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1greatEscape

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May 17, 2021
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5
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USA
I'm planning a very extended RV trip and I could definitely use some advice from those in the know.

First off, I freely admit, I have had very little rv experience in the past (only two short term trips in a winnebago and later a 35' rv that my family owned) but both experiences were positive, so I'm in the beginning planning stages of a long trek.

Most of my trip details are completely subject to change, but here's some basic trip parameters:
Leg 1 - LA to WA up the coast.
Leg 2 - Zig Zag Pattern from WA to KS, something like this WA > MT > WY > UT > CO > KS
Leg 3 - Diagonally meandering from KS to FL. End in FL.

Duration: 3 to 6 months. My original thought is to only drive a few hours a day, then stay a day or two or a week in a place (if I'm really diggin it) then move on. Plan on staying on a lot of BLM owned land, boondocking whenever possible or even stealth camping when other options aren't available. I'll mix it up with a few nice hotel nights as well, just for a change up.

Equipment: Currently own an SUV with a pretty decent tow capacity (7700lbs).

Here's where I need some advice. Obviously on a trip like this, costs could spiral exponentially without some serious planning. I have just started doing initial homework on boondocking, BLM owned land and I would love to do as much of that on this trip as possible, but I really need some vehicle advice. I also have close to a year from now before I'll embark on this, so hopefully a good amount of time to continue to map this out.

This could very easily be a 10k mile trip depending on how much wandering I do. So some of my initial vehicle considerations:
- Rent an RV. Even a smallish one, for this duration of time, crazy expensive.
- Buy an old RV. Even if only survives the trip once, I'm ok with that. However RV's in the <3000 range look pretty bad. Might be a maintenance nightmare.
- Buy / Rent something I could tow behind my suv that would give me a place to sleep. Still expensive, and usually doesn't have much in the way of creature comforts (like a toilet), plus maybe doesn't "blend" in all that well for the occasional stealth camping..

I suppose my order of priorities for mode of transportation include:
- Price of vehicle
- Fuel considerations
- Creature comforts (sure I could rent a u-haul van, but those things are not fun to drive long distances. ha ha)

So if you fine folks were going to set off on a trip of this length / duration, and you didn't want to break the bank, what creative solutions might you employ?

When I get to FL, I plan on ditching the RV as phase two of my self-reinvention will focus on life at sea, not on land, hence whatever mode of transpo I used to perform this trip will at that point be no longer needed. I mention this, to aid with out-of-the-box thinking, as it's ok if it's unconventional / not the nicest thing on the road / etc etc.

Thanks everyone, curious to hear your suggestions.
~GE
 

SeilerBird

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3 to 6 months is about right for leg one of your trip. Staying in one spot for two days and then moving to the next spot gets very expensive quickly. RVing is very expensive. You will need deep pockets to afford this. A $3000 RV will not cut the mustard for a cross country trip. You need to score yourself an RV and then plan a scaled down trip. RVing is a very expensive idea. Do it cheap and you won't last long.
 

Mark_K5LXP

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Albuquerque, NM
Frugal and RV's are a contradiction. If everything goes right at best it will be expensive. A few unanticipated issues and you're going to be devoting time and money to resolving problems. In a past life my RV was a pickup with a camper shell. What it lacked in comfort it made up for in freedom to travel and park wherever. Even traveling on a motorcycle I managed to tent, hotel and KOA cabin my way across country. Maybe a small trailer would make more sense with the vehicle you have than adopting an old truck with a crappy house on it. One of my favorite books is "Blue Highways", where the main character travels across country in a Ford van (not an RV).

Mark B.
Albuquerque, NM
 

JudyJB

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Check into what they call "teardrop" campers since you are not insisting on a toilet and shower. These have a bed and maybe a place to sit. In the back, they have a sort of kitchen that you access from the rear. They are easy to pull, also, even with a car.

Check out Forest service land for camping, also--no need to stealth camp. There are thousands of legal and very cheap places to camp on federal land. You will not have showers or toilets, but you can bring along a portable toilet and do an outdoor shower, since you sound young and adventurous.

Buying something a little more expensive and newer will cost you less in the long run, and you can sell it when you get to Florida. Otherwise, a $3,000 trailer or van camper will end up being a money pit.
 

1greatEscape

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USA
This is great feedback. Thanks so far for this.

Such great advice so far. Judy makes a great point.. I can pay less upfront and get hammered with repair costs on a pos, or pay more and perhaps get more mileage out of it plus resale value. Thanks Judy.

Mark also has a good point, I have looked at tear drop style campers, and they're shockingly / surprisingly expensive, but perhaps there's a resale value to them, to offset their cost.

I also appreciate the wisdom of stealth camping may not be as much of a necessity as an outsider looking in would think. Thanks Mark.

P.s., I'm actually not young, and technically for this journey I'll be well funded.

But I have other plans for my $$ down the road, so this is just a flight of fancy for a few months before I move into the next phase of my life.

Seiler, didn't mean to leave you out. I appreciate your wisdom as well. Actually I do have deep pockets, but I have plans for it, so this is a diversion on the way (albeit an amazing one potentially) so I would like to *cough* keep it sorta reasonable *cough*.

But I realize based on the wisdom presented here, that may not be reasonable. :)

Grand adventures rarely are reasonable. :)
 

IBTripping

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Virginia
You might consider getting a lightweight travel trailer or tent trailer with all the amenities (bathroom, kitchen, bed) that is safely towable with your SUV.
 

Jdub46

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Cut n Shoot, Texas
Let me suggest a used cargo trailer. Modify it to suit you. Matress, cook stove, portable toilet, outside shower (pvc and plastic curtains), solar water heater and folding table and chairs. Less than 3k and easy to dispose of at end of great escape. I've done and it's not too bad...
 

Dreamsend

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I think you should consider a used quite small travel trailer - forget about the van stuff or stealth. You're going to live in it for 6 mos. perhaps. Carefully think about your bathroom and kitchen habits - boondocking on BLM or FS land does not mean dumping your waste on the ground - including grey water from dishes and showers for example, especially in the desert (BLM), where there isn't enough bio activity and rainfall to degrade soaps, scraps etc. Will you dig a 6 inch cat hole every time to bury stuff and your TP? Where will you stop to empty a portable toilet? how often? You could stay at developed BLM or FS camps that have toilet facilities - but that's not boondocking. What will be your water supply? Watch your daily habits now and consider how often you get water from the tap, flush a toilet, pour garbage down the drain, empty the sour milk container, throw out cooking water, etc. and ask what you're going for this activity "on the road".

A small used trailer with waste tanks and a fresh water tank would take care of these necessities and make your journey a lot more enjoyable. There are plenty of places to empty the tanks and get fresh water - small fee unless you're staying at a public or private park when it would be no cost.

7700 lbs is impressive, but before going a TT route, you need to look at the cargo capacity of the SUV. The maximum loaded weight number will be on the sticker on the driver's side pillar or door. With a small enough and light enough trailer, I would think you'll be okay - but you need to run all the numbers to make sure.

Linda
 

Gary RV_Wizard

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A teardrop trailer is really minimalist.

Towing with an SUV is best suited to a pop-up camper or a small hybrid travel trailer like the Winnebago Micro-Minnie. Or a Forest River R-Pod. You get a reasonable level of amenities in a package that is easy to tow & handle, and the resale market for small trailers is always good.

Some examples of pop-ups:
 

Isaac-1

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I tend to agree for the money if you already have a decent tow vehicle get a smaller travel trailer in the 20ish foot range, plus invest in a small inverter generator such as the harbor freight Predator 2000 which cost about $550 unless you catch it on sale (solar is great, but will cost you more to do right). The key thing to inspect for here is rot, any sign of rot, and you should run away no matter how small as it is often far more extensive and far more expensive to repair than it may first appear. If it was me I would look for something like this, just make sure it has new tires on it https://www.rvtrader.com/listing/2009-Cruiser-Rv-Corp-FUN-FINDER-189FBS-5016504091
 

TheBar

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MS
While we enjoy our popup camper I cannot see going long distances staying only a few days between stops. Unless you have a very flexible schedule. If you have to fold it up while it is raining it takes 2-3 days for your bed to dry out. Even a heavy dew requires using towels to dry off the canvas before folding up. If put up wet there will be mold and mildew.
 

1greatEscape

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May 17, 2021
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USA
A big thanks once again to everyone that's tossed in their 2c. It's really helping focus on the right equipment.

Based on a lot of the comments here, I think I'll go the small-ish travel trailer route, so probably something in the 20' range.. Seems like older brands can be had for the 6 to 10k range.

The newer winnebago micro's and Forest river r-pods are very nice, but they're pretty spendy for this adventure.

So what has been your experience selling an rv / trailer when you're finished? Good? Bad?

There's a joke that is (mostly) true which goes the 2 best days of your life is when you buy your boat and when you sell your boat. Does this hold true for rv equipment as well?
 

Isaac-1

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The market is crazy right now with Covid, though there are some signs it may be improving. I have mostly watched the used motorhome market, and simply put they are selling as quickly as they are listed, particularly smaller sub 32 ft models, and they are selling for about 30% higher prices than they were a couple of years ago. To give you an example, I paid $20,500 for my 2002 coach in 2016 (asking was $25,000), someone listed a near twin to mine on the Safari Trek facebook group a couple of weeks ago, though with less upgrades than mine (solar panels, suspension upgrades, etc.) with an asking price of $31,0000 and it sold in 3-4 days.
 

1greatEscape

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May 17, 2021
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Location
USA
As a followup, after consideration of various options, I'm thinking I might try to do this with a bit more comfort / style, so I'm going to start hunting for a winnebago Rialta.

In my younger years, I had a great experience with that vehicle, so I'm hoping history will repeat itself.

Unless anyone has any really strong opinions as to why I shouldn't opt for one of those, I'm all ears.

:)
 

Isaac-1

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Have you done your research on the Rialta? From what I have read getting chassis parts for them can be nearly impossible.
 

JudyJB

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Don't go for an older brand that is "too old," or you will be back to the money pit and the potential for a lengthy breakdown on the road. If you have money in the bank, you would be better off thinking about getting something "slightly" used that you can easily tow but has good resale value. The idea is to get something in very good shape that will not have major parts flying off as you drive or major things needing fixed in the middle of your trip.

Which reminds me, last week I was driving on I-40 in Arizona and watched the aluminum siding on one whole side of an old pickup camper fly off and land in front of me on the road. Insulation flew off, also. Luckily, there was not much traffic so I managed to change lanes in time to avoid tearing up my tires by driving over this huge chunk of aluminum, but this is an example of what can happen with an old RV of any sort.
 

1greatEscape

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USA
Well then, would you folks suggest for a small-ish vehicle (under 24 foot) that is less than say 25k and has decent resale value?
 

SeilerBird

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St Cloud Florida USA
We can't really recommend anything. You need to shop RVs for sale in your area, find one with a floor plan and a price you love and then ask us about that RV model. If you go shopping for one particular model RV you will be shopping forever. There are hundreds of different models of RVs.
 

Isaac-1

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Under 24 ft motorhome for under $25,000 that is reliable is a very tall order with the current Covid RV craze. There is a BIG demand for smaller motorhomes out there right now, and prices are sky high even on older used stuff. Take my 2002 28 ft Safari Trek as an example, I bought mine in 2016 paid $20,500 for it (asking was $25,000) for a well updated coach with over $10,000 in new parts in the preceding 2 years. In the last month I have seen 4 other 01-02 Safari Treks listed for sale or sold online (several wanna be people are searching for them on the Trek Tracks Trek owners board and are asking questions about ones that pop up for sale). 2 of the 4 were listed with asking prices of around $30,000 and both sold within a week, the 2 others just listed this week have asking prices of $40,000 - $50,000, how long they will take to sell, and at what price I don't know, the $50,000 is low mileage (around 40,000 miles) which may be a bad thing.

Given your constraints if you want a bit of advice I would suggest shopping for a less than 15 year old smaller class A (which will tend to have larger water and propane tanks to allow for longer boondocking), something in the sub 30 ft range, preferably in the 26-27 ft range. If I were to suggest a specific model I would look at the Winnebago 26P, 26HE or 27N, and buy an extended warranty. Be aware most lenders will not finance an RV over 10-12 years of age, therefore traditionally there is a steep sales price reduction on coaches with they cross the 12 year mark. Also most extended warranty companies will not sell new coverage on RV's over 15-16 years of age. Unfortunately at the moment the cheapest 26HE listed on RV trader is $49,500 and is 8 years old, 2 years ago this same coach would probably have sold for $37,000 Cheapest 26P on RV trader is currently listed at $42,000

See this old add for a 26P with a $34,900 asking price in 2017
(note there are some typical salesman exaggerations in the video)
 
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