When we decided to go fulltime, the first question was “In what?”.
At the time, we owned a 2011 Pleasure Way Plateau RS, a Class B RV built on a Mercedes Diesel Sprinter 3500 van. It’s the ultimate road trip vehicle. It has a decent-sized bathroom and shower, hot/cold running water, microwave convection oven, 2 door 3-way fridge, AC, generator, propane heat, HD TV with surround sound and a king sized bed. And it gets 20 mpg. We loved this RV. We drove it from Tampa to Yellowstone and back. It was great. The only thing it didn’t have was space. You also had to convert the sofa to a bed each night then back again in the morning. And if you wanted to go somewhere after you set up camp, you had to disconnect and stow stuff before driving off. It didn’t have much storage either. As much as we loved it, we knew it wouldn’t do for full-timing.
Why not keep the Sprinter and pull a small trailer?
We thought about pulling a small Airstream with the Sprinter. This would give us the best of both worlds. Our Sprinter RV had a 5000 pound towing capacity so this limited our options to something like a 19’ Bambi. A Bambi would solve the bed conversion issue and allow us to set up camp permanently. We’d also get a little more storage but we’d lose some mpg’s. The deciding moment came while on a cold and windy camping trip in central Florida. After being cooped up inside for an afternoon, we realized that two small spaces didn’t seem much better than one. So much for this idea.
What about a Class A?
We seriously considered a smallish diesel pusher around 35 feet. All of these seem to come with slide outs and have a lot of space. Display models at the RV shows always have the slides fully extended but I’ve often wondered what they look like slid in? Can you get to the bathroom? What about the frig, cabinets, closets, etc? This seems important as you’re cruising down the highway. I asked the Sales Rep this very question at last year’s RV Super Show in Tampa. He represented one of the more expensive brands and graciously offered to show us. He pushed some buttons and all the slides came in. Other than having to climb over the bed, everything seemed accessible. So far, so good. Once we were satisfied, he pushed some other buttons to extend the slides back out. Slide 1 went out without a hitch. Not so for Slide 2. He tried again. Other than some clicking and whirring sounds, nothing happened. Uh oh, not so good. I’m a firm believer in simplicity. The last thing I want to happen is to be in the boonies miles from civilization (which is our preference) and have some system go on the fritz. Most Class A owners probably never have issues with their slide outs but when you start looking under the covers of a Class A motorhome, things sure seem to get complicated. Auto levelers, compressors, steps that extend automatically, TVs that rise out of furniture…this seems like a lot of stuff to go wrong. Not only are Class A’s complex, but a well-built diesel one costs a fortune. And then you need to add a TOAD which adds another expense and engine to maintain. Nope. Not for us.
That Airstream is Looking Good.
Cindy and I have always had a soft spot for all things retro. We’ve owned two 1920s bungalows, driven our fair share of old Volvo 240s and owned 4 wire fox terriers, the iconic dog breed of the 1930s. This probably explains our attraction to Airstream trailers. Unless you’re an Airstream aficionado, it’s hard to tell the difference between an old one and new one. When you buy an Airstream, you automatically become an “Airstreamer”, a loose knit group of individuals other RVer’s have a hard time understanding. We often hear comments like “You coulda bought a big fifth wheel for what that thing cost” and “I didn’t know they still made those?” and “All you Airstream guys seem to know each other.” The later point is especially true as us Airstreamers do tend to seek each other out whenever we show up in the same campground. There’s even RV parks across the US that only allow Airstreams.
So we ended up buying a 2013 30’ Flying Cloud. It weighs in around 9000 pounds and has a roomy layout. We’re getting about 12 mpg pulling it with a 2013 Ford F250 Platinum Diesel. So far we love it.by