As a fulltimer on the road for the past four years, I recently had a chat about RVs with my clueless friend Maureen the “road” dreamer.
Maureen: Your Jazz (30-ft fifth-wheel trailer) looks SO stylish! I’ve been googling Class C and Airstream trailers… man, Class C would be an INVESTMENT! I’m just curious, what were the features that were important to you and John in choosing an RV? It is really overwhelming to look at the millions of choices, so I can see that narrowing down the “must haves” would be really important.
Levonne: Okay, there were several requirements for us. We were in the market for a fifth-wheel because of its ease of towing. We wanted something under 30 feet so that we could camp easily in all venues, including public parks. Within that parameter though, we wanted maximum living space. We wanted a closet in which to hang clothes in the event we got jobs while still living in the RV. I wanted the ability to stand and make the bed. (Crawling around in a cramped sleeping space to tuck a sheet had become too hard on my body.)
We wanted big windows so that we could take advantage of views wherever we were. We wanted our door entry in the rear side rather than middle side so as to enter with the view of the entire interior ahead of us in one direction. A sofa and built-in dinnette were preferable to two easy chairs and a moveable table and chairs. These were our major considerations based on the fact that we intended to take an extended trip over several months and might even live in our RV while resettling in a new community and beginning jobs.
The loaded tow weight of the 5th wheel had to fit with our truck. Basics on most units of the size we were interested in are: fridge, stove, storage and kitchen sinks (we looked for reasonable counter space). The entertainment center location was important (we wanted eye level vs. looking up high at the TV screen). Shower and toilet were other basics.
I told Maureen that she wanted to think about what she wanted to do with her RV, how far she would travel, how often, did she want to tow an RV or have her RV able to tow a car? Did she want a vehicle separate from her “living space” to tool around town in once she reached a destination? How much did she want to invest financially, how long would she keep it, did she already have a vehicle that she would use for towing or would she buy that also? Did she want something used or new. What sleeping arrangements must the RV have?
I explained that it is a process to narrow it all down. Go look at some RVs one day at a large RV place and see what feels right and good for you. Pay attention to size, number of slide outs, number of sleep spaces, configuration of furniture, the quality of the build. I told Maureen that of course John would give her an additional list of things to pay attention to related to the tow-vehicle engine, outside storage, water and sewage tank volume and other things that I didn’t even know what he looked for and why.
Maureen: YEAH — my own, personal report! Thanks so much for all the insights. It really helps stimulate my thinking… And, I’m the only one thinking about this, since Paul said, “let me know what you decide….” Which means, he’ll go along but isn’t really THERE yet. So, I’ll have to take the first few steps myself before he gets interested.
I definitely want to be able to drive around and sightsee – run to the store, etc. That screams for a 5th wheel and a truck, but I hate to give up the convenience of kids napping while the driver is driving… SO, that begs the question that the “RV” be SMALL enough to handle/have fuel efficiency of a vehicle… I can really see the trade-offs developing here, because no size RV really has the fuel efficiency or handling to “tool around in”…
Maureen was definitely getting it but she had one final question: “I dread to ask where all the poop/pee goes — sorry to be so indelicate, but that thought really grosses me out. There’s more to this than meets the eye.”
I explained to my clueless friend that in the RV world, you have sites with “hookups” meaning electric, water and sewer and without hookups and that means your RV stands on its own for a period of camping time. When you have hookups, somebody has to hook up the water connection (a hose from the water source to your RV), plug in the electric (to a 50 or 30 amp receptacle) and hook the sewer pipe to the sewer drain. All relatively easy and you learn the steps for utmost sanitation. Some people don’t know how to do unhook and it can get messy. So you want to know how to do it for your upmost pleasure and comfort. Maureen concluded that she would be sure to get a commitment from Paul to handle the hookups before they plunge into the world of RV ownership.
What are some of your questions about choosing the right RV?