December 4, 2017

6 Months later: Do I Miss Our RV?


The short answer is, Yes.

Last spring we sold our 12 year old RV for several reasons. There was at least $5,000 worth of repairs and replacements that needed to be taken care of. At 138,000 miles, lots of years of bouncing around America had added enough squeaks and groans, shimmies and shudders, to make each trip tiring for the driver (me!) and noisy for the passengers (Betty and Bailey).

Living in Arizona means that we have to drive quite a bit to escape the desert and scrub brush. If traveling east we need at least three days before things became slightly green. Heading toward California we could be in pretty areas within a day, but traffic, bad roads, and expenses came along for the ride.

Because of the heat, very few things could be left in the RV between trips. All lotions, liquids, candles, even canned and boxed food, had to be put in before a trip and taken out as soon as we arrived home. Betty and I were spending a few days on each side of a trip loading, unloading, cleaning and doing multiple loads of laundry. Taking a "getaway" meant a lot of work and preplanning.

At our home in Scottsdale, we were able to park the RV on a side yard. That meant we could plug in the electricity, get the refrigerator going, and quickly load what we needed for a particular trip.

The new home does not have such an easy option. The HOA will approve parking large vehicles as long as they are not visible from the street. We would have needed to spend close to $2,000 to make a place for the RV. All neighbors who could see the vehicle in our yard would need to give us approval to store it within their view. 

We were left with the option of paying over $1,000 a year to store the RV, outside, baking in the sun, 15 minutes away. All that stored up heat was beginning to fade the exterior and all the inside fabrics. Rubber seals and plastic tubing were beginning to split. With no way to keep it plugged in, batteries were dying and pre-cooling the refrigerator was impossible.

Even so, I miss my freedom machine. Maybe I miss the "concept" of an RV more than the actual vehicle and the financial commitment it entailed. The idea that Betty, Bailey, and I could find an opening on our calendar, throw a few things together, and break away from routine is still attractive to me. Being out of the Phoenix heat for part of the summer is a tremendous plus. Traveling with a dog in a car for long stretches of time is not practical, nor is leaving her in a kennel for more than 5 or 6 days at a time.

We visited 32 states in the just over the 4 years we owned R.T. (Road Trip). The memories and photos are wonderful tradeoffs for the various hassles and work. We saw places we would never have experienced any other way. We learned to live together in a small space for almost 2 months at a time. Bailey hated the riding part of each trip but absolutely loved all the new smells and places to explore.

With the cost of a new decently-sized RV somewhere between $70-$90,000 for another Class C, or $90-250,000 for a comparable Class A motorhome, that is not likely to happen. Renting is a poor option: all the work of prep and cleanup at several hundred dollars a day.

So, we made our decision and agreed it was best. But, now half a year later, I will admit I am having second thoughts.  I have been looking at various dealers in the Phoenix area that have a good selection of used RVs with low mileage. I have asked Betty about her thoughts. I have discussed the fun we could have in modifying and personalizing another rig.

Yes, I miss the RV lifestyle. Yes, we may consider another one at some point. Yes, I may be slightly crazy. 











36 comments:

  1. I think you might like a class B. I find ours more comfortable to drive than our previous class C. We found a used Roadtrek a few years ago for $48,000, half the price of new.

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    1. Betty has been suggesting a Class B for quite awhile. It has several advantages, one of which is no need to tow a car. My problem is the interior size. I thought our 30 footer felt cramped, particularly at night, but, at least there was a full bedroom in the back. A class B has no bed until the dining area is converted into one. I am willing to take a look, but I think it will feel too small for 3 of us. Who knows!

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    2. Good info on class Bs from Mike at roadtreking.com

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  2. Bob, I don't believe you are crazy at all. You caught the RV bug, which appears to be "infecting" more and more people every year, as 2017 will become a record selling year for the RV industry. Obviously there is something there that attracts people to the lifestyle, and for those bitten by the bug, it is an easy choice. Explaining it to others that are not enamored with such a life is like the old Jay Leno joke of trying to explain sex to an alien who landed on Earth; you just give up after awhile.

    While Deb and I have never been RVing, we have not given up completely the thought of someday making one our permanent home site to launch our travels from. It would likely be a large fifth wheel or destination cottage parked in the South (maybe even here in TN since our taxes our so low), with the intent of selling our large home and getting away from the work it entails. Every time we go on our long winter sojourn we seek out RV shows in FL and elsewhere to keep up on the latest offerings. Maybe we haven't been bitten yet but we have had some close calls. Hope things work out for the best no matter which direction you and Betty take, a new (to you) RV or not. Best of luck with the decision.

    BTW, check out dealerships in TX and elsewhere, the largest in the country. You would be surprised at how their prices can be lower than your estimates, even for new units, let alone use. And the type of offerings are changing every year, as you know, with some very nice amenities making their way into the RV world. Fun stuff.

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    1. Used prices in Phoenix are quite attractive since this is one of the top RV destinations in the country in winter months. The RV show in Quartzsite every January attracts well over 1000,000 RVers...quite an event.

      I can't seeing spending the money required for a new unit, but used can work. The 2005 RV we bought in 2010, already with 110,000 miles, worked out nicely.

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  3. If you like the RV vacation life and you can afford one without putting yourself in the poor house then you should do it. With your RV you are buying experiences which are going to bring you a lot more joy than money sitting in the bank. At this stage of life if you don't do it now then when?

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  4. I really enjoy the trips in my micro-RV of 40 S.F. As I spend most of my time outside the space is not confining to me. But then I am alone.. But maybe you should look into a class B as Liz suggested. Rent one for a short trip to see if it is a possible fit.

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    1. As soon as Betty reads these comments, the Class B option will come alive again.

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  5. Bob, I understand completely! Helen and I didn't purchase an RV until I was 69 when we picked up a small, used travel trailer. Five months later we traded it for a larger one. I wish I had taken up the activity when you did, but Helen was reluctant. Now she is the one planning the trips and decorating our home on wheels while relishing every minute. As you well know, America is a place of staggering beauty and the best way to see it is on a road less traveled. I hope you go for it and share the journey with the rest of us.

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    1. We have discussed the fun we would have in making a used RV our own. Betty did a lot of work on the last one fixing up the interior and finding all sorts of "hidden" storage space. I learned enough about the mechanical side to keep things working and repaired.

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  6. Even now, as I'm doing research on what films to see at this year's Palm Springs Film Fest, I'm saddened that you two won't be there. So you mean there's a chance that next year you will? Well, hooray!

    We've slowed a bit recently due to our move (love it here so much we're loath to leave currently), and our newly three-year old granddaughter, who we fky back to see almost every two months. I see both as being somewhat temporary deterrents in that we'll eventually get used to living by the coast (ha!) and she'll eventually enter school and have more calendar year structure. At that point I'm sure we'll resume our long RV tripping again, so we continue to appreciate our collapsible TrailManor RV being storeable in our garage. We're nowhere close to giving it up, this is just a temporary slow-down, and perhaps the same was true for you and Betty in mid-2017. You needed to focus on other things, so you did.

    If you are ready to refocus on RVing once again, than do so, and enjoy! After all, you recently changed your home, so changing your RV should be a piece of cake by comparison!

    Oh, and if means that you two might be pulling up in an RV when you vusit us in 2018, that's fine. We have plenty if room on the driveway! ☺

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    1. If we re-take the plunge it wouldn't be before our March visit. After seeing the pictures of the guest suite, why would we? !!!

      The timing of such a decision has not been determined, but certainly no sooner than late 2018. Of course, that would put Palm Spring in 2019 back in play

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  7. Hi Bob! Thom and I haven't caught the RV bug yet and prefer to do our "get-aways" by airbnb. But we are considering renting them. Have you heard of the new companies that now offer Rental RVs from private owners like an airbnb for RVs? We haven't tried them but they might be a solution for anyone who wants to do it--especially before they buy one. ~Kathy

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    1. No, I haven't read about that. If I Google search I assume I will find the info.

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  8. I miss the stories! I/we never wanted an RV but loved to read about those adventures and the people/places you met like Charles Kuralt did. Now you can travel like my wife and I (me?) (too early in the morning for proper grammar).

    We drive a 30 year old Jaguar saloon in museum condition finery. Have an air mattress for the back seat and some blankets and pillows for my bride to read and sleep
    while we are traveling thru boring scenery. We stay at cheap clean motels (maybe an oxymoron) but we don’t want to buy the room just have a decent bed and shower. We check out room before we sign. Our Border Collie can’t wait to travel as well.

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    1. I was looking back through many of the photos taken during our various trips and remembering all the pretty places we saw. Of course, I also remembered the hassle of driving through West Texas wind, backing into tight camping spots, and RV parks that didn't look nearly as nice in person as they did on the Internet! Still, all in all, it was a very positive experience.

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  9. Just to have a voice from the "other" side, I have to say my husband and I find the joys of RVing a complete mystery and have always considered it an expensive piece of hell. Cooking and doing dishes are not something in our vacation plans and it's hard to see how money is saved. Having said that, to each his/her own. I love having the freedom of just a car to jump into and maneuver through crowded cities or wide open spaces. And we can certainly leave at a moment's notice and only have to pack a suitcase.

    Having said that I can see the advantage of you being able to take Bailey places. What do you do when you want to take some sort of a tour? Do you lock her in the RV? Also, have you considered taking the grandsons on some short RV trips? We take grandchildren on trips, not RV, of course. And you had better get a move on because usually by their mid teens they are much more invested in their peers than adults. :D Hmm, might be fodder for a whole separate blog.

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    1. RV travel does not save much money. With most averaging 8 miles to the gallon, RV spots from $30-$60 a night, and having to buy (and cook) food, etc there is very little difference between that type of travel and driving to/from motels.

      For us, the biggest reason is the dog. An RV is the only practical way to travel with her for longer trips. Yes, we leave her inside when we are gone for 4-6 hours to visit a museum or hike a trail or something. She is fine and has excellent bladder control!

      But, leaving her in a motel room won't work because she does bark at sounds. In an RV is doesn't matter, in a motel is wouldn't be acceptable. And, we are not comfortable with a dog sitter; she is too nervous to accept a "stranger" in her house. Our youngest daughter can occasionally dog sit but not for a month long trip!

      The grandkids did love the last time they were in the RV and yes, they are aging rapidly!

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  10. I keep thinking about the poop-to-value ratio that Kathy wrote about on her SMART Living 365 blog. Only you and Betty will decide if the value of owning an RV outweighs the poop!

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    1. It is a lot of work and not really a full vacation. "No pain, no gain?"

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  11. The one thing that RV'ing provides that other forms of travel do not (just to pop in and leave one more RV endorsement!) is the ability to overnight in the most gorgeous locations for a pittance. As an example, here in coastal S. California you can literally be lulled to sleep by the sound of waves for as little as $50 a night, an absolute bargain compared to what would be $300-$500 if in even the cheapest of ocean-adjacent lodging. A few of those type of trips, and RV'ing is easily ahead from a monetary standpoint.

    I identifying RV'ing as a lifestyle, not so much as a form of vacationing. Personally I love it, not the least of which is when we step outside with a plate of food, or a glass of wine, and are instantly gobsmacked by nature's beauty. That is the hardest part of RV'ing to recapture when traveling by car in my experience, unless lots of $$$ is being spent on the lodging.

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    1. You are correct. It is being so close to nature and away from most of the daily hassles that we enjoyed the most. Rarely did we have inconsiderate neighbors or anyone who insisted on playing loud music so the experience wasn't spoiled. In most RV parks you are close to others so this is important.

      At this time of year we enjoy our back porch, though the view of our neighbor's air conditioner perched on his roof isn't quite the same as a beautiful forest, lake, or ocean.

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  12. Main reason we have avoided RV'ing is that as the driver in the family, I would not be comfortable on the roads with it. Also I am a little claustrophobic. But I can see the advantages. I anticipated your selling yours long before you did and I am a little surprised that you are considering another one. The thing that struck me most about your post was that I am very glad I don't live in the desert! I don't like cold weather, but it seems that hot weather is not so good either. We accidently ended up in Georgia and the climate is great and the trees, flowers, streams and waterfalls etc. are just beautiful... plus easy access to mountains and beach. But the main reason we stay is for family. And I think that is why you are in the desert.

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    1. We are here because of family. One of our daughter's family, with our 3 grandkids, is 5 minutes away. My son-in-law's parents, who we like and see quite often, are even closer. Our youngest daughter lives 35 minutes away but is here a lot. Without the type of family relationships we have we would not be in the desert. California or Oregon would be our likely choices.

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  13. On the size of RV the only thing I can add is that from age 60 to 80 my father had a fifth-wheel & pickup combo (also no need to tow a car) and loved it but every time he traded in to buy a newer fifth-wheel trailer he bought a bigger one -- at the end he had a 37'. He found that after a month or two anything smaller felt cramped, which you say you also noticed in the smaller units. He also bought diesel powered pickups for the better fuel economy.

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    1. The 30 foot RV we had and sold was as big as either of us are willing to go. That one did not have slideouts which we would want because it makes the interior feel much roomier.

      For me, the smaller ones have a very cramped bed area, or no bed at all until a dining table is put away. I am pretty sure that would really old on a 2 month trip.

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  14. Maybe you could reach out to a hotel chain that accepts pets and offer to do a roving blog trip and write about the area the hotel is in, the accommodations, etc. That could be fun! Maybe you could even get a van on loan. Just a thought.
    b

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    1. Yes, that is a possibility. I know there are some chains that make a point of being pet friendly.

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    2. La Quinta is one...we have had mixed luck with them, but the new ones are really lovely and clean.

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  15. There are some class B models that provide a swivel seat option with three seats. That would get you a dining area. As for the bed you'd probably have to leave it down permanently or take shorter trips. You could check out RV Trader and Craigslist too.

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  16. You sound a bit like my DH who sold his sailboat last year after owning one or another for about 35 years. He was a bit nostalgic this spring when boat season arrived, but overall he's been pretty satisfied with his decision and the lack of spending and maintenance projects that consumed so much time. That said, he took up golf again, joined a league with some old friends, and I honestly think the socialization and outdoor activity are better for him. He has been really happy and his game is improving. Not to mention the 'gang of guys' he now hangs out with randomly. As for me, I was never much of a sailor, so it was mostly him and the dog (who LOVED the boat). I love not writing the annual checks, too. :-)
    --Hope

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    1. Betty made a very good point the other day: we have been to virtually everywhere we would want to go in an RV. Only the Middle Atlantic and New England states are left to visit. But, that means at least 6 days, each way, just to get there and back. Spending 2 weeks just to get through places we've been seems silly. So, I think the RV will remain a very pleasant memory.

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  17. I can understand the lure of the road. Rob and I have a pickup truck and camper (the kind of camper that sits in the pickup bed), and we love it. In the summer, we keep it ready to go with bedding and food staples already in it, and just have to add fresh food, our clothing, and whatever personal gear we want to take along (e.g., fishing rods, books, iPads). Although the floor space is small, it has a slide, a queen bed, a very functional kitchen, and a bathroom with a shower. We are not large people and we don’t mind the small space. It is easy to drive, and perfect for travelling into wilderness areas to hiking and fishing areas. British Columbia has fabulous scenery and great campsites. We both stayed in motels a lot during our working years, and we would way rather have our personal camper space than a sterile hotel room. In BC, our yearly maintenance requires draining all the fluids so the lines don’t freeze in winter, which is the opposite to the problems you have with desert heat. I will be curious to see what you decide.

    Jude

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    1. See my response to Hope above. Where we live and the fact that we already covered 32 states makes another RV unlikely. That doesn't mean I won't dream about one, but Betty's point probably closed the book. She was right.

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