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  1. #1

    Default Newbie's Memphis to LosAngeles adventure

    Howdy, With all the kids out of the house, My wife and I have decided to purchase a RV/fifth wheel to head west, taking advantage of my telecommuting job while she pursues her career dream for 12-18 months...and that's about as far into the planning that we have gotten. So, I figure the experts here could help me make a more informed decision for this lifestyle change as I have quickly fallen into "analysis paralysis" with my current research:

    (1) First Time Buyer: I'm concerned that this could become a miserable experience if I don't make an informed purchase. We have been looking at used 5th wheels & a few RVs, but mostly private owners selling both truck & 5th-wheel (I like idea of packaged deal). I would greatly appreciate reference recommendations (books, web sites, etc.) for the first time buyer to provide myself some common sense purchasing considerations, lessons learned, and "what to watch for".

    (2) Planning the trip: We'll take the setup on some shorter trips to become acquainted with the setup, but I really need some guidance and recommendations on planning the actual trip. Things such as RV parks along the way, how to make sure they are safe, financial planning, etc. I've already learned a fair amount on the forums here, but again, I would love reference materials to review with my co-pilot.

    (2) RV living in Southern California: We would prefer to be in Northern L.A. area and have found one park already. When parking an RV, what sort of guidance, expectations, or recommendations (financial, lifestyle, maintenance, etc.) would you have?


  2. #2
    Join Date
    May 2003
    Green County, Wisconsin


    Welcome to the RTA Forum!

    If you look around this website you will find dozens upon dozens of articles that will help you get started. In fact, there is an entire section devoted to the RV lifestyle. I think you'll especially enjoy the many articles from Alice and Jaimie. Another one I would strongly recommend as you decide which vehicle to purchase is this one. It is specifically targeted at RV rentals, but the same steps should apply to purchasing. Personally, I don't know that I would be all that interested in a "package deal" because you could end up with a trailer you love and a truck you hate, or vice versa, but that's me.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Dec 2008
    Melbourne, Australia

    Default Enough information to confuse you.

    I know there is one member here who has from time to time mentioned RV websites to which they belong. If all the information which Michael posted above does not have the answers for which you are looking, why not just search for RV forums. There must be dozen's of them.


  4. #4
    Join Date
    May 2011
    Southern California


    Welcome to RTA!

    1) First time buyer issues: what experiences in driving and RV'ing have you had? Have you ever rented one? Have you considered renting one to see what it's like and what you need in a rig? You'll find out what the problems are, too. Towing a rig is one thing, and the things you need to know: hitching and unhitching, towing it, making turns, what lanes to be in, backing it up. Recommendation: if you decide on a trailer, take it to a large empty parking lot (like a church or school not currently in session) and practice, practice, practice. Sometimes there are courses offered by local RV dealers, or they know where they are, and you should take one. If you think about an MH, there's the issue of the length. They don't turn easily if you go with a 30' or 35' length, because they DON'T bend in the middle. Another issue is that you can't take them to the grocery store very easily! Most full-timers end up towing a car (affectionately known as a "toad" - for towed) and so there you have the issue of towing again.

    The NADA Guide ( is the "Blue Book" for used rigs. But you'd have to price the truck and the trailer separately, if you decided to look at a combo sale.

    A great idea -- do you have an RV park near you? Most RV'ers *love* to talk about their rigs. Walk through the park and talk to the RV owners that have the various types. Some of them will be glad to show you their rigs, too.

    Another thought --RV Netis one of the biggest set of RV forums on the Internet. Friendly folks abound in there. There are forums for each type of RV, plus one that could be considered "RV'ing 101" for beginners.

    2) Once you get a rig, as I said, go practice driving it. That's the most important thing you can do. Then plan a weekend in a place that is either close to home, or close to your favorite big box/department store. Stock the rig with what you THINK you need and then *bring a pen and a notebook*. While enjoying your weekend, write everything down that you really need. That big box store will come in handy if you need something right away. Plan on several of these weekends, because you'll always find something else you "need" or you don't really need and they're just in the way.

    Learn how to use the hookups, and the generator if you need one. In equipment, cheaper is not necessarily bad, but expensive isn't always good too. Always practice sanitation. Wipe a water hookup with an antiseptic solution, always use the proper sewer hose to empty the gray and black water tanks (don't just "aim and hope" like we've seen newbies -- and slobs -- do too many times), learn the proper chemicals to use in your tanks, and DO NOT leave the grey and black water sewer lines open when you're parked (because it WILL cause a blockage; leave the hoses on and the valves closed and empty them periodically.)

    Buy a good book for beginning RV'ers, too. It's worth its weight in gold. Contact Good Sam (which actually runs the forums).

    3) RV parks are varied in what they offer, in terms of spaces, amenities, hookups, and local offerings. You choose one based on your needs and desires. Many people carry the Woodall's/Good Sam directories of RV parks. Good Sam is to RV's as AAA is to lodging. Some folks like pools, hot tubs, saunas, fitness rooms. Others could care less about those things. What's a bit shaky still, in RV parks, is the availability of wireless Internet. You would have to think about a service for yourselves, such as by satellite dish. (That same issue goes for television service -- some parks have cable, others do not.)

    Offhand I do not have any recommendations in the northern LA area, but you need to start looking at what you want for a rig before you make any decisions about where to stay. Oh, if you are planning to keep your house, do make sure that you have a place to STORE the rig. Storage was the main reason we gave up our trailer, 3+ years ago, because it was getting too expensive to store it.

    Donna (former RV'er that misses it)
    Last edited by DonnaR57; 06-10-2014 at 04:50 PM.

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