Sunday, August 31, 2014

On the Road Again...The Search for the Perfect Motorhome, Part One

We now tell everyone that we live in a Chateau :-) 

After three years of weekend-only travel, Luis & I are finally back out there! Inspired by recent at-least-year-long road trips undertaken by different friends in various areas of the world (the east coast of Africa, the west coast of North America, the entire planet), we made the decision to once again sell all of our belongings (my 4th time, Luis' 3rd...which is why we always purchase our household things at Chez Les Ventes de Garage) and hit the road. We didn't think that our marriage would survive a year of four seasons in a tent, but we also didn't want one of those honkin' 42-foot converted bus RVs with washer/dryers, dishwashers and a 60" flat screen TV either, so we decided to search for something somewhere in between. We had no idea what we were getting ourselves into...

Our search started with trying to untangle the threads of the myriad choices available for traveling with our home on our back: Class A, B or C? 20 foot, 30 foot, 40 foot? Self-contained motorhome, truck camper, toy hauler, pop-up, teardrop, 5th wheel, or hybrid trailer? New, used or rental? Diesel or gasoline? Airstream or Winnebago? We started by visiting RV shows to whittle down the options,  but quickly got even more overwhelmed with the hundreds of RVs (and insistent salespeople) on display.

The Tacoma RV Show in July (photo courtesy of OT Shows)

Here's what we learned:

  • Trailer pros: good gas mileage, inexpensive, you can uncouple your vehicle and drive unencumbered around town and you have more interior space since there's no cab; cons: you may have to unhitch in the dead of night in the rain, it is necessary to buy a large SUV or truck to pull it (our Volvo could barely pull itself, much less a trailer) and because of the total length, it would be difficult to reverse or find parking/camping. 
  • Truck Camper pros: convenient & compact, inexpensive, you can leave it at the campground and drive your pickup truck around town; cons: small interior space, you have to drive a pickup around town and I would not be able to stop humming the theme song from the Beverly Hillbillies
  • Class A RV pros: a lot of space, luxurious options. cons: off-the-charts cost to buy and operate (the large ones get 1-2 miles/per gallon and campsites and ferries charge by the foot), difficult/impossible to find parking or drive on small winding roads. 

We finally decided to look for a 21-25 foot C Class: just the right size, much better gas mileage, can be parked almost anywhere. But, unfortunately, as we where soon to find out, everyone else was already clued in, making a small, used C-Class with low mileage and in good condition almost impossible to find. During the months we searched for just the right motorhome for us, we also discovered how abysmally little we knew about RV maintenance and life on the road. To be continued...

Packing our new home; no idea how we're going to get everything in there!