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Need Help Choosing RV for Epic 6000 mile Adventure


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Hi All,

Planning to RV into the southwest after wife graduates and before she gets a job, I need help is choosing the best fit to be both comfortable and economical during this time. 


  • Will be travelling 3000-6000 miles for at least two months (possibly May - July or October - November)
  • Plan to visit national parks, climb lots of mountains, off-road a bit, and go hiking
  • Need decent shower, toilet, propane fridge/cooking elements
  • Will need decent A/C to survive heat/sun in southwest
  • Accommodations for two adults (married couple) and occasional relatives who tag along for a few days
  • Looking for decent fuel economy  (15mpg = 400 gallons = 1200 USD, 8mpg = 750 gallons 2250 USD, assuming $3/gallon)


  • I have looked into rentals and for this period/mileage they seem brutally expensive (+6000 USD). 
  • I was thinking of buying an RV or trailer/tow vehicle.  I want to buy used to avoid the depreciation hit because I plan on selling them after I'm done. 
  • I like the trailers with the slide outs, they seem less claustrophobic. 
  • I would take a tent trailer but it gets really hot in the southwest and I'm not sure these tent trailers can keep you cool when temperatures are in triple digits.  
  • Not sure how much of a hassle it is to have a trailer/tow vehicle setup vs a motor RV
  • I was thinking of a 19-24 foot trailer and a 1/2 ton gas engine pickup would strike the right balance of comfort and economy. 

Help Needed

  1. Could you please give me suggestions on the best fit for us, either a mobile RV or a trailer/tow vehicle combo?
  2. Is there a chart or information on the fuel economy of trailer/pickup combinations? 
  3. Is there a website that shows a map and cost of RV parks? 

Thanks a million!


Edited by bk_
Adding map of planned parks to visit
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The only trailer you will be able to tow safely with a 1/2 ton gas truck is a Scamp 19 foot like I have but they are very small and suitable for minimalists, or a single. Don't worry, dealers will tell you different. You will need a 3/4 to 1 ton to be able to stop a trailer on a 6% downhill safely. I can tow a trailer around a lot and a level town with anything. I traveled with a 1 Ton and 3/4 ton diesels. Just forget getting by with a half ton.

You said "off road a bit." For that you need a toad AWD or a 4WD 3/4 ton or better truck. You will need a Class C with the tow capacity for whatever toad you choose weight wise.

If you balked at a $6k rental for what you describe in a decent truck trailer you will need a 4WD truck and trailer or a 4WD/AWD vehicle or to tow behind a class C I would surmise. I am selling a 2004 Ram 2500 diesel and a 2013 Scamp 19 foot fiver which is only for weekend use will be ~$30k and are like new. For a decent Class C with a Gas engine you are looking at about the same for older and up to about $50k, and then a toad for 4 wheel off roading. If you are buying now used you will have the most negotiating power as folks generally shop RVs and boats etc - summer gear - in spring, when prices will be higher.

I would buy used as new will also have bugs to work out but a really good used rig may serve better as far as no visits to the dealer for adjustments. I would say limit your self to a 4-5 year old rig for both cheaper entry price, and a better chance of breaking even. Most ten year old rigs down here in Louisiana have leaking rubber roofs from poor maintenance. Expect to get up on the roof and scrape off the self leveling caulk and replace it. It comes in tubes like house caulk. If you see silicone anywhere on an RV windshield or roof stay away. Silicone does not stick to EDPM roofing but can't be removed from the plastic and metal flanges of the vents and plumbing vent pipes. It causes permanent leaks. The A/C uses a rubber gasket (donut) and it should be OK at 4-5 years.

I would be buying a vehicle that I will keep be it a 4WD truck or car like a Subaru or other SUV toad.

Hooking up a trailer and towing as well as setting up a trailer for a person ig good shape is fine either way. Diesels get a bit better mileage towing and gas cost a bit less so that is almost a wash save that diesels cost more up front.

I would avoid a TT because as you said you want slides and the larger heavier TTs can be unstable when passed by big trucks and require complicated anti sway hitches. Fivers track much better. Fivers also have much more basement storage and TTs have none. Fivers have as much or more closet and storage inside as TTs.

If you choose a Class C or Class A make sure it does not have the long back overhang after the rear wheels as they can also be unstable in winds etc. I would take a tour of both kinds and see if you can rent each for a weekend each. THen come back here for best brands and questions about each.

Otherwise you will be choosing based on best writing rather than what suits you best. I would stick with a class C if going motorized as they have a cage around the driver and passenger front seats, just like passenger cars and trucks. Class A except for converted passenger buses tend not to.

Edited by RV_
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If you don't plan to keep whatever RV you purchase, you would be better off just renting the rig.  You definitely can't stay in motels for only $6,000 for two months, although you will still need to pay for RV parks if you are not boondocking.  You will still need to purchase food, fuel and everything else you normally need.  With a decent rental motorhome, you can tow a 4WD vehicle if you have one, but it will cut down your fuel mileage a bit.  With a rental, you will not have to worry about breakdowns, as anything that fails should be covered by the rental agreement.  It also doesn't sound like you will be inside much, with all the outdoor activities you have planned, so inside will be at night and having a good A/C and the normal amenities in an RV should be all that is needed.  And, when you are all done, you turn the rig in and you are done with it, no hassle dealing with trying to sell a rig.

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Welcome to the Escapee forums.

I wish that I had better news for you but what 57becky said is pretty accurate. 

3 hours ago, bk_ said:

Could you please give me suggestions on the best fit for us, either a mobile RV or a trailer/tow vehicle combo?

I suggest that you visit an RV show if possible to get a feel for what is available and their relative costs. That should help you to get a feel for what you may want. There are many choices in RVs of every type. A small travel trailer can work well as we use ours at times for as long as several months, but those which you could tow safely with a 1/2 ton truck will be pretty small but are out there. The newer trucks do have some pretty high towing weights with the current F150 is rated by Ford to tow as much as 13,200# if properly configured, but I don't think I'd want to go nearly that high. The Ram 1500 lists as much as high as 12,750# . If it were me, I would not be comfortable towing more than 10k# even with the current ratings.  If you do choose to go with a travel trailer, be sure that you use a proper hitch to tow it and match the trailers maximum weight against the ratings for any truck that you consider. 

3 hours ago, bk_ said:

Is there a chart or information on the fuel economy of trailer/pickup combinations? 

I have never seen anything of that sort and it would be extremely difficult to do since trailers range so much in weight, aerodynamics, and such and the truck configuration and the driver also play major roles. I would not expect to get much more than 10 mpg with a small trailer and larger RVs would be less. I tow my present travel trailer of 4000# with a 2003, Dodge diesel, 2500 and typically get about `14 mpg but that is a small trailer of only 20' in length behind a big truck with a shell. 

3 hours ago, bk_ said:

Is there a website that shows a map and cost of RV parks? 

There are campground directories and there are campground review sites that do list prices. I use 2 primary resources for this. The first is RV Park Reviews where you can find a listing of reviewed parks in most locations that you may travel through. Another resource that would be a good choice is to join Passport America which is a park discount group and they do have a directory of their member parks. 

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I think your wish list is a dream not likely to come true. The only motorhome I know of that gets good milage is one based on a Sprinter chassis. They tend to be expensive if you can even find one that sleeps more than two people. When it comes to good and cheap you usually have to pick one or the other.

Add to that the hassle of finding and buying one then selling it when done makes renting a much better option from my point of view.

Years ago we rented a Class C for a 3-week trip and it was well worth doing. Be sure you get one with unlimited mileage.

Linda Sand

Edited by sandsys
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  • 3 weeks later...

You mention decent gas mileage (15 mpg).  In April 2018 I sold my Class A 34 foot gas MH, it go 6 to 7 MPG.I now own a Dodge Ram 3500 diesel truck and a 34 foot 5th wheel trailer.  I average 9.5 to 10.5 mpg.

Like others have said if you are planning on selling it off after the trip you will be $$$ ahead renting a Class C MH.

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We bought a 29’ Airstream and pulled it easy with an F150 V6 eccoboost for 55,000 miles and 47 states and 25 national parks. Paid 15000 and sold it for 14500 and bought new tires twice. 15.5 mpg - it was a 1990 model and we did the trip in 18 months beginning in 2016

Edited by Earthtravel
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Based on experience, towing a 7,000lb TT with a gas engine, 7MPG, with a Diesel engine, 13MPG.  A 12 or 15 year old 3/4 ton diesel will do better than a newer 1/2 ton gas rig on towing  MPG.   For the West, get a 4WD and hit some of the off road trails, where the best use of 4WD is backing out of where you should not be.

You will want a bed you can walk around, so that means a 25' or larger trailer.  At that point, also look at 5th wheels.  Have had both, it is easier to hook onto a 5th as you can look back and see the connection, but hitting the ball on a TT is a blind shot.  Both are workable.  Two months is a long time in cramped quarters, get enough room to be comfortable.

You may be happier with the fall schedule as you are going into cooling temperatures.


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