When I began to think about starting this blog, someone suggested that I could write about our experiences of deciding to plan on full time RV’ing, researching the different types of RV’s, and actually making our choice of RV. So, shall we start with the decision to full time.
Jo and I have been camping in tents, travel trailers and one fifth-wheel since 1976. If you’ve read my entries about Purgatoire River Campground, you will probably guess that we love camping, and I especially love the mountains.
A few years ago, we were driving home from work. Our route home takes us right by the Oklahoma City Fairgrounds, where the local RV dealers have a Spring and a Fall RV show. In this case, it was a Friday evening and Jo popped up with the idea of stopping at the RV show and looking at some RV’s.
We owned a Rockwood Signature Ultralite fifth-wheel that was 26 feet long. My thought was that perhaps she wanted to look at something a little bit bigger. You know, something like about 28’ to perhaps 32’ long. You can imagine my surprise when she starts looking at motorhomes and fifth-wheels that are 36 feet or longer.
So, when we had a slight break I stopped her and asked her what she was thinking. That is when she sprung it on me that she had been thinking about selling the house, selling everything in it, buying a luxury RV and live it in. After we retired, we could then travel the country with it as our home. Go where we wanted, whenever we wanted was what she was thinking.
Unknown to her, I had long wished that we could have a nice RV and travel the country. After all, I am a serious, amateur photographer and there is a lot of this country I want to photograph. I had never mentioned the dream to her because I thought that we would never be able to afford to live such a life-style.
After looking at RV’s that evening, she spent the weekend crunching numbers, considering what our pensions would amount to, along with Social Security, to see if it was even possible. She came to me later and said that she couldn’t think of why we couldn’t follow up on this idea.
After seeing the future possibilities, we decided to start looking at the different options, and seeing what each would cost us to purchase. She started the forum searching by finding the website for Suites Owner’s International Travel Club (SOITC) and registering for their forum in April of 2008. She chose that association because we had been looking at what was then called Doubletree RV’s out of Howe, Indiana.
The dealership where we had purchased our two previous campers also carried the Doubletree fifth wheels. Those are the Select Suites (base line models), the Mobile Suites (mid-range models), and the Elite Suites (the top of their line models.) We sort of started with the Mobile and Elite Suites models because they had the best amenities and we knew we would be picking our future home.
Later, while reading one of the forum posts on SOITC, I came across a post that spoke of Howard and Linda Payne and their website called RV Dreams. It was July of 2008 and after reading for a few days, I registered on that forum. I was later to also sign up on another forum called Fifth Wheel Forums. While Fifth Wheel Forums has categories for different brands of RV’s and trucks, the most thread traffic is on the category for the DRV Suites models of Select, Mobile and Elite. DRV Suites is the new name for Doubletree RV due to the similarity of the name to the name for Doubletree Hotels’ chain.
As we continued to research different brands of various types of RV’s, we learned that there are associations and forums for most of the brands in the form of an owner’s association. While RV Dreams is pretty much a “general” forum based more on the lifestyle than the RV types and brands, the owner’s association forums serve as a good source of information as to whether certain brands or models have significant problems.
Forums have a tendency to attract owners that have problems, so it is natural for them to have a lot of comments and questions about problems. While that can give a negative connotation to the brand, it also gives one an idea of how well other owners are about helping those in either problems or research. I highly recommend that when someone has an interest in a brand to try to find an owner’s association with a forum.
It is also necessary to look at different brands and models. By doing so, one can often discover in one brand or model a particular amenity that may not be in others. Then, one needs to keep those amenities in mind during the decision process. This is especially important with the construction of the RV. Don’t be afraid to crawl under the RV’s and check out frames, suspension, underbelly covers (in the case of travel trailers and fifth-wheels), and see it one brand or model outshines others.
This need to look at a lot of brands and models means that one needs to visit a lot of dealer lots and RV shows. Don’t be afraid to look at something bigger than what you are really planning on getting. By looking at bigger, you may find features that can be found on some smaller units but not on other units the same size.
Ask questions of forum participants and salesmen, but take none of them as gospel unless you find that a significant number of sources tell you the same thing. Dealers and salesmen can not necessarily be trusted. Also, ask questions on the forums. Even if you have a lot of negative comments on a forum about a particular brand that you are interested in, ask a question such as this, “Given that you were to buy another RV today, would you buy the same brand/model that you have now?” While many may complain about their RV, they may very well say they would purchase the same again. They might choose a different floorplan or add or delete some additional amenities, but many just might buy the same.
Whatever you do, make sure you make the process fun and informative. Good luck in your searches and researching.
Our very first camper, purchased used back sometime after 1976 and was 15’ long.