How does one pick an RV?

Discussion in 'Beginning RVing' started by nomadmom, Dec 30, 2007.

  1. nomadmom

    nomadmom New Member

    My family really wants an RV, but we don't know where to begin. We have no prior experience. What questions do we need to be asking ourselves to decide what is the most suitable RV for our family? Can anyone offer suggestions to us on which brands and options to look into?

    We are a family of five: 2 adults and three children. Children are small but growing fast, do we need a bigger rig to grow into?
    We are concerned about gas mileage due to gas prices (not so much global warming). Is it safe to assume a smaller travel trailer is more economical to haul than a 5th or Class C?

    We would like to travel in the summer and winter months. Which rig is geared for four seasons?

    We would like to travel several times a year over the weekend with 1-2 long trips back east. Those trips would probably last two weeks at the most. Would a travel trailer be too small in this case? My husband says his greatest concern is finding something that is comfortable for the entire family to travel in and enjoy. Although we are not necessarily looking to travel in luxury. Our family is close and knows how to get along very well with what we have. I would like to find a towable unit so that we could have full use of the vehicle while the rig is parked.

    I am looking at a Bigfoot Travel Trailer 3000 T2801 Model. Would that be a good rig to start with? The Specs on that are
    Dry weight 7338#.
    GVWR is 9,980#
    Hitch weight is 875#.
    Average Axle rate is 2x 5500.

    Which vehicle would be the best to tow that TT? If anyone could offer any feedback about that particular make, it would be great.

    Any help or suggestions are greatly appreciated.
     
  2. C Nash

    C Nash Senior Member

    Re: How does one pick an RV?

    Heather, welcome to the forum and this is a good way to start getting information. Just remember it is just opinions offered here and generally what meets each of our needs. Visit rv shows, dealers and look at different floor plans. Spend time in the units and make no rash decisions. Decide on a budget and look at units that will fit it. Give us a price range and we can offer better opinions. Are you planning on new or used?
     
  3. Steve H

    Steve H Senior Member

    RE: How does one pick an RV?



    Wow...that's a BIG question!

    My wife and I are alsofairly new to Rving. For us, there were two main factors in finding the "right" RV. Budget and floor plan. A very experienced RV friend told us that when you walk into the RV for you, you will immediately know it. Funny...that is exactly what happened. After looking at several rigs and starting to get confused, we walked in this Springdale, wife fell in love with the floor plan, it was within our budget, bought it the next day.

    We already had a tow vehicle (Dodge 2500 Diesel) so that was not an issue. I have towed with both gas and diesels and I strongly recommend a diesel if you can swing it. My Dodge, especially, got great mileage while towing the 5ver (about 17 mpg towing and 21 otherwise) What I like about the diesel is the milage does not seem to drop nearly as drastically when towing as my gas trucks have. A family of five will require a Crew Cab truck! My new truck is a Chevy D/A which has been the best vehicle so far. Chevy, Dodge, Ford...they all have their pluses and minuses but all will do a good job for you.

    People are very "brand" loyal. There are so many to choose from. Spend some time here and at the other RV forums. They are an excellent source of information. Visit local dealers and attend any RV Shows if possible. RV people generally like to talk about their rigs. If you find yourself gassing up next to an RVer or sitting at a Rest Stop next to one, ask them!

    Anyway...you are embarking on a great adventure! Only wish we would have begun when our children were young. We did not start until they were grown and gone! Still, we are having a great time!

    Best of luck!
     
  4. DL Rupper

    DL Rupper Senior Member

    Re: How does one pick an RV?

    Most 5th wheels and travel trailers have floor plans that offer bunk beds. In fact, the newer floor plans have bunk bed rooms that have TVs, dressers and their own small bathroom. Great for kids, but big.
     
  5. nomadmom

    nomadmom New Member

    Re: How does one pick an RV?

    That is just the problem: I don't know if we should go new or used. I don't know if we should go big for the family or start small. I don't know if something too big will cause us too much stress because we don't know what we are doing. Many people on this thread mentioned a RV show and that sounds like excellent advice. There is supposed to be a couple scheduled out here in Pomona that I am going to try to make this year. My husband & I have always stated that we most definitely want to buy our truck used. I once bought a brand new SUV and learned that once I rolled it off the lot it depreciated immediately just by being declared used. I don't ever want to lose that kind of return on an investment. We will pay cash for our truck. We looked at a Ford 350 that someone wanted $13,000 for. It was beautiful to sit in and hear the engine hum, but it was gas and I am glad now that I have been on this forum that we passed it up. Deisel is the way to go so that we don't lose the gas mileage when we begin to tow.

    As far as budget, we don't know what is a fair amount of resources to budget towards such an investment. We own our home outright and won't have a mortgage to worry about. Everything we make goes to us, not creditors. We like it that way and think we might like to keep it that way and buy used, but we don't know what to look for and if we are getting suckered. If we buy small and used and eventually figure out what we like and want to upgrade, what are we supposed to do with the smaller unit? What if no one is interested in buying it?

    I just heard a report on the news that the economy is going down by the minute and particularly in RV sales. The focus on these manufacturers stated that each time the RV market froze our US ecomony went into recession too. They were kind of using it as barometer. My husband and I used a vacation planner that calculates gas mileage. Just to make one round trip to see my family back east will cost us over $2,000 in gas alone with a rig that runs 10 mi/gallon. I read somewhere that that is the average gas mileage of Class C, Class A and large 5th Wheels. I am concerned that price tage looming over us each time we want to vacation will deter us from ever using the RV. Of course we would make a trip like that just once a year, but I think if we had to weigh the cost each time we wanted to hook the rig up for the weekend and it ran in the hundreds or thousands of dollars we would just say, "Heck, lets forget it." If I buy something that big, I want to use it. Plus my family is very close and we really want to travel together without hotels and restaurants. I will be coming out of nursing school very soon as an R.N. and my husband will start a business out of our home in the next couple of years as an electrician. I think we could afford an RV? But we want to be wise with our resources all the same.

    We would chose the unit before we choose the tow vehicle to make sure we had enough power to tow it. That is why we wanted to make up our minds first on an RV before we purchased our truck. I do like the idea of a diesel and I am going to mention that to my husband and take that advice. My husband plans on using the truck in business when we are not towing. We just want to plan wisely and not be foolish with our money once God blesses us with some.

    Thank you for your advice. I will get a bit more aggressive and talk to some RV owners if I run into some and I will check out that Pomona Fairgrounds RV show.

    My father owns a 1989 5th wheel parked on some property in the desert that he said we could use to get our feet wet if we were interested. Is that a good idea to learn the ropes or will it lead to a bigger headache that scares us off from RVing for good? Of course we will need to rent a tow vehicle for that endeavor just in case we change our mind. Is that even available for rent?

    Thank you all so much for your input and answers. I really found them all helpful.
     
  6. DL Rupper

    DL Rupper Senior Member

    Re: How does one pick an RV?

    Hey nomadmom, welcome to the forum. Go use the 5th wheel and see if like staying in one. I was going to suggest that you should rent one (Class C) to get a feel for RVing. I have a 30 foot 5th wheel and after fulltiming for 13 years I still look at it and wonder about the wisdom of dragging it around the countryside. It seems big, but lots of folks haul 36 to 38 footers around and don't seem to mind.

    We get about 11.5 miles/gal towing so your estimate of 10 mile/gal is pretty well on. Think of it this way, every 100 miles towing will cost you approximately $34 at today's rate of $3.40/gal for diesel.

    Best advice is take your time deciding. Go to the RV shows because you can look lots of different types of RVs without a salesman bugging you the whole time. At the shows they will answer questions, but don't have time to just zero in on you. My experience at most dealerships is that they won't even let you look inside the RVs without following you around. Most of them keep the doors locked so you have get them to let you in. That's why the RV shows are the best place to look. Grandview Trailer Sales (Kenneth) is an exception to the rule. He gives good advice on the forum.
     
  7. Steve H

    Steve H Senior Member

    Re: How does one pick an RV?



    We bought used and have been pleased. Like you said about trucks...once off the lot they depreciate very quickly! Ours was about two years old and very well taken care of. One owner. Nice thing about used units is the original buyer dealt with all the glitches and problems associated with new units. He had added some nice shelving etc. Everything was in working order and has remained so.

    From my perspective, the advantage in a diesel goes past just mileage. With the price of diesel fuel climbing, sometimes it's a toss-up! However, I do like the torgue produced by the diesel for shear pulling power. Seems to make the job easier. Combine that with an Allison transmission and itis an attractive tow package.

    If it's helpful, we paid 12,500 out-the-doorfor our 5th wheel which included the hitch, brake controller and both installed. It was purchased from a dealer and like I said, two or three years old.We bought on a whim after a terrible "driving" vacation. Didn't consider updating at the time but I am sure it will eventually happen. Not too worried about selling it. We are getting our monies worth in enjoyment.

    Some of our best trips have been to a state park only 30 miles away! Don't think you have to travel cross-country to have fun or get your monies worth! Just getting away, sitting by a camp fire, visiting with others, eating good food etc. seems more fun while RVing!

    About using your fathers RV...only you can decide. I do know there is an incredible amount to learn and know to take a 5th wheel camping. Things like...how to run the furnace and refridgerator. Sometimes they work on propane, sometimes with electricity. I didn't know how to put down the awning...quite a process if you have never done it before. Then there is the 12 volt system. Some of your stuff will work off batteries the rest won't! It's not that it is difficult to become familiar with all this stuff but we were brand new to RV's and the luxuries they afford! Had to learn about the toilet and chemical thing! How to dump all the waste in the proper order at the proper time...just a plethoria of things to learn. I would hate to see you use a borrowed RV and perhaps not everything works (furnace, sink, whatever) and you become discouraged. When you purchase an RV most reputable dealers will spend a few hours showing you how to operate everything. If you biuy new, the dealers around here have you camp over in their lot to check everything out!

    Again, Best of Luck and have a Happy New Year!
     
  8. TexasClodhopper

    TexasClodhopper Senior Member

    Re: How does one pick an RV?

    I know where there is a good MH (motorhome) for less than $30,000. I don't know the owner, but I know the owner's sister, so I know how it was used to take the owner's dying wife from Houston to Louisiana to play at the casinos.

    See? That's how easy it is to jump in! Then, once you jump in, you start adjusting your lifestyle around your trips and travels. You plan your work around your vacations. You put off jobs so you can get away. You adjust so you can get out in the RV, and when you get back you start working on the next trip.

    See? It's easy to jump in! ;)
     
  9. DL Rupper

    DL Rupper Senior Member

    Re: How does one pick an RV?

    A good place to start is to get a good book on full time RVing. You don't need to full time to get a lot of info from the book. I believe Wal-Mart has a RVing 101 book in it's RV section (auto department). Another good book is on full time RVing authored by the Moeller's. Some of the material is probably dated by now, however, most of it will be helpful.
     
  10. nomadmom

    nomadmom New Member

    Re: How does one pick an RV?

    You guys have all been so wonderful. I am taking all of the advise offered. Texas, I believe you are right, we just have to jump in and we will make it happen. I will definitely be going to Walmart, Mr. Rupper and checking into those books. At the very least we will learn how to maintain our rig whichever one we decide on. I will hit the RV show this coming week. I am so excited. I may be back on the forum once again after finding some models we might like to get some feedback. Hope that is okay. We have other things we would like to do such as save for retirement and put money away for our children, but this is the only luxury we will be splurging on so I am sure we can manage. I will borrow my dad's 5th wheel first. I believe everything works on it because he had planned to live full-time in it once he lost his home in the Southern CA fires. Something else came through so he doesn't mind loaning it to us. That means we can begin looking at a tow vehicle. We will definitely buy used and (thank you Steve H.) we have been persuaded to go deisel for towing power. If the 5th wheel is too big and cumbersome for us then we will know and can downgrade to a travel trailer. What kind of gas mileage should we plan on for a smaller travel trailer? Steve H. I think is right, we won't need to travel coast to coast in order to enjoy our RV. Just being together as a family and away from the daily stresses of home will be enough. One more question: We are hoping to learn how to ski in the future. At the very least we want to be able to take our children to the snow for the holidays. We are thinking of such places as Wrightwood, Big Bear and Julian, CA, where the weather is relatively mild. They would be short weekend visits. Do we need to plan on seeking out a Four-Seasons RV or is that not necessary? Of course then there is always Lake Tahoe and then Colorado. Oh the places we can go :cool: I am so excited!!!

    My husband was leary of going to the RV show because we aren't ready to buy yet. I will pass the word on to him that the pressure is milder there than a dealership.

    Thank you guys all so much

    Nomad
     
  11. DL Rupper

    DL Rupper Senior Member

    Re: How does one pick an RV?

    Don't know if you really need a four season RV, but here is some food for thought. We have been spending the month of Dec in Florida where it's been in the 80's daytime and about 60 nighttime. Wednesday it is going to be in the low 50's daytime and 20 degrees at night in the Northern part of the State. Coldest temp in 5 years.
     
  12. brodavid

    brodavid Senior Member

    Re: How does one pick an RV?

    That is the same question we posed to the salesman at one of the RV dealerships. Was it a four season RV, and he look at us like what are you talking about. So we went to lunch and have not finished it yet.
     
  13. PattieAM

    PattieAM New Member

    Re: How does one pick an RV?

    Your Tow Vehicle will determine your capacity, then, you can check the various floor plans of units within the weight range. As to travel trailers, ones featuring a quad bunkhouse will most likely fit your needs if the rest of the floorplan is comfortable. (Gotta think of being 'stuck inside' for hours in foul weather). It's difficult, but try to think of future needs/camping style (5 years from now) and if financially able, get a unit that will fit those needs! But, remember your tow vehicle at all times as it may require replacing during your camping lifetime! Happy Hunting!
     
  14. nomadmom

    nomadmom New Member

    Re: How does one pick an RV?

    It sounds like many here are recommending a bunk house. Given what has been mentioned here too, it also sounds like we need to look into a four season RV. With that in mind, it looks as if our only option will be a 5th wheel. I'm going to start browing the internet to look at manufacturers that offer those floor plans. I don't know of many and I have never seen a TT with a bunk house but have heard they exist. Thanks for the advice.
     
  15. C Nash

    C Nash Senior Member

    Re: How does one pick an RV?

    There are a lot of manafactureres that offer the bunk bed floor plans in TT, 5th wheel and MHs. Tell hubby to not worry about looking and not buying. Its your $$$ and a salesman that don't like that means you probably shouldn't buy there. tell them up front you are shopping and looking at different models, price, construction and floorplans. If the salesperson is helpful keep his name and dealer. They will tend to run together after several visits.. A digital camera is very helpful in remembering. Have fun
     
  16. PattieAM

    PattieAM New Member

    Re: How does one pick an RV?

    Another tip while viewing, have the manufacturers brochures at hand, so when you are in a unit, you can put little stars next to the brochure floor plan and maybe even make notes in your tablet as to features you like/don't like. I recently stopped in a dealership and viewed about 11 travel trailers, and by having the brochures, I was able to come home and compare, weigh the pros/cons. (I have a popup, and had thought about trading it it). I fell in love with a Keystone Outback (hybrid) with the quad bunk (which I don't need), and the glide out bed on the side.....master bedroom space!!! But, it was interesting that what deterred me from wanting to trade in/up, was the toilet! My Fleetwood Niagara has a residential style china toilet (SeaLand Traveler-Lite), and it sits above the holding tank, so is rather high. In sitting on some of the other models, they felt way too low (I've got a knee issue) and that bothered me!

    So when viewing, lay on the beds, (I was afraid of being claustrophobic), pretend to prepare a meal and serve it, pretend to use the potty/shower. If you aren't comfortable doing any of those things in the models, they aren't the models for you.

    Best wishes and take your time and have fun viewing all the models out there.
     
  17. DL Rupper

    DL Rupper Senior Member

    Re: How does one pick an RV?

    Hey PattieAM, that pretending to use features/appliances was an interesting take on what to do. I know my wife always pretends or thinks about taking a shower. If the shower is in the bedroom with clear Plexiglas or skylight bubbles the RV is definitely out.

    I'm more interested in can I really see the TV from the La-Z-boys. It's surprising how many RVs put the uncomfortable couch in front of the TV and put the La-Z-Boys at odd angles to the entertainment center. Almost seems like the designer has never lived in an RV.

    The TV issue is one of the reasons we don't like motor homes for full-timing. Most have awkward floor plans for viewing the TV. They ( designers) tend to think 2 big leather couches facing each other and not the TV, which is located up high by the ceiling, is how we want to sit to see the TV.

    In my opinion, 2 La-Z-Boys directly facing the TV is the for comfortable way to go RVing. ;)
     
  18. nomadmom

    nomadmom New Member

    Re: How does one pick an RV?

    You guys are cracking me up now. :laugh: Rupper I have to agree with your wife! Just looking at the downloadable brochures and I can tell that shower isn't going to work. Especially with a large family. But the pretending, that is hilarious. I'll make sure my hubby hits the LaZ Boys right away. I checked out the Artic Fox TT & 5th w/bunkhouses. Very heavy units. We're talking about 15,000# GVWR. Can anyone explain how that might ride on the road?
     
  19. DL Rupper

    DL Rupper Senior Member

    Re: How does one pick an RV?

    HEAVY. You would probably need a 1 ton diesel to move it. however, if you go for the bunkhouse models that have 1/2 baths and entertainment centers, they will all be BIG and fairly heavy. It seems to me that Kenneth at Grandview Trailer Sales has a model or 2 of Brookside's by Sunny Brook or maybe Sunset Creek by Sunny Brook that had bunk models. Regal by Fleetwood has a bunkhouse model. It is the latest thing in 5th wheels so most manufactures will have models with bunkhouses. I would however stay away from Forest River products. Forest River seems to have lots of issues. Check out Forest River Issues thread under General RVing subject.
     
  20. nomadmom

    nomadmom New Member

    Re: How does one pick an RV?

    UPDATE: Because of all the helpful information given here we were able to research the right units that would fit us. We have definitely decided on a tow vehicle. Whichever RV we decided on, we know it won't weigh less than 10K. Based on that, we were able to lock in our tow vehicle and begin drawing up a savings plan that should make our dream a reality in ten months. That is the first step; a major one, and really what we had hoped to accomplish at this juncture.


    We have decided to borrow a 5th wheel from a family member to get a feel for it and gain experience before we decided on the model we want to purchase. We will most likely finance our rig, but our tow vehicle will be paid for.

    We are looking at the Chevy Silverado 2500 HD 6.0 L Diesel with an Allison tranny.

    Although, I just saw the Dodge 2500 w/ 6.o Diesel Cummins Engine with the Mega Cab. I really like that Mega cab ;) :) :laugh:

    From what I can tell it was just made available on the 2007 model. If we wait a year we might find it used on the market and pay cash for it. MMMMMmmm. That will be sweet. Most definitely.

    Anyway, thank you all for your advise. Everyone was very helpful here. I only got one rude PM, but that was easily ignored. Not too bad of a ratio considering all the positive feedback I received. I will check back again once we are in our truck and are locking in our RV rig. Also, this is a great place to find new destination sights and vacation plans.

    Thank you and see you on the road :approve:
     

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