We originally came over to the US with the intention to travel across the country for three years in an RV. I love not being tied into plans, as, once you arrive in the present moment, you may just realize that the plan doesn’t fit.
It’s good to be able to quickly adapt so you can move with the flow.
Moving abroad takes a lot time, money and energy, in the months before you leave your country, and the months after you arrive in the new country.
Especially a move as big as ours, for as long as ours, with so many balls to juggle.
So when we arrived in the US last year, we didn’t have the resources to deal with getting straight into an RV. (note to you: never delay your dreams waiting for everything to be perfect. It’s never been my modus operandi and I’ve been living my dream travel life for 20 years)
We decided to give ourselves time to adjust, save, and build up our business in the US fish bowl by renting an apartment in Raleigh and use that as a base to easily explore the East Coast on shorter road trips.
It has served us very well. Perhaps a little too well because for the first time in our lives we are finding the process of extracting ourselves out of a place to go traveling really difficult!!
I’m so attached to my life in Raleigh, like I’ve never been any place before. I can understand why people just don’t want to travel, or find it difficult to detach themselves from their homes, their routines, their loved ones to go and travel.
But, we do feel the time is now to finish exploring the rest of the US in an RV, as it is getting closer to the time we stop being nomadic, so we can be a part of a community, and the focus can be on the girls’ friendships and roots.
If we don’t travel in the RV across the US now, we never will, and I am feeling that call to return to nature and simple living.
The West Coast and Mountain states are a better region to travel in an RV. The East Coast is so compact, where heading west we’ll find open spaces and spectacular national parks.
That will become more of our focus then the in-depth cultural, historical and city type traveling we have been doing for the past year.
Our lease expires in November, so we are beginning our preparations to use that as an opportunity to depart. Thankfully, we have no travel booked for July and most of August so we can use that time to research, plan, and prepare.
We learned a lot from our 18 month camper trailer trip around Australia, so we know what to do and how to do it right this time.
Choosing the right RV across America
Our biggest decision has been what kind of RV to travel across the USA in:
A motorhome (Class C), an RV (Class A -like the big bus), or a travel trailer (what Australians would call a caravan).
We know we are definitely NOT doing a camper trailer like we did in Australia (I don’t know what Americans call that. So confusing)
We’ve gone back and forth between the three of them and have spent the past week looking at different RV sales yards to find what we think will be the perfect vehicle.
It’s given us a great idea of the type of layout we want, what our must have inclusions are, price and size, and good brands to choose from.
We think we’ve narrowed it down, but still have a few concerns.
Why not an Class A RV?
Originally, we wanted to do the full RV (big bus) travel and tow a small car behind.
We want a separate vehicle to the home so we can easily jump in the car and explore without having to pack everything up inside the home, and worry about parking something so large in more built up areas.
However after my research, I came to the conclusion it wasn’t the best money spend.
RV’s are expensive, and it would give us two motors to worry about. There’s a lot that can go wrong with an engine, especially RV ones, so I really don’t want to be traveling with that concern.
Why not a Class C RV?
We considered a motor home, but again there is the same issue with having a separate vehicle.
The motorhome would be smaller and cheaper than the RV, but I was annoyed after a week in South Australia in a motorhome having to pack everything up before we went exploring.
Even if Craig just wanted to duck out to capture the sunset up the mountain, all of us had to pack everything up and go, which wasn’t practical or desired.
So, a Class C RV would drive us insane.
It’s so important you consider things like this if you are traveling long term. Trust us from experience, long term RV travel can wear you down and sometimes it’s things like this that will send you home!
What about a travel trailer?
So we’ve pretty much a travel trailer will be the best way to RV across the US – although we do have a few concerns still to iron out.
Travel trailers are cheaper than Class A and C RVs. A travel trailer solves the separate car to home issue, while only giving us one motor engine to worry about.
We will have to trade our van in though for another vehicle that has the towing capacity for the travel trailer. But, it will still end up cheaper than the other two options.
Plus with a travel trailer, we can keep it after the epic road trip across to the west is complete. We definitely wouldn’t keep a motorhome or RV, but a travel trailer we can easily pack up for other road trips we want to do on the East Coast, even a quick weekend camping trip with friends.
Having a travel trailer will require more work setting up and packing up, but won’t be anything like what we experienced going around Australia with our camper trailer.
We’ll be quick at getting a system together to make it easier and will be very organized with our equipment. We’ll still be able to access the travel trailer if we want to pull over on the side of the road and get something to eat.
Our biggest concern with a travel trailer
Our biggest concern is towing a travel trailer too big and having to deal with sway, especially in the mountainous areas (Australia sure doesn’t have them) and in high wind conditions.
It’s actually quite unnerving to me as I know accidents happen towing camper trailers.
That is the only thing stopping me from a complete yes and having me teeter on the edge of going with a motorhome or RV across America.
If we go with the travel trailer, it will mean making sacrifices in terms of size and length of the travel trailer, which will be hard to do.
We walked into some of those smaller ones and I instantly hyperventilated, memories flooding back of us living on top of each other in our small camper trailer around Australia.
That was intense and I’m not sure I want to do that again!!
Must haves for keeping our sanity in the travel trailer
Knowing how we travel and how we work is essential to knowing what our deal breakers are for a travel trailer.
We want bunk beds for the girls. We absolutely do not want them sleeping in the dining table that converts to a bed.
We’re up late and up early so we can work while they are sleeping. Trying to do that while they sleep it the main living area, plus the logistics of packing up and down each day, will be a nightmare.
No thanks. Choose your battles.
The girls want their own space, even if it’s just a tiny bunkhouse in the corner with a curtain across it. The problem with bunk beds is they add extra length to the travel trailer, which means more sway concerns.
The other almost must have for me is a slide out, just to give us that extra living space inside the travel trailer, so we’re not living on top of each other.
The slide out adds extra weight to the travel trailer. I want to go minimalism and not carry too much stuff with us to add to the weight, but I’d love to take our bikes and a SUP board, so we have to consider what kind of car can carry that extra weight and if it’s worth it.
The only other musts for me is a decent size fridge (having a small fridge in our camper trailer in Australia was a headache). And I also want an oven, even just a tiny one. I love roasted anything.
We’ve found a couple of floor plans and brands we like, but we can’t quite get our total desired package under 28 feet which is our desired maximum for towing and for accessing some of the RV parks and campgrounds as some of them do have limits for travel trailer lengths.
The travel trailer the girls are adamant we’re getting at the moment is a Forest River Vibe Extreme Lite. It was my favorite too, although it is 32 feet so I don’t think it will make the cut.
We did find one travel trailer which was a Salem Cruise Lite by Forest River and came in at 24 feet. I think that might be winning the race.
The beauty of that one is it has a murphy queen bed which you can pull up of a day to create extra living space. I thought that was pretty cool, although I am wondering what the potential headaches with that could be.
The other one that was okay was a Jayco Flight (we can’t believe we’re looking at Jayco again – that was our Australian camper trailer. Hope their travel trailers are better!!) and some Winnebago models.
One thing I know for sure, time moves super fast. November will be here before we know it and September and October and busy for us, as they are every year.
We have a lot it plan, organize, prepare and pack up if we are going to leave in November, including our actual route.
I do not want to experience winter again (hahaha and I want to live in Raleigh permanently!!) so we’ll head south and scoot along the bottom to hit the mountain states by Mayish next year. That’s our initial thoughts, which can change at any time.
Because you know I don’t like locking myself into anything!
So, help us out.
It’s almost decision time so we’d LOVE any input you can give to help us!