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Old 09-16-2019, 06:55 PM   #1
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Considering the move from Trailer to Motorhome

We have been considering getting a MH. I can't decide if it is just a case of the grass is greener and RV envy seeing nice rigs at the campground or if it would really be the right fit for our family to mix it up. Obviously only we can ultimately make that decision but I'd love to hear some opinions, particularly from those that have gone from Trailer to Motorhome or the reverse.

The hardest part for us is finding sleeping surfaces for 3 kids 12 years and under. Trailers seem to have better family layouts. It is what led us down the road of a trailer in the first place. The second issue is budget. I realize that we will be looking at 10 to 15 year old vehicles in most cases.

So knowing all that, the case is pretty easy for a trailer... Which of course doesn't change the fact that we love the idea of a 'driving' RV as my daughter calls them. I think the envy really started last year while making an over night stop. It was getting dark when we pulled in. It was driving rain and the site was not level. We had to level and unhook to sleep comfortably. Thank god it was a pull through site. While I was getting us setup a large Class A pulled up next to us, dropped their levelers, pushed out their slides and were set for the night. In the morning while I was stomping around in the left over drizzle and haze, they pulled up and left. We never even saw them. All I could think was man that must be nice. Obviously that one scenario doesn't happen often, but it did get us thinking along those lines.

Most of our trips do not involve stop overs but some do. Many of our trips are within 200 miles of home for baseball tournaments. Some other families with MH and quiet on board generators will actually park their rigs at the ball parks during the day and tailgate. We leave ours hooked up at the campgrounds. We don't normally carry a generator (our choice obviously) and the dog needs the A/C if we can't bring him into the park (and honestly at his age he'd rather be king of the castle than braving the ball park all day).

When not in use, the trailer doubles as an extra bedroom for guests (the mother inlaw suite) and/or an office if I am working from home. My oldest boy, who shares a room with his brother, has spent the night in the trailer when he needed to make sure he would get a good nights sleep or when one had to be up much earlier than the other. Of course, that is sometimes just an excuse to camp in the driveway too.

We also take family vacations to mountains and to visit family. I'm not sure if those journeys would be easier in our Excursion towed trailer or in a motorhome, but it always looks more comfortable in a motorhome.
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Old 09-16-2019, 07:43 PM   #2
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With three kids age 12 and under, you are correct that finding sleeping arrangements for them in a MH would be a priority. That probably limits you to a bunk bed floor plan which limits your purchase options in finding an RV in a price range you are OK with.
Yes, the leveling problem and hooking/unhooking issues were the things that led us to getting our current MH. No more crouching under the rig in the sand and the red ants to level up when you have hydraulic jacks at the push of a button in a MH.

That said, you may want to have a tow vehicle to drag behind a MH so you don't have to break camp when you want to visit the sights in the campground area. That's an added expense--and not just for the vehicle--but for the tow bar, the base plate on the toad, the supplemental braking system, the wiring for the toad lights--or a dolly for towing, which brings a whole 'nother issue of on-site storage and futtzing when you arrive and leave a campsite.

With a young family like yours, my advice (and I may be out of bounds not knowing your situation) I say you should focus on the advantages that your trailer gives you as stated in your post and keep the trailer and re-purpose the money you would have put into a MH, toad and/or dolly into savings for future needs. Kids can be expensive (even ignoring college costs if that's the path they're on) and experience shows me that it's never to early to start saving.

Kids are resilient and will be OK with not having a "driving RV." They will remember the experiences of seeing the country and vacationing in the mountains more than the envy of the "driving RV" campsite neighbors.


I drive a 19 year-old RV and it needs a lot of attention to keep it up. Having an RV with combined house and chassis leads to downtime whenever there is a problem with either system. This is not a big problem for me, as we are retired, flexible in planning, and pretty handy with fixing what comes up. In your situation with kids and a dog--well, hmm, an older motorhome might not be the best alternative to your current trailer and the known issues you have in traveling in it with your family. An older MH will have unknown issues which may crop up when least convenient. There is no right answer, I suppose, but I come down on the side of keeping the trailer rather that trading into a motorhome.

My 2 cents. Good luck, and maybe I'll see you down the road.
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Old 09-17-2019, 09:27 AM   #3
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We made a similar move a couple of years ago, sold our large toy hauler that we used to full time in and the 1 ton duallie, and moved over to a 40' DP. Now that we own a home and got tired of using the 1 ton as our daily driver, the new to us setup suits our usage pretty well.
Sleeping space for families can be tough. We found a bunk model after quickly learning that there aren't many used ones out there in a DP. We compromised on some other features and plans in order to get the bunks. They seem to be easier to find in the gas motorhomes.
As expressed above, your proposed change is likely to just bring a different set of headaches. You'll want to tow a car, and will want one that carries the whole family. You might already own such a vehicle but will still have the cost of setting up with a dolly or to flat tow. And, a used rig can have some significant hidden problems that will chew up a lot of cash. In the case of the diesel, the ongoing routine maintenance is not a trivial amount of work or cost.
This move might be easier for a retired couple like us. You might consider getting automatic levelers retrofitted to your trailer, or perhaps dealing and getting one that is so equipped. When it comes to setting up camp I must admit the levelers are very nice. However, I still get out in the weather to hook up power, water, and sewer so it's the main difference. It can be nice to be able to get to the fridge or the bathroom while in motion, but there's some personal risk in doing this. (I know, I grew up when us kids got toted around in the box of a pickup, but the roads are a whole lot different today). And, the seatbelt/airbag arrangement for the family is going to be a step backwards.
All just food for thought, maybe such a move will work out for you. If it was me at your stage in life I would look at a trailer upgrade and minimize the financial hit. Best of Luck!
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Old 09-17-2019, 10:16 AM   #4
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Like everything there are pros and cons. I like the convenience of being able to jump behind the wheel and going for an overnight stay at a dirt race track. I keep the fresh water tank full of fresh water and the waste tanks empty except for a small amount of water to keep the tanks wetted. No hook up necessary. We really like and enjoy our MH.
On the down side there are extra insurance and plate costs which far exceed those of a trailer. You have an entire extra chassis to maintain not just with oil changes but everything on the running gear and suspension. 6 tires as opposed to 4. 8 tires if you buy a MH with tag axles. Many of the systems on a MH are more complicated than the typical trailer.
You'll find depreciation is higher on a MH than a trailer and when it comes time to sell the buyer market is much smaller for a MH. (IMO)
It's all in what you like and want. I give you credit for doing your homework before making a decision you may regret later on.
Either way, have safe travels.
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Old 09-17-2019, 02:41 PM   #5
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As the others have said there are pros and cons, a motorhome will likely be more expensive to own as you have a motor vehicle to maintain, which means vehicle insurance, registration, as well as all the mechanical stuff, oil changes, tires, batteries. I just spent $500 on my 2002 coach last week having the dash air conditioner recharged, chassis greased, and front wheel bearings repacked (sure I could have done some of that myself, but I was short on time with an upcoming trip), overall this year has been fairly cheap, though I did have a $250 insurance deductible for a new windshield, $75 and a number of hours of my time for DIY generator starter replacement, $300 for new pressure switches for the automatic parking brake, plus another $300-$400 on incidentals, Last year the big expense was $1,400 for new ball joints, ....
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Old 09-17-2019, 06:32 PM   #6
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It is so much easier followed up with it is so much more expensive.
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Old 09-17-2019, 06:39 PM   #7
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We went the other direction and are very happy with our TT. We found that travel by MH was way too expensive for us. Heavy truck shops that will work on the MH think a lot of their mechanics and you are at their mercy. I do a lot of my own maintenance, but break downs on the road are a part of travel, and some of those repairs can exceed the tools you haul with you. Finding a shop that will work on a MH can be problematic and even getting parts (ours was a 8.1 workhorse chassis) can tie you up for as much as a week. I can get my PU fixed just about anywhere.

Motor homes require you to be "on the wheel" more than driving your PU and trailer and I find the drive in my PU to be much more relaxing. Furthermore, I can cover ground a little faster because I am not getting blown around by 18 wheelers and heavy ind gusts.

Set up for the trailer takes more time, but that is one of the few downsides we have found.

The good news is that you are traveling with your kids and making memories for everyone that will not be soon forgotten.
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Old 09-18-2019, 03:03 PM   #8
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We've had both. Given your situation, I recommend keeping your TT.

Ditto what spdracr39 said.
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Old 09-18-2019, 06:09 PM   #9
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Bunkhouse model, but would be an expensive upgrade.
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Old 09-19-2019, 06:28 AM   #10
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We did something similar to your situation and couldn’t be happier! We have 3 kids 11,9,6 and started out with a truck and travel trailer, then 2 years ago moved up to our gas bunkhouse MH. We absolutely love our coach and decision to move to a MH. For us the MH offered a more relaxed mode of travel that better fit our wants. For example being able to have a meal on the move, not having to get out of the tow vehicle to use the restroom, more space for people to move around and adjust vs the can of the truck. Also setup is so much easier. As you stated only you can decide is if is the right situation for your family and needs/wants but for us we are 100% satisfied with our choice.
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Old 09-19-2019, 09:27 AM   #11
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Colorfinger,

Setting the tone, read my reply to the immortal words of Harry Chapin.




We started out 40 years ago in a really small tent, and bigger tent, a pop up camper (so happy to be off the ground) several VERY used TT, a class C, and ultimately moved to a Class A's The moral of MY story is that we were really happy what what we had at the time, because it fit our budget.

That said, if I have one (small) regret, its that we didn't have our motorhome when our children were younger. (my grand kids are reaping the reward now)
For us, getting in the motorhome and traveling is almost more fun than actually getting to our destination. You know how it is with kids, being cooped up in your truck certainly prompts the age old questions "are we there yet" and "how much longer"? Traveling in a motorhome IS the fun part of taking a trip. Yes, setup is quicker and easier but having room for the family to move around while you're traveling, use the restroom, eat snacks (or a full meal) is way better than what you are doing now. Its absolutely better quality time together.

The time you have with your kids is SO limited and if this will enable you to spend more quality time with the family, go for it! The kids will be up and grown before you can blink an eye. If this purchase fits your budget, do it!
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Old 09-19-2019, 11:27 AM   #12
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We've had both. Given your situation, I recommend keeping your TT.

Ditto what spdracr39 said.

lol, we've had both too. , with 2 kids. We started with a 5er, went to a class C, then another 5er, now a 38z' DP. We like the MH best.
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Old 09-19-2019, 12:39 PM   #13
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We have a Class C and I wouldn't trade it for anything but I sometimes envy the trailer people. They drop of their trailer and they have a vehicle to go sightseeing or to the store or wherever.

We carry a nice big scooter but we still have to unload and while we can ride rain or shine it would be nice to have an enclosed vehicle.

It would also be nice to just maintain the tow vehicle at any auto shop. The Class C requires a special shop that can accommodate the size. Even things as simple as an oil change require some thought and planning.

But we do like just stopping and being able to walk to the back and make something to eat or a cup of coffer or just grab something out of the fridge. And setting up on a level site is just a couple minutes.

Whenever I start to think the grass is greener on the other side of the fence I get in my neighbor's backyard and look over the fence into my yard.
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Old 09-19-2019, 01:52 PM   #14
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We moved up through tent, smaller trailer, larger trailer (26 foot box with slide) to now using a class A diesel Pusher the last few years. We have 4 kids, now 11 through 18. We always take a flat towed car in case we break down somewhere. I often have a motorcycle on it too.

Like others have said, the cost of the bus is higher in every way. I can fix literally anything on my own, and we bought a fixer upper Dutch star for under $10k. I've done a lot of fix-up and catching up on maintenance, which was expected. I haven't really spent a lot on it though, since I do the work myself. I try to keep the essential mechanical stuff in top shape to avoid a breakdown on the road. As far as driving, it's been reliable and easy to use. The rest of it has been little projects here and there like all RVs of any type. I bought the heaviest duty truck style chassis I could find with a mechanical medium duty diesel and 6 speed Allison transmission. It's air suspension and brakes. This all helps a lot since it's basically a lightly loaded truck chassis and drives like a dream.

We absolutely love the thing. Traveling is so much nicer in every way. We're always talking about the niceties we didn't think about before hand. Bigger water tanks, better fuel mileage than our diesel truck and trailer, tons of storage in the under floor bays, more insulation, more weight (bus doesn't jiggle when the kids are up in the other end like the trailers did), big house sized bathroom, big house batteries, onboard generator, higher cruise speed, better stopping, better turning, 100 gallon fuel tank, etc. Etc. Etc.. We can use the restroom and make a sandwich on the road, or make the driver a cup of coffee. We make zero arrangements to stay anywhere on the road, when tired we just stop. With 2 adults I just did a trip with 4000 miles covered in only 4 driving days without feeling bad because we weren't stuck in a traditional vehicle seat.

Downsides, other than increased costs, are that there aren't really enough usable seat belts for the kids, and we use a couple sleeping bags on the floor at night. Ours has only 2 queen beds, the dinette is not a sleeper. This winter I may add a couple bench seats with belts from a van or something and I'm gonna either buy or build a sleeper dinette. Make sure the floor plan works with the slide in on the road, ours is good but some aren't.

If you can't fix things or afford the maintenance stick to the trailer. We couldn't do this by paying for repairs or buying a more expensive bus. I think no matter what, new or old, it'll take upkeep and be costly if you use the shop to do things to it a lot.

I find that with a trailer we always destination camped. With the bus we enjoy the journey more and lately we hardly use campgrounds anymore. With all the extra power and water capacity we rarely even plug it in at campgrounds even with hookups available.

Keep in mind, we're weird. We removed all the TV's, and we usually go to wild places rather than "resort" destinations. Our ideal campground is on a dirt road in the mountains with a creek for the kids to play in, no cell coverage for 100 miles around, and no one else there.

Examine your budget, and as us bikers say "ride your own ride". What works for some is not gonna work for others.Click image for larger version

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