First of all, super huge thanks for all of the insightful and supportive comments to our recent post announcing our plans to integrate in a Class-B conversion van to our nomadic fleet.
We’ve been overjoyed with the enthusiasm, and doing our best to keep up with all of the feedback.
If you’ve not read it yet, we’d recommend starting here to get the scoop:
In response to a lot of the feedback and alternative suggestions, we decided to take to YouTube live earlier this week (view the nearly hour long archive) to address some of the most frequent questions we’ve fielded so far.
I thought I’d take a moment and expand on some of them on the blog too that weren’t covered in the original post.
So, here goes:
Totally a legit question, and I think our original blog post did a better job of explaining the goal than we did in our impromptu quick first video.
But basically, yes – this is a completely viable option to continue doing. We could just trade the Mini in for a more comfortable road vehicle and continue as is.
But trading the Mini for a van conversion opens so many more doors… err.. rather.. less hotel doors.
We won’t have to shuffle us, our stuff and a cat in and out of hotels. We can take a longer trip and make stops along the way to catch up with friends & family (right now, we really can’t even stop for a nice lunch with the cat in the car).
We can go out RVing when doing extended boat stays, such as we are now. We can attend RV events during our boating season. We can get out testing mobile internet gear in an RV environment while boating. And, we’d have a more readily available RV for using as a backdrop for our filming for The RVers TV Show.
And we can do all that without having to factor in the costs & variabilities of a rental (is it pet-friendly, does it smell, is the bed comfy, does everything work?)
But yes, the option to keep things status quo is on the table.
When RV shopping, starting with what is currently on the market is a great place to get an overview. And there’s no better place to see a lot of RVs than a major RV show or larger dealership.
So just because we started our hunt focused on new stuff, in no way means we’re considering exclusively only new coaches.
I seriously doubt we’ll end up justifying the premium price for something brand new – that’s just not smart for such a limited purpose vehicle. Maybe if we find a nice year end close out special or something however.
Now that we have an overview of what’s out there – we’re delving into the used market too.
Great question, and we’ve gotten a LOT of recommendations for a small Class-C or even a B+ or small A.
Aside from the size factor (most are too long and/or wide for normal parking spaces), here’s some additional reasons we don’t want something that is built to be exclusively an RV:
- We’ll need to park long term in marina lots, and some just don’t allow RVs. A van conversion can be argued to be a daily driver and even pass as a van.
- We’ll want to visit friends & family as we road trip, and some live in neighborhoods that don’t allow RVs in driveways – but a van parked (not stayed in) for a few days likely wouldn’t catch as much notice.
- And major point – We are new leaseholders at SKP Saguaro Co-op in Arizona, which will be our winter RV homebase for the bus (and long term storage). Their rules only allow one RV to be parked on the lot at a time. But, they exempt Class-Bs and Truck Campers if it’s your only vehicle for leaving the park not in your RV. That narrows it down right there.
Basically, a Class-B is designed in mind of being both an RV and daily driver – thus the rules are more ‘grey’ around them.
We were surprised this one was suggested as often as it was. But we can see what some were thinking – we could have a smaller more nimble daily driver and then just use the trailer when we wanted to road trip or go out camping.
The biggest issue is the logistics.
We’d then have to move a vehicle and trailer between marinas, and likely find RV storage for the trailer in each location (as many marinas wouldn’t let us park a trailer). Or return to a past stop to pick up the trailer. Going out camping wouldn’t be as simple as just loading up the fridge parked out in the marina lot, and heading out – so thus, we wouldn’t do it as often.
And, we’d then be adding a fourth unit to our fleet – that’s more costs in registration, insurance and maintenance.
Not to mention, we did our first four years on the road in this setup. We’re ready for something new. We’ve never had a class-B – that’s kinda fun!
This one is actually a really good suggestion, and caused us to stop and think.
It meets the criteria of fitting in a normal parking space, would give us a daily driver setup and would fit within the bylaws of our co-op park for parking on our lot.
But, it does look like an RV – so we’d have concerns about complications leaving the setup parked at some marinas and when visiting friends & family. And we’d have the issue of now having a 4-vessel fleet to maintain.
So, while a good thought and we totally get why some Class-B shoppers ultimately go this direction – we’re pretty set on a Class-B being the right choice for our specific mission.
Another great thought – it certainly meets all of the parking criteria we’ve laid out, would be super affordable and gives us lots of flexibility to ‘design as we go’.
However, one of our use factors is a backdrop for our filming for The RVers TV show. So having something that looks more like a mainstream RV is ideal. And, some RV parks simply don’t allow non-RVs – and we’d like that flexibility too.
Remember, we did nearly a year in a 16′ T@b teardrop without a bathroom, AC or fridge. It was great, we don’t regret a moment – but we really like creature comforts now too.
If it’s comfortable and fun, we’re more likely to get out using it.
We covered this pretty well in the original blog post, but I’m repeating it here – as I’m sure someone will suggest it again.
We’re quite positive the results of doing something custom would be awesome, but we don’t want to invest the design time or the waiting time into something for the limited use we’ll have planned for this vehicle.
Many of the van converters we’ve checked in to have a lead time of around a year. We ideally want something we can roll off a lot in the next couple of months.
Besides, having not actually traveled in a Class-B yet – we’re no where near ready to make big design decisions.
Instead, we’re focusing on something that seems to be a great fit for this purpose, but not getting in over our heads that we can’t switch it up later if we decide something else might work better (which might very well be a custom build).
So, yes – we have been continuing our van search since the Tampa RV Supershow. We’ve had opportunity to visit a local dealership for more extended casual time hanging out in a variety of new and used vans.
And we’ve started viewing used vans that have come up on our radar.
At present time, here’s our short list:
- A lovingly used Roadtrek – likely a 190 or Simplicity/Zion (we looked at a 2013 170 in person last week, and it was just a touch too compromised in space for us.. and this particular one a bit too worn for its age).
- A lovingly lightly used smaller Pleasureway – they seem to hold up well over the years, and we really like the company and attention to quality
Winnebago Travato 59G/L – if we’re going newer, this model keeps pushing all our buttons. We spent a bunch of time hanging out in one last week, and it just feels ‘right’ for our needs with it’s split floorplan providing seating for 5 in the salon (err.. living room, sorry, boat speak coming out), usable bath and corner murphy bed. And the Volta lithium setup hits our geek points too. (And yes, we’re in touch with the awesome Stef & James of TheFitRV.)
So, that’s where we’re at. We’re still shopping, absorbing and learning. Other stuff could be added to the list too as we go.
Our evenings after our workday are consumed with watching Stef & James and Ultramobility on YouTube (plus many other van tours), diving into forums & user groups, and digging up blog posts.
And we’re making plans for a field trip up to Gainesville to visit Sunshine State RV to tour even more used RV models, and get inside a Coachman Crossfit. And if you have leads on lovingly used vans the fit our criteria – send them our way!
But, we have a big new website redesign roll-out for our work life (MobileInternetInfo.com) in progress – so serious shopping may have to wait a couple weeks.