Buying Our First RV

After almost a year off from blogging, I guess it’s time to catch up a bit.  The past year has certainly brought some new adventures to our lives, and I mean that in a good way on what I’m about to share!

In September 2011, after several weeks of searching, we finally made a pretty monumental decision (for us) and bought a used motor home.  Even though we tried to find one in our area, we ended up in the Metroplex where there was a larger selection of good, used motor homes for sale.  We looked at two and bought the second one that we looked at – a low mileage 90’s model Tiffin Allegro.  It needed some work, so we made a deal with the owner that we all agreed was fair, signed the paperwork, paid him the cash, drove our new “toy” off the lot, and began our new adventure as RV owners.

Over the past eleven months since that purchase, repairing and updating the RV has been our little (and sometimes bigger) project to keep us busy in our spare time, but we have also made several great trips, too.  We started out with some overnight trips to a nearby lake that has good RV hookups to test everything out.  Sure enough, there were a few things that needed a little attention, but thankfully, all of the major things worked well except the generator – something we knew upfront and factored into the price.  That repair required some professional attention by an Onan certified mechanic, and it has worked perfectly since having that work done.  A couple of months ago, we also had a mechanic pretty much replace the entire braking system and shocks, and at this point, we honestly do not know of anything else major that needs to be done.  Even with the money we have put into the RV, we are still in good shape as far as value if we decide to sell it at some point, especially because of all the work we have done ourselves to fix it up, which has been pretty significant in labor but not so much in actual dollars out-of-pocket.

As we approach our one-year anniversary of being RV owners next month, I can safely say that we have not regretted our decision one bit.  RV travel enables us to pack up and get away for a night, a weekend, or a week with very little advance planning, and it also allows us to take our two dogs along as well, which is a big bonus for us and saves a lot of money in boarding fees.  Our RV doesn’t get the best or worst gas mileage, as it only gets about 10 mpg, but since this is a vehicle that seldom gets driven except to and from a vacation destination, we just factor in that cost with all the other vacations costs.   We can get away to a nice state park for a three-day weekend for about $200 in gas and camping fees.  Staying three nights in a hotel with gas and boarding fees would cost us right at $500 for that same long weekend trip.  We love camping and always have, and having the amenities of the RV now makes that experience even so much more enjoyable for us without losing the adventure of being in the great outdoors.  We are also discovering that we even save money at times, since we take our food along and avoid dining out at restaurants while we are gone, something we are far more likely to do when staying home on a long weekend.  We always carry our mountain bikes with us, but at this time, we have not taken another vehicle with us.  On one longer trip from home for a week, however, we did rent a small car to enable us to see the area a bit easier, and that was a great solution for us and no different from renting a car at a destination if we flew in like we used to do on longer trips.

The whole RV experience has just been great fun for us so far, even the trip preparations.  I’ve had to develop some new habits and procedures for RV camping that have been good for us overall, too, especially in meal planning and shopping.  It’s no fun to get to the campsite and realize that I’ve left some food at home in the refrigerator that I was supposed to bring.  So, I now regularly use checklists and plan our meals more efficiently for both home and RV travel, utilizing a great checklist app for my phone that is always with me.  We have spent quite a bit of time developing our checklists for everything RV, and those are serving us well.

Without a doubt, the thing we love most about RV travel is being able to really “get away from it all.”  We love being in nature for so many reasons, and it is a wonderful way to escape the rat race of everyday life for a brief time without breaking the bank.  There is really nothing I enjoy much more than just sitting out under the stars at night, far away from the city lights in a remote state or national park, and feeling that I’ve almost been transported to a different world.  It provides us a fun way to get some good exercise in hiking and biking more regularly, and as a hobby photographer, it has also provided me some new photographic adventures, although I try to balance that with leisure time to just relax and enjoy my time wherever we are.

We just love our new hobby and highly recommend it to anyone that is seriously interested.  I would recommend starting out with a good, used motor home or trailer if you are just beginning and are willing to do a few repairs to get it up to speed for travel.  There are some really great deals on used units, and we have found that those good ones, especially the motor homes, often sell quickly, too.  We missed out on more than one good RV when we started looking by taking too long to make our decision.  I think other people are discovering the same thing that we have discovered over the past year.  RV travel makes more and more sense as other travel costs continue to skyrocket, and it provides more options for travel, too.  I never met a kid that didn’t like to go camping either.  😉  Our only regret is that we did not do this a long time ago.

I will try to share more about our experiences and work that we have done on the RV as time goes on, so stay tuned!

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