We made the decision to travel full-time in an RV on a Thursday.
Erin had the next day off from work and decided to head over to the nearest RV dealer and start looking at the various models. We had NO idea what they cost, how many manufacturers there were, or just how many models, floor-plans, and styles existed. We couldn’t tell you the difference between a Class A and a Class C, or a fifth wheel and a travel trailer. RVs were 100% new to us, but we dove right in. Within a week we had been in dozens of different models and were already looking at event calendars for nearby RV shows that we could go to.
Over the next three months we went to every RV dealer within 100 miles and attended two big RV shows. We stepped foot in at least 100 different models, and our kids were right there with us and loving every minute of it. They even came up with a really cute name for RVs that we have all adopted: Homebuses. It got to the point that every time we got in the car they would start asking if we were going to see more homebuses. (And more often than not, we were!)
So Many Choices
It didn’t take long for us to figure out a couple of our requirements: we wanted a travel trailer (we’ll talk about why in another blog/vlog), it needed to have a bunkhouse (with a door) for our three kids, and it had to have a full-size queen bed because Brian’s feet were hanging off of those “RV queens” that are only 54″x80″ instead of 60″x80″. We also really wanted enough space in the shower for a tub because the two littles still love baths.
We initially were trying to stay as close to 30′ as possible but it was virtually impossible to get a full bunkhouse and a full queen bed in that size RV. As we started to realize this, we eased up on the length preference. We weren’t going to be weekend warriors and trying to squeeze into older campgrounds in more remote areas – we were going to be living in this thing every single day and needed to be comfortable.
Budget was also a concern. We had a figure in mind that we were using to help narrow down which RVs we were looking at. Many of the RVs that fell under the figure were “ultralight” or used, and neither of those were very attractive to us. The lighter-weight models that are made to be towed with half-ton trucks aren’t made with materials and manufacturing processes that are conducive to full-timing. Used models also vary wildly in quality and are difficult to browse by features. Warranties are also all over the place with used RVs, from none at all with private sales to warranties of questionable quality depending on the dealership.
While many RVs were very nice and checked all of our boxes, none of them felt like home. After several months of searching we started to think that we would just have to settle for a model that was “close enough” to our requirements. Then Erin decided to start looking at the luxury brands to see what was out there, curious if our requirements could even be met. This led us back to the very first dealership we ever went to, but this time we decided to check out Grand Design.
Joining the Grand Design Family
Our new home was sitting 10 feet away from our parking spot when we got there and we didn’t even know it. After a brief talk with the owner of the dealership he pointed us toward the 2018 Grand Design Reflection 312BHTS. He followed us in the door, pointing out some of the premium features: granite countertops, kitchen island, huge stainless steel sink, theater seats, opposing slides in the living room, bunkhouse with its own door, and the full-size queen bed. This thing checked every single box we had and then some.
We knew this was it, this was our new home. It just felt like it.
So then we asked about the price, fearing that it was going to blow our budget completely out of the water and not be attainable. It was definitely higher than we were initially looking to spend, but the build quality and materials far surpassed anything else we had looked at. Nothing is flimsy or wobbly, nothing feels cheaply made, nothing feels like it’s going to break after a month of use.
Most RVs are only used for a couple weekends a year after they’re bought, spending most of their time in storage or a back yard. RV manufacturers know that, so most are built for that kind of occasional use. Very few brands are built to really be lived in, to survive daily use and frequent moving. The slightly higher price that Grand Designs go for is warranted, and it can really be seen and felt in every feature that has been built into this RV. We have been living full-time in our 312BHTS for almost 3 months now and haven’t regretted our choice at all.