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Old 01-29-2012, 07:59 AM   #1
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Newbie Fulltime Seeking Advice from the Wise

My wife and I are considering a 1 year full time road trip. Maybe more. It has been a goal of my wife. I love adventures so I am in. We currently have no RV experience. I have sailing experience. I understand many have advised to take baby steps, but I have also seen many that have jumped in and are having a great experience. I also have seen others that have waited and have never made their dream trip. We have no kids and 3 dogs and a cat. I have looked into DP and gas rigs. I wanted to ask the group for their advice on matters we should consider.

We want to have a smaller rig to allow more access to smaller spaces. (30 to 34ft).
We would greatly appreciate hearing about lessens learned and mistakes to avoid.

Thanks in advance.

Tiffin RED 34
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Old 01-29-2012, 09:06 AM   #2
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We're one of those couples who "jumped in with both feet". Never owned any kind of RV when we purchased our brand new 40' diesel pusher and went full time... with our three dogs.

I learned 90% of what I need to know right here on the forum. A great place to get your RV education.

I understand your desire to stay with a smaller rig to get into places like state and local parks. Different folks have different needs but for us, we'd feel too confined considering the 3 dogs and and cat are sharing the space with us. Remember you'll be living in it.

We found that we wouldn't be without our toad... in spite of the expense to set one up.

We would buy used instead of new next time.

Diesel vs gas is always a controversial topic. IMO, unless you plan to spend a good amount of time out west in the mountains... or travel quite a lot... gas is the more financially sensible choice. But, buying a diesel "just because you WANT one" is a good rationale too.

Take your time on the road. We traveled >90% of the time with no reservations and never had a problem finding a place to stay. It took a while for us to get through our heads that we were LIVING on the road and not just on some road trip. Relax and don't think you have to see every single tourist attraction there is. Sit outside and read a book sometimes.

Best of luck to you both.


Rick, Nancy, Peanut & Lola our Westie Dogs & Bailey the Sheltie.

2007 Itasca Ellipse 40FD
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Old 01-29-2012, 10:18 AM   #3
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My DW and I decided to take a baby step so we started out with a new 18 ft teardrop camper. We had a ball. Yes, we dealt with tight quarters, but we did not have to deal with any problems that might have come about with an older unit and it just worked. We learned a great deal and had few, if any frustrating moments because everything was so simple with the small unit. We had a great season and we were hooked on RVing (our dogs were too).

Ten months later, we traded it in for a 33ft 5th wheel and a 1 ton pickup. That was the extent of our baby steps. It worked for us and the transition to the larger vehicle was easy. Having said that, I had the advantage of driving farm tractors and box trucks, as a teen, then later on 17 ton (+/-) fire engines, so handling large, heavy vehicles was not foreign to me. I was also an electrician for 20 years which translates to having the ability to diagnose and repair various issues that will most certainly arise (of course, having confidence in ones abilities is just as important in knowing your limitations).

Now initially, we had set our sights on a motor home but after going to shows, and then spending a season with the teardrop, we decided that the 5th wheel was what we wanted and we are vey happy with our decision. That was our path to learning if RVing was for us; a short but enjoyable journey. I would think that if RVing is something that you are excited about then you will probably be up for the challenge of learning to drive one. You might want to try renting an RV for a week or so and take it to a few different campgrounds to get the feel for how it handles, backing up and so on.

Well good luck to you and enjoy the ride.


BTW... I've also sailed... owned several sailboats. When it comes to sailing, there is a lot to learn and a lot of what you learn from your experiences, will make you a better person (and RVer).
'02 Carriage Carri Lite 32RS3
'06 Dodge 3500 DRW
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Old 01-29-2012, 10:49 AM   #4
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Started full time last year. Bought used gas because I am familiar with maintenance and repairs and did not want to finance our first rig. I don't know anything about diesels and they seem intimidating to me. Our first rig is comfortable, reliable and large enough at 32'. Agree with RickO, a toad is a must.

Regrets... a few but minor.
Should have learned more from forums like this before buying. I would have bought a '99 or newer Ford chassis with 2 slides if I had done a little more homework. They have a larger GVWR and it would be nice to have a bedroom slide for additional space in rear of motor home.

Of course if money is no object, get a quad slide diesel. You will have little issues with space or weight limitations if you go that route.
'98 Gulf Stream Sunsport 325, 7.5L Banks Power Pack, Koni FSD's, Air Bags, ReadyBrute Elite,
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Old 01-29-2012, 05:11 PM   #5
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Like Rick, our first (and current) rig is a 40' DP. We don't full time but have taken some very long trips in it. We have never found that the 40' length to be particularly limiting in finding a place to stay. Most of the places it won't fit we don't want to stay in anyway. You main search is for a floor plan that will fit your particular needs and is comfortable to you. I'd look at a lot of them before making a final decision. Good luck on your search.
Travel well, travel safe,
2006 Tiffin Phaeton - 2011 Cadillac SRX
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Old 01-29-2012, 05:29 PM   #6
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Do your first year in a 34-36 foot gas chassis coach, of whatever floor plan suits your fancy. Buy a used one, maybe 5 years old, to avoid the early depreciation loss. I can pretty much guarantee you are going to want to continue fulltiming for at least a couple years more, so you can trade for what really suits you after you get your first year of experience under your belt.

I say this because you can't really know in advance what is going to be most important to you. Living in a small space means an adjustment in lifestyle, as does continuous traveling, new friends and new places.

In the meantime, look at as many different RV styles and floor plans as you can, until you build some kind of consensus between you two as to what will make life good for you. Stand in the showers, sit on the commodes, pretend you are storing your gear away in galley, bedroom and storage bays, sit and watch tv for awhile, set out the computer, read a book - whatever your normal activities may be. Do your best to imagine living in it for months on end. Then start making 3 lists: MUST Have, NICE to Have, and NO-GO. Must Have means just that - will not buy a rig that does not have all the items on that list. Nice to Have is desirable things that don't quite make the Must have list, i.e. they are negotiable. Finally, No-Go are the show stoppers - you will not buy a rig if it has something that's on that list. It may be an empty list, but I'm betting you will find some things that you really don't like. Putting them on the list helps you avoid buying an otherwise desirable rig that has some feature that will irritate you after the bloom is off the rose.
Gary Brinck
2004 American Tradition; 2014 Buick LaCRosse
Homebase in the Ocala Nat'l Forest near Ocala, FL
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Old 01-31-2012, 04:53 PM   #7
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Originally Posted by Gary RVRoamer View Post
Do your first year in a 34-36 foot gas chassis coach, of whatever floor plan suits your fancy. Buy a used one, maybe 5 years old, to avoid the early depreciation loss....
There's a lot of good advice given in the above posts and GaryRV puts a lot of it togather in one. I'd stay in the 29-31 foot range with at least one slide as a starter. I wouldn't reccomend one as small as the one pictured below, a 23 ft Toyato Dolphin, but DW and I spent three years full time in it while I was stationed in Phoenix, AZ. I did have extra storage in that I found a trashed out 12 ft Scottie travel trailer gutted and refurbished and converted into a walk-in closet for DW that I parked behind it.

The living area, not including the bath or the cab over bed was about 14 by 6 ft 2 inches. It did have A/C and a small generator with enough output to power tha A/C

Stan, Shirley & 2 Schnauzers (Sandy & Sassy)
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USAF, Retired, Life Member: VSPA, DVA, VVA, VFW
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