Finding the Right RV
Is it actually possible to find the ONE?
Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links. If you shop using the links below, Jon and I get a small commission at no cost to you. Thanks so much for supporting our blog when you shop!
We never RVed as kids with our grandparents or parents. We didn’t car camp either. Yet, last year we began our 3rd year of full-time travel in our RV. And in the calendar we spent near 300 days boondocking. It’s amazing what you can learn in just a short time.
We downsized and began traveling and working in an RV in the summer of 2016. Though we had no idea what we were doing, we went all in and began in a Forest River Grey Wolf Travel Trailer.
Then, after beginning to cover serious ground and visiting Yellowstone National Park, we decided to make the switch to a motorized RV, settling on a 2017 Winnebago Trend.
Over a year later, while we do still love our Trusty Trend, we know it’s time to change things up again. It seems when you “do” you learn. And the more we have RVed, the more we have learned about what we really want in an RV.
Here’s what we’ve learned from two rigs and what we’re thinking about next.
Our Travel Trailer
We’ve talked to you about the pros and cons when it comes to towable RVs vs. motorized RVs before. But as we’ve really been thinking hard about what RV we should switch to, we started remembering everything we liked about our Travel Trailer.
And also, making sure to remember everything we didn’t.
Pros of our Camper Trailer
The smallest thing we ever lived in was a 400 sq. ft. studio. Downsizing into a 27’9” travel trailer (with no slide), kept the panicky realization of what we had just done down to less than a minute.
The main benefit of the extra space we had in our Travel Trailer was a fixed, walk around bed. This made it possible to use our residential Leesa memory foam mattress instead of the mattress that came with the RV.
We also absolutely loved the huge windows in our Camper though that’s not necessarily a given with every travel trailer. In our case we had a huge rear window and a huge dinette window. We love a lot of natural light. You can certainly sit outside, but the weather doesn’t always cooperate!
We’re actually very pleased with the size of our Trend’s bathroom. The shower is a very generous size. But our Camper Trailer’s bathroom gave you more elbow room. We also didn’t need to use the shower as a closet. (We still did, because it’s really hard to get the whole minimalism thing right, but we laugh at how much stuff we began with by now!)
Cons of the Travel Trailer
Set Up and Break Down
It’s not difficult to set up and break down camp in a towable. But, it’s certainly not nearly as easy as it is in a motorized RV. It’s been especially nice for Jon not to have to set up and break down a towable when it’s been raining or cold.
When hitched up we were over 40 ft in length. We often thought to ourselves, if we’re going to be this long, why aren’t we in a spacious, comfy Class A? We enjoyed going across eastern Canada this past fall. We went across in just two months, making nearly 150 stops! There’s no way we could’ve done that in our 28 ft Travel Trailer.
Our Trusty Trend has been almost perfect. It has taken us to some epic places, including national parks, the Canadian Rockies, and eastern Canada. You can read a more detailed review of our thoughts on our Trend after a year here.
Pros of our Trend
RV Access While Driving
We have LOVED having access to our bathroom, refrigerator, and closet while driving. We pulled over on the side of the road to access our snacks and bathroom with the travel trailer, but there’s nothing like just walking to the back.
We take up between one and quarter to one and a half parking spots. We fit just about anywhere, even parallel parked. This has allowed us to RV without a tow car (the Trend has little tow capacity unlike some other Class Cs). The Trend has been easy for Jon to drive and we’ve been able to go cross-country and cross-Canada fairly comfortably and quickly.
The Trend floorplan we have (23D) is a very “open-concept” floorplan with big windows. It has been perfect for lounging, enjoying the views (we’ve been able to stop for a nap with a waterfall out our window!), and it’s surprisingly comfortable to invite friends over for coffee or wine.
Cons of our Trend
The Bed (Sort of)
The bed is a great size. The bed is easy to make. The FROLI sleep system makes it comfortable. BUT… When full-timing, a mattress that’s made of just one single piece is where it’s at for us. In the Grey Wolf we had our Leesa memory foam mattress with us. We miss it a LOT. (We highly recommend changing out the fixed-bed mattresses most RVs come with, if you’re a full-timer or seasonal RVer. But make sure to measure before you buy!)
Low Clearance, Low End Torque
We miss exploring in our 4x4 GMC Canyon that we towed our Travel Trailer with. The Grey Wolf was also pretty rugged, even without an off-road package of any kind. The Trend’s clearance is just a little too low for many of the places we love to go to. We are able to get many places, but it can be hit or miss; sometimes we have to turn back.
For slow speed climbs and trail navigation the Trend’s not ideal. The lack of low end torque makes it difficult to go through some mountain passes, which we can’t help but often want to be in. To be sure, it’s fine on asphalt and it’s doable--we’re just gunning it, high rpms, that sort of thing. Doable, but not ideal. We’d like to upgrade to ideal, because it turns out we love mountain towns and there are dirt roads calling…
We both need some desk space. While we both could use a table in the back, two tables makes the bathroom difficult to access. The sofa (which belongs to our dogs, really) is not an ideal spot to work, though it’s doable. We think a traditional dinette would work well. I could work in a swivel cab seat as well with a laptop sized table top. (Both the Trend’s cab seats swivel around).
Our New Plan
We’ve decided to switch rigs again. We’ve mentally tug-o-warred back and forth between a different Class C, a Class A, a Class B, and towing again. And, we’ve decided… we need two RVs! Until the day we can have both a Class B and a Class A diesel pusher (#goals, we’ve settled on a 4x4 Sprinter based Class B towing a teardrop trailer.
The Sprinter will be able to easily climb mountain passes, can handle dirt roads, snow, and off-road trails (there are quite a few in some national parks we’d like to drive down).
We want to keep things down to a short wheel base Sprinter (144”) in order to fit in 1 regular parking spot and use as a daily driver. A small 4x4 Sprinter will also be easy to store or park when we travel internationally and stay at Air BnBs etc.
Tear Drop Travel Trailer
We miss the storage space that comes with a towable. We want to have space to keep a grill as we miss grilling out for dinner (We’re looking for pass-through storage). We also want a fixed bed we can outfit with a memory foam mattress.
We’d like a U-shaped dinette, and the ability to keep work in a space separate from our living space if we’d like.
Although we really enjoy showering outside of our RV, we’d really like the option to use our own shower. Right now, our shower is a closet, but with two showers, I’m sure we can keep one empty!
Practical Tips for You
Due to the nature of what we like to do for work and travel, we want to full-time in 2 RVs. But what if you’d just like one? What if you don’t want to full-time? What if you’ll full-time as a retiree?
We would say the more “universal” take-aways are the following:
Don’t stress finding “perfect”. Like any house, car, etc. there will be compromises. One RV may have a huge bathroom, but maybe the bed is smaller than you like.
Use the 80/20 rule and choose an RV that will be “perfect” 80% of the time in your situation. Will a bunkhouse model really make the best sense if the grandkids/nieces/nephews are only with you 5% of the time you RV?
Rent some different RVs and take them on trips most similar to the application you’re looking for. We learn best by doing!
As life changes, as needs change, and as you move along different life stages, the “perfect” RV will change. One RV may be perfect for a time, yet as you evolve you may find yourself happier in another RV. In some cases, you may even discover that the “right” RV for you is really two RVs!
Please leave a comment below if you’ve switched RVs before, or if you’ve narrowed your short list down to just a few RVs. It’s so helpful to hear different perspectives and advice!