One of my personal favorite things about being retired is that you have the time to get around to things that seemed to elude us whilst we were younger and working. Among them is the opportunity to finish the kind of conversations that seemed to die without conclusions in times gone bye.
With just a few days left before leaving Florida we took the opportunity to investigate the idea of owning multiple RV’s.
Owning multiple RV’s? Who would do that?
This conversation between us began a few days ago as we were walking the campground and noticing the departures. Not everyone who leaves at the end of the winter takes their RV along with them. Duh…. Most private parks have their group of seasonal — folks who rent either for the entire year, or for the entire high season — and then either leave their RV on site — or sometimes they own an RV that isn’t even designed to be moved once it is installed on a semi-permanent location. At the moment the number of campers still on site has dwindled and there are quite a number of RV’s left behind — all buttoned up for the summer.
While walking around we have also been mentally tabulating the ratio of 5th Wheel trailers to Tow-Behind trailers. It seems at this park the numbers are nearly equal — a surprising fact as we typically see more 5th wheel trailers in the places we travel than we do travel trailers. Some of our friends have gotten to the point of not wanting to — or being unable to — travel with their long RV and have opted to own two (sometimes smaller) RV’s and to leave them at a campground North and a campground South — spending their year going back and forth between them.
It’s an interesting idea. It never seemed to me to be a particularly affordable idea, but it’s something which, after talking about off and on again for a considerable time, we decided to spend day investigating. Just for fun.
Because travel trailers and 5th wheels are towed differently there are certain inherent realities. A travel trailer is towed behind a truck — so it tends to be somewhat shorter than a 5th wheel which is sort of tucked in behind and over the top of a pickup-truck bed. State length limits dictate overall vehicle length and a travel trailer with it’s long tongue out front, by design, is going to have to be shorter. Those long tongues out front also mean they are less maneuverable in motion. Backing a travel trailer into a tight site is a lot harder than backing a 5th wheel just because of the pivot point.
Any RV with steps in it is going to be higher (duh). Travel trailers tend to be lower to the ground both at the floor height and at the roof height. Nice fact that — easier maneuvering overhead; but less storage below — take your pick, or pick your poison I guess. What do you want more? If you’re a full timer you might opt for the storage that 5th wheels offer which might account for the fact that we tend to see more of them as full timers noticing other full timers.
The other reality of steps is that they are always a safety issue. Yesterday was walked up and down into maybe 25 different trailers. The stairs were clearly an issue with almost all of them. For one thing the built-in stairs on most all of the trailers are shallower and steeper than the stairs in our Class A. As we climbed in and out of the RV’s I kept having to turn my feet slightly to the side to feel comfortable and supported by the narrow stairs. The 5th wheel trailers all seemed to have their entry door immediately adjacent to the steps to the raised front section of the trailer. (I realize we only looked at a limited number of floorpans — so this may not be a universal failure — just something that was very noticeable to us on a given day). One or two them them had a total of 8 steps. 5 steps outside the RV and three more inside. For seniors that’s not the best idea — but clearly seniors are not the exclusive target market for RV’s.
We looked at a 5th Wheel FRONT KITCHEN model. I’d never seen one before. But the idea of 8 steps on multiple trips in and out every time we go to the grocery as not a prospect that I liked at all. Then the entry was so close to the stairs to the kitchen that (to me) it seemed a tripping hazard. Good friends, volunteers at the Siuslaw N.F., have a 5th wheel with a tight entry way like that and he managed to trip and fall and since then has endured a great deal of pain and two back surgeries.
I commented some time ago about the aisle space we have whilst moving from place to place with our slides retracted. I was curious to note that some of the RV’s we looked at yesterday had no aisle space all all when their slides were retracted. You could not cook in the RV until you extended at least one slide to give you access to the kitchen, and you would have to use front and rear doors to go from front to back with the slides retracted. Maybe that’s why some folks seem to make their annual North-South trips such long-distance marathons — their particular trailers just aren’t designed to be lived in while traveling — they were made for people who travel a couple hours and then stop for the weekend, not for continuous travelers.
We aren’t in the market to get off the road — and we haven’t yet found two places that we choose to return to year after year. But we have figured out a couple things. If we ever opt to split our year into two halves and return to the same place over and over again:
- We’re more likely to buy something that’s already parked and installed on a campground lot. I don’t mind driving my coach whilst towing a car but I just don’t like the idea of towing a big trailer behind my truck. Why not take advantage of someone else getting all the set-up work done. There are plenty units available if you start looking.
- Travel Trailers simply don’t seem like they are large enough for our idea of what we want to live in during retirement. They might be fine for someone else, just not us. In this category is included the so-called Destination Trailers which are smaller than Park Models but are intended to be installed on a site and left there, they have no wastewater holding tanks because they are supposed to be hook to a full hook-up site and hence aren’t useable while traveling. They offer some amenities often missing on a regular RV, flush toilets among them, but it’s not our solution.
- So, if we’re down to looking at 5th wheels and park models we want to be careful about how many stairs there are — and where those stairs are located. Interior stairs near the entry door are a no-no for us. That excludes any front kitchen 5th wheel. We like the idea of a front kitchen but in our estimation it’s simply too dangerous for people in advancing years.
We had a fun day yesterday. We saw the new line of NeverCold refrigerators in place. They look nice; I hope the work better than the one we had. We saw quite a few household refrigerators in new trailers — Mostly Samsung and Whirlpool (like ours) but larger capacity than what we installed in Serendipity. It might have been easier to do what we did yesterday when we were at the RV show, but we had our hands full covering the other fact-finding missions we set out to achieve — so yesterday was just a roadtrip on a lark.
I came to appreciate some things about our coach even more than before. We noticed that most of the trailer RV’s had ovens & microwaves. What I didn’t like was that the microwaves were smaller capacity and the ovens were almost too small to be usable in the way we cook. Sticking a large turkey BREAST inside some of those ovens would have been difficult, the shelves were too short for baking bread — just little details.
I was surprised that we weren’t hounded by salesmen. We introduced ourselves to one of the sales people, asked a few questions, and then he let us wander around without harassment. That was nice.
Thanks for stopping by, and let’s talk again tomorrow!