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Old 03-30-2016, 09:52 PM   #1
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RV Rookie female, solo future full timer with the age-old question - what RV?

(Apologies in advance for the length!)

I've been lurking for a while, but this is my first post. Long story short, I've been obsessed with the idea of full-timing in a RV. I'm going to do this.
I'm extremely fortunate that I have a career that is very portable; all I need is my laptop and solid internet and I'm set.

Some important facts about me: solo female, rapidly approaching 40 (no kids), and I'm taking my three (indoor-only but decently active) cats with me.
(And yes, I've heard all the crazy cat lady comments! I'm totally ok with the comparisons!). I also want to get a (larger) dog eventually.

The biggest question i'm facing is the age old one -- what type of RV should get?

I've done so much research and even visited an RV show and walked though just about everything -- and I still have no idea!

How much space do I realistically need for myself and all these paws?

I think the B's are probably too small.

Personally, I don't think I need a lot of space, but the animals probably do. Most people IRL I've told this plan to are decently supportive, but their biggest concern seems to be "it's not fair to keep the cats in such a small space. And you want a big dog? Sheesh!"

Class A/C's appeal to me a lot for the safety reasons -- If i'm in my rig and get weirded out, I can always just get up and go. However, the opposite of that is A/B/Cs freak me out because if the rig's in the shop, me and the animals are homeless and without a vehicle. I've read all the horror stories here...

I'm trying to avoid pulling a toad - insuring 2 vehicles and maintaining 2 engines for 1 person seems like overkill to me.

If I went that way, I was was thinking a smaller A/C would be best because then I wouldn't need a toad; the motorhome is easier to drive and can go just about anywhere. I really like the idea of the Cs on the Sprinter chassis (although probably out of my price range), but is that enough space? Regardless, I'm leaning towards nothing more than 27', but some of 30-32' floor plans do look appealing!

However, other alternative I'm pondering is a truck and fifth wheel. I lose the safety aspect of course, but if the truck breaks down I still have a home (in a campground or whatever) and if the fifth wheel needs work I can at least get me and the animals to a hotel with relative ease. Once unhitched, the truck can be used as a vehicle to run around and get groceries or whatever. And of course there's more living space in the fifth wheel.

However, I'm really worried about hitching and unhitching the fifth wheel by myself, and backing the thing up without a spotter!! I'm extremely independent, and I cannot stand the idea of having to depend on others to help me out. I need to be 100% self sufficient. Is this possible?

And of course, with a fifth wheel it means the cats and hypothetical dog are all riding in the back of the cab, which probably isn't ideal. I'm hoping (perhaps naively) to cover a lot of ground, so keeping the animals cooped up for a long period of time is a real concern.

I just cant figure out which way to direct my research! Is there anything I'm missing? I'd love to hear any thoughts and opinions ya'll might have! (Thanks for reading!)

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Old 03-30-2016, 09:56 PM   #2
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We have a Type A MH, take all seven cats with us.
Personally a MH is much more convenient than a TT or 5th wheel and I've been RV'ing since 1957.
Sounds like a small Type C MH might be a good one for you.
Our first MH was a 1988 Type B Okanagan. Only 17' long and I used it for a daily driver for a few years.

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Old 03-30-2016, 10:06 PM   #3
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My wife and I have looked at probably 200 RVs together, and she has some strong opinions. I would get her to answer your post, but she is asleep.

She fell out of a class B, after she had decided it was too small to spend more than a couple of nights in. I think it would almost be punishment spending an extended time in a B.

We have a 32-foot Class A diesel which we love. But wife Kelly never drives it. She finds the size a bit intimidating. It does seem to take up a lane. (She is OK towing an 18-foot trailer with a full-size pickup, so she is not a scaredy-cat.)

Were my wife traveling solo, she would choose a class C. The smaller cab area makes the whole vehicle seem more manageable. The van-style doors are convenient for fuel stops, taking photos and etc. You could leave a camp chair at the campsite and drive a smaller class C to the grocery store, museums, etc. During hot weather, your cats will nearby and in generator-powered air conditioned comfort.

We typically tow a car with our class A. We like the convenience, but maybe one time out of ten, hitching or unhitching takes brute strength - sometimes the two of us to accomplish the task. Maybe a bicycle or a scooter?

Our first motorhome was a narrow-body 26-foot class A. The overall size was great (except for a too-small bed for me!) We could park it just about anywhere, and went places that a larger RV could not go.

I would not travel with our dogs isolated in a trailer. Just wouldn't happen.

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Old 03-30-2016, 10:16 PM   #4
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If you could find one in good shape, I might recommend one of these. Like our first RV, but with a different interior layout. Part of the ad is wrong where it says a GM engine. The good ones have an Isuzu engine and chassis - slow as hell, but an absolutely dependable drivetrain. There is probably something new(er) out there similar - dependable, smallish, maneuverable... Install a motorcycle carrier and a moped, and you are ready! Probably my choice:

1993 Trek Diesel M24 for Sale - D704 - PPL Motor Homes

This is probably what Kelly would choose - newer, small, class c, gas-powered, easy to drive, just big enough for one and pets!

2009 Chateau Citation Sprinter 24SB for Sale - M166 - PPL Motor Homes

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Old 03-30-2016, 10:25 PM   #5
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Our girls have a 33 foot class C. We have a 42 foot class A and travel with a toad. One thing to look for is to get as many slides as you can afford. The girls do not have any animals and do not have a toad. With that we travel together so they do not need a toad. Another option is to rent a car where ever you stop. When we get to our camp site I unhook the car and use my mirrors and rear camera to get into our space. For us and many other people have found that they need a car when they travel.

We travel with 2 dogs and 1 cat. we stop every 2 hours and let the dogs out. The cat has his litter box.
2008 Thor, Four Winds Mandalay 40G. Cummins 400 isl. Freightliner chassis
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Old 03-30-2016, 11:20 PM   #6
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OK crazy cat lady, quit chasing your tail!

What do you want a dog for? A cat toy?

My cats routinely fly from one end of 36' to the other. The pounding hoofbeats of little feet. They are _not_ deprived.

In a Class C limit it to 30' or less to avoid that huge rear overhang. It'll probably be a Ford E350 or E450; avoid pre-2004 Triton-engine units. Lazy Daze is often considered best-in-class.

For a short Class A I'd probably go for a an F53-chassis vehicle with a V10 Triton. No heavy always-screwed-up slides for me, but that's just me. Bigger than 35' I'm in DP territory.

If you go for a really long Class C or a Class A you'll want a toad; trust me on this.

As for your critters, get three cage/crates and you and them will survive in a pet-friendly motel (yes they're out there) or Camp Parking Lot when you need to get repairs done. They won't like it but they WILL live no matter what they say.

I can't rationally address truck/trailer but I wouldn't do it that way.
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Old 03-31-2016, 01:16 AM   #7
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I suggest you rent a class C for a week or so.

You will more in tune with what you like and DON"T like about an RV after that time and you can see how your cats react to it.
2004 Monaco La Palma 36DBD, W22, 8.1, 7.1 MPG
2000 LEXUS RX300 FWD 22MPG 4020 LBS
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Old 03-31-2016, 03:47 AM   #8
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X2 with renting first..before you buy. I did this on several occasions and chose many different models and floor plans. Doing this for a few years allowed us to narrow down just exactly what we wanted when it came time to purchase.

Doing this before you buy will allow you to learn much..including your comfort level driving different size coaches.

I'd also attend the upcoming Spring RV shows and assume a solid "just looking" posture.
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Old 03-31-2016, 04:00 AM   #9
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Originally Posted by Arch Hoagland View Post
I suggest you rent a class C for a week or so.

You will more in tune with what you like and DON"T like about an RV after that time and you can see how your cats react to it.
It'll give you a better chance to make a informed choice of what may work for you. Good luck and happy hunting.
Bruce & Nancy
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Old 03-31-2016, 04:23 AM   #10
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You have a plethora of options to choose from out there but I sense you aren't sure if you are ready. You have a lot of contradictions in your post which isn't bad. It means to me you are really doing some good research. So, I agree with Arch, MrB, and Bruce that you should rent but not only a C try a Class A as well. Explore all the options suited for you. As with anything there are inconveniences that comes with it. Breakdowns are rare but alternate accommodations can be made. We have traveled with pets for many years in pop ups, by motel, and now a Class A. I prefer the Class A way over any other travel vehicles but that may not be for you. We pull a toad on a dolly. It's not hard to do and having the extra vehicle with us is nice but again maybe not for you. Here's what I would do in your situation:
1. Rent a Class C for a couple of weeks. Drive it 300 miles or so and get a feel for it. Park it in a store lot and buy your groceries or something like that 2 or more times. Experiment, a lot.
2. Rent a Class A next. Do the same as above.
3. Rent a car once or twice while out with either or both to see how you like that vs using the MH as a daily driver.
4. Stay away from the 5th wheel for the reasons in your post. Safety, handling, backing, hitching, riding with the pets in the cab, and insuring 2 vehicles. I think you should rule this out right away.

Once that you have that experience under your belt you can decide if full time is really right for you. Also you will have narrowed down the options. You will have a better understanding of what it takes to full time in an RV.
Steve n' Tammy with Ella Mae the "Shippet" in a 2003 Fleetwood Bounder 32' on a Ford F53 Chassis and a V-10 gasser pulling a 2013 Ford Edge on a EZE Tow Dolly
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Old 03-31-2016, 10:59 AM   #11
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Hi! Before I met Joseph, I was thinking about full timing by myself as well (props to you! And just so you know, its totally worth it! Do it!)

So I understand your reservations and concerns. When I was looking at RV's I was leaning towards class C's because of the same reasons you mentioned. I ended up getting a class A - 30ft Winnebago Brave, and have yet to be disappointed with my choice.

When I bought the rig it was just my dog and I, and has been perfect. My number 1 reason for choosing a class A over a C is the amount of storage room that comes along with it. I am a light traveler and don't own very much stuff - and still don't think I could get everything into a class C. I feel like class C's are great for traveling and not so great for full timing, personally.

I also appreciate the larger tanks: fresh water, gas, and dump tanks (fewer trips to the dump, etc.) Which is much more convenient when full timing. I feel like a lot of class A's are full self contained compared to the class C's - which means theres an on board generator and if you cant make it to a rv park or somewhere to plug in and charge up for a little while, its ok.

The class A will also usually give you more room for you and your fur friends, especially when your gone it will give them the ability to have "their own space" a little easier - which we all know cats need as much as humans haha.

I think no more than 30-32ft whether you get a class A or C - you will have plenty of room and its easier to drive. I am glad I didnt go larger than a 30ft because im still pretty confident while driving it (and thankful for the backup camera) and it fits into most parking lots even if it seems like it wont.

Now there are four of us (two people and two large dogs) and we still fit pretty comfortably in our Brave. If you can find a Brave in your area i suggest checking them out, the floor plan is awesome and they are well made.

Bikes are a great option if you don't want to pull a toad. We are choosing to do bikes because pulling a toad is so bad for gas mileage.

I'm sure others will have lots of great advice - main thing is make sure you are comfortable and that the rv you buy has been taken care of.. lots of rotten eggs out there.

Good luck With love and light,
'04 Brave // Full-Timers working towards Homesteading
Tasha & Joseph and the fur kids - Dukkha and Buddy (woof!) <3 Lady With A Hippie Heart <3 Please follow my Adventures @ https://gypsyyears.wordpress.com/
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Old 03-31-2016, 11:20 AM   #12
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We have two cats that live full time on our 36' boat. Folks sometimes ask us the 'how can you have them live in a space that small' question also. We point out to them that it's MUCH larger than the two foot square cage they were living in before we got them. It's also a good bit larger than many 1 bedroom or efficiency apartments. So, the cat's having enough space is the least of your worries I'd think.

The only thing I could add to all of the previous comments is - as you know, cats are FAST! You might want to consider a layout that will allow you to section off a door from the cats, so that you can come and go without one if them bolting out the door (I'm thinking of fuel stops and the like). Either a class A with a drivers door, or a class C - but with some temporary way to separate the cab from the rest of the coach so that you can open a door without losing a cat. It wouldn't necessarily have to be anything fancy, a sheet with velcro attachments all the way around would get the job done, you just need to slow them down.

Also a layout that gives you someplace to put the cat boxes where you don't have to 'live' with them every day would be nice. A mostly unused closet or something along those lines.

Good luck, and have fun!
1996 Fleetwood Southwind 34'
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Old 03-31-2016, 05:29 PM   #13
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It sounds like a Class C or A would be ideal for you. You can stay small but still have more space by getting one with slideouts.

Since you're young and will be working on the road, this group might be of interest to you.

Full-timed for 16 Years
. . . Back in S&B Again
Traveled in a 2004 Newmar Dutch Star 40' Diesel
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Old 03-31-2016, 06:46 PM   #14
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My suggestion would be to look at RV Sue and her canine crews blog. She's a woman traveling alone with two dogs and living full-time in a Casita travel trailer pulled by an SUV, she's been doing it for years and it seems to be working well for her. Other than that I would go along with the idea of renting something to try it before you buy it. I live full time in a 30 foot Arctic Fox fifth wheel which I chose because just like you I didn't want to lose my home if I had a breakdown.

I'm a brand new full-timer pulling an Arctic Fox 27-5L that has a lot to learn.
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