When we heard from the friend of a friend who said they’d love to talk with us about RVing, we knew we’d arrived. After more than two years of living the tiny-home-on-wheels dream, we were considered seasoned enough to share some wisdom. Cool!
There are more folks looking for that kind of advice all the time, as the pandemic continues to fuel sales of motorhomes, trailers and vans. Here are a few things we’ve learned that might be helpful when trying to figure out the best way to get started.
Research, research, research: When considering what to buy, it’s essential to do a whole lot digging before deciding what’s best. The whole #vanlife movement sounds very appealing, but before jumping on board, consider what that means. Can you really imagine what it’d be like to shower while jockeying yourself around the toilet? Most vans have “wet” bathrooms if they have bathrooms at all.
The best way to research these questions and more can be found in a place that’s familiar to most plugged-in people: Facebook. The social media giant has a seemingly endless assortment of groups created for RV enthusiasts, including a bunch for newbies and wannabes.
We follow How to RV For Newbies, which has more than 87,000 members exchanging tips and suggestions. One of the most helpful bits of advice we’ve read so far is to come up with a checklist that you tick off before pulling out on a trip. No matter how many times we think we’re good to go, there always seems to be an open cupboard or drawer that needs to be shut.
YouTube is another valuable tool for researching the market and what to do with the vehicle once you’ve bought it. There are tutorials for everything from properly maintaining sewer lines to the best products to use for sealing leaks on rooftops.
Word of mouth: It’s always good to hear from owners who are thrilled they took the plunge. When Sharelle Klaus bought a Bambi Airstream that she named Kevin in the fall of 2018, she negotiated a steep learning curve that included learning how to park a trailer.
“People ask me how hard is it and I tell them it’s not hard, but when you’re new to it, it’s like you’re a kid again,” said Klaus, who’s the founder and CEO of Seattle-based DRY Soda Company.
Since figuring it out, she has enjoyed all sorts of memorable road trips, documenting adventures on Instagram. This fall, she drove her oldest son to college in Utah and then drove back home through Yellowstone National Park with her youngest son, Finn.
“There’s just nothing else like this kind of experience,” she said.
When trying to decide between a motorhome and a travel trailer, Klaus said she would advise prospective trailer owners to go for the most efficient battery system. That’s especially important when you’re camping without being plugged in. She’s looking into adding solar.
Test drives: After all the research, it’s time to get behind the wheel before making the purchase. Many dealers in the Northwest have established pandemic safety protocols which require wearing masks and maintaining social distance. At RnR RV Center in Liberty Lake, customers can take a rig out after showing a copy of their driver’s license and proof of insurance.
If customers would like a salesperson to accompany them on a test drive, that request will be considered with conditions. “We request that the test drive is as short as possible, no more than 15 to 20 minutes and that we keep the windows open during that time,” said sales rep Vince Lemus.
Because business has been so brisk, Lemus recommends calling before coming in. “If they call and talk to a salesperson, give them a list of what they want to see, it makes the process go more smoothly.”