Buying an RV was a bucket-lister for me. You know, one of those things on your list that you want to do before kicking the bucket? Yep, I’ve always loved camping, and traveling all over our country was high on my wish list.
Jeff wasn’t as convinced. He’s not a sit-still kinda guy. He’s always doing something and never really enjoyed sitting by a campfire. But the idea of getting out of 110+ degree Phoenix heat was appealing to him. And, he really wanted to make my dreams come true. (queue the mushy rom-com tears).
We began our on-the-road dreams looking at RV’s. Honestly, it was something to do on hot weekend days. I’m not afraid to admit we even looked at some that cost more than most people’s houses. No, we weren’t going to buy one of those but window shopping is always fun.
There are a lot of different options when looking at ways to be on the road. From Class A and Class C motorhomes to travel trailers and 5th Wheels, and a bunch of other options thrown in.
I was convinced I wanted a motorhome. I had a few key reasons:
- I get migraines and wanted to be able to nap while driving in something other than the passenger seat.
- The idea of fixing meals or using the restroom while driving down the road was appealing (I’ve since learned this isn’t very realistic and the dog still needs potty breaks too).
- I get antsy and need to move around. Even if it’s just to stand behind the seat for a few minutes.
- And then there was space. I had envisioned travel trailers to be these tiny little things, like the pop up or cab over campers I grew up around.
When I was thinking about all this, I had long 8 or 10 hour drive days in my head. As an amateur autocross racer, Jeff has driven long distances towing cars behind him. I thought we’d be doing something similar.
Here’s the Truth
Towing a trailer or driving an RV is very different than towing a car trailer, boat or most any other type of trailer. It takes a LOT more out of you. (And yes, I am learning to drive while towing the trailer, watch for videos soon).
Most people recommend driving no more than 300 miles a day. At 60 miles per hour (you don’t drive as fast with a rig as you do in a car) that works out to about 6 hours when you include lunch and potty stops. And the trip is usually done by 3 or 4pm.
All that to say, I’ve discovered my reasons for getting a motorhome over a travel trailer didn’t really hold a lot of water. I don’t find those things an issue when I factor in that lunch break to get up, stretch and use the bathroom (in my own clean potty rather than a rest stop).
But, before I knew it would be fine, I had to make that decision to give it a try.
Let’s Get Serious
I remember walking by the 5th wheels at a show and seeing some of the price tags. They were as much as the motorhomes!
And then I looked in a travel trailer. It was just for fun. They didn’t have many motorhomes at this show and there was nothing else to do that day.
$25,000 for a brand new one of these? Wow, I had no idea they were that affordable! Or, at least compared to the $80k+ we were looking at for some of the smaller RVs.
OK, Jeff, do a little math for me…
Toad vehicle $20k
A Toad vehicle is the car you pull behind your RV for those places an RV just can’t go. At a minimum, we’d be out $100k for a decent RV set up the way we would want.
Travel Trailer $25k
Tow vehicle $0
We already owned a vehicle we could use for towing so there’d be no extra expense there.
$25k vs $100k? We can handle that!
And so we started to look. Or rather Jeff did. He’s meticulous in his research. We decided what we really wanted.
A list of our requirements.
- Length – Under 32′. We have an existing RV garage we wanted to be able to store it in.
- Height – Under 11’9″
- Weight – Under 9200lbs so we could tow it with our 2015 Expedition EL with tow package
- Place for working. We both have businesses that we can work from the road but that means having enough room for two of us to be working on laptops without having to put them away to eat a meal at the table.
- Place for an adult guest to sleep. We occasionally travel for tournaments or other events and bring a friend who is also competing so it would be nice to have a place for a full size adult to sleep.
- Couch/TV placement – This may seem like a weird one but we love to snuggle on the couch when the weather outside isn’t great. The arrangement for this was actually pretty important to us.
- Fridge/Microwave – We were really hoping not to get the super small appliances that typically come in trailers.
- Large shower – This wasn’t a height issue but a space issue. I’m a bit claustrophobic and need space to feel calm.
- Bonus – enough storage for longer trips.
With these requirements in mind, Jeff looked at EVERY floor plan available in a travel trailer. We narrowed it down to 3 options.
Grand Design Imagine 2600 BH
This one was the starter option. It would have worked for us JUST to test out if we truly liked this lifestyle. We knew it would not be right for the long term but its crazy scary putting out that much cash and not knowing whether you’ll love or hate it. Well, I knew I’d love it but Jeff wasn’t so sure yet.
Grand Design Imagine MK2670
The second model was a great choice in many ways and exceeded some of our expectations. The built-in office and island were very appealing. However, there were a few BIG negatives to the rig. You couldn’t access the fridge without the slide extended. That meant no lunches on the side of the road. All of the models had the theater seats instead of the sofa bed that would have worked better for us. And it was a bit above what we had budgeted.
Grand Design Reflection 287RLTS
The third option was darn near perfect for us, and about $4k above what we had budgeted.
What is a girl to do?
We went back to look at the different trailers a few times.
We thought about it A LOT.
We even made a list of our requirements and gave each a numerical value so we could compare logically instead of emotionally.
In the end, the third option was the winner. I wish I could say it was the clear choice, but it wasn’t. There wasn’t a clear choice or the decision would have been easy. We had to make some concessions, not just on price but size. We decided we would have to build a larger garage but we could do that in 6 months or a year. We just didn’t feel like we could know if we loved the lifestyle if we were settling for things all the time.
Three trips in and we’re sure we made the right choice!
There’s only one big thing we learned AFTER making the final purchase. And that’s the truth about weight and tow vehicles.
Had we known this, we may have made a different decision only because it did add to our overall cost of entry. We will end up upgrading the tow vehicle after all. We’ll be sharing a post about that soon for those of you that geek out on the numbers!