New Chapter: Buying Our First Travel Trailer
on Aug 03, 2020, Updated Oct 13, 2023
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We bought a travel trailer and I’m sharing everything we learn along the way! What made us do such a thing? How does it work?
What do you need to know to buy your own trailer? Well, takes little bit of planning, a little bit of luck, and a whole lot of praying we figure it out as we go.
A little over a year ago, Jerry and I started dreaming about buying an RV or a travel trailer, taking a bunch of time off work and traveling all over the US in summer of 2021. The timing seemed just about right.
We shopped a little and put it on the back burner for a while. We love to travel and have done a lot so we weren’t in a big hurry.
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When the boys were little, we started making a list of dream trips we wanted to take as a family. We started with Disney Parks because even though everyone says to wait til kids are older, we knew we could visit Disney relatively easily from NC.
Thankfully, I was able to save on costs by going to conferences and participating as a Disney Parks Moms Panelist over a few different years and it worked out perfectly.
We still love Disney but there are also other trips we weren’t ready to take yet. But you knew Fort Wilderness would be on the list, right?
Places like New York City or the Grand Canyon are trips we really want the boys to enjoy and remember so visiting when they were babies didn’t make sense. Our plan has always been to hit the road when they were around 10 and 12.
A New Timeline
When Jerry needed a new vehicle in fall of 2019, we bought his truck with towing in mind.
We had shopped a little by then and knew that we wanted to tow a trailer vs. driving a C Class RV (the kind you drive instead of tow) for a few reasons, which I’ll share below.
It wasn’t yet time to buy the trailer yet as we wanted to save a little more money and do more research. Buying a recreational vehicle opened us up to a completely unknown world full of new questions and a very long list of things we knew absolutely nothing about. I didn’t want to rush into it.
The big US Road Trip would happen in summer of 2021. We had almost 2 years to figure it out.
Then in January of this year, my husband was hospitalized with a serious MS flare up that took months to recover from. And as we all know, the pandemic showed up to ruin everyone’s plans. We decided why wait?
It was time to seize the day.
We brought our Keystone Hideout 272LHS home on June 23rd and we have been loving it ever since!
Shopping for a Travel Trailer
At first, we were sure we wanted a Class C RV. This is the kind that you can drive and ride in at the same time. Like many newbies, we thought it would be great to have the space and freedom to move around while traveling.
That bubble was quickly burst when we learned that just like any other moving vehicle, everyone has to wear seatbelts while driving. On top of that, you would need to tow another vehicle behind it or rent a car to get around each destination.
Class C vehicles are considerably more expensive than travel trailers and with the added expense of an additional vehicle, there was nothing else to think about. We switched to travel trailers on our first day of shopping.
Logistics of Buying a Travel Trailer
We quickly learned that buying a travel trailer is far more complicated than picking out a floor plan and writing a check. There are dozens if not hundreds of trailer manufacturers and they aren’t all available to you if you want to buy locally.
If you are planning to purchase a travel trailer, I recommend doing the following now so you can get familiar with the process.
Do this even if you don’t plan to buy for a year. You’ll be glad you did!
- Before you do anything, watch this video on towing and payload from Keep Your Daydream. If you already have a towing vehicle, fill out their spreadsheet with all of your numbers so you know how much you can safely tow. If you don’t have a truck yet, this will help you decide what you need to shop for.
- Make a list of your local RV Dealerships and read online reviews for both sales and service at these dealerships. Take a look at their prices relative to the MSRP and see what brands they typically carry.
- Use RV Trader to easily see a list of everything available near you and get an idea of price ranges on new and used trailers.
- Once you find a floor plan you like, see what there is locally and go see it in person. If you can, bring the whole family to see how it feels to all be inside at the same time.
- If you find a brand of trailer you really like, search Facebook for groups on that trailer. Most have dedicated groups to brands and even makes within that brand. Generic RV groups are also helpful but can be overwhelming.
- Budget for the extra items. These RV Must Haves are not typically included with your purchase, but you definitely need them!
If you are brand new to this life like we were, you will be so glad to have this bit of research under your belt when it’s time to buy. Then it will be on to the fun part like shopping for your RV!
You don’t know what you don’t know and the more questions you know to ask during the process the better!
Choosing a Floorplan
With a husband who is 6’6″ tall and two sons who aren’t far behind, I knew we needed a few things.
We wanted bunks but knew the twin bunks wouldn’t last more than a couple seasons with our growing boys so we went with full size bunks for the kids and a queen for us.
We also went back and forth between a murphy bed and a stationary bed and ultimately decided we didn’t want to be making beds up every night. I’m SO glad we did!
At the end of the day, unless you don’t mind waiting for potentially weeks, you will be limited to local availability and timing.
We were lucky to find a great trailer in this time of “covid camping” where supply is far lower than demand.
One thing that helped us was choosing a few must-haves and staying flexible with the rest.
For instance, the outside kitchen feature would have been nice to have, but instead we ended up with a second door, which I LOVE. We still cook outside (more on that soon) and we have the best of both worlds.
If you are just getting started, please know that everyone is overwhelmed at this stage. There are so many things to consider when making a purchase like this, but hopefully this will help you get started.
We are constantly learning and the best part so far has been the RV community. Everyone is SO helpful.
This post really only scratches the surface and I hope to update more soon. I think this is a good start! Do you have questions? Tips? Let’s talk!
In the meantime, happy trails!