Facing Fears at the Florida RV Supershow

Tiffin MotorhomesTravel Guides
Placeholder ImageTampa RV Show 01 18 2023 2
Written by Steve Blume

The Florida RV Supershow, held in Tampa at the Florida State Fairgrounds, is one of the largest RV shows in the world. The next one is January 17-21, 2024, and my wife and I will be parked in our Tiffin just outside the gate for the third year in a row. Every manufacturer and supplier in the industry is there, with over 2 million feet of exhibition space and more than 1,500 brand new RVs from hundreds of manufacturers. Many use this opportunity to launch new products, and I understand Tiffin has a few surprises coming up for this one!

Why do I want to go so bad? My non-RV friends don’t understand since I already have a fairly new Tiffin. Am I shopping for a new one? Honestly, I go because I am a sponge when it comes to learning everything about my coach, and am on a constant quest for knowledge. Plus, like most owners, in the back of our mind we are always shopping for our next one. Besides, who doesn’t want to go to Florida in January!

The 2022 show has a special place in my heart since it was my first time dry camping in my new 2021 Tiffin 38KA, and I was scared to death. My wife and I are not new to camping. Like many of you, we started with tents then graduated to popups, travel trailers and finally a fifth wheel. Grandkids kept showing up to stay with us, which we considered a good problem, so the “sleeps four” fifth wheel had to go. We traded our trailer and truck for a new “sleeps eight” Tiffin Allegro Red 38KA. This floor plan with bunks was a perfect choice.

Some people are born with a wrench in their right hand. Others, like me, take a while to learn which hand is the right one. I am not mechanical. At home, I once cut a hole in our bedroom wall behind the TV to hide wires only to discover a perfect square missing in the fold down ironing board on the other side. That same lack of mechanical aptitude carries over into my RV life. My DIY repairs usually create two more.

“We only stay in RV parks with full hookups,” I said many times when talking to friends who boasted of lithium batteries, solar panels and all sorts of electronic stuff I didn’t understand. They would go on to tell me they could go off the grid for months at a time. Since I actually like the grid and don’t know the difference between an amp and a watt, it was all Greek to me. I did know, however, that I wanted to go to the Tampa show and none of those sites were available. It was time to face my fears.

The people who actually planned ahead snatched the hookup options months ago, but the website mentioned overnight RV parking in the huge lot just outside the gate. Dry camping is second nature to most experienced RVer, but it is scary if you have never actually done it. Yes, tents and popups are dry camping, but there is a huge difference in a Class A motorhome. Would I ruin my batteries? Would our water last? What if our tanks got full? I envisioned rows of campers parked tightly only inches apart with slides in and no generators allowed. I told myself we could leave immediately if it was a disaster. My nervous call to confirm there was a spot for us was actually answered by a live person, who laughingly set me straight. She confirmed there were still spaces available for us for the four days, slides were fine, and everyone there would probably be running a generator. Whew!

We cautiously arrived in our Tiffin just after the gates opened the first day of the show. Parking attendants quickly guided us across a level neatly mowed grass area to within 100 yards of the show entrance. Setup was fast and easy without hookups. Press the leveling and slide buttons and voila, it was perfect! I remembered in our new Tiffin walkthrough the salesman mentioned a generator setting that starts it if the battery power drops, and a quick reference to our owners manual enabled me to set up Auto Generator Start and check one more thing off my worry list.

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This show was huge! We especially couldn’t wait to walk through all the Tiffins side by side and understand the model differences. There had to be at least 30 of them, so we were not disappointed. Those grandkids will outgrow bunks some day and we should start looking now. I was surprised when Tiffin’s best salesman, Bob Tiffin, was sitting in one of the coaches and introduced himself. We used the rare opportunity to share how much we loved ours.

There were 450 vendor booths spread throughout two huge exhibit halls offering places to go and every product imaginable to improve our RV lifestyle. Freightliner helped me sign up for their virtual two day school, Camp Freightliner, which is awesome. It covers everything related to operating and maintaining a diesel pusher, presented on an easy to understand level. Onan and AquaHot had technical people to answer any questions and assure me I was not breaking anything parked there at the fairgrounds. I proudly returned to my coach outside the gates with my new finds from the exhibit halls, a collapsing stool and hand painted welcome sign. Many new campgrounds and RV resorts were handing out discount cards.

Free seminars were held throughout each day and also provided a much needed break. I particularly enjoyed the Cummins seminars on diesel engines and generators. We also sat through the Alaska caravan tours presentation that we hope to do in the future.

If you follow YouTube RV channels, all your favorites were at the show doing meetups, live streams and filming new shows. They were everywhere!

There is no buyer's remorse here. We took this opportunity to walk through not only Tiffin motorhomes, but competitors as well. Everyone hopes to feel good about their purchase decision down the road, so after comparing ours to all the others in the same price range, we feel pretty dang smart.

Campfire by RV
Solo Women R Vers Facebook Group Meetup

RVers are mostly happy social people, which pretty much describes us. We have discovered that sitting in front of your RV, not beside it, indicates to folks walking by that you are open to talking. Sitting in front with a propane campfire draws people like a moth to a flame. We have learned so much from campfire visitors about RVs, places to visit and tips and tricks. Our next door neighbor was hosting daily meetups at her site with her Solo/Women RVers Facebook group.They warmly accepted me, and according to the group administrator Diana Stoltz, “We are not anti men. We are women supporting other women who don't have a travel partner and don’t want to miss out on the experience of the RV lifestyle.” Some of the members did not even own one yet, but were planning to purchase in the future.

We have come a long way thanks to that first experience. I no longer fear dry camping for multiple days and feel a new level of freedom. My batteries were still charged and my waste tanks were only a third full. Having our home on wheels parked near the entrance was perfect. We learned to enter early before the crowds, come back to the RV for lunch and rest, then go back to the show at the less crowded end of the day.

If you are seeking a grand adventure that is different, take your Tiffin and venture down to Tampa in January!