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Basics of Buying a Home for the Road

Kay Slane

Finding just the right home for the road can be a daunting task, but with a little bit of planning, things should go much smoother.

The first thing that you need to do is make a list of what you need in an RV. Do you have children that are traveling with you or is it just your husband and you? I have actually seen a family with four children traveling very happily in a large 5th wheel that had the four bunk system in the back. My husband and son traveled with me in a two bedroom 35ft travel trailer, and we did really good, for the most part. A couple that we met up with in Arkansas that was traveling in a Class C (Minnie Winnie) type of RV.

Go to a lot of RV shows and look at many floor plans. Can you imagine yourself living in one with the kitchen in the back or is the side better? We have found, in buying a travel trailer, that it is easier when stopping along the way if the bed is in the back. This way you can load up the kitchen/living area in the front of the trailer, with the bath in the middle. This way you can have all the extra weight in the front, and you don’t have to load and unload all the extras every time. All that is required is to open up the back door and crawl into the bed.

With the Class A (large) and Class C (smaller) motorhomes, you need to make sure that while traveling you have a clear path from the front of the rig to where your bedroom is. It would be a good idea also to have space cleared to get to the bathroom. It’s always the little things we forget about when first taking off on our RV adventures!

With any travel trailer or 5th wheel, the first thing you need to know is how much weight your tow vehicle can handle. In your operator’s guide, you will find the towing capacity. Tell the dealer, the first thing, what type of vehicle you are using for a tow vehicle, what type of tow package (extra transmission cooler and gauges), and any special items you might have on the vehicle that would affect its towing capacity. For example, our truck will pull 9500 lbs.; we have an external and internal transmission cooler, extra transmission gauges, and air suspension.

Once you know the amount that your vehicle can pull, you want to look for a trailer that is about 70% of that weight. Therefore, the trailer that I would be looking for would be approximately 6650 lbs. Once you have added all your living supplies, the trailer should weight no more than 80% of your towing capacity. If for some reason, you go over your 100% towing capacity and you get into an accident, you have a good chance of being liable, because your weight limit exceeds what your vehicle can handle.

Make sure that you have the proper hitch, also. You not only need the appropriate size ball hitch, but you need the appropriate weight distribution bar, anti-sway bar, and get the best brake control system that you can afford. Skimping on these details can make a big difference if you get into high winds, going up and down steep grades, or in case you need to make an emergency stop.

Traveling full time in an RV can be very rewarding if only you take your time, do your research, and make every attempt to get want you really need with a few of the wants.

Written by Epstein LaRue, RN, BS, author of the number one rated nursing, trends, issues, and roles book series, “Highway Hypodermics.” For more information on travel nursing including travel company profiles, travel company evaluations, and hospital evaluations, visit her website at www.highwayhypodermics.com

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