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NEED ADVICE, TRUCK/SUV & TRAILER OR BUS STYLE RV & TOW A VEHICLE...


Orendaquest

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I am going to be selling my home, quitting my job and hitting the road within the next year or so. I am looking for advice on what people think would be the best route for me to go as far as purchasing my rig. I have been thinking that purchasing a truck/SUV and towing a trailer would be best for me but I am torn between that and purchasing a big "bus" style RV and towing a vehicle behind it. It will be myself and a couple of small (Papiliion) (Pomeranian) dogs most of the time and I intend to be doing this full time for a year or two, at least. I have noticed that a lot of trucks that are towing the larger sized trailers now have a big unit in the back of them, is this for stabilization purposes, to decrease swaying? Do I need any "special" driver's licensing for one or the other? Which route would be better for gas mileage the truck/SUV & trailer combo or the "bus" style towing a vehicle? Is one better than the other for less outside noise? Also, storage space is probably going to be fairly important to me. I am leaving a three bedroom home, that I live in by myself with my two dogs, and I am going to have to get used to downsized living.

 

I would truly appreciate any advice that you have regarding this topic. Thank you!

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Welcome to this forum! It is a big decision which way to go. I'm sure you'll have many more questions.

 

We've had all types of RVs over the years. We began our full-timing plans having owned a travel trailer with no slides pulled by a gas truck.It was only 27' but it handled poorly on highways. It has absolutely no storage space.

 

We then went to a 33' 5th wheel with two slides pulled by a diesel truck. It was very stable on highways. It had plenty of storage space for us and we used it for 8 years. However, we absolutely hated driving the diesel truck. We like to explore small gravel roads and you can't sneak up on critters with a diesel. It was also too wide for many places.

 

Friends got us hooked on Jeeping. We then went to a 40' motorhome and purposely ordered it with only two slides. The only reason we went to a 40' was we wanted a diesel and the shorter ones weren't as good a ride. We didn't need 40'. We never used all the storage space it provided. The bays below were huge. Most of our stays were in public parks - national parks, national forests, state parks, etc. and we didn't want to have to maneuver slides inbetween trees. We towed the Jeep. We used it very happily for 8 more years of full-timing. The Jeep gave us endless fun by ourselves and with groups.

 

The diesel motorhome was the quietest for outside road noise because the engine is in the rear. With the 5th wheel and diesel truck, when we pulled up to a entrance fee station we were sometimes asked to turn the engine off because they couldn't hear us. We made it a point after that to automatically turn it off.

 

Overall, we enjoyed the motorhome the best. As far as fuel mileage they aren't great but once parked we drove the economical car around so it definitely evened out.

 

You didn't state what size you would be looking for but you need to study weights and towing and carrying capacity figures very carefully so you can safely pull a trailer/5th wheel or tow a car behind. Decide on your trailer/motorhome first then choose a vehicle to go with it. If you're only planning to full-time for a year or two, although storage units can be very expensive over time, it might be better for you to put the majority of things in a storage unit so you can get a smaller RV and not have to worry about a lot of storage space in the RV. Single full-timers travel very comfortably in a small RV but everyone is surely different. It depends on your needs.

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2GYPSIES: Thank you for your response! I will be honest... I am still in the "weighing my options" stage, at this point. I fully intend to sell/donate the majority of my belongings, however, I am going to be getting a smaller sized storage unit (at least in the beginning) for the items that I am not willing to part with at this point (like my antiques, which include my grandparents' bedroom set, and things like "Baby Books" and hard copies of photos because those are irreplaceable). I do own a lot of clothing and footwear that I would like to take with me though. I, also, read (books, not on a KINDLE or whatever device people are using), knit, sew, etc. and would like to take supplies with me for these purposes and I would REALLY like to take as many of my tools (at least my hand tools, smaller saws, sanders, etc.) along with me as possible too. I hate being unprepared!

 

Did you need a CDL or any other type of "special" license to drive any of your vehicles?

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...I am going to be selling my home, quitting my job and hitting the road within the next year or so. I am looking for advice on what people think would be the best route for me to go as far as purchasing my rig. I have been thinking that purchasing a truck/SUV and towing a trailer would be best for me but I am torn between that and purchasing a big "bus" style RV and towing a vehicle behind it...

This is a very personal decision. How much do you have to spend on assets that will surely be worth less than what you paid for them if you go to sell them? How much space do you need? Having a living space that you are comfortable in should have very high priority.

 

...I have noticed that a lot of trucks that are towing the larger sized trailers now have a big unit in the back of them, is this for stabilization purposes, to decrease swaying?...

Travel Trailers of any size and weight will require a hitch that distributes weight to the front axle of the tow vehicle and limits/controls sway. I am guessing this is what you are referring to. There are a number of brands and designs of various efficiency and price point.

 

...Do I need any "special" driver's licensing for one or the other?...

That will depend on the state in which you choose to get a driver's license. Some states like Texas do require a special drivers license for vehicles over a certain size/weight.

 

...Which route would be better for gas mileage the truck/SUV & trailer combo or the "bus" style towing a vehicle?...

Gas mileage is only part of the story. You need to also consider the higher cost of insurance and possibly registration for two motorized vehicles plus the maintenance costs for two vehicles with power trains. The additional costs might buy a lot of fuel.

 

...Also, storage space is probably going to be fairly important to me...

Many RV cabinets and closets make poor use of the space available. Often adding shelving or using stackable containers with drawers will greatly increase the utility of a storage space. A pickup with a locking tonneau cover or cap will likely provide more storage than you would need. More important than the actual storage space is the cargo/carrying capacity/ payload capacity of the RV and other vehicles.

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OK,

Taking tools along and trailer choice makes that easy. First off the travel trailers that are hooked up at the bumper do need sway bars and extras to be safe as without them they sway in a scary manner in buffeting cross winds and when passed by a big truck or bus. That is why overall, most fulltimers choose either 5th wheels or motorhomes, for the basement storage. The bumper pull travel trailers have very little compared to the same length 5h wheel. I used a diesel 1 ton Dodge Ram Diesel dual rear wheel truck for my fulltiming tow vehicle, which you can see in my website below, from 1997 to 2003 through two different 5th wheel trailers. Winds and trucks passing were a breeze, I noticed no more than when driving the truck alone. As far as mileage, the big motorhomes get from 6-10 mpg depending on fuel type.

 

Were I single I could make do with a fulltime trailer the size we use now just for weekends. With two of us we were fine in our 28 foot 5th wheel RV living in it for five months here on our property while our new home was being put in where our mobile home had been. Here is a pdf file showing our 2850SL way at the bottom and the weights on the hitch/bed, and the unloaded weight and gross vehicle weight rating (GVWR) As a single with a pup I'd be fine in anything from a 19 foot scamp fiver on up to about a 30 foot 5th wheel. Hitching and unhitching is a breeze. To tow safely you need to know the tow truck capabilities and the actual as built with options weights on the trailer. Right now start looking at RV dealers and even better any RV shows. Remember even junk looks great in a show.

 

You asked "I have noticed that a lot of trucks that are towing the larger sized trailers now have a big unit in the back of them, is this for stabilization purposes, to decrease swaying?"

Here are images of 5th wheel trailer hitches for 5th wheel trailers: http://www.bing.com/images/search?q=5th%20Wheel%20Hitch%20In%20truck%20bed&qs=n&form=QBIRMH&pq=5th%20wheel%20hitch%20in%20truck%20bed&sc=3-28&sp=-1&sk=

 

Here are bumper hitches for travel trailers (Bumper pull): http://www.bing.com/images/search?q=Trailer%20weight%20distributing%20Hitches%20for%20Trucks&qs=n&form=QBIR&pq=trailer%20weight%20distributing%20hitches%20for%20trucks&sc=0-26&sp=-1&sk=

 

For both , fuel mileage, ease of driving and handling, and safety, I prefer 5th wheel trailers. But they may not be for you. BY your description of needing and wanting to take along a lot more than clothes you pretty much are going to have to go 5th wheel or motorhome. the largest motorhomes in the mid range are about $300k new and can be had much cheaper used. Same with the 5th wheels but you really need to know what to look for both new and used.

 

Once you settle on what type of RV, 5th wheel or motorhome, the next thing are the tow weight matching. For a trailer, the weight the tow truck is rated to tow, and for a motorhome the weight allowed to load inside or the GVWR to tow a car or truck behind the motorhome. Let's worry about weights later after you decide what type of RV you want. By needing max storage you've pretty much ruled out travel trailers.

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A fifthwheel will have more living space when setup than a Class A of the same length. A Class A will likely have more storage space, especially in the basement.

 

In the park we're at now, the couple next door hated the feeling of "living in a tube" a Class A gave. So consider how you'll "feel".

 

There is no perfect RV. There are just some that fit better than others.

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First let me say welcome to the Escapee forums! We are very pleased that you have joined in and we will do all that we are able to assist you. It can be a great way to live but you have a long road ahead of you so let us help as much as possible.

 

I suggest that you start by making some visits to RV dealers just to look and see what is out there and what the various options will cost. There are few if any types or sizes of RV that have not been used by someone to live in full-time while traveling the country. While it is true that the larger travel trailers do require the use of an equalizer hitch, there are also many smaller travel trailers which do not need such hitches and some of them even have warranty voided if you use one.(our travel trailer is one with the warranty issue) Every choice of tow vehicle will come with a set of maximum towing weight limits and generally larger, heavier tow vehicles are more stable while towing and have a higher towing capacity, whether with an equalizer or without. As you consider the various types of RV you need to consider the cost of the RV and if a trailer the cost of a vehicle to tow it with and if a motorized RV you will probably want some type of vehicle that can be towed behind it to use when parked.

 

In addition there are things to consider such as how to have an address that can be used for driver's license, vehicle registration, insurance (both vehicle and health) and also where you will receive you paper mail? The subject is the issue of domicile and this article may well help you to make the right choices there. I also think that you would be well served to either visit the library reference section to get and read a book or two on the subject of living in an RV full-time, or you may want to visit Amazon or similar place to purchase one or two. There are some excellent books out there and they will go a long way to educate you in what you need to consider and some of the choices available.

 

One of the biggest issues that you face is the decision about how much to spend on the purchase of your RV home. Some folks do choose to spend all or most of the proceeds of the sale of a home, with in mind that even if they stop traveling they will live in the chosen RV. Our way of thinking was that we needed to set aside enough money to allow us to purchase a home-base again once the day arrived that full-time travel was no longer practicle. That day occurred after 11 & 1/2 years, and it came pretty quickly with little warning. We feel that at least for us, that decision was a very important one. We have since sold the class A motorhome that we lived in and we now travel seasonally in a smaller travel trailer. We chose the RV we have today partly to minimize costs as we now do some travels by means other than RV and that conservative financial thinking has enabled that choice.

 

Special driving licenses are required by some states for the largest/heaviest of RVs but no state requires the professional driver, CDL. Since those RVs which are heavy enough to require one are also quite large and expensive, I'd be surprised if what you will likely choose would require one in any state.

 

This really isn't a simple thing so do not rush into anything and for goodness sake, don't allow some slick sales person to pressure you into buying without first going home to think things through for a day or two. Take the time to learn as much as possible about RVs before you spend any money and don't let any dealer talk you into a deposit or other spending until you have looked at all of your options and then returned home to carefully match your wants & needs to the budget that you will be comfortable with. Only then should you begin shopping. Good luck in your new adventure!

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If I read your profile correctly, you are going to be a solo woman. Might I suggest that you look at some mid-size Class Cs or smaller gas Class As. You will never need to move your furbabies to a car/truck for travel, you can stop anywhere and not have to get out into the weather to use the bathroom, you can pull a small car behind that is quick and easy to attach/detach, and there would be no enhanced drivers license required. We know a lot of women who solo and the majority are in Class Cs or smaller Class A gassers because they are a little bit easier for a solo to handle.

 

Barb

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I have had a trailer and now a class A. I much prefer the class A. Because you are single and will probably need less room, I would look at smaller class A's. Tiffin has a small diesel class A that will pull 4500 pounds and has good carrying capacity. If you want to go with a gas unit, Newmar also has small Class A's that would be very suitable for you. I would get as high a quality as you can.

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Thank you ALL so much! Barb, Yes, I am a single female. I was trying not to state that because I did not want recommendations based solely on being a female. I have driven some big rigs and vehicles that had the power steering go out but still ran. I have done pipe fitting and boiler maker work, worked on many vehicles over the years and know how to use most tools. People judge me by how I look and underestimate me ALL the time... because I am 5'6" and weigh around 112 lbs. I decided long, long, ago that I really needed to learn to do everything that I could myself because I was both a single parent and I am a woman. I research a lot before I make decisions, usually, and I make lists for lists. I have been thinking about doing this for about two years now... and I know that I am feeling like it is getting closer to the time that I am going to get more serious about it now.

 

I am sure that I am going to be purchasing Used, once I make more of a decision about the right set up for me. I just can not convince myself to buy very many things brand new, especially if I know that they will depreciate almost immediately.

 

I am thinking that at some point, as I travel, I will find a place that feels like "Home" to me and then I will purchase some land to park my rig on. Eventually, I am considering building a smaller sized home. Not a "Tiny Home" because I am getting older and I do not want to deal with small stairs and sleeping in a tiny little loft space but something reasonably smaller sized. My kids are adults and my youngest has lived on her own for several years now (and refuses to move back home), so I have decided that it is time to figure out who I am and what I want.

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Welcome to the forum. Doing your research is the vital first step. If your plan is to park in one place for an extended time a towable is generally the suggested route. Whether you choose a travel trailer (aka bumper pull) or a fifth wheel (aka 5'er) you will not have to deal with a second drive train that needs to be exercised on a regular basis. The disadvantage, of course, is that the truck you choose for a tow vehicle will be your daily driver.

 

Our Foretravel can tow 6,000 pounds, which is far more than what a fuel-efficient car/truck will weigh. If your plans are to travel quite a bit, looking for the ideal place to settle down, then a MH might be for you, at least until you get to the point where you have only a few areas on your short list. At that time you probably ought to consider getting a towable as you try to experience each of those areas for longer periods of time.

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Didn't mean to suggest you couldn't handle a truck/5er or trailer combination, just that you might find it easier in a Class C or small Class A, especially with your furbabies. When we started out we had two cats and one reason for choosing a motorhome was that they were so comfortable in the Class C we had because we never had to move them, they were always home and figured out how to adjust to traveling very easily.

 

Other consideration for us was not having a truck as a daily driver. We have fuel efficient car to run around in while park that is very easy to tow. Takes me 5 minutes to hookup/unhook when doing it by myself - 3 minutes if there are two of us.

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Some of this depends on the lifestyle you intend to live. If you like exploring the back country consider a class A motorhome as you can then tow a 4x4 toad. It also simplifies things for your dogs while travelling.

 

The first couple of years we travelled we had a fifth wheel and a 1 ton dually pickup that we also had to use for our run around vehicle....that was no fun at all.

 

Then we switched to a 40 foot motorhome and we tow a 4x4 ...made life simpler and much more enjoyable.

 

Others will feel differently but we have no regrets.

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