Exploring our goals through…RV shopping! Part 2

See Part 1.

Todd is planning a post dealing more with the financial side of this, but our basic budget is ~$30k for the RV and we’d like to stay around 30 ft in length or even a bit under. We’ve entered the research phase to get a basic understanding of what is available. There are so many choices, it’s honestly overwhelming. Plus we’re trying to balance cost with craftsmanship, and of course size. I would LOVE a clamshell fiberglass camper like Bigfoot, but those start to get expensive and the lengths are pretty small. Even their longest 25 ft trailer would require a lot of retrofitting to make the space fit us long-term. We can buy a longer cheaper trailer with room for days, but will we soon be dealing with leaks, failed slides, and delamination? Yikes.

Rather than continuing to search the endless interwebs we figured we should go look at things in person, so we drove to a local RV center and met with a salesperson who was happy to show us around. Bonus that it a dreary muddy day, so we managed to get the kids out of the house for a bit on a day they would otherwise have stayed inside.

Today we looked at mostly travel trailers, a few fifth wheels, and also a toy hauler. Kids shown for scale. 🙂 Apologies for the dark photos – dreary cloudy day + no electricity.

I knew that RV bed sizing can be very different from standard bed sizes, so no surprise that my 5’11” husband had his feet practically hanging off the end. Good thing he likes his feet “free” at night! I think some people retrofit a standard queen mattress in and make it work, so that’s an option as long as there’s a bit of space at the end (which not all models had).

Not pictured – when Todd’s keys fell out of his pocket as he tested out the above bed. Of course he didn’t realize the keys were gone until 10 RV’s later. That was fun. Fortunately we found them quickly. We also temporarily lost a tablet along the way. This is why we can’t have nice things!

The bathrooms and showers surprisingly had decent space. Some even had mini bathtubs in the bottom, not a must but definitely a perk since our kids are still little. Sorry for the closed eye photo, Todd!

The kids definitely liked the bunkhouse models, especially the ones with their own separate room. This particular model had a mini rock-climbing wall up to the top – so fun! Our daughter, Greta, especially liked the animal print on the kid couch, and immediately declared it her favorite. Too bad this RV was too long – 35 or 36 ft if I remember correctly, which is bigger than what we ideally want.

Some had an extra dinette in the bunkhouse, which was a nice feature, although we need the bed space and I’m not sure they’d enjoy sleeping on that set-up long term.

This next floor-plan was closer to the 30 ft mark, and still had a spacious main area thanks to the slide-out. I’m a little hesitant re: slides, since the more moving parts you have the more likely things are to break, but it certainly makes it feel roomy. This one also had a stacked double-bunk at the rear instead of a separate room. We weren’t sure how big those “doubles” really were, but our kids (ages 8, 5, and 2) definitely had no issues with space. Teenagers or adults would be more challenging, probably ok for part-time but less ideal if this were a full-time RV set-up.

Last but not least, the toy hauler. The place we went didn’t have a lot of these in stock, so the model we looked at was over 38 feet in length – WAY longer than what we want to haul. It was still interesting to see. What I like about the toy haulers is we could put the kids’ bikes and other random outdoor gear in the back when we drive, then unload and drop the hydraulic bed at night. It seems like a very efficient/flexible use of space. I’ve seen photos of some that have 2 stacked hydraulic beds instead of the single bed, which is what we’d want so we could keep the beds made. I asked the salesperson if that was an option and she said no…not clear if she meant it was not an option for this particular brand/model or if she just didn’t have enough experience with that set-up in general. I didn’t push it. This one had a single row of chairs instead of a dinette – not a big deal for us.

The actual “toy” space was HUGE. Just over 12 feet in length plus had it’s own small half-bath. Enough length to sleep all 5 of us with room to spare. And that isn’t including the bedroom at the front. Definitely a bigger trailer than what we want/need.

All in all, I consider it a successful trip. It was great seeing things in person. I can certainly see how people get “2 foot-itis” – more length and more slides make them really comfortable, not just in space but in features (nicer refrigerators, entertainment centers, fireplaces, big pantries, coat closets, etc). But even the 28-30 foot trailers seemed plenty big for our needs. Our kids are loud and crazy, and it didn’t feel any more overwhelming than when they’re loud and crazy at home. All aboard the crazy train! Choo choooooo!

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