Monthly Archives: January 2015

Our New RV

RV_Outside

Our first night

Introduction

If you’ll remember from our previous post, we went over what RVs are out there and that we made the decision to get a Class C.  It took some time and looking but we finally found one.  This is the story of how we went about our search and what we did to get it.

Our Search

We attended a couple of RV shows and looked at the RVs.  We found the floor plan we like — back bedroom with some space on either side of the bed, plenty of storage and not too many slides.  We decided to get a used RV since they depreciate like a car.  There’s no sense buying something and having it worth virtually nothing when we were done.  However, we had to settle for taking some depreciation.  If we bought something that wasn’t going to lose much value, it would be so old that we’d have to put a lot of money into it.

We looked at a Class A that wasn’t much bigger than a Class C.  It had some issues and we decided we didn’t really want something as old as that one.  We found a Class C off Craigslist and went to look at it.  We really liked the floor plan and it looked to be in good shape.  We started the loan paperwork with our bank and decided to look at some more just to make sure.

We found two more on Craigslist and looked them over one day.  The first one looked okay but wasn’t really any better than the original one.  The second one looked quite a bit better.  It had so much storage space and was so roomy inside.  The owner used it for tailgating at football parties.  We told the original couple we weren’t interested any more and told the bank about the new RV.

Our Experience

We had a hard time with the bank.  Not because the loan was terribly hard or anything, but because they were slow.  We had to get a lot of small details about the RV from the owner and the bank had to get the title and power of attorney from the seller.  We had to wait quite a while because the seller’s bank took so long to get the payoff amount to our bank.

The bank called us one day and told us they were ready to close and it had to be done the next day.  The loan offer had a certain life to it, and they started the clock with the first RV we looked at.  The offer was going to expire the next day.  We took off from work a little early to get to the bank and then had to wait while they messed with the computer and all.  We finally got out of there and drove across town to pick up our new toy. We spent some time with the owner and looked over the systems and drove it home.

The New RV

rv_front

The front sitting area

rv_kitchen

The kitchen area

Final Thoughts

It has been a real experience to buy an RV.  We had some frustrations but are happy we did it. We have our plans, of course, but those will come in due time.  In a future post I will go over lessons learned

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Which RV Should We Get?

The Problem

You want to go out RVing and it may be on weekends or it may be full time. You have pets you want to bring along, or kids, or both. The idea is to get out and spend some quality time together and save on hotels and eating out. There are so many different types of RVs. Which one would be the best to get? The answer, as in so much in life, is “it depends.” They all have strengths and weaknesses, and each meets a different need. To illustrate all this, I’ll relate to you our story about picking the right kind of RV for us.

Our Situation

We are looking to get an RV to do us, the kids and the grandkids on weekends and some long trips. In a few years, when the kids have graduated high school, we want to go on the road and really travel. We’ll have to sleep about 8, including us, while the kids are still at home. We will probably stay in campgrounds most of the time until then. We’ll need storage for food, clothes, toys, and all that. Once we get on the road it will be just the two of us and maybe a pet. We will still need storage since we won’t have a house to store our stuff. We don’t have a pickup or big SUV right now and would like to bring a small car with us when we get on the road. And we’d like to find a single RV that will do for now and the future.

Tent Campers and Small Towables

We immediately threw out tent campers. We don’t want to do a lot of setup and teardown when we are alone. Most don’t have a good bathroom or storage. The canvas doesn’t provide much insulation. Small towables might work but would require buying a tow vehicle. We could use the back of the tow vehicle for extra storage and it would give us mobility while we leave the trailer behind. The kids could sleep in a tent. In the end we decided against it because a tent isn’t a great way to sleep 6; we wouldn’t have much storage while bringing the kids; there isn’t much room for us on the road if we get some rainy days.

Truck Campers

We considered a truck camper because of the ease of use, extreme maneuverability and storing it at home. They have more storage than the small towables, but not much. They’re also a lot cheaper on the insurance because they are considered cargo under the truck insurance. We could also tow a trailer with a motorcycle or an enclosed trailer for more storage. But for us it would require buying a truck in the first place and it wouldn’t be able to hold everyone we want to take on weekends. Plus, the small space inside is still an issue.

Travel Trailers

These have a lot more room and storage. We could buy a bunkhouse model that would sleep all of us. In the end we decided against this as well. It would require a big pickup that would not be able to bring everyone along. They are also difficult to tow in the wind, even with an equalizer hitch. Which leaves…

Class Cs and Class As

They have plenty of storage and sleep enough. They have the towing capacity to bring along a small car or trailer with a motorcycle. We have enough space inside for everyone to sit while driving. The gas mileage sucks, though.

Our Final Decision

In the end we decided on a Class C. It’s just big enough to meet all our requirements. Class As are too big to get into some campgrounds. The biggest drawback to this choice is the extra insurance.

The Takeaway

Carefully consider what your needs and wants are. Do your research and talk to people that own RVs. Go to an RV show. It might be a good idea to also rent an RV and get a feel for how staying in one is.

The Different Kinds of RVs

 

The Different Types of RVs

People travel in different ways and there are so many different types of campers. Each one is designed to meet specific needs. Of course, each type has its good and bad points. It’s important to understand these if you’re looking to buy an RV.


Teardrops

A modern teardrop trailer

Description:

These are the really small trailers that look like, uh, teardrops. They generally sleep two and have enough space inside to sit up and watch some TV. The back opens on the outside to house a small kitchen space with some storage for kitchen utensils and maybe some food. They don’t have refrigerators, A/C or bathrooms.

Pluses:

Pluses include that they are light and towable by just about anything. If it’s just the two of you and you’re curious about camping, this can be an affordable way to find out.

Minuses:

Minuses are no storage space and you still need somewhere with a sink, toilet and shower.


Class B (vans)

A Dodge Sprinter van

Description:

These come in some different sizes, from those based on cargo vans to those based on Sprinters. They are usually self contained RVs that have all the amenities you would expect — a shower, refrigerator, small kitchen and a bed. They have some storage and also have heating and A/C.

Pluses:

Pluses are that they include all the comforts of home and they are easily maneuverable. The ones based on the Sprinter chassis have enough tow capacity that you can also bring along some toys on a trailer.

Minuses:

The biggest drawback to these is that they have very little room. They don’t sleep more than two and you have to love each other very much to survive many days being stuck inside of the weather turns. They’re also fairly expensive. New ones can cost as much as a bus.


Truck Campers

A Lance truck camper

Description:

These are the ones you see sitting on the backs of pickups. The lighter ones can be put on the back of a smaller pickup but the hard side ones need stronger trucks. They have a bed and dinette. The larger ones have showers, toilets and kitchens. Some also have slides to make more room inside.

Pluses:

Pluses include maneuverability and the ability to tow more with the pickup. You can also take the camper off the truck while you use it for other errands.

Minuses:

Minuses include small holding tanks and that you need a heavy duty pickup for the larger campers.


Tent Campers

A Jayco tent camper

Description:

Tent campers are the bottom rung of the campers. They sometimes have bathrooms and small kitchens. They sleep four and sometimes have heating and A/C.

Pluses:

Pluses include some of the comforts of home, easy towability and affordability.

Minuses:

Minuses include lots of canvas, sometimes difficult setup and that you still need a campground.


Travel Trailers

A Jayco travel camper

Description:

These are the ones pulled behind pickups and vans. The smaller ones can be towed behind smaller pickups but everything else pretty much needs a more powerful truck. These are pretty much small apartments on wheels. They have beds, sleep up to 8 people, have bathrooms and small kitchens. Some also have slides.

Pluses:

Pluses include lots of amenities, heating and A/C and more room than popup campers or truck campers.

Minuses:

Minuses include that you need pickup and towing is difficult sometimes. Having a weight distributing hitch helps.


Class C

A Class C RV

Description:

These are the ones that look like moving vans. They are based upon E-350 or E-450 trucks and have amenities like a bedroom, extra sleeping room, storage inside and out, bathroom with shower, kitchen and heating and A/C. They also have a towing capacity big enough to bring along a small car. They aren’t as easy to move around so driving them can be a pain in everyday situations.

Pluses:

It’s nice that you can just pull over and slip into the back, or that someone can make lunch while still going down the road.

Minuses:

Drawbacks include low fuel mileage.


Fifth Wheels

A Fifth Wheel RV

Description:

Fifth wheels are like travel trailers but a lot bigger. They also hook into the bed of the pickup instead of hitching up to the back bumper. They have everything that travel trailers do but weigh a lot more, too. Some of them have islands in the kitchen and full size residential refrigerators. Most also have slides.

Pluses:

Pluses include lots of room and lots of amenities. Towing is a lot easier than towing a travel trailer because the trailer hooks right into the pickup’s bed. It is a lot more stable.

Minuses:

Minuses include that you need a big pickup and fuel mileage towing something that big suffers.


Class A

A Class A

Description:

The Mercedes of RVs! Class As have the most room and ride very smooth. They have large holding tanks and upscale trim like tile and wood floors. They generally don’t sleep as much as a travel trailer or fifth wheel but that’s because the extra room is taken up for, uh, room. Of all the RVs, these are the ones that are truly like a home on wheels.

Pluses:

Pluses include lots of room and residential style appointments. Class As ride smooth and have large holding tanks.

Minuses:

Minuses include low gas mileage and the difficulty in maneuvering. They are too large to fit into some campgrounds.


Final Words

An RV can provide years of fun for the family. It’s important that you do your research and know how you want to travel. Go to RV shows and dealerships and look at the different kinds. Try to envision yourself and how you would do everyday tasks like cooking, sleeping and gathering around to visit. They can cost quite a bit so make sure you know what you’re getting and why.