Q — What kind of RV do you recommend?
A – Let me just say when we started the RV adventure we knew NOTHING…I mean nothing about RVing. Neither my wife nor I had ever camped in our lives, and my wife’s idea of roughing it was staying at a Holiday Inn instead of a Hilton. We were a little short on money and didn’t want to sell the farm just to try it out. We weighed our options, talked it over, and decided to look into buying a motor home rather than a pull-behind travel trailer (the bathroom while on the road is worth everything).
After looking at Class C’s (looks like a u-haul truck) and Class A’s (looks like a bus) we decided we liked the open feel of the Class A although the Class C often sleeps more (see below). Now we had to settle on a price…which also determined the age of the RV. There are also Class B’s, but they’re like van-RVs and would be way too small for our large family. My brother-in-law’s parents have one and they love it.
Had we known, we would have looked on-line, but we didn’t, so we searched all the RV lots in northern Indiana (The RV capital of world). We finally settled on a 1991- 30′ Mallard and paid $11,000 for it. It had a lot of miles but ran well and had ample storage. So we paid the money, spent 6 months getting it ready, and hit the road in the spring feeling our way through all the nuances of RV travel.
Within a month, a box-truck hit us on the interstate totaling our RV. Next, some nice people loaned us a 34′ Winnebago. It was big and old, and within two weeks nearly burned to the ground. Note: don’t go too ancient unless you have a gob of time and are handier than Goober down at Wally’s filling station.
Still convinced that RVing was the way to go, we bought a 1992 – 30′ Fleetwood Flair in Michigan for about $15,000. It had fuel injection, which gave us about 9 mpg (as opposed to 6 with the carbureted Mallard.) It turned out to be a great RV, and I’d highly recommend the Flair anytime. It is an entry level RV so it doesn’t have a lot of bells or whistles…but you don’t have to pay to fix them either.
Really, we had few problems with it although we ended up fixing or replacing most of the major coach components (like roof A/C, furnace, and fridge). Later, we replaced the carpet and had the seats recovered. It was like having a brand new RV at a fraction of the cost. The nice thing about gas RVs is that they’re no harder to operate and maintain than a big van. That ‘aint the case with diesel.
The problem with traveling with kids is that they grow and take up more space so unless we were going to train our children to sleep sitting up, we had to get a bigger RV. Since I knew that the gas RV’s we could afford all had the same size engine regardless of length, I decided that diesel was the way to go. We looked on Ebay and PPL Motorhomes and saw gobs of great deals.
We eventually landed on a design that we really liked–a Euro Premier. It was no longer being made but the price, the configuration, and the basics (engine,chassis, and transmission) were what we wanted. So we watched and waited and eventually bought one in Florida. I flew down and drove it home as happy as a…guy in a big diesel RV with an incredible air horn.
When I pulled into the driveway, my wife stepped inside and cried (although she tried to hide it). I failed to see just how ugly, rough, and outdated it was. No problem. Six months of hard work could fix that. So we gutted the thing, recovered all the furniture, the floors and walls, added new light fixtures, removed the washer and dryer and a big closet and built in triple bunk beds and got the thing running.