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Old 08-04-2021, 11:37 PM   #1
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Bunkhouse Travel Trailer Help

With a remote work situation now, the wife and I want to hit the road in a travel trailer with our 2 year old daughter. I've been reading a lot on these forums and gotten a lot of questions answered (thank you!).

We've narrowed our search down to a bunkhouse style TT under 30' after checking out a bunch (including airstreams). This seemed like the best layout for our small family that would allow for our daughter to take naps/sleep and still leave us a bit of privacy with a queen bed up front. I plan on trading in my pathfinder so towing will not be an issue in regards to weight.

So my question is this...I want to get something of higher quality and am willing to pay a bit more for this reason. However, reading articles and even posts on here gets a bit confusing as there seems to be negative reviews on all brands, making it hard to determine where to start.

I was pretty sure that I was going to go with a Lance, but then I read they got bought out a few years back and quality went down.

Any recommended brands? It's so hard to even find models in stock at local dealers to see quality, and frankly I don't really know what to look for. I could tell when I got in a few of them that they were cheap, but on others I didn't really know.

Thanks for taking the time to read this!
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Old 08-05-2021, 05:39 AM   #2
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When you say “hit the road”, do you mean full-time, or part-time? This will make a huge difference in what kind of TT you will need. If full-timing, bigger is better. If part-timing, smaller is better. You don’t need 30ft to part-time comfortable with one child. 25ft would be more than enough. Would save thousands on the TT, and many more thousands on the truck purchase because smaller means you could buy a 1/2 ton truck instead of 3/4 ton if you can find one.

As far as quality, it’s subjective, and if you’ve never owned an RV, you won’t have a frame of reference. IMHO, on a scale of 1-10, Airstream is the only 10. Everything else is 7 or below. After owning six RVs of various brands, we chose Winnebago because we believe it’s build quality is about as good as it gets. Same can be said for Grand Design and ORV, although they tend to be heavier for the same length. Good news, is if you go with one of the better brands and want to make a change, you’re less likely to take the hit you would take with a lesser brand.

We part-time (retired) with trips 2 to 8 weeks. Our small 25ft micro mini is comfortable on long trips, and easy to tow with just a mid-size pickup. No warranty issues that we couldn’t fix ourselves.
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Old 08-05-2021, 06:33 AM   #3
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Back in the late 70's we did the same thing as you are thinking about doing. We had one little daughter and hoped to have another child someday. We decided to buy a 24 foot Fleetwood Prowler Bunkbed travel trailer to tour the country and visit family who all lived at least 500 miles away.

It was a grand idea that really cemented our family together. Every chance we got we would head out and explore the country. Then our second daughter was born with a extremely rare life threatening condition and that changed everything. This was just before the internet came into being. and doctors and research centers around the country didn't have a good way to talk to each other and share ideas on what worked and what didn't work.

Very long story short, we used every day off from work to travel around from one major university medical research center to another all across this country, using that bunkbed travel trailer as our base. We were able to learn so much and we were got one research center talking to another about her condition. Bottom line was, her life expectancy went from a few years at best to at 41 years old she is still going strong!

All this to say we loved our Fleetwood Prowler. Ever since then we have stuck to Fleetwood products, and they have never let us down. Sure small things break, but I have always been able to fix those myself.

Good luck with your decision, enjoy your family and make sure you take plenty of pictures of your kids growing up. It won't be long before you will be hearing "What I'd really like, dad, is to borrow the car keys". from Cats in the Cradle by Harry Chapin
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Old 08-05-2021, 10:37 AM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Marine359 View Post
When you say “hit the road”, do you mean full-time, or part-time? This will make a huge difference in what kind of TT you will need. If full-timing, bigger is better. If part-timing, smaller is better. You don’t need 30ft to part-time comfortable with one child. 25ft would be more than enough. Would save thousands on the TT, and many more thousands on the truck purchase because smaller means you could buy a 1/2 ton truck instead of 3/4 ton if you can find one.

As far as quality, it’s subjective, and if you’ve never owned an RV, you won’t have a frame of reference. IMHO, on a scale of 1-10, Airstream is the only 10. Everything else is 7 or below. After owning six RVs of various brands, we chose Winnebago because we believe it’s build quality is about as good as it gets. Same can be said for Grand Design and ORV, although they tend to be heavier for the same length. Good news, is if you go with one of the better brands and want to make a change, you’re less likely to take the hit you would take with a lesser brand.

We part-time (retired) with trips 2 to 8 weeks. Our small 25ft micro mini is comfortable on long trips, and easy to tow with just a mid-size pickup. No warranty issues that we couldn’t fix ourselves.
Good questions and good points. A bit more to share.....this would not be for full time living, but I would like to take some longer trips and travel over the next 2 years before our daughter starts school. My wife is not a camper so this was sort of a compromise in regards to comfort. My small business took off in the last couple of years so I have a bit more financial flexibility.

I've been looking to upgrade to something like a Ram 2500 so I don't think towing would be an issue in regards to weight. I have a box truck with a 20' box and decent trailering experience so I'm not worried about that. It's more about fitting into state parks and not being "too big."

I just found Outdoors RV last night while searching. They seem decent quality.

If you were to rank quality brands (realizing there can always be an issue trailer to trailer), where would Lance, ORV, Winnebago, and Grand Design fall? Or would they all be about equal and it comes down to preference?
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Old 08-05-2021, 10:42 AM   #5
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Originally Posted by Bigd9 View Post
Back in the late 70's we did the same thing as you are thinking about doing. We had one little daughter and hoped to have another child someday. We decided to buy a 24 foot Fleetwood Prowler Bunkbed travel trailer to tour the country and visit family who all lived at least 500 miles away.

It was a grand idea that really cemented our family together. Every chance we got we would head out and explore the country. Then our second daughter was born with a extremely rare life threatening condition and that changed everything. This was just before the internet came into being. and doctors and research centers around the country didn't have a good way to talk to each other and share ideas on what worked and what didn't work.

Very long story short, we used every day off from work to travel around from one major university medical research center to another all across this country, using that bunkbed travel trailer as our base. We were able to learn so much and we were got one research center talking to another about her condition. Bottom line was, her life expectancy went from a few years at best to at 41 years old she is still going strong!

All this to say we loved our Fleetwood Prowler. Ever since then we have stuck to Fleetwood products, and they have never let us down. Sure small things break, but I have always been able to fix those myself.

Good luck with your decision, enjoy your family and make sure you take plenty of pictures of your kids growing up. It won't be long before you will be hearing "What I'd really like, dad, is to borrow the car keys". from Cats in the Cradle by Harry Chapin
Wow, what a story! Thanks for sharing your experience. It really helps me feel more confident that this is a good direction for our family. I've never been to the Grand Canyon, Yellowstone, Redwoods, or many of the amazing sights we have here in the US.

That must have been so tough with your 2nd child. As a relatively new parent, I can understand how you would do anything for your kids. I'm really glad to hear it had a happy ending and your daughter is going strong!
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Old 08-05-2021, 12:31 PM   #6
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Take a look at Northwood RV's Nash line, they offer some bunkhouse models and are well built. https://northwoodmfg.com/travel-trailers/nash/
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Old 08-05-2021, 01:13 PM   #7
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Originally Posted by tad12 View Post
Good questions and good points. A bit more to share.....this would not be for full time living, but I would like to take some longer trips and travel over the next 2 years before our daughter starts school. My wife is not a camper.
If you were to rank quality brands (realizing there can always be an issue trailer to trailer), where would Lance, ORV, Winnebago, and Grand Design fall? Or would they all be about equal and it comes down to preference?
Longer trips = national and state parks likely = shorter is better maybe 26ft max.
Wife not a camper = bigger is better, more comfort.
3/4 ton truck = flexibility in tt GVWR and tongue weight.

Deciding what is most important to you; accessibility to all campgrounds, or maximizing comfort will be the main determinant of your trailer choice. Budget may not be an issue, but know that you’ll likely to spend another $3,000-4,000 for upgrades, as travel trailers are not equipped standard for boondocking. Better batteries, some solar, and inverter or inverter/charger, generator, etc.

If we weren’t limited on storage space, and maneuverability, we would have bought an ORV. But we are limited on turn radius up our mountain drive, so only a mid-size pickup with smallish trailer would work. However, we are quite happy with our micro mini and quite comfortable, mostly boondocking. But we did spend a lot on upgrades.
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Old 08-07-2021, 10:18 AM   #8
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Originally Posted by Marine359 View Post
Longer trips = national and state parks likely = shorter is better maybe 26ft max.
Wife not a camper = bigger is better, more comfort.
3/4 ton truck = flexibility in tt GVWR and tongue weight.

Deciding what is most important to you; accessibility to all campgrounds, or maximizing comfort will be the main determinant of your trailer choice. Budget may not be an issue, but know that you’ll likely to spend another $3,000-4,000 for upgrades, as travel trailers are not equipped standard for boondocking. Better batteries, some solar, and inverter or inverter/charger, generator, etc.

If we weren’t limited on storage space, and maneuverability, we would have bought an ORV. But we are limited on turn radius up our mountain drive, so only a mid-size pickup with smallish trailer would work. However, we are quite happy with our micro mini and quite comfortable, mostly boondocking. But we did spend a lot on upgrades.
The upgrades is a really good point. Would 28' still allow access to most campgrounds? Was looking this one which is 27'9"
https://www.outdoorsrvmfg.com/timber...3dbs-titanium/

or maybe the Grand Design:
https://www.granddesignrv.com/shoppi...orplan/8/76671
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Old 08-07-2021, 01:01 PM   #9
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The lengths posted are usually box length. You have to add another 3ft for the tongue, and maybe another foot for the bumper/spare. That said, a 28ft would probably have no problem in 80% of national parks. My experience is that many if state parks have a 25ft limit. You can slip up to one with a 26ft. Now, one final piece of advice which is worth what you pay for it. If mama won’t be happy in a shorter trailer, get a bigger one that she’ll like. Let her pick; then she owns it. Everything else comes secondary. Get a truck to match. Happy wife, happy life.
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Old 08-08-2021, 02:55 PM   #10
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our freedom express trailer is 28' and about 6000# and we tow it fine with our '19 Ram Laramie 1500 hemi. we have been to quite a few state parks and have had no trouble with the size of ours but I have heard some nat parks have size limits. I would say there are plenty of trailers to pick from under 30'. keep in mind that the longer they are, the harder it is to get in and out of gas stations along the way.
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Old 08-09-2021, 08:12 AM   #11
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Originally Posted by tad12 View Post
The upgrades is a really good point. Would 28' still allow access to most campgrounds? Was looking this one which is 27'9"
https://www.outdoorsrvmfg.com/timber...3dbs-titanium/

or maybe the Grand Design:
https://www.granddesignrv.com/shoppi...orplan/8/76671
This blog entry from The Roving Foley's has some good details regarding RV length and national parks. The short summary is, as others have previously noted, the 25-30 overall length will be accommodated at the majority of national park campgrounds. We have a ORV 23DBS and so far have had no issues getting into national and state parks across the western part of the country.
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Old 08-10-2021, 08:46 PM   #12
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Thanks everyone, really appreciate all the feedback. Looking forward to traveling and trying out this lifestyle for my family.
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Old 08-10-2021, 09:07 PM   #13
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Airstreams

I have to correct the poster that said Airstreams are a 10. Lots of quality control issues on new ones. Older ones tend to have floor rot and can leak. Get on the Airstream and Trailer forum. Read and get a flavor on what Airstreams are all about.
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Old 08-10-2021, 09:22 PM   #14
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I have to correct the poster that said Airstreams are a 10. Lots of quality control issues on new ones. Older ones tend to have floor rot and can leak. Get on the Airstream and Trailer forum. Read and get a flavor on what Airstreams are all about.
All RVs have issues. We just bought a 2021 25’ Globetrotter front bedroom. Is it perfect? Of course not. But it certainly is the highest quality RV we’ve owned and we’ve had several over the Las 30+ years. Does the added “quality” justify the 2x or more price difference? You’ll never get people to agree on that.

If I were going to live out of an Airstream with a child,I’d go with a Flying Cloud bunkhouse. Of course now between a trailer and a capable tow vehicle you’re edging up to $200k buying new. You could get a decent Class A for that much and a toad. Or a 5th wheel and 1 ton tv. Our 2015 Discovery 40 G bunkhouse was a great class A. The kids had their own space, the coach drove great, it had a king bed and could tow a decent car (we had a 2014 CRV). Oh yeah,it had a full sized washer dryer. You could pick that same coach up today for well under $200k. Probably in the $130s.
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