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Ok... although my retirement date is still a little more than 3 years off (Jan 2013), some of you may remember that I've stated previously my initial plans afterward are to sell off nearly everything I own, buy a toy box, load the Wing & a set of tools in the back, and head on down the road for a year or so.

Well, after considering all of the options, and their pros & cons... I've narrowed down my choice to a 5th wheel type trailer to be pulled by an F350 or such vehicle. This will allow me to set up the RV, and yet still be able to drive away in the truck to go other places on rainy days, or to get supplies, etc... without having to pull stakes & repack the entire house.

So that part is settled.

However… I have to admit that I’m going into all of this “cold turkey”. I’ve been camping before, but not much since my military days (and I don’t know if I can really call that ‘camping’). But never for a prolonged period of time. Usually just the 1 or 2-day trip variety where we just took tents & sleeping bags.

I’ve never been “RVing”… nor have I even been in an RV park. I’ve never hooker up sewer & electric… nothing. I know the different between ‘brown water’ and ‘black water’… but that’s about the extent of my RV vocabulary.

Now I know the obvious suggestion would be for me to begin to rent an RV for weekend trips every now & then to get used to things… see what I like, and what I don’t like… and learn what options I’d like my future toy box to have.

My problem with doing that is… well… I don’t have a 5th wheel capable truck now… and so I can’t really test one the way I’d like. While I can go rent a smaller camper to pull behind my current truck… I obviously then couldn’t bring my bike along. And I really don’t want to go “RVing” somewhere and sit for a couple of days, just to try out sitting in a shell.

Anyway… I’ll work on that part later. In the mean time, the next set of questions I'll be considering are:

1. Brand Names / Manufacturers
  • Who are the better names in the industry?
  • Who builds the best quality units?
  • Who builds the good, yet affordable units?
2. Necessities
  • What are the functional items that I absolutely should have?
  • What are the functional necessities that I shouldn’t skimp and/or go cheap on?
3. Living Area Floor Plans
  • Are some really better than others?
  • Standard or Custom Plan?
  • Options that will be useful and make life easier.
  • Living Room Specific Items
  • Bedroom Specific Items
  • Kitchen Specific Items
  • Bathroom Specific Items
4. Garage Plans
  • Necessities
  • Not required, but I’ll want them items?
  • If I have the extra cash type options
5. Exterior Options
  • Awnings?
  • Garage Fly
  • Grills
  • Audio & video
  • Etc.

So… to begin wrapping this up… I’d like to get some feedback on the list above from you folks who have done the RV thing.

• Who makes the best units?
• Do any of them have a bad reputation for quality control?
• What are the options you’ve found you couldn’t do without when on the road?
• What are the things on the camper that are constantly in the way, not needed, or that you could do without?
• What are the “… well, you don’t HAVE to have it, but your life will be so much better if you do” items?
• And finally… what should I expect to pay for a nice unit? Not top of the line necessarily, but I don’t want a ‘just get me by’ item either.

As I said… I won’t be going out and buying a unit anytime in the immediate future, but I am trying to my research & get my ducks in a row ahead of time. I’ve heard there are some great deals out there right now, seeing how the bottom’s fell out of the economy… and I’d buy one now to live in, except there’s no where here on Long Island to permanently set it up & live in it.

Some things to keep in mind for those that dont' know me:

  • I'm single (divorced a long time). Kids are nearly grown and live with their mom... in fact, the youngest graduates high school this year. No live-in lovers, just casual dates & friends. I've always been pretty much of a 'loner', so there's no one else to worry about but me.

  • I don't own a home. Can't afford to here on Long Island with single income & my other financial responsibilities (child support, handicapped brother, etc.). I only rent a condo unit here, and I have no intention of staying up here when I retire. So there's no home to keep, or to come home to.

  • Ever since I enlisted into the 'Corps when I was eighteen, I've pretty much been a nomad all my life. I really don't like to stay at any one place very long. I've been here in NY longer than anywhere else in my adult life (over 10 years now), and I can't wait to leave. There's nothing in my "hometown" of Virginia Beach to go home to. Family & friends have all pretty much moved away, and I haven't lived there since I left home. As such, wherever I lay my head is 'home'.

  • I will probably rent some type of 'permanent' warehouse or garage space in eastern TN or western NC to keep my large workshop items & what tools I can't carry on the RV (table-lift, tire changer, drill press, etc.)... and maybe an antique/vintage bike or 2. So that will be my "home base" for tax purposes or 'down-time'.

  • Most of my other financial obligations will no longer be a factor when I retire. And though I won't have any large assets to sell off... between my gov't 401K type plan, my federal retirement, and other assets... funds to finance things shouldn't be a big problem. Don't get me wrong, I won't be living 'high on the hog'... but I shouldn't have to live off of cans of SPAM and pork & beans either.

  • I have many of my retired friends (though mostly married couples) who live this lifestyle year-round, and have done so for 5 years or more. Biggest difference is that none of them have toy boxes. They have Fleetwoods & such, and travel by various themes each year. One year they may hit every major league ball park... next year, attend a race at every NASCAR track... and the next year (or 2) visit every state & providence in the US & Canada.

  • And finally... as far as RV parks are concenred... just like I avoid interstates & highways during a riding tour, I plan to avoid those most times too. One of the best tips my friends cited above have told me is that they often simply find a large farm or ranch during their travels and ask the owner if they can set up on their property for a few days or a week. They tell me that they've rarely been turned down, and they have the added benefit of someone 'watching over' their camper when away from it. According to them, most of the farmers/ranchers will not accept any cash from them when they leave... so they've learned to always be ready to hide some money in a nice gift of some sort to the owner's family when it's time to leave.

So... that's the plan right now. Yes, I may get tired of it quicker than I think I will... but, that's the chance I'm willing to take right now to be able to go & ride wherever I like.

Ok… I’ve rambled enough. Thanks for your time.
 

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Tom,

I really cannot give you any solid advice on the 5th wheel thing, but I do want you to know that I expect you to have it parked in my driveway at least one time when you get it and get on the road. Actually I insist you do that..

Maybe you should be looking into some forums dealing with campers and trucks. That way you can actaully get advice from people who use them all the time..

Ross
 

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http://www.rvforum.net/ , http://rvbasics.com/ , http://www.rvparkreviews.com/ , http://www.kz-rv.com/ , There are 4 sites you could start researching. I have a KZ Sportster 33P and have spent about 14 months in it for the last 3 years. Load the GL in the garage and traveled to Alaska, and the lower 48. Stay in one spot and ride, move on and repeat. KZ has a very good reputation and 3 levels of trailer. All called Sportster. The Sportsman, New Vision, and the Escalade. Starting at 37K to 90K and over. The only thing, after reading everything you can, that I would recommend is to get Michelin, or Goodyear tires on your rig, anything made in China is literally junk and will cause damage to your rig when they explode. Everything else is personal preference and you will learn. At every campground you go to someone is there that can and will help you. Starting to see more and more toy haulers at every campground we go to. It's easy and fun. Enjoy.
 

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Go to a local RV dealer and look around. DO NOT BUY ANYTHING until you have looked at about 5 dealerships. Also know that there is a lot of margin in the prices of RV's. Don't even pay 90% of what they are asking, they will come down a long way if they want to sell.

the size of trailer will dictate if you need a 5th wheel or not.

Just going out for weekends and the occasional week -- I would stay with a lightweight smaller bumper hitch tow-behind trailer.

Doing this seriously - for weeks on end or several weeks / year then look at getting a 5th wheel with at least 1 large or 2 medium size slide outs. Also, if you go 5th wheel, plan on a new truck (good time to buy as truck prices are way down). Don't buy a gasoline burner as they don't have the towing power or gas mileage you will need -- GET A DIESEL!

Anything over a 30' foot trailer and I would say make it a dually (F350 / GM3500).
http://keyperformance-raptor.com/ --- this company makes some nice units. A couple in our GWTA chapter has a 35 footer that has a garage in the rear that is the full width of the trailer. Good for hauling their GL1800 trike and plenty of room. Just hauling one bike, look at a trailer that has a 1/2 width garage -- room for one bike and gives more living room.
 

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I’ve never been “RVing”… nor have I even been in an RV park. I’ve never hooker up sewer & electric… nothing. I know the different between ‘brown water’ and ‘black water’… but that’s about the extent of my RV vocabulary.
And you want to do that for a year? To tell you the truth, you have to be cut out to be a RVer...I did it for over a year. Living in an RV park gets old quick. Expensive too. I can't imagine doing it again for more than a three or four weeks at a time.

The <average> RV park is now nothing more than low income housing. Seriously. Lots of <seasonal> campers. The nice parks (and there are some beautiful ones) will cost you as much as a luxury hotel.

If you enjoy crowds, loud drunks, misbehaving kids and neighbors six feet in front of you, behind you and on either side of you RVing is right up your alley.

I won't even get into the actual RVs other than to say unless you spend about 150K or so, they are all made of cardboard, stapled together and are junk. Plan on basically re-engineering and rebuilding just about any RV you buy.

Take my advice, keep your home. Buy a nice used motorhome, say something that sold new for 200K+ (you can get it for about half of that now). Tool around in that a couple of weeks every few months. When you get sick of it, you will still have a place to go home to and you won't get hammered when your wife makes you sell it...

Hey, you asked! ;)
 

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After just getting home from a 5 week trip thru Tex, New Mex, Arizona, Calif and back home 5500 miles with an 8 ft slide in camper in a F350 Ford diesel pulling a 14ft enclosed trailer for the trike. The one thing I found is the size of the bathroom and if you have to step up to enter it. When I get a toy hauler the bathroom will be one of the most important things I will be looking at. This was our first RVing trip and not knowing if we would like it or not we went with the slide in which was a lot cheaper than a toy hauler. Now we know we like it and if we didn't like it we didn't have that much invested and easier and cheaper to get out of. Every thing else on the slide in worked great for us. Do alot of shopping before you jump into something.
 

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The <average> RV park is now nothing more than low income housing. Seriously. Lots of <seasonal> campers. The nice parks (and there are some beautiful ones) will cost you as much as a luxury hotel.

Not true, Stayed in everything from $18-$55 a night, worst one was in New England and $55 a night. Most have been wonderful.

If you enjoy crowds, loud drunks, misbehaving kids and neighbors six feet in front of you, behind you and on either side of you RVing is right up your
alley.

3 years in over 50 campgrounds from Alaska to Utah,Colorado, Wisconsin, Virginia, and many points in between and have never seen the campground you describe. They may be out there but if you use a good campground review site you will never come close.

I won't even get into the actual RVs other than to say unless you spend about 150K or so, they are all made of cardboard, stapled together and are junk. Plan on basically re-engineering and rebuilding just about any RV you buy.

Good used 5th Wheel Toyhauler from 20-25K and up, My cardboard box has gone about 40K miles and is still operating fine, nothing fallen off and everything still works.

Take my advice, keep your home. Buy a nice used motorhome, say something that sold new for 200K+ (you can get it for about half of that now). Tool around in that a couple of weeks every few months. When you get sick of it, you will still have a place to go home to and you won't get hammered when your wife makes you sell it...

A good used Class A MH towing a trailer is definately a posibility. However a fifth wheel alows you to disconnect your tow vehicle and using that for trips if you don't want to use the bike.

Geeze LD take a breath. See you on the Highway. Campgrounds are a lot like bike owners, gotta love them.
 

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I,m doining what your wonting to do.

We have a 34' toy hailer which we've had for 3years . We have been RVing for over35 years. I care my wing and KTM . We retired last year and travaled for 4mouths. We're setting in yuma now and well be moving onthis thrusday. I can give you some help on this. What year is your truck and what engine is in it? The size of the toy hailer well depind on your truck also on the conforts you wont. The other qusetion is do you wont your bike in your living area. This can be fun if you do it right. If you have questions I'll try and help you.
 

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Discussion Starter #10
Take my advice, keep your home. Buy a nice used motorhome, say something that sold new for 200K+ (you can get it for about half of that now). Tool around in that a couple of weeks every few months. When you get sick of it, you will still have a place to go home to and you won't get hammered when your wife makes you sell it...

Hey, you asked! ;)
LOL!!

Yeah Rob... I did ask. Thanks. In fact, thanks everyone for the comments so far.

Some things to keep in mind for those that don't know me:

(content moved to the first post in the thread)

Thanks again everyone... keep 'em coming.
:thumbup:
 

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I like the Jayco models. The have been trouble free for my family and the make toy haulers in 5th wheel or regular trailer. We did have to sell our last camper due to the economy and miss it a lot.

The things I would have would be the heated under belly or holding tanks, it can freeze even in Florida.

Get the upgrade heating and cooling system since you plan to live in it for an extended time.

Be sure to get the dual gas/electric water heater, if you dry park you can still run hot water off the battery. Be sure the fridge is dual gas/electric as well for the same reason.

We enjoyed a floor plan which lets us have a decent TV for the rainy days. Our first hard side camper had a overhead space for the TV and could only hold a 13 in. model. It may sound dumb but we have had good parties in the campground on Motorcycle trips setting the TV outside the camper and watching a important football game. Most campers have decent antennas, cable tv hook ups or dish hook up type tv.

Slide out sides are great, I could live with out one but would rather have it if money allows. The toy haulers can convert to big screen rooms as well.

Side awnings are great just roll it up when not in use the wind and rain can destroy one fast.

Just a few more ideas for you.
 

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LOL!!
Yeah Rob... I did ask. Thanks. In fact, thanks everyone for the comments so far.
No problem. Remember this though. I am the only poster that actually has experienced what you are considering. I did sell everything, buy an RV, travel around for a year +. All these other posters are <recreational campers>. There is a huge difference between spending a few months a year in a RV and living it one full time. They are not comparable in any way. I've done both, so I actually know a little bit about the subject.

Spending a year full time is equivalent to one of these recreational campers spending five. You will have to do repairs and re-engineer your rig. Guaranteed. Unless of course you don't even realize it is falling apart, which judging by the used ones I saw for sale, is a real possibility.

It will cost you more than you think. Everything will cost more. The itty-bitty refrigerators and freezers means you buy small amounts of food often. Same with everything else. A one ton truck pulling a 37' fiver will burn more fuel than you can imagine. Wait till you get out west and hit the mountains....

You have plenty of time, I suggest sometime after Memorial Day you take a ride through a few <campgrounds> and take note of the seasonal campers and general <vibe> of the whole camping experience. That may be an eye opener for you. It does sound like you are doing some serious homework, that is going to really help. Good luck in whatever you decide.

BTW, those toy haulers can be a real bitch to unload. The ramp door swings down, which is usually pointed to the back of the campsite. You need to find <pull through> sites so you can get your bike out without smacking into your new neighbor (that is five feet from your ramp door). :shock:
 

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We've been looking at this lifestyle for awhile...

My brides kin has RVd full time for 20+ years "hosting" campgrounds for much of that time.

You can set it up where you "live" in S Dakota with mailing address and everything else except taxes which makes things allot more inexpensive.

Something else to consider is buying used.

We have friends that go to Arizona every year to by almost new motor homes or 5th wheels from retirees that can no longer RV.

They get VERY good prices for well kept units.

Good luck on your quest and yes, I am envious.
 

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After just getting home from a 5 week trip thru Tex, New Mex, Arizona, Calif and back home 5500 miles with an 8 ft slide in camper in a F350 Ford diesel pulling a 14ft enclosed trailer for the trike.
If I were to go into this again, this is the type of setup I would get. A nice Ford F450 or F-550 and a huge Lance camper with slide out pulling a small cargo trailer for the lawn chairs, grill and the bike....Sweet!:thumbup:

 

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We have a KZ 35PX2 and use it for our home away from home for the winter. Have had a few very minor problems but all were taken care of by our dealer. We carry our trike inside. The garage will be very handy. You can use it for an extra room when your bike is outside. Truck wise get a dually if you don't already have truck. We have a single rear wheel truck so we are limited to trailer size because of pin weight. KZ has a 2 year bumper to bumper warranty. One of the best in the industry.
 

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We have a 36' tag along we pull with a F350 dually diesel, works really well. We have a lift to put the motorcycle in the truck bed. I would make sure I got a sperate enclosed garage in my toy hauler.
You could always rent a unit and camp in your driveway or close by to see if you like the RVing life.
I don't know if I could do it full time but a week or so at a time is really great.
 

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Radar contact:
I really cant say anyting to help you with information on the RV. Never done it, camped in a tent - thought that sucked. I plan on buying a small travel trailer, something with light, heat, a door and bathroom!!! Just wanted to say it sounds like you have a plan. In this day, age and economy thats a lot more than most. Good luck - give it hell!!!

As the end of life draws near, it is not what we did that we regret, but that which we did not do.

:thumbup:
 

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toy hauler

I have a 20' bumper pull that I haul behind a half ton Dodge truck. It has a queen size loft bed and two twin beds that fold down from the sides. It will hold one GL1800 but not two and the bathroom is small. If you buy new you can get a full bath acroos the front with tub/shower and seperate toilet. This cuts down the cargo space but still plenty of room for bike. There are some models that have queen beds that are motorized and raise up for loading bike and down for sleeping. That model is better for towing because it has a lower roofline. Mine has a 5k generator and 30,000 btu A/C. There are to many manufacturers to name and they are preety close in quality so I suggest you look at many and figure out the features you want then find a dealer that you can deal with. If you are planning to keep this rig for a long time I would go with a 3/4 ton truck and bumper pull trailer.5th wheels are hard to learn how to manuever and harder to learn how to back up and you loose a lot of space in your truck bed. I have been hauling trailers to the dessert for 20+ years and I like the setup I now have for the price I paid 12,000 in 1998.

PS whatever you do make sure you get a regulator for the water hook up or you will blow out the plastic lines under the trailer when you hook up a hose to the connection. Yes I am speaking from experiance
 

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RadarContact,

I think that you have received solid advice so far. The only thing that I could add is to pick the fifth wheel first, then look at trucks to pull it. I dont know how big you want, but if I could, I would get a KZ Inferno. It is 42' long, and weights in about 18 to 20k. Dont know what the weight limits are for the F350, but you may also want to consider a F450, or F550 still gives you a pickup but with more load capacity.
 
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