RV Life

I Bought a Travel Trailer!

I took the first huge step, and bought a travel trailer! Here’s what I looked for in a rig, and some tips for buying from a dealer.

              I’ve finally taken the first BIG step towards the RV life! I signed for my trailer!!! I’m picking it up on Friday, so it doesn’t feel quite real yet, but also I feel like there’s a lot to do to be ready.

              I’ve actually been thinking about moving to a semi-full time RVing life for about 2 years. I can’t believe that much time has passed; it may even have been a little longer. It all started because I was in a terrible job situation that was always meant to be temporary trying to find a career that I would love in my field. There were a few different paths I could take, but I finally decided I wanted to pursue a career as a Cruise Director. That’s when the idea of full-timing was born for me. As a CD, you don’t have the usual work schedule. You live at work and work full time for weeks in a row, and then you are sent home for breaks for a few weeks or even months at a time. You can think of instead of getting a weekend every week, you skip your weekends and cash them in all at once every couple months. This allows for a lot of opportunity to travel, and it didn’t really make sense to pay for an apartment or house I’d never be in. So why not just drag around my apartment with me?

              I say first big step because there were a lot of little steps that got me to this point where I was ready to commit. Over those 2 + years, I did constant research. I probably exhausted the Pinterest search engine for RV tips, hacks, and got-to-knows. Thank goodness so many full-timers make a living blogging about being full time!  I went from only having camped in a tent or once in my aunt’s pop-out, to having a good working knowledge of all the terms and differences in RVs. I still don’t feel ready to actually start using the trailer on my own, but I’m confident at this point I know as much as I could without having done it myself. At this point, it is time for some hands-on learning. Having all this research in the back of my mind really helped me know what I was looking for, and to see the things that made this camper the right choice for me.

              Once I had researched as much as I could online, I started visiting dealerships to confirm what I thought was my limits and preferences. One nice thing about this pandemic is I ended up having a really free summer. I dragged my mom to a couple different RV dealers to explore units with no intention of buying. Never buy an rv on the first visit. Even if you end up falling in love.

I went thinking I wanted:

  • 25’ or less trailer
  • It’s GVWR must be lower than my Jeep’s limits
  • with a full fridge – I wanted plenty of freezer space which meant looking for 2 door fridges
  • a real bed – none of this “fold-down dinette is the only bed” nonsense
  • I didn’t care about a dinette, I’d prefer a sofa
  • Murphy bed was a plus as it combined the last 2 into a smaller unit
  • I preferred a shower with a tub. I thought it’d be good for washing feet or doing laundry by hand
    • I ended up deciding a folding bucket would do this just as well
  • I wanted an oven. I bake and cook pizzas myself, among other things, frequently.
  • I want solar eventually. If I could find that included, it’d be ideal.
  • I wanted a dry bath (In a truck camper I was ok with wet, but not in a trailer)
  • Needed plenty of storage – I’m living in it full time!
  • I didn’t want slides – I worried about maintenance, limited use, and it blocking functionality when closed

The trailer I ended up signing for is 22’ 6”. Light enough for my Jeep to pull safely. It has a full fridge although not the biggest we saw, the freezer space is enough. The shower doesn’t have a tub, but it has a little bit of a lip mostly so water doesn’t get out. The bathroom is dry and with some of the best storage I’ve seen in a unit of this size. It has a proper queen bed, not a camper size, with cabinets all around and it lifts up for storage under it! It has an oven included and a nice size sink. I sacrificed counterspace, but I didn’t at the same time. I ended up buying one with the shortest slide I’ve ever seen. In the slide there is a sofa instead of a dinette located in the slide. Since there’s no dinette, it comes with a folding table that can be put in front of the sofa. If I use that table as a counter, I actually ended up with way more workspace than any other 22 foot or maybe even 25 foot. Of course, it won’t store things permanently, but the kitchen has some nice sized cabinets in it to make up for that. It also has pass thru storage. I thought pass thru was standard, but a trailer I almost bought didn’t have it. That lack of storage along with a lack of storage throughout the whole unit ended up being why I moved on.

As you can see, really knowing what I wanted and understanding the reasons for or against different things helped me make an informed decision. I could explain exactly why this was the right unit (and I did explain as I talked it out with my parents over the phone). I wanted to make sure I wasn’t making an impulse buy because it was a little higher than the price range I originally was putting myself in. However, really understanding my finances and taking a good hard look at the numbers helped me know I wasn’t putting myself in a hole I couldn’t climb out of.

You also have to keep in mind basic things you may overlook especially if you’re full-timing. It’s easy to not realize that a unit has no place for clothes, linens, or pantry because they’re such a given in sticks and bricks homes that you don’t notice they’re missing, until you go to put things in them. A lovely woman I met gave me such good advice, when you look at a trailer, imagine where you will put your clothes. It’s the quickest way to notice if it’s missing a wardrobe and adequate storage.

If you want to see what a loan will cost you over the life of the loan, check out my post here.

As I mentioned before, don’t buy a unit on your first visit. The unit I ended up getting, we looked at and were really impressed. I didn’t even bother to sit down and discuss price. We talked about it next to the unit, and he offered to give me his “best price”. That’s it. We thanked him and walked away. Turns out, he ended up emailing me in the next couple days. Since it was the end of the month, he emailed me ready to make a deal. Luckily, I read up on tips for negotiating for a RV with a dealer. He wasn’t able to come down as much as I’d have liked, but he threw in a distribution, sway control hitch – something I was going to have to buy before picking up the trailer that comes with a hefty price tag. He wanted a confirmation that I would buy it if he could get me that deal before he’d check with his boss. Don’t worry too much about these kinds of tactics. You haven’t signed a contract, and he’s just doing the old song and dance to try to make you feel like you’re getting a better deal. I also had researched this make, model, and year around the country to see the average price. This helps you see if you’re getting a good deal, and gives an idea and support for you to negotiate the price lower. If you can find it, you also want to know what the MSRP is. If the asking price is above the MSRP, then you’re looking at an inflated price. In my case, I discovered this specific model was rather unique. I only found a couple units over the entire country! In most other models, I found dozens of listings. With that information, I can feel better about the deal I as negotiating.

All in all, I’m very excited. Now I have to decide where I’m going first! Remember, these are more like guidelines.

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