We changed our whole setup – the what, why, and how

    After our first full year on the road we analyzed everything - costs, efficiency, liability, and convenience. Through careful consideration and a few forces outside of our control, we made the decision to downsize further. For a wee stroll through our brains, read on.

    Oh look – RV’ers are changing their rig!

    We have officially become a stereotype. I think we both thought we had really nailed it the first time around, and in a sense we had, but reflection yields strange results sometimes. Let’s see if we can make sense of it all.

    Coachmen Mirada 31FW

    We had a great time in our Mirada and we hope it helps make amazing memories for its new owner(s). Just watch out for those trees, folks!

    The what

    Rhiannon has documented our journey in extreme detail (I suggest you read through if you haven’t already). For the uninitiated – to begin our RV life we decided on a 31′ Class A with a 2-door Jeep Wrangler tow car. After a crazy year and a half, we are now in a 23′ Travel Trailer pulled by a twin-turbo F-150.

    I figure the major thing that will jump off the screen at you is how much smaller we got. In my experience, most people want more room once they hit the road. We are now 8 feet shorter, and lost almost all of our very ample storage from the Class A. Now let’s see if the ‘why’ makes as much sense to you as it does to us.

    The why

    • The almighty dollar

      We knew our setup was expensive to both own and maintain, but even very exaggerated estimates didn’t quite prepare us for the end result. After unexpected issues with a tree in Seattle, the subsequent repairs, rising fuel costs, and a few work projects either falling through or not meeting projections, we figuratively hit the brakes and started working through potential changes.

      While our issues were primarily short-term, we really sat back and thought about our long-term goals as well. Cutting costs would allow us more short-term flexibility, but it would also let us reach those long-term goals much quicker. I realize that’s common sense, but you don’t always see all the possibilities until you have experience under your belt. Roll your eyes and wag your finger all you want!

    • Efficiency

      Oh, gasoline – you sweet-scented, over-priced necessity. There’s nothing quite like traveling the country getting roughly 6.5 miles per gallon to make you truly appreciate getting over 10 miles per gallon. Never in my life would I guess I’d be excited to dip into double digit MPG, but here we are.

      While I liked the Class A’s range of roughly 570 miles, I did not like burning money at a 6.5MPG clip. Downsizing has allowed us to creep over 10MPG, and I’m hoping some additional adjustments to our weight distribution will yield even better results.

    • Liability

      Potential costs are a slippery slope, and the weight of additional bells, whistles, and nice-to-haves was heavy, looking back. Auto-leveling jacks, a massive 5500 kwH onboard generator, $600+ tires, and the list goes on. We’re now in a much simpler setup – manual jacks, solar power, inexpensive trailer tires, and a shorter overall height to avoid those pesky trees. Our potential repair costs are astronomically lower.

    • Convenience

      This is probably the most surprising aspect for me. After making the switch, I assumed our setup time would be a lot longer, and the process extremely tedious. This has not been the case! Our tear down time has only been marginally slower, and setup is a breeze once you get the hang of it. Yes, things are a little more manual, but RV life has me appreciating effort more than ever. You have to work for everything on the road, and there’s something about it that weirdly makes me happy.

      I still believe our original setup is the ultimate from a convenience standpoint, but our smaller setup will allow us to reach spots we couldn’t in our hulking bus monstrosity. Our neighbors will also appreciate our lack of generator shenanigans (you know who you are).

    The how

    Three words. One entity. Giant Recreation World. The absolute best in the business.

    After mulling things over for ages, we decided to seek the advice of our second family at GRW. Sitting down with Phil (sales manager) and Eric (our salesman for life), we explained our thoughts and they helped us formulate a plan. They got us a killer deal on our 23′ Coachmen Apex, and agreed to sell our Class A if we couldn’t sell it privately. Once we were happy with everything, we sadly traded our Jeep for the F150, and thus began our 3rd or 4th purge.

    We donated more clothing and items, and before we knew it we had somehow squeezed our lives into 23 feet from 31.

    Ford F-150 and Coachmen Apex 232RBS

    Our first boondocking spot after the change over. We thought we would escape the heat in the NC mountains, but the sun had other ideas. Excited for higher elevations out west in 2019.

    The now

    Life is full of twists, turns, surprises, and all manner of ups and downs. Although we learned some of our lessons the hard way, it is great knowing we are smaller, more nimble, more efficient, and much lighter on the wallet in our new setup.

    Though we were at times discouraged as we navigated through some very rough stretches, we always sought viable solutions and, above all else, we never gave up.

    New setup! F-150 and Coachmen Apex 232RBS

    James
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    James
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    I love exploring new places, meeting new people, making people laugh, making myself laugh, listening to music, playing guitar, hiking, biking, or just sitting around doing nothing.