Liz has joined me in retirement status effective July 1, 2020. We have been busy this spring and early summer preparing to begin our trailer adventures. We knew we were going to want a different RV to make things more comfortable for extended adventures. What we discovered is that the search for a new trailer would ultimately lead to a lot of research and decisions about the logistics of traveling with that new trailer.
The search for a trailer started with wanting a better sleeping arrangement. Our previous trailer did have a separate bedroom, however the bed felt like it was in a cave, actually a bit claustrophobic. The head of the bed was in a space that was between two small closets and at the front of the trailer, with the front wall curving over the sleeping space. Additionally, it was impossible to get good ventilation.
The beginning of our search opened our eyes to the fact that we wanted a trailer with a bedroom slide, which would have windows on each side of the bed, allowing great cross ventilation.
After looking at many brands and models of trailers, it was apparent that the quality of build and features varied hugely between brands. We decided on a Jayco Eagle 330RSTS.
We also learned that MSRP means nothing when actually making a purchase! We purchased at Camping World in Spokane, WA and were able to make a deal that was workable. Camping World was a pleasure to deal with and we received many bonus items associated with Good Sam that were not offered with any other dealer we have purchased prior trailers from. These bonus items included things like a Good Sam Membership, Roadside Assistance, and an Extended Service Plan.
We Need a Bigger Truck!
Well, all those great features our new trailer has adds a significant amount of weight to be towing. Our Ram 1500 with a Hemi was clearly not going to handle that load.
We considered a newer Ram 2500 which would have the tow capacity needed to pull the 10,000 pound trailer. After spending a lot of time researching tow vehicles and watching Craigslist, we found our tow vehicle. We feel very fortunate to have found a 2009 Ram 3500 with a 6.7 liter Turbo Cummins diesel with reasonable mileage and a reasonable price tag. The diesel makes towing a whole new experience! Along with the obvious increase in towing power came a ridiculous increase in fuel economy. It is clear that we made the right choice with this truck.
The diesel one ton pulls the Jayco like a dream. I did add air springs to the rear suspension and a rear view camera on the truck as well as the trailer, to make hooking up and towing more comfortable.
The next thing we discovered is that extended travel without some kind of membership is not realistic, at least not on our budget.
We did have the Good Sam membership that came with our trailer, which is great for a weekend here and there. Good Sam offers discounted camping, but still has a nightly fee.
There are some great solutions for free camping while in route to a destination that we have found. We like Harvest Hosts and Boondockers Welcome. Harvest Hosts is a collection of wineries, breweries, and farms that allow you to park your RV overnight at no charge. Boondockers Welcome is a network of fellow RV owners that allow free parking for up to 3 nights. Both these have a small annual fee to have access to the network.
Another membership with a small annual fee is Passport America. They offer significant discounts on camping fees at locations throughout the country.
After researching all the options for campground memberships, we decided that a Thousand Trails membership was an essential part of our plan for extended travel. The clear advantage to any Thousand Trails membership is no camping fees. Thousand Trails offers many options for memberships and it does take some research to determine which option makes sense for your situation. A Thousand Trails membership is clearly an investment in your future, but it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to do the math and reach the conclusion that you will save a lot of money if you plan to travel for months at a time.
So now we are planning our adventures! With the Covid-19 pandemic, we have to date had only one outing with the new truck and trailer combination. We booked a stay for that trip on Boondockers Welcome and met a really nice couple, Butch and Becky, near Shelton, WA, who are a part of that network. We have reserved a stay at a Thousand Trails in Mt Vernon, WA for a week this month and have reserved several Thousand Trails campgrounds this fall for our first extended trip which is scheduled for September and October. Hopefully the Covid-19 pandemic will not interfere with our plans. One advantage of RV travel is the ability to isolate and social distance as needed.
We are excited to begin this new chapter in The Robb and Liz Story! Stay tuned as we create this journal of our RV adventures around the U.S.