What to buy?? HELP!!
I will be retiring in a little over a year; my husband is already retired. My husband and I want to travel right off--I will be 60 and he will be 70. We want to go to Alaska and all points west (from New York) starting in May of 2017. Neither one of us have ever traveled or owned an RV. I am looking for advice from those who have already done this to help us know what kind of RV to buy. (Please keep in mind our ages, lack of RV experience and where we want to go.) Any help would be so very much appreciated! What should we buy--motorhome, travel trailer or 5th wheel? Thanks much!
Last edited by 12969nah; 01-11-2015 at 02:51 PM.
Try before you buy ?
Hello and welcome to RTA !
Its a difficult question to answer as the perfect fit is different for everyone, especially as you have no experience. Its a huge investment and if you are not sure whether it will be a Lifestyle that will suit I would suggest you rent an RV for a smaller trip to try it out. Personally I love RV' ing but its not for everyone and you might find you are better suited to the comfort of a hotel. Even with an RV you will have campground fees and high fuel consumption to consider.
If you buy a travel trailer or a 5th wheel, you will also have the expense of a suitable truck to tow it with. Those ain't cheap these days and they don't get good gas mileage even when unhitched. The bigger trailers will need a heavy duty diesel pickup with dual rear wheels. A lot of people buy motorhomes and tow a small vehicle behind it to get around when the RV is parked in a campground. That's another expense, and you need a vehicle that can safely be towed with all 4 wheels on the ground without crawling under and disconnecting driveshafts.
I really would second the idea of renting an RV to see if you like it, before you purchase. Rent for a weekend or a week or two. See how you like living in a small confined space.
Truck camper - an even smaller space that sits on top of your pickup truck. Expensive, but they do have the "pro" of being able to be removed so your camper can save your camp spot while you're gone. Hydraulic jacks/lifts make that job easier, especially as one gets older.
Tent trailer or pop-up - probably more for a growing family than for a retired couple, because this is a glorified tent that you have to tow. With a hydraulic lift, lifting the roof and tent is a lot easier than the old fashioned crank that my husband and I had on our tent trailer.
Travel trailer - rig you must tow, usually with an SUV or pick-up truck. Hitch is underneath the tow vehicle.
Fifth-wheel trailer - rig you must tow with a pick-up truck. Hitch is inside the truck bed, meaning you will lose space in the truck bed when towing (but most hitches can be removed and stored, dry, when not in use). As glc pointed out, these trucks are not cheap.
RV - Class C - the kind of motorhome with a bed over the driver and passenger seats.
RV - Class A - the kind of motorhome that resembles a Greyhound bus.
As pointed out above, you might have to tow a little car on the back of it. Our neighbors tow "4 down" (all four car wheels on the ground), but we have family friends who towed "4 up" on a trailer, which would be my preference.
Would one option be more costly than the other? RV ~vs~ motel? After our trip out west we plan to winter in Florida (from NY.) We could use whatever we buy to do our 'Westward-Ho Excursion' to live in for Jan-March in Florida.
Originally Posted by Southwest Dave
Does a truck HAVE to be a diesel in order to tow a 5th wheel? That would be a deal breaker for us, my husband says "No diesel"!.
It all depends on the weight of the 5th wheel. Anything over about 10k pounds will tow poorly in the mountains with a gas engine, and you will need a 3/4 or 1 ton truck with an 8 foot bed to tow one safely anyway. You will find RV salesmen trying to tell you that a 5th wheel is "1/2 ton truck towable" - don't believe it. It may tow it, but not well and not safely.
Originally Posted by 12969nah
The same thing goes for motorhomes of any kind of size - a diesel is much better than gas.
Today's diesel engines are nowhere near as noisy and smelly as they used to be - and they will get considerably better fuel/gas mileage than a gas engine in a motorhome or a truck towing heavy. They also last a lot longer and have considerably more power, especially at high altitudes, due to the turbocharger.
Good and generous advice.
May I suggest you take note of the above advice. You will need to go a long way before you find someone who knows more about this topic than this gentleman.
I speak from experience.
Consider initial costs.
If you know it's a Lifestyle you will enjoy as a long term investment then I personally think it's a great idea, the cost really becomes secondary once you know it's an option financially. As you haven't had any experience of 'camping' then I would [again] strongly advise you try before you buy. If you plan to live in it for at least 3 months of the year and it will be the two of you then you might find a spacious class 'A' RV to be the one, the preferred choice of the 'full timers' and 'Snowbirds'. Once bought and paid for it should provide a cheaper 'home' for 3 months than a rental would but you would have to do a little research and find out by how much. Once you have done so then you need to consider how long it would take to get your initial layout back by splitting the difference. Of course the RV would be an 'asset' that you could cash in later on while taking any depreciation into account. Another thing is that owning such a vehicle will have higher maintanence and repair bills should anything go wrong. As mentioned earlier in the thread, you will then have to consider the cost of suitable tow equipment and vehicle as well. Once again, going back to the beginning, it should first and foremost be a 'Lifestyle' choice once you have worked through the 'Pros and cons'.
Originally Posted by 12969nah
I really have to agree with what others have said.
First, an RV is above all else a lifestyle choice, and before making a financial commitment that could easily reach 6 figures, doing a test to make sure you even like living in the small confines of an RV and driving such a large rig.
If you are doing this to save money, then you likely will be disappointed. Traveling by RV is generally quite a bit more expensive than cars and hotels. While living out of your parked RV in Florida for several months would likely make such a large financial investment more worthwhile, even that may not be much cheaper than a short term apartment lease. Planning to make an RV a long term residence make it even more important to try before you buy.
I also agree that looking at a Diesel is a very good idea, for all the reasons that GLC stated. It would be especially important, because if you're going to live out the RV/Trailer for months at a time, you're going to want one that is a pretty good size. Just for a comparison, my parents bought a small travel trailer a couple years ago, and it's great for what they use it for, but is pretty small when you've got more than 2 people inside. They took it out on their first trip, using their V-8 pickup, and the first thing they did when they got back was start shopping for a new truck with a larger engine. Now, they didn't go with Diesel, but they use it for other things beyond pulling the trailer, and as I mentioned, the trailer is relatively small. If your primary reason for getting the truck is to pull a trailer, a diesel really is the way to go.