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Beginner RV


MadiMinn
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Hi! I’m looking to get a small RV sometime within the next year so that I can travel a bit on breaks from college. I was wondering if anyone had any suggestions on how to get started and any RV brands they love? I love the look of older RVs, but I do definitely want one with a shower. Any suggestions would be super helpful! Thank you!

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When not in use, do you have a place to store an RV?  What type are you thinking, motor home, travel trailer, 5th wheel?  Luxury, bare bones, price, age makes a big difference.  Mine was in-expensive, has shower/kitchen/2 slide-outs and 32ft long, it's a 5th wheel and just like a travel trailer, what you pull it with counts towards size/weight of camper.  Will your tow vehicle, if not a motorhome, be used as a daily driver?  It can be simple/cheap or expensive/in-depth.  Think about time of year used, weather types/temp, etc.  Not all campers can handle extreme heat or for instance where I live, extreme/very frigid cold.

Good luck with your choice.

Edited by NDBirdman
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Pretty broad question, but ya gotta start somewhere right?  I agree very much with Birdman about storage.  Big logistics first.  
Storage? Where and how much?  

Most trailer types require a truck as the second vehicle.  Are you a student who would drive a pickup truck?  If not then probably a motor home of some type.  Consider a vehicle that can be towed as your 365 day vehicle, and your part time motor home could pull your 365 vehicle on trips?  
Many here might have better advice than I, but that’s my 2 cents.
 

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In your situation I would likely go with a conversion van. It can be your daily driver so it would be very easy to get away when time is available for that. Be sure you get a fairly short one though so you don't need an oversized parking space. RoadTrek is a popular brand so you can probably find a used one to fit a student budget. Conversion vans are also called Class B RVs in case you want to search on that.

Linda Sand

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I'd agree with Linda. Back many years ago lots of college students bought used VW vans and made their own (relatively) cheap RVs. Some of the richer ones bought used VW Campmobiles (factory conversion). Back then there weren't the amenities available now.

We know a couple who fulltime in a 1973 Dodge conversion van. Yes, I said 1973. They aren't small people, but they are minimalists.

If I were you I'd be tempted to find a Chrysler or Ford minivan, remove the seats, and start designing. Once you have a design that works, build up the floor with 2x4 structure under everything that will push down on the floor (cabinets, seats, etc.) Fill the gaps with pieces of foam insulation (the sheet kind, not stray in), then put 1/2" plywood down. Use lots of screws to attach plywood to the 2x4s. Now build the cabinets, seats, etc. and attach to the plywood.

The more time you spend designing the less time and money you will spend building.

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1 hour ago, kb0zke said:

If I were you I'd be tempted to find a Chrysler or Ford minivan, remove the seats, and start designing. Once you have a design that works, build up the floor with 2x4 structure under everything that will push down on the floor (cabinets, seats, etc.) Fill the gaps with pieces of foam insulation (the sheet kind, not stray in), then put 1/2" plywood down. Use lots of screws to attach plywood to the 2x4s. Now build the cabinets, seats, etc. and attach to the plywood.

The more time you spend designing the less time and money you will spend building.

Bob Wells of Cheap RV Living.com is the best known source for DIY cheap conversions. Lots of his uTube videos here: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCAj7O3LCDbkIR54hAn6Zz7A

Linda Sand

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You can get started with a bare bones van or pick up with just a camper shell or even some Suv's that you can sleep in. Depending on where you camp the first thing you need is a place with a bed that is dry. If you stay at campgrounds with restrooms to start that solves a lot of problems. Since you are young and flexible even a standard height van or campershell will keep you dry. You can use a stove like a Coleman stove to cook. Carry a couple 5 gal water containers.  You will learn and improve as you go.   Having a standard height vehicle can be useful in some situations.  One place I camped I want to park and ride the green line into Wash. DC and I had a slightly higher camper shell that would not fit into the parking garage. Thats pretty rare of course but it is a consideration. Actually in some remote camping spots in forest clearing low limbs can be an issue.  Where I am volunteering now  we have some dispersed campsites that are not amenable to higher vehicles.

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