Last week was an amazing whirlwind of serendipity.
And the end result – we are pleased to introduce you to the newest addition to growing fleet of nomadic vessels – a 2016 Winnebago Travato 59G.
Why a Van?
Earlier this year we shared the start of our search for a Class-B van conversion and the reasons why.
As a quick recap in case you’re just joining in:
- We’re not getting rid of the bus or the boat – the van replaces our MINI Cooper, which has been our toad behind our bus since 2011.
- It’ll serve as a ‘marina hopper‘ daily driver, and a shuttle craft between our bus and boat.
- It’ll enable us to do some RV camping and attend RV events while still in our boating seasons, as well as allow filming for our upcoming TV show on PBS – The RVers.
- We won’t be towing it behind the bus, and instead will convoy when we need to move both RVs.
For all of the details, here are our recap posts:
Why the Travato?
We wanted a van that could easily fit in a standard sized parking space, as we’ll often be parking it at marinas and using it for daily errands. We ideally wanted something 20′ or under.
However, a touch of overhang turns out to not be much of an issue – which opened up a few slightly larger options, including the Travato at 21′.
We were far more intrigued with the Travato during our initial hunt than we thought we would be, and really were quite taken with the 59G layout with its split living floor plan.
This sort of split front-lounge floor plan is common in European camper vans, but is much more rare in the USA. The Hymer Activ has a similar setup, and was on our list for a while – but after a second look and the recent Roadtrek scandals, it moved down the list considerably for us.
We love this layout for a range of reasons:
- The bed and table / office can be set up simultaneously, without needing to convert from one usage to another. So many other class B layouts force a daily conversion.
- The dinette seat has two seatbelts, making it possible to cary four passengers – as this will be a daily driver for us and we’re pretty social, we thought that important. And if you take some friends out to dinner, you can actually talk with them while underway! Most other Class B layouts have any extra passenger seats way in the back.
- The front seats are actually put to use when you are stopped, spinning to be comfortable recliners in the lounge. So many other floor plans limit the utility of the driver’s seat, or even both seats – making the entire front of the living area wasted space while not underway.
- The bed folds up against the wall – making the entire back of the van open for bulky cargo when not in camping-mode.
The one reason so many people dislike this layout is the narrow crawl-over bed, which is a downside. But all the other advantages more than make up for it, at least for us. We did 4 years of smaller crawl over beds in our first years on the road, so we have a good idea of the compromise.
We went to a local RV dealer in Sanford for a second look – and the Travato 59G just felt right, and it climbed to the top of a very short list of options on our radar.
The problem was that the Travato had only just came to market in 2014. So there’s a limited number of used models to be found at a reasonable price.
And a lot of improvement were made based on early feedback making the first two years of the Travato’s release less optimal as choices.
And a brand new Travato (usually around $90-100k) was way out of our price range considering our limited planned usage for a vehicle like this. As much as we’d love a swanky new Travato GL model with lithium batteries, it just wasn’t worth the premium for our use.
So we kept our eyes open – hoping to find a great used Travato, or maybe a killer deal on a 2019 year end model close out.
We also kept our options open for a much older but lovingly used basic Roadtrek or PleasureWay as a starter.
But really, our hearts were pretty darn set on a Winnebago Travato 59G/GL.
We just needed to find one…
When a Van Lands in your Lap
With all of the boat projects we needed to get wrapped up in Sanford before we left, our focus on our Class-B hunt fell down the list of priorities.
Especially once we worked out meeting up with the film crew of The RVers at the RVillage Rally in March – we were able to shoot all our episodes for Season 1 inside of a couple days (we still have a some travel stories to catch you up on) using borrowed RVs as backdrops – eliminating that particular urgency for a while.
We figured we’d either find a Class-B by the time we shift back to our bus (either this summer or this fall) or perhaps just trade in the MINI for a more comfortable car to make our next cross country trip.
But serendipity intervened last week.
We arrived to Brunswick, GA (yes.. we left Florida!) for the MTOA Rendezvous at the end of April – and noticed that someone had a pretty Travato parked in the lot.
Some days, it was missing – indicating the owner used it as a daily driver.
We made note that we should try find them and pick their brain on parking one in a marina lot and if it was really as feasible as we hoped.
On one of our walks past it, the front windows had the shades down – and we drooled a bit that it was the 59G layout.
Cool, whoever owned it must be awesome and interesting.. because like, what are the odds this person picked our ideal camper van as their daily driver AND also lived on a boat??
We got done with the MTOA Rendezvous, and then started to shift into marina life mode by starting to meet our neighbors last week (do I even need to mention that we opted for the monthly rate at this point?)
We attended one of the 3x weekly happy hours – free beer and wine provided by the marina.
As we’re getting to know folks and sharing our story – we of course mention our future plans. And how we’d love to meet the owner of the camper van.
‘That’s Joe – and I think he wants to sell’.
Copious amounts of free wine does funny things sometimes, and sure enough – whoever we told didn’t remember how to reach us (heck, we barely remembered that a Travato may be for sale right here). But she told Joe.
We’re walking to the office to check our mail and she saw us – ‘Joe put up a for sale sign so you could contact him’.
At this point. I’m actually on my way to head down the coast in the MINI to pick up our dear long time local friends Ann & Elliott, who had just moved their sailboat to be hauled out, leaving Chris behind to get some work done.
As soon as I arrive, I get a text from Chris – half joking – ‘I bought a Travato’.
He clarified he’s talked to Joe, and this could be interesting. It’s a 2016 model being offered at $55k, which is a price point we had become comfortable with for our acquisition.
Joe hadn’t started trying to sell his Travato yet, as he was planning to depart this weekend – so was just going to put the camper in storage for now. He didn’t realistically expect to be able to find a buyer with so little notice.
But when he heard there might be someone in his marina interested he decided to put up a sale sign.
I mention this development to Ann & Elliott – and they immediately call dibs on buying the MINI. You know, the MINI we’re driving in at this very moment.
Chris and I met Joe once I’m back, and we get a full tour.
The Travato is in impeccable shape and has been lovingly cared for. It’s the exact color pallete we’d want. It has 100w of solar already installed (but no lithium).
I confirm his asking price is firm for sanity (it’s already a bit below market value) and we complete the paper work the next day.
On both the Travato and the MINI.
Chris and I drove the new van back over the border of Florida (our state of domicile) to the nearest DMV to transfer the tags on Friday – which happened to be May 10.
The date of my 12th Nomadiversary.
The traditional gift is a new RV, right? Sounds good to me!
Anyway, lesson re-inforced here is – always trust in serendipity. Never push things. The right path will emerge when it is ready.
We’re still pinching ourselves that it’s all real.
That our perfect Class-B almost literally landed in our laps. We did have to drive it 4 docks over, after all, to take delivery.
Here’s some initial photos:
And the archive of a YouTube Live video we did last night sharing the news and a quick walk-thru tour (we’ll do a more thorough video tour later):
Now.. we have to come up with a name.
Any ideas for our little runabout shuttlecraft?