Saturday, March 29, 2014

RV Show

I went to my first RV Show last weekend with my brothers and sister in law, who are long time full-timers. It was all the way out in Glendale at Cardinals' Stadium, but a beautiful spring Sunday in Arizona made it a nice day out, and we stopped for lunch on the way home.

I went with the hopes of seeing some small (~20') travel trailers like I've eyed on the internet, but never been inside of. There were a few examples, plus a lot of larger, beautiful beasts that make one drool. Mindful of my budget and ability to tow, set up, and maintain such a monstrosity on my own, I only went inside a couple that were larger than about 25 feet. Until we came to the fifth wheels.

One of my brothers, who has lots of experience with a variety of recreational vehicles, advised me to consider a fifth wheel instead of a travel trailer. He pointed out the benefit of towing ease and  longer floor plans. He said I could tow a 26-28' fifth wheel easier than a 20' travel trailer. Wow, did that throw a whole new spin my way.

I haven't made up my mind yet, but I am looking at some different options. The smallest fifth wheel trailer with a single slide out I've been able to find online is 26.5 feet (with the exception of Escapes or Scamps which don't have a shower stall). That's a little more trailer than I need, but if it would tow easily, the extra room might be nice. And the extra storage space would definitely be nice! They are more expensive than my original budget plan, so that's also a consideration, but I might be able to find an affordable used one.

My Walter Mitty dreaming continues, as does my web surfing.

Saturday, January 25, 2014

Which Trailer?

I have some specific ideas of what I'm looking for in a travel trailer, and a few requirements. When I first started thinking about buying an RV, I immediately decided I would buy a Casita Spirit 17' travel trailer. I especially liked the size and shape, but also the fact the I could leave the large dinette made into a bed and still have a little dinette during the day. But after spending hours (and hours!) looking at designs, I've found a few other floor plans that I think I like even better.

I'd like something that's around 20', with a small slideout. It's amazing how much roomier a trailer feels with just an extra foot on the side to move the couch out of the way. It opens up the living area quite a lot.

I want a bed that can stay a bed during the day. I want to make it up once, put some pretty throw pillows and blankets on it and not have to unmake it each morning before I can have my breakfast.

I'd rather have a couch with a little moveable table than a traditional dinette. I find dinettes uncomfortable, and I want something I can lounge on while reading or watching TV. I always eat my dinner in front of the TV at home, using a tray table pulled up to my easy chair, so this would suit me nicely.

A shower stall with a door or curtain in the bathroom, rather than the whole bathroom being the shower stall, is a must. I've heard some folks complain about the inconvenience of everything getting wet and having to wipe it all down after every shower. Many of them resort to taking sponge baths to avoid that hassle.

I don't want the bed right in front of the door. I'd rather have them on opposite ends of the trailer. And the TV (a NECESSITY for me) needs to be positioned where it can be seen easily from the galley, the couch and the bed.

With these features in mind, I have searched the web for travel trailer floor plans to find some that would fit the bill for me.

Saturday, January 11, 2014

Choosing what's right for me

I grew up in a camping family. When I was very young, we started out tent camping, but quickly moved up to a used travel trailer. When I was a teenager, my dad bought an old motor home which we named the Tramper, and we vacationed in it for many years until it died in a meadow in Montana. So I've experienced it all, and I have some definite preferences.

It's a major decision choosing between a motor home and a travel trailer. (No, I'm not considering living 5-6 months a year in a tent, folks.) Advantages of a motor home are obvious:
  1. Security. You can pull into a rest area, campground or truck stop and never have to unlock your door if you just want to make a meal and/or go to bed. 
  2. Backing up. I've never towed anything, but I have driven and backed up the Tramper, so I know I can do that.
  3. Stealth camping. If your rig is small enough, you can park lots of places and not be detected that you are actually camping.
But there are some major drawbacks, two in particular:
  1. Investment. Motor homes are more expensive than travel trailers. 
  2. Mobility. You are either stuck where you camp, or you must pack up your whole home to run into town for bread and milk. Plus if you have a breakdown that puts it in the shop, you are stuck in a hotel room without wheels and relying on public transportation.
Now, some folks drive a motor home and tow a small vehicle (nicknamed a "Toad") for their errand and sightseeing runs. But the economical advantage and convenience of not towing something and being a bit more stealth go right out the window with that approach. Plus you have two engines to maintain while on the road. That is not for me.

Travel trailers solve the motor homes' two main disadvantages:
  1.  Expense. You could pick up a pretty nice used trailer for under $10,000 and find a used tow vehicle for less than that.
  2. Mobility. Park and set up your trailer, then jump in your vehicle and go off to see the sights.
I'm about 90% certain a small travel trailer and used van or pickup with a shell is the best option for me. I know I will want to camp in most locations for several days or even weeks, and I don't want to be without a vehicle for touring. Lots of women who have never towed a vehicle in their lives until retirement learn to do it, and I am confident I can, too. And I WILL learn to back it up! No being restricted to pull-through spaces for me.

So the hunt is on. I'm no where near ready to buy yet. I still have 2-3 years to work! But I'm doing research to find the best size, brand, floor plan, and features to fit my travel plans. I spend hours on the internet looking at models and reading full-timers blogs. I've learned a lot so far, and think I will be well equipped to make a good decision and a great purchase when my new adventure draws close.

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Looking forward

I'm looking forward to my retirement when I will head out in my RV. This blog is in preparation for documenting my adventures. Retirement is still a couple years away, but I think about it every day. Right now I'm living my "Walter Mitty Life", dreaming about the days ahead.