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Old 06-28-2016, 02:54 PM   #1
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Default Our First RV Trip!

My wife and I have been researching the possible purchase of a Class B RV in the next 6 months to a year, and as part of the process we decided to rent one. I have a bunch of past experience with long hiking and white water canoeing trips, however my wife has never been a camper but enjoys the outdoors (hiking, fly fishing, etc.). I am more enthusiastic about the possibility of owning an RV so this trip was super important to see how it would go from her perspective.

We rented the RV for a long weekend (two nights/three days) and overall it was a great success! We had such a great time. We cooked over an open fire, did a 5 mile hike, got stuck in torrential rain but used the van heater afterward and warmed up with tea. Having all the facilities available in such a comfortable package was just awesome. My wife wanted to spend several more days renting and we plan to rent again this Summer. She isn't 100% ready to take the plunge and own one but we want to rent for a week the next time so hopefully that will help. What was amazing to me was we only drove an hour away but felt so relaxed as if we were 1,000 miles away.

BIG thanks to the forum here with all the posts and help understanding all the systems. I have owned a sailboat in the past so I was familiar with some aspects but one of the key elements of the weekend was that I was able to "speak the language" with the RV rental owner and ask good questions. My wife mentioned over a cocktail one evening that one thing that made it great was that I was relaxed and understood how to run the RV (hooking up, running the AC, running the generator, when to use the water pump and when not to (e.g. when hooked up), dumping the tanks, using the toilet, swiveling seats, making the bed, etc. Preparation made a huge difference. I really can't wait to get out there and do it again!

Rental Details:
We rented a 2007 Gulf Stream Vista Cruiser Mercedes Class B. The van had 100K+ miles on it but had new tires, brakes, and was in very good condition. We rented from Fuller RV in Massachusetts (we are from Boston) and they were super helpful explaining how everything worked, and the van and all appliances worked perfectly. Also, it was nice that they filled the water tank, propane, and plugged in the van to get the batteries charged and the fridge cooled. It was great having a good experience with the rental company and that everything worked. We plan to rent from them again.

We stayed at a very nice camp ground in Connecticut (Nickerson Park Family campground on the Natchaug river). We camped right on the river and electrical and water hookups (no sewer on the sites close to the river), a fire pit/BBQ, and picnic table. They even had high hedges between the camp sites for privacy. The camp ground is connected to the Natchaug state forest so hiking trails and forest access are available right from the campground.

Learnings from the trip:

Many owners here and on other forums have mentioned that renting is a great way to try out the RV lifestyle and I couldn't agree more. I have read about so many different RV brands, models, layouts and features but actually getting out there and using one really revealed some great things for us. For instance:
- Length - I loved the 22 foot length. I was originally thinking of a shorter van (e.g. 19 feet Agile or Ascent) but the 22 foot length was very comfortable to drive and park. No need for me to go shorter and I liked that it would still basically fit in a parking space.
- Layout - we were surprised by the layout (we had the version with the two facing rear couches/twin beds that convert to a king). We really liked the layout with the ability to open the rear and sit that direction and have the world exposed (instead of facing forward with a forward facing couch). Also, the big central table was great. Most importantly, as mentioned in posts here, having a "two zone" system was great. It really worked for us to have the front and rear sections. The front seats swiveled to the rear and we used them a lot to sit and relax while the other cooked, have coffee while I slept later, or we just wanted to look out the huge windshield.
- Screens - Unfortunately the rental didnt have any screens or an awning. We could see where we would definitely want these; especially the screens.
- Heater and AC - We used both on the trip and I was most surprised by the heater. We got stuck in the rain and it was cold (could see your breath) so it really made the trip to be able head back to a nice warm van. Also, with screens I think we wouldn't have needed the AC (open side and rear) so I think the AC would only be needed occasionally.
- Class B or Bigger? - We realized that for the two of us a class B was plenty big. We would not want to go bigger for driving and parking, etc. We loved the size. Note - we only rented for 2 nights and 3 days so we will see with a longer stay later this season but we really loved the size.
- Packing - Because we were renting we picked up the van and loaded it up and headed out straight away we brought everything with us in our car. To pack our stuff we purchased three LL Bean canvas bags (blue for my clothes, green for my wife, and a red bag with kitchen and other common items). The bags were perfect to segregate and organize our gear and once unpacked into the van they fit inside each other and folder flat for storage. Also, on a longer trip they could be used for shopping, etc.
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Old 06-28-2016, 06:25 PM   #2
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Congrats- our story is renting in Ireland...about 3 days in my Wife unprompted said "this is awesome, do they have these at home..."

Mike
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Old 06-28-2016, 09:48 PM   #3
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I'm glad you enjoyed it. Let me tell you three things I enjoyed seeing in your post and I know others will as well.

1) You had a good time. Fantastic
2) You mentioned everything the rental company did for you. That's fantastic. That is what should be done, but doesn't always happen.
3) You gave a good review of your campground too. Those are always nice to see.

Hope you get to enjoy some more time in a B.
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Old 06-28-2016, 10:55 PM   #4
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Renting is definitely the way to get your feet wet.
I always wonder how many of those people with 30' class A's or C's, sitting in their yards with weeds growing around them, knew what they were in for when they bought. The class B is definitely the most user friendly RV out there. We use ours so often we never even drain the tanks; it is always "set up" and ready to go.
Congratulations. Next time, rent a different model you are considering for purchase, and you will have the added benefit of knowing you're not only getting the right size; but also the right layout/brand/chassis,etc.
I test drove the model you are talking about, and found it to be a real "dog" compared to the newer "eurovans" out there...
Good Luck, and Happy Travels!

rereading that, it sounds a little inflammatory.. which was not my intent. Just meant to say, comparison shopping (or better yet, renting) is a good thing..
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Old 07-01-2016, 04:42 PM   #5
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My wife and I also completed our first RV trip in our new Winnabago Travato 59K. We spent one night at a local campground just to check everything out, and then we left for a 3000 mile road trip from upstate NY to the beaches in western Florida (our son lives there), and then to Virginia Beach (where our daughter lives), and then home. Along the way we "camped" in rest stops in Ohio and Alabama without any trouble. (All the Alabama rest stops we visited had dump stations, which was great as I had never emptied a set of RV waste tanks before this trip.)
We also camped at the Rocky Bayou State Park in Florida, and the Morgan Point Recreation Area in the Chattahoochee National Forest in Georgia. Both campgrounds were clean and very nice. Rocky Bayou is not on the ocean (there are state parks on the ocean but they were all booked up), but is still convenient. I can recommend both campgrounds. We also stayed with my son one night (not exactly recommended ...) and my daughter (much better!).
The RV worked very well, and there were no major surprises. Except for when we were with our kids, my wife and I prepared all our meals in the RV, and also showered, etc. in the RV.
We averaged 17.6 mpg for the trip. The daily range was 16 - 19 mpg.
Here are some general comments about the Travato 59K:
The powered exhaust fan in the kitchen area (an option) was very useful. At night we set the fan to exhaust (at around 30-40% speed) and then open the two side windows by the bunks. The draw from the fan kept a steady airflow in the RV, and made it much more comfortable. This was great for when we didn't have hookups and didn't want the generator running.
The solar panel on the roof does a good job of keeping the RV batteries charged. We will add a second panel at some point, either on the roof or as a standalone panel that can be aimed at the sun. Also, the driving we did kept the batteries topped off.
We have the 2017 version with the interior table, and that worked OK for dinner. We kept it stowed the rest of the time.
The windshield and front windows privacy screen that comes with the RV is somewhat fiddly to use the first time you use it, but after putting it up and taking it down a few times it became easier as it starts to flex where you need it to. Leave the bags that the screens come in home!
We are going to modify the shower curtain so it doesn't cover the medicine chest / toilet area. It makes it easier to get soap, etc. while showering, and also it makes it possible to shave in the shower. (If it was up to me, shaving would be optional, but the wife has the final say.) Windcrasher (google Windcrasher Blog) has a modification to put the curtain on a track; we might look at that.
We enjoyed having outside speakers, something I never would have thought about. The multiple USB charging ports were great. There are actually 9 in the Travato - 2 upfront (when the engine is on), 3 "double"ports that work off the house battery, and one more that connects to the sound system. I guess that it's a sign of the times.
The only problem we had was with the screen door. I noticed that when it was hot outside and the camper was in the sun the screen door didn't slide as smoothly as it normally did, and it started to stick at a few points. You just have to be careful opening and closing it. It seems as though the bottom track for the screen door may expand or warp slightly in the hot weather, but I'm not a 100% sure.
That's about it. We were very happy with the class B RV; it definitely beats hotels and also our former pop-up camper. We were able to park where we wanted to, which was very useful in the beach parking lots in Florida. I didn't do a lot of comparison shopping amount the different class B RVs. We wanted a new unit, and the Travato 59K was in our price range. There was also a local dealer, which was important to us.

Enjoy the summer.

Howard
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Old 07-01-2016, 05:41 PM   #6
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Excellent post gk&hc.
I DID do allot of comparison shopping, and I can tell you with certainty, in my experience, there was nothing that came close to the features and value of the Travato (I have a G). The G also had the floorplan I needed, that just couldn't be found in a used unit.
And Thanks, leaving those window shade bags at home is a good idea that never even crossed my mind!
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Old 07-03-2016, 11:20 PM   #7
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Hello.
I've been searching for a suggested list of things to pack for my first RV trip. I'm flying across the country so I have to pack light (or somehow ship a box). Any suggestions? I think I have the basics down with clothing and bedding, emergency kit and cooking gear but what would you suggest I have in my tool box?
Thanks!
Jen
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Old 07-04-2016, 12:47 PM   #8
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I'm going to leave the tool kit question to the more experienced RV people. However, I would recommend looking at the RV manual (you can probably get it online) to see if it mentions any specific tools. For example, my Travato has a powered awning and step by the sliding door. So I made sure to carry the correct wrench and socket so I can retract either the awning or step if one of the motors or mechanisms break.
You also can't go wrong with duct tape.


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Old 07-05-2016, 02:23 AM   #9
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Your tool box is going to be heavy, buy it after you land. Here are some suggestions but this list is no where near complete.

2 wrench sets, one metric, one standard
2 3/8" socket sets, one metric, one standard
Ratchet
A screw driver set
A few different pairs of pliers
Vice grips
2 adjustable wrenches, different sizes
electrical tape and duct tape
wire strippers
hammer
mallet
penetrating oil
pry bar
knife

If you want to go minimal
duct tape
electrical tape
wire strippers
a few screw drivers
vice grips
adjustable wrench
knife

Do yourself a favor as well, do not buy the cheapest tools you can find. You also don't need to go high end either.
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Old 07-05-2016, 12:54 PM   #10
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Thanks Bruceper! Those are two very useful lists!
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