I am an RV enthusiast with more than 50 years of experience owning, driving, traveling and living in recreational vehicles.
Until you actually buy and travel in an RV, you really cannot know how important the location of its entry door can be.
If you are unaware of this and have not yet made a purchase, you might want to pay attention to what is written here because once you own a coach, you generally have it for a long time.
If you become unhappy with a major structural issue such as door placement, you could become mighty unhappy. That unhappiness could mar any vacation you take and irritate you enough that it might make you want to sell!
Front Entry Door Problems
Several years ago, owning a “bus” was all the rage. These all were front entry door units that made owners feel as though they were traveling more stylishly, could see better and had more room when going down the road.
In truth, they created all sorts of discomfort for owners and made traveling awkward and uncomfortable.
1. Slide Out Floors
Manufacturers had to come up with all sorts of places for travelers to put their feet while on the move. These included
- electronic slide out floors,
- manual folding floors,
- reclining captains chairs and
- anything else that would allow for foot and leg support.
When the electronic slide out floors stopped working, the manuals got stuck or the recliners didn’t fold properly, the passenger had a miserable time. Owners also found themselves paying large amounts of money to repair or replace these items and constantly hoping that the repairs would work permanently.
2. Entering and Leaving Can Be Awkward
Another problem was the difficulty a front entry door created when it came to entering and exiting the coach.
If someone was sitting in the passenger’s seat, they had to move out of the way to allow the driver (or anybody else) to enter or exit.
Thus, every time an owner needed to fill his fuel tank, both he and his passenger had to stand, he had to leave, fill up, have the passenger stand again and then re-enter the coach. If he had to do something else, both parties had to do it all again!
3. Bad Weather Creates Further Issues
If it rained, all of this had to be done without the overhead protection of an over the door awning. Some coaches had these, but at first many did not. If people wanted them, they’d have to purchase them, and the cost was not cheap.
4. Minimal Floor Space Is An Ongoing Issue
Yet another problem created by front entry level doors is that they leave very little space for keeping books, maps, devices and other paraphernalia.
The dashboard is also too far away to reach comfortably.
5. High Steps Create Health Hazards
Many coaches with front entries also have very high entry steps. Many have grab rails, but they are nonetheless unsafe, especially for older travelers.
They make carrying things in an out of a unit awkward and have caused many to suffer falls.
6. Dirt Is Worse With Front Doors
When you enter any travel unit, you bring dirt in with you. Unless a front entry unit has hard flooring, this can become a real problem, especially if you are carrying items into the unit with you.
Do you stop at the top of the steps to remove or wipe off your shoes, or do you walk through the coach to the kitchen to offload your items and risk messing up your floors and carpeting?
This is a bigger problem than most people think!
Front Door Improvements Haven’t Helped Much
There have been a few improvements such as external overhead front door awnings and additional front storage areas, but they are only minimal.
The high entry stairs have caused fall problems for some people and are still difficult for others to climb in order to enter a coach.
Some people find ways to deal with these issues, but they are nonetheless problematic.
Side Entry Door Benefits
Before the bus type RV became popular these things were not problems because entering through the side was the only option people had.
Over time, manufacturers realized that they had caused problems by creating front entry RV doors, and it became apparent that changes needed to take place.
A few years ago they started producing recreational vehicles with entry doors that were located behind passenger seats instead of in front of them. Some even went back to placing them in the middle of the coach again.
All opened onto hard floors rather than carpet.
- the middle awning protected the entry,
- steps could be lowered and thus safer,
- floors were more protected from dirt and easier to keep clean,
- groceries and other items could be delivered directly into the kitchen where shoes could easily be removed if necessary.
- the front passenger area now allowed for more foot room and solid flooring,
- nobody had to move out of the way to let another passenger exit the coach and
- there was now plenty of room for storing devices, comfort items and even food.
It was a compromise, but these changes made a huge difference in travel comfort and safety.
People Still Buy Buses
Despite these benefits, RVers are still buying front entry coaches, probably because they don't understand the hardships they provide.
They may think it’s a matter of personal taste, but likely do not realize that it's a matter of common sense.
In my mind, the easier and simpler one can keep things, the better off he will be.
Bus type RVs are usually costly and do look really nice, but one needs to ask himself if it is better to be comfortable and safer or to look good.
For my part, the mid entry RV is the best choice.
I’ve owned both models and can tell you from experience that I would never buy a front entry unit again because the benefits of having a mid level entry coach are just too good.
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.
© 2019 Sondra Rochelle
Sondra Rochelle (author) from USA on November 24, 2019:
Thanks. I hope the info will help RVers.
Liz Westwood from UK on November 24, 2019:
You have written a balanced article, which puts the plus points and negatives of the position of doors in RVs. This article is a great resource for anyone considering an RV purchase.