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Allentc2

Looking for full-timers who go both ways ; )

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So I have come full circle. I started looking into full-time RVing as a retirement possibility around a year ago. I began looking at Class As, then went to campers, then to Class B+s, then to TTs. All have their pluses and minuses, and obviously how I intend to live depends a lot on what RV best suits me. If I have learned anything from my reading, it’s that. I want to dry camp for a couple of weeks at a time, until I need to refill the water tank and dump the black/gray. While I don’t want to go rock crawling, I would like to check out BLM/Forest Service lands in addition to the myriad of state/national parks and forests.  And I'm going to live in this thing, full-time.

What I’m asking for here is some input from 1) full-timers who have gone from a Class A gasser (say something <35’) to a TT, or vice versa, and 2) people who’ve been full-timing awhile.

I’m 50 now, and hope to start this new journey just before I hit 56. One thing I’ve been completely unable to do is anticipate my needs when I’m older. I sort of eliminated slide-in campers because of lack of room and having to climb up to get into bed. I've filled many a dry erase board with pros/cons list of the various types, but aside from actually going out and trying each type, I'm not sure how well that's working in picking one type out. LOL

Anyway, I’d love to hear about those who’ve done both the Class As and TTs. What did you switch to? Why? Regrets? What do you think you’ll do when you get into your 70s or 80s? I guess that last one is a bit hard to answer, but you get my drift.

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I think the biggest positive/negative from a TT vs something you drive really depends on how often you want to move.  With a driveable RV, I think staying on the move a little more is easier, but has some disadvantages if you choose to stay put for extended periods of time. Certainly you can make it work, but I think trailers do better staying put for longer durations and it's more of a pain to hook up and move more often. Now you mention wanting to dry camp weeks at a time. I don't know if you mean at the same spot for weeks at a time although many NF & BLM type places (other than LTVA areas) limit you to 14 days and then you have move. Some places this isn't enforced and people do stay much longer than 2 weeks. 

So we've been full-timing in a large 5th wheel since August, but having done more boondocking lately including 20+ days straight at two different locations and really enjoying it, I've certainly come to understand where certain rigs give you certain advantages but also introduce disadvantages. We are in a rather large 5th wheel with an HDT so in our setup, we probably have some of the best tank capacities to boondock/dry camp for extended periods of time without needing to refill. On the downside, the size of our rig certainly limits us from getting into some of the smaller out of the way boondocking spots or into NF campgrounds etc and when it's time to move the sheer size of our rig makes us really think through our upcoming actions. A TT being smaller and possibly being pulled with a 4x4 truck probably gives you some of the best options on really getting off the beaten path. You will most likely have smaller tanks compared to larger trailers, but the advantage that you can leave your trailer put until you are ready to move or run out of resources. Having the truck along means you can make runs to town for resources and you may also be able to setup your truck to carry in more fresh water or carry out grey/black thus extending your stays in areas without moving your TT. The other advantage is that you are holding your spot with your TT while you are gone in your truck.

Moving over to derivable rigs like Class A & B+, these types of rigs gives you a big advantage if you like to stay on the move more since you can pretty much park and climb right to the back, especially a Class B+ which is the most maneuverable of any of these. These rigs allow you to bounce around between boondocking spots more easily. However it can be a disadvantage from just staying in one spot for extended periods of time. Depending on the model, Class A's can be pretty well setup to be self contained and keep you off the beaten path for extended periods of time between holding tanks and other resources just behind large 5th wheels. If you are in Class A towing a toad, that also gives you the advantage of still being able to run to down to get resources or if you need to leave with the Class A to fill/empty and want to return to the same spot, you can leave your toad behind to hold your spot. One big disadvantage of a Class A with a toad is you cannot backup without disconnecting so if you find yourself getting into a jam as you are looking for that great boondocking spot, you might spend a lot of time getting turned around. On the other hand, you can leave the Class A in safe spot and go explore with the toad. Most likely in a Class B+, you won't have a toad, so although this is the most maneuverable rig, it also has the smallest tanks and it means you have nothing to hold your spot (other than maybe personal items) if you need to leave to refil/empty your tanks. If you need resources, you have to just go drive your rig although it is the easiest to just get up and go with the least amount of take down and setup. I do think Class B's give you some of the best flexibility to really go find those great small out of the way boondocking spots, but you will probably find you prefer to stay on the move since you will need to refil more often. It seems most people would just assume to stay on the move rather then keep going back to the same spot. One huge advantage to a B+ is pretty much being able to just to park anywhere for an evening even including street parking. This just isn't as easy to get away with in Class A's and towables. 

There really is no perfect rig and so much depends on how you want to travel. I like the fact our rig is quite large and comfy with minimal sacrifices needing to be made, even with boondocking, but I certainly sometimes envy the smaller rigs that can get places I can't. Now even with the smaller rigs, people have really learned how to stretch out their resources, but the smaller the rig, the more creative you really need to be and often the more sacrifices you have to make. For some people though those sacrifices are totally worth it for them to never have to step food in a private RV park and they wouldn't trade it for the world. 

 

Edited by BlueLghtning

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When I first started to look at RVing I was told the motor homes were for driving and TT and fivers were for parking. That was at an Escapees Booth Camp in Livingston, TX is 2009, I think? There is some truth to that. What is right for you will not be right for everyone. Good Luck

 

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In my mind, I see myself moving around every 10-14 days or so, not necessarily returning to the exact same spot. But the tanks need refilling/emptying and the cupboard/refrigerator needs restocked, soooooo.........  :)
 

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Probably more important than white boards full of pro/con list, is a serious reflection on your personality. To be successful full-timing requires a flexible, adaptable, person, rather than one paralyzed by indecision and worry. A flexible person can find a way to be successful in any type rig. What you see in your mind currently may have very little to do with the eventual picture that develops with time and experience.

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Do you think you want a car to drive around and explore?  Would you be willing to drive a scooter for local transport?  You can carry a LOT of groceries on a scooter and I think it could be carried on the back of a class B.  Just offering ideas.

I'm guessing you're planning on hiking a lot based on your destinations.  What else do you think you will do?  Are you an outdoorsy person or are you going to sit in the trailer and watch TV?  More than that, do you currently stay outside a lot or are you expecting this to be a big lifestyle change?

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7 hours ago, Allentc2 said:

Anyway, I’d love to hear about those who’ve done both the Class As and TTs. What did you switch to? Why? Regrets? What do you think you’ll do when you get into your 70s or 80s? I guess that last one is a bit hard to answer, but you get my drift.

We Owned two popup trailers and two travel trailers when our kids were growing up. Tried a small class A gas rig after they all left the nest and found it fit us well. We then bought a new, 35' gas class A for fulltime living and at age 57 we sold the house and moved into the motorhome. We lived on the road for nearly 12 years in that same gas-powered motorhome but with my wife having health issues we bought a home-base in an RV community and soon after sold the motorhome and now travel part-time with a travel trailer. Our reason for the change was that the class A needed new tires and several other upgrades to continue to travel worry free after that use and we chose to sell and put the money into a smaller RV for part-time use. Our only regret is that we went smaller than we might have done if we had realized that Pam's health would improve and allow us to stay out for several months at a time once more. 

We are now in our mid 70's and so we anticipate that we are probably not as skilled driver's as we were 20 years ago and so we figure that it is time for us to travel in something smaller. We also now tow with a truck which I missed in the years we had our class A and only one other vehicle as we now have the truck and an SUV. We have several neighbors who are now past 80 and who still travel by RV but most of us are slowing down and travel short days. At the same time, my truck (bought used) and a travel trailer (small but new) required the spending of only a few thousand dollars more than it would have cost to keep the class A travel worthy at 14+ years of age. I do not think that continuing to live in an RV in late years is a good choice for most of us when up in years. Our house is completely wheelchair accessible, which is needed even for things like walkers or crutches and is far less difficult for us when dealing with recovery from surgery or serious illness. We chose to buy a cheaper, seasonal level trailer. If you think that we can help in your planning feel free to ask here or to PM me. 

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3 hours ago, Allentc2 said:

In my mind, I see myself moving around every 10-14 days or so, not necessarily returning to the exact same spot. But the tanks need refilling/emptying and the cupboard/refrigerator needs restocked, soooooo.........  :)
 

My 2012 custom conversion Sprinter van had 40 gallons fresh and 20 gallons each gray and black. My fridge was 7 cf. Those capacities made 10-14 day stays very comfortable. Then I'd dump and fill, buy groceries, and do laundry on my way to my next campsite. I have no idea what your budget is but it's for sale again--a two owner rig.  https://sportsmobile.com/preowned-sportsmobile-texas-inc/

Linda Sand

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4 hours ago, oldbutspry said:

Do you think you want a car to drive around and explore?  Would you be willing to drive a scooter for local transport?  You can carry a LOT of groceries on a scooter and I think it could be carried on the back of a class B.  Just offering ideas.

I'm guessing you're planning on hiking a lot based on your destinations.  What else do you think you will do?  Are you an outdoorsy person or are you going to sit in the trailer and watch TV?  More than that, do you currently stay outside a lot or are you expecting this to be a big lifestyle change?

I think I'd prefer not to, but I'm not ruling it out. That might be something I decide on once I get going.

As for what I like to do? Hiking/enjoying the quiet is high on my list. Photography, day and night. Maybe using the drone to get some different angles. Learning to fish is up there. LOL I currently hike and kayak a bit, so no, this won't be a huge change. 

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7 hours ago, Allentc2 said:

In my mind, I see myself moving around every 10-14 days or so, not necessarily returning to the exact same spot. But the tanks need refilling/emptying and the cupboard/refrigerator needs restocked, soooooo.........  :)
 

So what do you want to do during that 10-14 days?  We went with a DP, which gives us a comfortable place to rest each night and a small gas sipping car for running around to see things within a 100 mile radius of where we are staying.  Then we move 200 miles or so down the road and explore the next area.  I didn’t want a big truck as a daily driver, and our little Subaru’s is still going strong after 14 years uf use.

 

 

 

 

 

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I love my Forester. 😊 As for what I want to do, look right above your post. I will work on my tan and maybe beard. 😂

I think a DP will push my budget to the max.....though I did notice a nice, new 2017 Allegro DP at a dealer not too far away that was not pushing TOO bad.

If I decide to go with a Class A, I will probably wait a couple of years before getting one, unless I stumble across a screamin’ deal. I still have two professional hurdles to clear before I can be 99.99% sure of retiring with 20 years of active service. 

Edited by Allentc2

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3 hours ago, Allentc2 said:

I think I'd prefer not to, [have a toad] but I'm not ruling it out. That might be something I decide on once I get going.

If you think you might want to tow a car some time you need to pay attention to hitch weights and gross vehicle weights in your purchase.

If you decide to go with a travel trailer look into anti-sway hitches then pay attention to weather reports. Dave's uncle retired from the air force and they drove away from Topeka pulling a TT. They only got a few miles down the road when the wind blew their trailer over. That was the end of their RV travels.

Linda Sand

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Oh wow, that’d suck!! I can’t imagine what that would have been like. 

But yeah, I’ve got an Equal-li-Zer all picked out. 😂 Truck is pretty much chosen too, a F-250 set up specifically for towing. 

But then I made the mistake of climbing aboard those Newmars Saturday.......

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Just another side - I had found an A that I adored.  But as I started looking at my plans for it to go into National Parks and my #1 plan - to spend lots off time on the Blue Ridge Parkway and Skyline drive, I had the first Ah Ha moment in that starting that drive from the north end you would very quickly come to an bridge that many Class A's are too tall to fit under.  I also was not thrilled by seemingly everyone pushing that 8 1/2' width limit. I happened upon the Phoenix Cruisers and found my best match.  Just over 10 feet tall and 7'9" wide - I liked those measurements much better.  Lots of choices in each build including to have sliideouts or no slideouts on each model.  Yep you lose the basement storage but I wasn't planning on taking the whole house on the road so I adapted.  For myself I did go with one of their longest but many folks FT in the shorter ones.  If you want to get off the beaten path they even have a 4X4 option.  From their web site you can see an owner's forum that lets you learn more about what people are doing with them.

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11 hours ago, Allentc2 said:

I think a DP will push my budget to the max....

Take a look at the Winnebago Adventurer line as they make some very nice gas coaches, very comparable to what we lived in, but some even larger. Am I correct that you will be traveling single? If so you may want to stay somewhat smaller in the RV choices. Newmar and Allegro also have some nice gas While most gas power users are pretty quiet about it, there are still many happy full-timers in gas-powered coaches for a much smaller price than for diesel pushers. We have never regretted our choice to go with gasoline power. We started to shop for full=time RV living and had even picked our new diesel pusher, but the finances caused us to change our mind. By stepping back to a gas coach we didn't have to spend all of the proceeds from our house to buy the RV and 12 years later when health problems developed we still had enough money to buy our current home-base. 

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11 hours ago, Allentc2 said:

I love my Forester. 😊 As for what I want to do, look right above your post. I will work on my tan and maybe beard. 😂

I think a DP will push my budget to the max.....though I did notice a nice, new 2017 Allegro DP at a dealer not too far away that was not pushing TOO bad.

If I decide to go with a Class A, I will probably wait a couple of years before getting one, unless I stumble across a screamin’ deal. . . . .

We had that issue in 2009 when we decided to move up from an Airstream TT to a DP.  After extensive research by SWMBO (She who must be obeyed) we bought a two owner, well maintained 1996 Foretravel U320 DP for about $75K from one of the most reputable dealers in Texas.  We would still be driving it if health issues hadn't forced us to downsize to a Phoenix Cruiser B+.  We joined the Foretravel owners forum to do research  http://www.foreforums.com/    

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Do you want to go exploring down forest service roads while you're boondocking for 10-14 days in one spot?  If so, a motorhome pulling a 4WD SUV may be your best choice.  It doesn't have to be a full sized Jeep, a smaller SUVs will go most places and also give you economical on road transportation on for local sightseeing, etc.

Through a variety of circumstances, I have two sets of RVs.  The first is a 1999 Ford F350 and a 2001 Sunnybrook 29 ft. travel trailer.  The second is a 1994 25 ft. motorhome towing a 1986 Ford Bronco II.

I retired last June, and spent 4 months exploring Colorado and New Mexico in the motorhome and Bronco II.

This year, I'm taking the F350 and Sunnybrook on the road for 5 months, making a loop from my home base in NV through Arizona, New Mexico and Texas before winding up in Sedalia for the Escapade.  Then I'll work my way back to my home base and swap the truck and trailer for the motorhome and Bronco II and spend another 3 months or so in the Colorado Rockies.

What makes this work is both of sets of RVs were purchased used, and there are good deals to be found if you're willing to be patient and flexible.  In my case, I bought the trailer to live in while I was working full time in Los Angeles,  then I purchased the motorhome and Bronco to use for weekend and vacation trips.  All told, I have less than $25k invested in both rigs.

Edited by Lou Schneider

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We went from a 33' 5th wheel to a 40' motorhome.  It seems like you will be traveling alone so you definitely wouldn't need a long motorhome. 30-35' would be good. Many full-timers use much smaller. It depends on how large a person you are and how much room you'd be comfortable in living. When you're looking, take the time inside and go through the motions of everyday living, including standing in the shower and sitting on the toilet. :)  A travel trailer doesn't have much storage space but some use a covered shell on the truck. You have to stay organized though because sorting through bins and hauling them out to get to something isn't fun.  5th wheels have more storage and motorhomes the most.

The 5th wheel worked for us for 8 years but we never did like driving the big truck (you can't sneak up on critters out in the wilds). Friends introduced us to Jeeping which we found we absolutely loved, so we went with the motorhome and Jeep. It was perfect for us for another 8 years.

We boondocked on national lands and stayed in public parks - national, state, national forests, COE, county and city.  We could dry camp/boondock for two weeks max (2 of us) on our tanks. By then we felt the urge to more on anyway so it worked well.

We had no problems fitting in major national parks and other public campgrounds, especially in the West. Driving the motorhome on good gravel roads is absolutely no problem. Once you get parked you can take your car on rougher roads.  If you're not sure of the road for your RV just unhooked the car and explore for your campsite.  However, we only did this one time and it turned out that the road was good for the motorhome.

I definitely suggest you tow a car and if boondocking a 4-wheel drive would add a lot of enjoyment to the backcountry. You don't have to do rock crawling but you do need high clearance and 4-wheel is good for steeper ups and downs.  If you're a photographer and enjoy fishing & kayaking, having a car will add to the enjoyment of those activities.

Getting opinions is good and gets you thinking of different scenarios but you need to decide for yourself as to how you will use your new home.

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I have heard about size limits in the National Parks, but assumed (perhaps naively) that <35’ would be okay?

A gas Class A is my first choice mainly because my rather optimistic bucket list includes driving down to Belize. I’m told ULSD isn’t common south of the border. Right now I’m really liking the Bay Star 3401 floorplan with the L-shaped couch. My TT of choice is (I may have mentioned) one of the 7K#ish ORVs.

I am actually on the Phoenix Cruiser forum, and like the 2551 (I think that’s the floorplan). I’m just thinking it might be a tad small for me, and VERY small for two.....if I should be so lucky.  😆 I mean I AM planning on living out of it 24/7/365

Ooooops, the 2351. 

Edited by Allentc2
Got the wrong model number!!

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4 hours ago, Lou Schneider said:

All told, I have less than $25k invested in both rigs.

But how many hours of work do you have on them? That sort of thing is good for those who are able and willing to do their own work but not so much for those who don't fit that description. 

58 minutes ago, Allentc2 said:

I have heard about size limits in the National Parks, but assumed (perhaps naively) that <35’ would be okay?

For the most part,, it would be fine to travel in and live in but if you do not tow a small car there will be plenty of places that you can't drive to or find parking for it. There are some campgrounds in national and state parks that it won't fit into and some also have access roads that you won't be able to travel with it, but most camping sites would be fine. We stayed in many of them with our 36' coach but we always planned to arrive early if we didn't have reservations and we had a tow care (Honda CR-V) to roam the parks with. Parks like Yellowstone or Yosemite would be very difficult to tour through driving a 35' RV. 

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2 hours ago, Allentc2 said:

Right now I’m really liking the Bay Star 3401 floorplan with the L-shaped couch.

Those L-shaped couches with the TV on an angle look good until you try actually sitting there. Would you sit on the left side and look to your right or would you sit on the right side and look to your left or would you try to sit in the corner where you'd probably have to put your feet on the floor but still not comfortably? I highly recommend you try it before you buy it. Unless you either never watch TV or only watch sitting in bed.

Linda Sand

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I'm thinking butt in the corner, feet on the couch along the wall....but yeah, I'm definitely going to be checking them out before I get one. 

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Allen, it sounds like you are doing plenty of research BEFORE you write a large check. That's the way to do it. Ask lots of questions and apply what you learn to your own situation and personality.

Get used to the idea of something towing something else. We know a couple that full-times in a 1973 (yes, 1973) Dodge conversion van. It suits them. They set up a screen tent of the type that you put over a picnic table at their campsite, put a small refrigerator, chairs, tables, etc. in it and use that for much of their outdoor living space. They sleep in the van, and of course have to use the campground shower facilities. If they want to go somewhere they just take off. Works for them. Not for us.

We've not stayed at any BLM land, but our coach is just under 12' tall (I have a note on the dash that says 12' 6" safe clearance) and we've smacked a few low-hanging branches. So far no damage to the rooftop stuff, but I still try to avoid it. Don't know if that would be an issue or not on BLM land, but certainly something to think about. I would think that if you want to stay on such sites often the height of the coach would be as much of an issue as the length.

Many Class A gassers and Class B/C coaches have little difference between their empty weight and their gross weight. That difference, of course, is what you can carry including water, food, etc.

Back to towing something. You will have to figure out your own "mission profile" which will determine the type of coach you will need. If you choose a motorized coach, the towed can fit your needs for exploring, shopping, etc. If you choose a towable be sure that you have enough truck. A travel trailer will put 10-15% of gross weight on the rear axle, while a fifth wheel will put 20-25% there.

Suggestion: spend some time looking at every RV you can find - no matter the cost or condition. Look instead at quality and floor plan. When you find some brands that might suit you join the owners' forums for those brands and ask specific questions there.

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State Parks and similar spots can be quiet, cheap, and close to nature.  It is true that you won't find many that will handle large rigs.  You have to look at your priorities when full timing, and everyones list will be different.

For us we want as much room as is reasonable.  Your RV will be your home for possibly years to come, space is important.  Do you want to depend on laundry mats for the next 20 years?   It is pretty convenient to do a load of clothes in the evening, or start a load prior to leaving the RV in the morning.   How much room do you have for basic tools, spare parts, extra clothing, supplies?  Make no mistake about it things will need fixing on any RV and there will be maintenance to be done.  Your life will be much happier if you can do much of this yourself.  It takes space to have the things needed.   

Just because you end up with a larger RV, or larger RV combination doesn't mean you won't enjoy those State Parks and other nature areas, it just means you may have to drive to some of them from where you are camped.  I'm a avid walker.  I average 15 to 20 miles a week and in the last 2 months all my walks have been in nature preserves.  

Example, we will be leaving SW Florida in April and staying in a CG in SW Alabama.  The monthly rate there is $300, about as cheap as you can get.  It is within a 2 hour drive of New Orleans.  Our car and motorcycle both get extremely high mpg so it is no big deal to visit that city a few times.   There are other things we want to see and explore that are within 100 miles of this reasonable CG.  So instead of having a small rig and spending all month running around to 3 or 4 State Parks to see all of these things we will use our toad transportation for the exploring and leaving our RV, which gets 6-7 mpg, stationary at $10 per day.

There are advantages and disadvantages to different RV types.  For full timing I would certainly consider a fiver or used DP pulling something.

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State Parks and similar spots can be quiet, cheap, and close to nature.  It is true that you won't find many that will handle large rigs.

While I'm not sure just how one defines what a large rig is, I will say that we lived in a 36' motorhome and stayed in a lot of state parks and I can only rarely remember difficulty finding a spot large enough to  stay in. 

Edited by Kirk Wood
typo

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