Class C buyer...frustrated newbie

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New member
Oct 17, 2006
We are 42 years old, single income, and homeschool our 2 children, 12 & 6.? Within 6 months, I plan to quit my job and take off for a 3 or 4 month trip to see the United States.? Our plan is to find ourselves new employment upon return, but that's another story.

I've researched and read a lot of posts over the last few weeks.? We've gone to a couple of dealer RV lots just to see sizes, etc.? From this, we've come to the following conclusions.

1.? We don't have a big truck to pull a trailer.? So motorized RV it is.?

2.? Gas mileage is a major consideration for us.? Our planned trip could run over 15,000 miles as we visit National Parks & sites out west.? ? With gas averaging $3 per gallon (worst-case average...we hope), 10 MPG would cost us $4,200.? At 7 MPG, that goes up to $6,000.? And so on.? You get to do a lot more, see more things, and sample more of the local cuisines with that money saved.? So, smaller RV vs bigger would seem to make sense.? Toward that end, we want to go/see/do, and not settle ouselves into a campground for a week at a time.? Effectively, this will be a 2-bedroom kitchen on wheels.? We have thought about towing our little car behind a larger RV (leave the RV in one spot while we go/see/do in little car, thus treating RV like a motel), but gas mileage would seem to really suffer.?

3.? Used RV is a definite.? We have saved well and can afford an extended break, but the cost of a new or even 2-3 year old machine is not feasible.? ?I've looked at,, and eBay.? Again, cost is an issue.? FWIW, I do get that an older RV could come with problems that would cost us big money mid-trip.? The operative word there is "could".? It's the upfront cost that's the issue.

4.? Class C RVs would seem to suit us best, with a bed in the loft and one in the back.? Several reasons: children don't sleep well on fold-downs or pull-outs.? Also, children need a place to go and be alone sometimes.? Come to think of it, so do the parents.? ;D

5.? Layout.? With 2 children, we need the ability to seat both children, but small RVs sometimes only have dinette seating.? On a long trip & sitting side-by-side, blood would be drawn by day 2.?

$5,000 for a 25' Class C RV on above-listed sites sounds good, but it turns out it's got the wrong layout, or has a small leak (can't a good DIYer fix that and repair the damage?), or has 120,000 miles on it, or has been trashed, or is 800 miles away!? The right layout with no problems is unaffordable.? Surely, there's a good compromise.?

Can you find any holes in my points listed above, or in my assumptions?? Is this the wrong time of year to be looking?? Or is it that we want a 2006, but only at 1988 prices (read: are we being unrealistic)??

Any and all comments, observations and/or words of wisdom are welcome and appreciated.  Thanks.

Gary RV_Wizard

Site Team
Feb 2, 2005
West Palm Beach, FL
Or is it that we want a 2006, but only at 1988 prices (read: are we being unrealistic)? 

Short answer: Yes.

Frankly, the thought of a family of four in a 25 foot RV for more than a week scares the daylight out of me, but the wife and I have always liked our own "space".  You may have a family that really enjoys each other's close company and doing things together 24/7. I hope so...

You have set a tremendous pace for yourself as well. This is a huge country with lots to see and do - 4 months is not a lot of time for a nationwide site seeing tour.  We've been doing it for years now...  It's not even plenty of time to see all the major national parks.

You should expect to have some expensive problems witha $5000 motorhome, but yes, a capable DIYer can handle many of them.  Worst risk is an engine or transmissin problem you probably don't have the skill or tools to fix. But they aren't all that common., fortunately.  But tires (almost certainly need a new set on any $5000 RV you buy), refrigerators ($1500-$2000), etc. can put an equally severe dent in the budget.

Towing a car generally costs 0.5-1.0 mpg, depending on the motorhome.  The bigger the RV, the less the toad is noticeable. On a 40 footer the extra fuel cost if probably negligable, but on the size you are talking about it will likely be a factor.  If you get an RV larger than 25 feet, I strongly recommend towing  a car.

Given your budget constraints and family, you really should be looking a a trailer rather than a motorhome.  Us eyour money to buy the truck/van/SUV you need to tow something big enough for your needs.  The initial cost should be lower, you have a vehicle to drive to town in, kids can be belted in properly, insurance & maintenance costs will be lower etc. etc. etc. And there is very little that can go wrong with a trailer than you cannot fix yourself.


Carl L

Moderator Emeritus
Mar 14, 2005
west Los Angeles
I agree with Gary entirely.  You are seting yourselves a hectic pace with 15000 miles in 90-120 days.  That is 100 miles per day, every day, average.  Us RV types hate going more that 200 miles in a jump.

A motorhome really wants to have a toad for touring or even running to the grocery store.

Buy a pretty new truck in the F250 catagory and a nice 24-26 foot trailer and you will get about an economical a rig as any.  Trailers are simple to maintain and can age gracefully -- as has my little unit.  Pick ups are pickups.  They take a helluva depreciation hit in the first few years so a 2-3 year old crew cab pu can be a good deal.  Small TTs are relatively cheap and have 10 financing available.


Well-known member
Jun 23, 2006
Wandering the Old West
Well, maybe cut the mileage down and concentrate on a particular area, say the SW or NW, etc. You could always take another trip in the future?? Lower mileage means less fuel.......

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