Tuesday, April 1, 2014

#158 - The Perfect Rig

RVSue, a blogger who lives full-time with her two dogs in a 17-foot long Casita travel trailer, recently posted an entry detailing how she came to choose the type of RV she did. Her post resulted in an interesting discussion of rigs, and it got me to thinking about what constitutes the perfect rig.

Of course, there is no wrong answer just as there is no one right answer. One person’s “perfect” rig could be another person’s nightmare. That’s why there are so many different types, brands, and models. Different people also have different budgets and financial comfort levels, which is why you also see such a wide spread of model years still in use.

Other things will also dictate one person’s “perfect” rig  and cause it to differ from someone else’s. Those things include: the aforementioned budget, the desire for new versus used, floor plan and amenities, storage needs, and the type of usage.

That latter factor includes considerations such as: weekend use, extended trips, or full-time living. One must also consider whether the RV will spend most of its time in a full-service campground with electricity and water or camping off the grid. Staying in primitive campgrounds or even outside of campgrounds will require plenty of  battery power and likely some means of recharging those batteries, be it solar panels or a generator or some combination of the two.

We started our RV adventure with a 10-foot pop-up tent trailer. Once we added a dog to the mix, we decided we needed something bigger. The normal progression, so we've been told, would have been to a travel trailer. Not being normal people, we went instead to an older fifth-wheel. That rig taught us a lot about what we liked and did not like in terms of layout. So we moved to a different fifth-wheel (our current RV), which added some living space at the expense of kitchen prep space. Still not our perfect rig.

Now we have begun thinking about what comes next. This time, in anticipation of living in the RV full-time and hopefully doing some traveling, we are focusing on Class A motorhomes. (For those not versed in motorhome types, the Recreation Vehicle Industry Association has a page detailing the various types.) To narrow the focus further, we are concentrating on diesel motorhomes (for now) in the 33 to 36 foot range. We figure this will give us more flexibility than the larger rigs in terms of where we can go while still providing some of the creature comforts. This is roughly the length of our current fifth-wheel, so there is no need to adjust to having a smaller space (other than the major adjustment of living in a smaller space all the time).

At first, we were focusing solely on the Tiffin brand as it is made in Alabama (my wife’s home state), and it has a good reputation for customer service. Since then, we have added the Newmar brand to the mix. It, too, seems to have a good reputation, plus some of the floor plans seem to fit our desires and needs a little better than the Tiffin models we’ve seen. With either brand, we would be looking to buy used as we don’t have Donald Trump money or large government pensions to allow us to buy new, and we don’t really want to finance anything. We’ve worked hard to get out of debt, and we want to stay that way.

We’re still a couple of years or so from any change, so there is still time for us to decide to go a different direction. As we look, we see that no rig is perfect. One may have a well laid out living space but almost no kitchen prep space. Another may have a great kitchen but a tiny bathroom. A third may have a great living space and kitchen, but the TV is in a location where the best viewing angle is standing up at the opposite end of the RV. As is usually the case in a marriage, any rig we choose will be the result of compromising some of what we want versus what we truly need and will also involve some discussion of which shortcomings we can work around. (For instance, in some RVs, the lack of kitchen prep space might be alleviated with the addition of a rolling cart that can be used as a small kitchen island.)

The next couple of years promise to be interesting and exciting as we go through the exploration, examination, and evaluation stages as we head toward the execution of the purchase or the decision to something completely off the current radar. To use the old worn out cliché, only time will tell.

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