Retiring Soon and Wanting to Travel

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sobrante

Member
Joined
Jan 21, 2007
Posts
12
Hi,

My wife and I will be retiring in about a year and want to purchase a motorhome for day trips taking maybe 4 additional passengers, and mostly traveling, the two of us, on 2-5 day stays at a national or state parks and for annual trips to explore the US and Canada, that last a month or more.  We also are not adverse to spending the occasional night in a motel if we have been on the road a long time.

We just started looking and we like the Pleasure-Way Plateau TS and the Born Free "Built for 2".  We have not looked much at Class As because of size and gas milage.  We plan to buy a used unit this year and are watching all of the online web sites.

Concerns about the Pleasure-Way: would we be uncomfortable with the compact size on long trips, if it would be hard to find diesel, and any difficulties getting it serviced.

Concerns about the Born Free:  what would be the gas milage and  would we be comfortable sleeping on a fold down couch (we want the model with a fold down couch and dinette set).

Sooo............
 
Any feedback on these models or advice on others that would easily navigate in parks, shopping centers, fit in my 29' driveway, be comfortable on long trips and get reasonable fuel economy?

Thanks,

Lance  :)


 

Ned

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Feb 1, 2005
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First, check and see if you would have belted seating for 6 people in any of those class B units.

Diesel is easy to find, so that shouldn't be a concern.  Service also should not be a problem as those are built on standard chassis.

As for comfort, only you can answer that question.  Some people can sleep on the floor, others need a soft mattress.

Any class B will have no trouble navigating parks or shopping centers.  As for parking in your driveway, check your area for any restrictions on RV parking.
 

Ron

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Home is where we park it
Welcome to the RV Forum. Please look around the forum,  join in on any of the on going discussions, start new discussions, or ask questions. Thanks for joining us.
 

sobrante

Member
Joined
Jan 21, 2007
Posts
12
Hi Ned,

Thanks!

The BornFree has:

Engine Size: 6.8L and Chassis Type: Ford E-350.  It is a small unit, 22' long, any ideas on mpg?

Lance
 

Ned

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Fuel economy is mostly a function of driving habits.  I don't know what the expected MPG for that unit would be, but perhaps someone else has some experience with it.  Fuel economy is way down on my list of considerations when evaluating an RV.  In our 10 years of full timing, fuel is only about 25% of our operating expense for the motor home.
 

ArdraF

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Joined
Feb 12, 2006
Posts
10,687
My wife and I will be retiring in about a year and want to purchase a motorhome for day trips taking maybe 4 additional passengers, and mostly traveling, the two of us, on 2-5 day stays at a national or state parks and for annual trips to explore the US and Canada, that last a month or more.  We also are not adverse to spending the occasional night in a motel if we have been on the road a long time.

Concerns about the Pleasure-Way: would we be uncomfortable with the compact size on long trips, if it would be hard to find diesel, and any difficulties getting it serviced.

Concerns about the Born Free:  what would be the gas milage and  would we be comfortable sleeping on a fold down couch (we want the model with a fold down couch and dinette set).

Any feedback on these models or advice on others that would easily navigate in parks, shopping centers, fit in my 29' driveway, be comfortable on long trips and get reasonable fuel economy?

We started RVing almost 40 years ago and began with really small units, two VW poptop campers.  I wouldn't recommend them for long trips, but I've seen others do it - usually a lot younger than us!  ;)  That's a lot more "roughing it" than I'd want to do at retirement age.  Our first "real" motorhome was an 18-foot Class C El Dorado and our first trip in it was a summer circumnavigating the U.S.  Plenty of room and very comfortable for two with all our "stuff."  Later moved up to a 22-foot Class C Lazy Daze and took several extended trips in it, also around the U.S., to Alaska, to Canada, to La Paz, Mexico, and the like.  Also very comfortable.  The 30-foot Class C Lazy Daze was even more comfortable!  You see where I'm going with this don't you?  We get spoiled as we add length and goodies.  Whatever you get, it should be something you LIKE.  Can you cook in the galley?  Is the shower large enough?  Is the bed size adequate?  Does it have room for your computer if you intend to take one with you (we each take our own when traveling - five months last summer).

But comfort is relative.  If one of you has trouble climbing a ladder and the Class C has an over-the-cab bed, then that might be more of a problem than anticipated.  You mention fold-down coaches.  Personally I wouldn't like that because I don't think they're that comfortable, especially for two people because they're usually 2/3rd of a full size bed.  Also, how tall are you?  I've seen some that wouldn't fit me and I'm only 5'7" tall.  Most of us think of the fold-out sofa bed as a "back-up" for short-term guests and want the "real" bed (rear or overhead) for ourselves because we use it for longer periods of time.  By the way, if you're using the fold-out bed, what are you going to do with the "primary" bed?  Will it be a waste of space 95 percent of the time?  Most of us retirees choose our sleeping accomodations with us being the primary concern, and additional passengers get what's left.  Crudely put perhaps, but apt.  In fact, many large motorhomes only have sleeping for two people because a lot of folks have raised their families and now this is their time to get out and go - alone.

Also, why are you even thinking of staying in motels????  When you have a suitable RV you have your own bed, bath, food, etc.  Would you really want to lug all your junk into a motel?  Remember, you're not going to have suitcases to carry it all in and out.  Now this may cause some comments because I know there are a few people in the group who do this, but I like my own "house" thank you.  I want to use MY toilet, MY bed, MY food, etc.  When my mother lived in an apartment and wanted us to stay with her on visits it took numerous trips to haul everything inside and up to her fifth floor apartment.  And, by the end of the week, it took forever to take it all back down to the RV and put it away!  One of the beauties of RV travel is that you don't have to do that anymore!!  Never once in all our years of RVing have we gone to a motel.  There's simply no need to do that in the normal course of events (the exception might be if you're having work done on the rig and have to vacate it).  And, since we got the 18-footer that had its own bathroom we've never used campground showers.  Again, we don't need to do that anymore.

With regard to the dinette vs. chairs, we had a dinette once (the 18-footer) and have preferred chairs since then.  Most dinettes are not all that comfortable to us - the backs are too straight and you can't sit in them for any length of time.  Maybe you want a dinette for extra sleeping and that's a valid reason.  Just make sure it's comfortable for both of you because you're the ones who will be using it daily.  You didn't say who else would be traveling with you.  If it's kids who are smaller they can fit in smaller accomodations, but adults might be another matter entirely.

Parking in your driveway might be limited by your local CC&Rs.  After being hassled in California, a high priority when we moved was a place where we could have an RV garage - no neighbors to complain, no CC&R violations, no exhorbitant fees to park it in a lot, no more weather deterioration, etc.  I'm not trying to scare you here, but many communities are causing RVers a lot of problems by writing new regulations that restrict where, when, and how we can park our RVs and you should be aware of any such movements in your community.  Some states are worse than others.  We actually were once told to leave a new housing development parking lot because "you can't park that thing here; we don't allow RVs on the property."

Don't worry about getting fuel.  There are plenty of stations for both diesel and gas.  As for MPG, we've usually gotten anywhere from 7 to 10 MPG.  It depends on many factors including head winds vs. tail winds, how fast you drive, whether you're in mountains, how much weight you're carrying, whether you tow, etc.  I don't believe most of us consider MPG a deciding factor when choosing an RV.  It's layout, ease of use, comfort, and all those other relative things are much more important.

Navigating in parks and parking lots also depends on a lot of factors.  National parks more frequently (Yosemite and Grand Canyon are examples) require the use of shuttles to get to their attractions.  Keep in mind that many were built many years ago, long before RVs, and therefore have limited parking, especially during busy seasons.  You sometimes can park smaller RVs in viewpoint or trailhead parking lots, but not always.  And the larger the rig, the more difficulty you can expect.  Shopping center parking lots are usually accessible, but you may have to park at the outer edges and hike farther to shop.  You just look before you enter and if it looks too crowded or has narrow aisles with tight turns, you drive around and find a more suitable place on a side street.  We've seldom had to go on because we couldn't find a way to park.  Sometimes one of us will get out to go in the store and the other will stay with the RV if we feel we might need to move it.

You solicited opionions and I would like to add another.  One of the benefits of retirement is that you finally have the time to see and do things you didn't have time to do when you were working.  When reading your note, I first wondered why you appear to be limiting yourselves to short visits and short trips.  It's easy to spend an entire month in the Four Corners area (where New Mexico, Colorado, Utah, and Arizona adjoin one another if you're not familiar with it) and just barely start to see what it has to offer.  It's easy to take trips that last several months and you're retired, so why not.  You didn't mention where you live, but you can spend several weeks just getting to your destination.  We've talked with people from other countries who think they can see the U.S. in a month and our answer is you'll just barely get started because there's so much to see and do.

I'll get off my soapbox now and just say I hope you find a motorhome you love and enjoy our wonderful lifestyle.  By the way, Lazy Daze makes small Class Cs of good quality so they're another alternative.

ArdraF

 

joelmyer

Well-known member
Joined
Mar 5, 2005
Posts
1,058
Location
Georgia
What Ardra said.

We dreamed for a few years about a RoadTrek (a very nice class B).  We had a popup and after camping together a few times in it - we decided that we would never make it in a RoadTrek.  You have to move everything to get to anything.

We have a 28 foot 5th wheel.  I never expected that we would spend as much time in the 5th Wheel just doing nothing as we do.  "Veg" days are now a part of our planning.

Your plans sound appropriate for 40 year olds.  We are 60 year olds and need our veg days and adequate space for veg days.  We also require two sides of the bed accessible because we both get up a few times at night.

Traveling together in one RV with 4 other people! Better be very good friends.  The mandra is "Drinks 6, feeds 4, sleeps 2"

Whatever you decide, good luck and enjoy, it is a beautiful country,

Joel
 

sobrante

Member
Joined
Jan 21, 2007
Posts
12
I sure appreciate all of the replies and more experienced ideas that you all have.  Love the forum.

We still are bouncing back and forth between a Class B and C.

One thing I have heard is to pick the motor home that we can comfortably spend time in.  We are going to visit a few RV lots today to spend time to test the sleeping accommodations.

Gas milage is still a primary issue with us.

Maybe a Class C with diesel is a good compromise.  Will be harder to find a used one.

Are there space limitations for state and national parks?

With us focussing on (1) storage in driveway, (2) bed space and (3) gas milage (or getting a good deal on a Class C that will offset fuel costs for 150,000 miles), are we missing other important items?

Thanks again,
Lance

 

ArdraF

Well-known member
Joined
Feb 12, 2006
Posts
10,687
Are there space limitations for state and national parks?

Yes, Lance, there often are length and/or width limitations, especially in public parks.  If you are not familiar with Trailer Life's "Campground Directory" it might be worth a look.  It lists both public and private campgrounds and, for your purpose, tells you the length and width of their largest sites.  If they have sites that are 60 feet long, then you probably can fit both your RV and a toad in the site.  If their sites are only 30 feet long, then you may have a problem.  An example is Newport Dunes RV Resort in California.  When they say a site is 40 feet long and our supposedly 40 foot coach is really 41 feet 6 inches (quite common in the RV industry) we cannot fit in their 40 foot site because you will be partially in the street.  Why?  Because they have chain link fences separating the sites.  In this particular case, there is no "wiggle room" so to speak.  If you're in a state or national park, they don't want to cut trees down to enlarge campground sites, therefore there may be a tree smack dab in the middle of the rear of your site.  Again, no wiggle room.

As to width, with the newer RVs (motorhomes and trailers) having slideouts, the older campgrounds are having trouble keeping up with our new width requirements.  First you have to make sure you can open your slide without hitting either a tree or a utility post or a bush.  Then you have to make sure you can open your underbay door because sometimes there's a tree or post that gets in your way.  This is particularly important for the utilities underbay.  This is one reason I prefer what Monaco calls pantographic doors, the kind the slide upward. In the last couple of years, manufacturers have started using side swinging underbay doors and I wondered about them so last summer I started looking at campsites from the standpoint of the side swinging underbay doors.  I predict a lot of people who frequent older or forested campgrounds are not going to like them.  We saw quite a few sites where they would not be able to pull out an underbay tray if they had a side-swinging door.

Another width factor pertains to when there are lots of trees along the roads within the campground.  We've been in a few where we had to maneuver back and forth around what looked like an easy turn because there was a tree right at the edge of the road.  Last summer we were going to stop in one of Canada's provincial parks which looked quite nice.  The lady at the booth assigned a site and said we shouldn't have any problem.  By the time we got half way to the site Jerry said he didn't care what the site looked like because we were getting out of there.  Just too many trees for a 40-foot motorhome to get through comfortably.  When we got to the site maybe we could have fit but it would have been a struggle.  We left.

Aside from the length and width issues, you'll find the Campground Directory useful in many other ways.  It tells you if interior roads and sites are paved, dirt, or gravel, if sites are shaded (trees are the bane of satellite TV users) what hookups are available at how many sites, and what other amenties they have such as a dump station, pool, laundry, fishing lake, etc.  A recent additon of great importance to those of us in the Forum who travel with computers is whether they have computer access and what kind, e.g. at each site, a separate room, in the office, wi-fi, etc.

As you can see, the answers you're seeking aren't always either easy or straightforward, but they're part of what makes our lifestyle so interesting.  Aside from all the neat people we meet and the wonderful places we see, each day presents new challenges that keep us on our toes.  The challenges are what make this RV Forum site so valuable - someone has probably already encountered your situation and can help you find a solution or just encourage you.

Glad you joined us!

ArdraF
 

sobrante

Member
Joined
Jan 21, 2007
Posts
12
An update.....
After going out to look at motorhomes Saturday, we now think we want to get an used BornFree 26' Class C with a rear bedroom.  It's on a Ford 450 chasis and probably gets 10 mpg gas milage.  We have changed focus to a unit that will fit in our driveway, have an adequately sized bed for two to sleep in (we don't want to sleep in a cab over) and be a comfortable unit that we want to live in.  I would like to get a diesel but not sure how often they become available used.  Any comments?

The length  is 4 foot longer than we thought we wanted and I am sure it will not be as maneuverable as one of the sprinter vans, however I think we are clearer on how we will really use a motorhome and a Class C best fits our needs.  I also like the support that Born Free provides it users.

Next Monday we go to the local Born Free dealer to more thoroughly check the model we think we like.  After getting clear on that, we will be waiting for that "good" deal.  I plan to use the NADA, with only adding unusual options, as a guide. 

What is the best way to keep abreast of the used market? I have found 6 online sources and will network with my Born Free dealer and also the Born Free forum.

Will continue reading forums and literature about purchasing motorhomes and negociation.  I am going to have to learn more about buying a used unit and percautions to take.

Are there rules of thumb about the life time of refrigerators, AC units, generators and other expensive to replace mechanical systems?  I will have to look for a good mechanic to check out the motorhome before i buy it, any ideas where to look and what it should cost?
I found a good michelin site that talks about tires.

Other suggestions?

Thanks for all the help you have given us!

Lance
 

Gary RV_Wizard

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Feb 2, 2005
Posts
74,979
Location
At my Silver Springs FL home
You are doing all the right stuff. There is a Used motorhome checklist in the forum library that will help too.

RV appliances generally have very long lives, so that is not an issue when buying used, as long as they are in working condition then. RV Fridges can be a bit erratic, with some few having early life failures and others lasting 15-20 years without using so much as a light bulb, but that's a risk you cannot prevent. There are no warning signs to look for to foretell.

Tires is the main thing that die of old age. 7 years is about the max life on a tire, regardless of apparent condition. Plan on replacing any tire whose "born on" date (in the DOT info stamped on the sidewall) is approaching 7 years of age.

I have mixed feelings about mechanical inspections - they are often a waste of time and money. A good, conscientious mechanic may be able to spot of potential problem, but most aren't going to be ale to foretell of problems much better than you can by driving it.  They aren't witch doctors or fortune tellers - they can only see obvious signs like leaks or vibrations.  Good maintenance records are a better indicator, if available. If the previous owner did routine maintenance and cared enough to keep even rudimentary records, the mechanicals are probably in as good a shape as can be expected for a given year and mileage. Check the oil dipstick and tranny fluid dip stick for clean fluids and no unusual smells or colors.  It may be worthwhile to have the brake linings checked, but they aren't real expensive to repair either. Might be just as well to put the inspection money aside and spend it on brake repairs when & if needed.
 

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