Newbie RV Shopping

When deciding to put this plan of ours into action, there was one especially critical component….actually securing an RV. The entire plan hinged on us doing this in a very short window of time.

We had a few fixed components that weren’t changing, namely: budget, timing and tow capacity.

  • Budget is pretty self explanatory. Whether or not we could find something that worked for us in that range was an unknown early on. We had scoured ads and looked at both private and dealership sales, so we had a basic sense of what we might be able to get. After hearing great things about Manteca from a neighbor who had recently purchased and loved their experience, they were our first (and last) dealership visit.
  • As for timing, we had decided this was a now, not a later plan. Later had all sorts of immediate consequences and an even higher risk of us aborting mission due to, you know, life. Timing also impacted what we could get RV wise because we didn’t have the ability to reno an older trailer or take our time hunting for the perfect unit or lowest deal.
  • Tow capacity refers to the fact that we have a 2012 Jeep Overland and whatever travel trailer we got would need to be able to be safely towed with our existing vehicle (knowing hitch mods were necessary). This could probably warrant its own entry, but we consulted the manufacturer website for specs, which we’d been warned classicly overstates tow capacity. We also asked the question over and over while at the dealership and used several independent websites to determine the calculation such as http://changingears.com/rv-sec-calc-trailer-weight-tt.shtml. …Oh, and a few last minute texts (you know who you are!) for final sanity checks on our numbers.

For those of you still reading, we ended up purchasing a used 2016 Coleman travel trailer from Manteca, had the pleasure of working with Frank, who was both encouraging when we explained our plans (and doubts) and realistic with us, keeping both budget and fit for purpose in mind.
We did compromise, for example, we had really hoped to snag a walk around bed, but the inventory in our budget didn’t allow for that feature. Instead, making the bed and/or changing linens becomes a sort of elongated comedic semi Olympic looking event. And, on the rare event Mike needs to get up in the middle of the night, he has to sort of gently vault himself over me, as well as the snoozy pup at our feet. On the flip side, we have toilet, shower and sink in the bathroom, whereas the walk around bed model didn’t include a sink. Yours truly had both sanitary and logical (why??) concerns with that one!

We needed a sturdy (but light enough to tow!), relatively new (fewer repairs was the thinking), livable space on a full time basis for a short term period, and while we would change a few things if budget and tow capacity weren’t concerns, all in all, we were able to tick the major boxes.

The final note here is that after purchase but prior to taking possession, we had an incredibly thorough tech named TJ (good sign!) walk us through features, utilization, troubleshooting, etc. He allowed us to record the session and was cool as a cuke despite my recording his every word, and even gave us his number should we have any issues our first time out. Thankfully, we never had to take him up on it!

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