be very comfortable with the deal. Sometimes, that means taking a few days to decide. If the dealer wont let you, maybe that's not the dealer for you.