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Doug&Linda

Full timing with a travel trailer

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Some friends of ours full timed in a 24' TT without a slide. They liked to camp in remote areas.  They also liked the shell on the back of their PU to carry stuff and sometimes carried an aluminum boat on the shell.  It looked a little tight and uncomfortable but they full timed 12 years.  The bed was short and he is tall so he hung off the bed.  The bed was also against a wall and a real pain to make and get in and out of.  Even so it was what they liked and they seemed happy. Our preference is a bigger RV with slides but there are some places we can't go to.

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So are you a full timer and if so are you using a TT or 5th wheel?

The reason I ask is that we were told that a 5th wheel is better built (stronger) than a TT. However for the money it appears that you get more in a TT. 

Thank you!

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Out late 2008 classmate, IYQ, chose a travel trailer so he wouldn't have all those steps that are in both motorhomes and 5th wheels. He was already a very experienced camper since he was on his second go around as a full-timer when he bought his trailer. You can look for his old posts on here to see if he talks about the trailer. I remember that he took the sofa out and put a piano in.

Linda Sand

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I am in my 2nd year of full timing in a bumper pull toy hauler.  Several reasons for choosing what I did....I liked that it was not as tall overall and at 11'6" don't have many places to worry about.  I already owned the truck, have 40 years experience pulling a bumper pull (stock, horse, pipe, etc.) so feel fairly confident on the road, liked the placement of appliances in this particular trailer compared to others I looked at,  have enjoyed the higher carrying capacity - I don't own any toys and use the garage area as a living room (bookcases, computer desk, couch, cat trees (!) and the 'stuff' I'm not ready to part with).  I also wanted a built in generator that comes with most toy haulers.  The ramp door adds a dimension of ease to move things in and out and some day I may get a screen room for that....maybe. 

As Linda mentioned, I also am very glad to not have stairs as in a 5th wheel, and I about get a nose bleed when climbing into some friends motorhomes!  I've spent the last 2 winters in AZ (Wickenburg) where it tends to get a little colder at night.  Some folks had water freeze up issues, I did not.  Of course, that could have just been the location of my space within the park.

I've been happy with my trailer, took it back to the dealer in Montana last summer to have a couple small issues taken care of and also added vent covers, plus had them check other systems.  They only had it over night because of a part so didn't have the nightmare I've read of people being without their trailer for weeks or months.  The couple times I did have a Mobile RV repair come to visit they mentioned how stout my trailer is built.  That's a FWIW statement, but they seemed nice :)

Pilot error has cause a couple problems, but the trailer has performed as it should.  I spent a few years looking, going to RV lots, snooping in several each time.  It was easy to cull the ones I didn't like for one reason or another.  Some I could just look in and not like them!  It's such a personal decision.  You'll always end up reading a post or two that says NEVER will I ever buy this that or the other thing.  Who cares - really, we're all different.  I have friends in Wickenburg who haul their horses down for the winter, then pull the horse trailer up to the RV spots and live in it for 6 months - and believe me, this is not a fancy trailer.  Best of luck finding the perfect one for you!

 

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One trailer that I looked at and really liked...till I found out it only had 4k axles.  Then when I kept looking and found the Work and Play, it was, in my opinion, more sturdy.  I like being comfortable, but I'm not into all the bells and whistles.  The toy haulers are made stronger because of the weight of the 'toys' they usually carry, so their appliances & furnishings are not as frilly (?).  I have a small slide and will be taking the folding couch out and replacing it with something else (chair?) after my summer travels. 

BTW - taking the advise I'd read on this forum, I did consider the 'used' route for a small amount of time.  Toy haulers by nature are used and abused and I wasn't comfortable becoming the owner of a trailer that had screw holes in the walls where cabinets/tools used to be.  I decided to buy new and don't regret it even a little bit.   On the other side of that, I know folks who bought a used motorhome that was rarely used and is absolutely beautiful....but way out of my budget.

Also, I didn't purchase a toy hauler with the bed that goes up to the ceiling in the garage.  This trailer only had 2 sets of cabinets and 2 couches that screw into the floor.  I took one out to give me more room and the other one serves as a couch/bed when a friend comes to stay.  I don't need sleeping for 8 :)  Everyone one has their needs and wants.  Mine are pretty simple.

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We have friends who lived for 16 years in an Avion travel trailer that they moved into from a fifth wheel that they disliked. The main reason for the preference was the lack of steps to the bath & bedrooms. We are no longer fulltime but we have spent as long as 5 consecutive months in our present travel trailer and are currently on the road for what will be 4 months by our return to base. My wife has back problems that make it very difficult for her to negotiate stairs and the flat floor is vital. There are other advantages in that the total height from the ground is lower for a travel trailer than for either of the more common choices, so it will go where other RVs will not. 

The very best choice of RV type is the one most liked by those who travel in it and that should be your choice regardless of what we believe. Just make sure that what you choose fits you and enjoy it. 

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I had some experience pulling and maneuvering with both a 5th wheel application and ball hitch.  When we began doing our research for our initial full time rig we were impressed with how much room a TT had plus it was all on one level.  Then we began really looking at different fiver models with 2, 3, or 4 slides.  I knew a fiver would pull good on windy days plus I knew I would back it up easily.  

If you are actually going to full time and travel you want as much room as possible IMHO.  If you are just going to live in an RV full time and stay put then you can probably get by with less square feet.

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10 hours ago, Doug&Linda said:

So are you a full timer and if so are you using a TT or 5th wheel?

The reason I ask is that we were told that a 5th wheel is better built (stronger) than a TT. However for the money it appears that you get more in a TT. 

Thank you!

We are not full timers but we often stay out for extended periods.  Some lasting a year or more.  It is difficult for me to think of any RV as well built or strong.  We have owned many RV's and most seem a little cheap.  We currently own a 1999 Teton 5th wheel which I have significantly remodeled and upgraded.  We use a HDT and rarely stay at RV parks.  There are advantages and disadvantages to both a TT and a 5er.  The stairs as listed by others is one along with  TT's are generally lighter and not as tall as 5ers.  5ers are usually a little more stable during transport but the deciding factor for us is the layout.  We also so found that many TT were built with occasional use in mind.  It was easier for us to find a 5er that suited us and seemed to have a little better quality.  We boondock sometimes and things like tank size matter to us.  I think it is wise to look at both and see which is more likely to meet your needs.  For us things like carrying capacity, materials used to construct the cabinets and insulation were important.  We also wanted enclosed and heated tanks and double pane windows.

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25 minutes ago, Randyretired said:

 It is difficult for me to think of any RV as well built or strong.  We have owned many RV's and most seem a little cheap.

Only a Bus Conversion has any real strength.  It's been said that when a Bus Conversion has been in an accident, it looks like a bus was in an accident.  When a conventional motorhome, travel trailer, or 5th wheel is in an accident, it looks like a tornado went through a trailer park.

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3 hours ago, Optimistic Paranoid said:

Only a Bus Conversion has any real strength.  It's been said that when a Bus Conversion has been in an accident, it looks like a bus was in an accident.  When a conventional motorhome, travel trailer, or 5th wheel is in an accident, it looks like a tornado went through a trailer park.

I love your signature lines. They make me laugh every time.

Linda Sand

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Doug and Linda, the choice of an RV for full-timing should be dictated by what you want to do, not by what is popular. We're currently full-timing in a 40' MH, but would like to switch to a 34' Airstream TT. Why? Our "mission profile" has changed enough that a towable would make more sense for us. Since I'm doing more with Laborers For Christ I really need to have my tools with me, not back at the campground. That pushes us more toward the TT than a 5'er.

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have chosen to live in a Lance TT full time, but not starting until next month.  We looks at Class A (small), Class C, and Fifth Wheels.  All have significant issues in that lifestyle.  For us, its the cost to maintain a vehicle, and use a vehicle once we get to a destination.

1)  Class C, and pulling a small car.  Just seems like a lot of planning.

2)  Class A - too big.  cant get into smaller state and national parks or small unique areas.

3)  Fifth wheel  - just again too big to deal with.  Need a 2500 to 4500 truck to tow anything safely, and those trucks cost big bucks to maintain and to run; as business use is high demand for those.

We choose a Tundra truck (Toyota reliable) and a Lance TT under 25 feet, with one slide.  its pretty perfect so far, but will see how it goes in six months.

 

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Travel trailers aren't as popular as 5th wheels, but that just means due to the lower demand there are some good deals to be found.

Five years ago I bought a 2001 Sunnybrook 27FKS travel trailer that had been used as a destination trailer by a retired couple - it was set up in a park and they used it on a seasonal basis.  There was some minor fading on the outside decals but inside it looked like new.  I moved it to an RV park in Los Angeles where I was living while I was working fulltime, then when I retired three years ago I moved it to my lot in the Pahrump SKP co-op.

Shortly after retiring I found a nice 1999 Ford F350 single rear wheel crew cab shortbed pickup with the 7.3 L Powerstroke ... the good engine.  Because it has the short bed and single rear wheels it's not suitable for towing a 5th wheel, but it tows the Sunnybrook just fine.  It should - it's tow rating is over twice as much as the Sunnybrook's 6400 lb dry weight.  Again, I got a good deal because it wasn't 4WD and not a lot of people wanted an F350 shortbed single rear wheel truck.

Between the roof height camper shell on the truck and the relatively low height of the Sunnybrook (9' + the roof A/C), the pair make a fairly aerodynamic combination.  With the diesel Powerstroke engine I average 10-12 MPG towing, 18-20 MPG solo.

So what did this combo cost?  An insurance payout after a driver ran a stop sign and totalled my 1994 Ford turbodiesel pickup covered the $8000 cost of the truck.  This was double what I paid for the 1994 truck 5 years earlier. 

I bought the trailer for $6500 from a Las Vegas consignment lot, and since I didn't have the pickup yet I installed a brake controller in my 21 ft. Class A and used it to tow the trailer to the RV park in Los Angeles.  It looked ridiculous going down the freeway but worked fine.  So less than $15k for the combo.

I  found both of these on Craigslist.  The only disadvantage to the truck and trailer is I can't tow my Ford Bronco II behind them.  So I kept my small Class A for trips when I want to bring the Bronco.  Other than that, all of my travels have been with the truck and trailer and they work very well.

 

Edited by Lou Schneider

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Price wise there are lots of nice TT and you can probably do better then a fifth wheel but I would only have a fiver. They seem so much bigger inside and the tow so much better.

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10 hours ago, whj469 said:

They seem so much bigger inside and the tow so much better.

The big advantage to a travel trailer over a fifth wheel is the flat floor. Since my wife has problems with stairs, that is important. 

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Different strokes for different folks is really a hard and fast rule with RVs, and any RV lifestyle, full time or not. It makes no difference what my wants and needs are in your decision. For each of us, all that counts is that we're happy with our choices or change them. But we humans all seem to project our preferences on others. I'd never owned more than one Datsun mini truck back in the day until my 1 Ton Ram diesel Dually in my last year of active duty in preparation for finding our first fiver. I didn't know what to expect, but some kind folks here helped me find the right truck and then the right rig for me, not them. You came to the right place.

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Like RV said, I don't tell you what to buy. I see my job as helping you think of things you might otherwise overlook. Like where will you hang your coat when you get caught in the rain? That thought caused us to install an extra curtain rod inside our shower. Plus, once I realized we couldn't get to our clothes closet in our previous Class A when the slides were in, I moved a jacket to a front cupboard. Simple things but who thinks of those when shopping for an RV?

Linda Sand

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Full timing you spend many more hours in the RV than you would in camping mode. A floor plan that works when in vacation mode and spending most of your time outside might not cut it as a home. Go look at a lot of floor plans. Think about cooking, using a computer, doing paperwork, working on a hobby or crafts.  Find a floor plan that works for you and then go from there.

 

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3 minutes ago, filthy-beast said:

Think about cooking, using a computer, doing paperwork, working on a hobby or crafts. 

And do not forget that no matter where you travel there will be days that weather is bad and you are cooped up inside all day or longer. Consider what you will do when you are ill and all of the various problems that you deal with now as all of those issues will travel with you. 

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