As soon as we pulled out of the RV rental parking lot in Vancouver back in 2017 we were in love! Driving through the mountains with our family of four felt amazing. The entire trip we kept saying over and over how this was our favourite trips as a family yet. Since that day, Dane has been researching trailers. It’s been almost two years of scouring kijiji and watching endless youtube videos of RVers making their recommendations. But, we have finally chosen the Wildwood FSX 179 dbk Platinum for our two month road trip coming up this winter and here we are going to share what we learned through the process.
Decide on a floor plan
How many people are you trying to comfortably sleep? For us, we need to sleep mom, dad, our two young girls and a baby. We know we want to keep the trailer for a number of years, so it needs to accomodate the children as they grow. Narrowing down your selection to the floor plan considerably narrows the field of suitable models. We decided on a bunkhouse style with a queen bed and a convertable dinette. This sleeps a family of five rather comfortably.
Know your tow capacity
You need to know what vehicle you will be using to tow. This could pose a significant limitation to the trailer models that are suitable. We already own a 2017 Ford Explorer which as a 7 seater fits our family comfortably. We thought of trading in for a truck, but we want to avoid the three-children-in-a-row-while-driving scenario! Spreading the kids out a bit is better for everyone. The Explorer has a 5,000 lb tow capacity. For any vehicle, it is recommended that you choose a trailer with a dry weight at 80% of your vehicle’s maximum tow capacity. So, we know we are looking for a trailer that has a dry weight of under 4,000 lbs. Now we are searching for a trailer with bunkbeds, a queen sized bed and under 4,000 lbs. This significantly narrows the field! Even among the various brands of trailers you can see a range of trailer weights. This is due to the materials used in the construction and finishes of the trailer.
Determine the type of travel
If you are going to be spending all of your vacation time parked at a nearby park with electrical and water hook up, you can get by without some features. The water storage capacity of your trailer can store less and the fridge can run exclusively off electricity if you have full hookup everytime. However, if you are dry camping and know that like us, you will be staying overnight at places with no electricity or water hookup, you need a trailer with better water storage and with a 3 way refrigerator. This means that you can keep your fridge running all the time with the propane fuel source. We had our eye on a really great used trailer which seemed to tick off all the boxes. It was the right layout and the right weight. But, when we looked at it, we quickly realized that the electrical fridge would not suit our needs as we plan to dry camp on this two month long road trip.
Know your budget
If you have researched trailers a lot, you will start to recognize a good deal when you see it. Scour kijiji and facebook marketplace for used trailers. When you know your budget, you can adjust your expectations accordingly. Like anything, you get what you pay for, but in trailers it’s amazing how well the used ones hold their value! We found that it was not too much more to buy new. If you can catch a trailer sale (For Canadians, ideally in fall season when models are on clearance before the winter) you may be able to buy a new model at a really good price. Negotiate hard! See if you can get all of those extra fees reduced. We bought a new trailer at an amazing price, but we only knew it was a good value because Dane had been looking at used trailers for the better part of a year! And trust me when I say that if Dane says it’s a good deal, it’s a good deal.
Go see it in person
Don’t just shop online. Go in person to a variety of RV dealerships. Check out the different models and be willing to ask questions and learn from salespeople who are experienced. We learned a lot by talking to salespeople who have personally spent a lot of time travelling in trailers. Learning from others is the best way to avoid pitfalls along your journey. You’re going to want to look at some of these things in person:
- Finishes. Not all trailers have the same quality of finishes. Make sure you are happy with the quality that you can get for your budget, and remember you can always paint and update to suit your taste.
- Size. When you are talking about living in a small trailer for two months, six inches makes a difference! We found the ceiling height, dinette width, bathroom size, bunk size, kitchen sink, etc. all varied from trailer to trailer. Get the whole family into the trailer to see how it feels.
- Fridge. All of the trailers have slightly different fridge and freezer combinations. For our size family, buying a trailer with a bigger fridge was a must. Also, don’t forget to get a 3 way fridge if you plan on dry camping.
- Bathroom. I really like having a sink in the bathroom. I think it is important to have more than the kitchen sink when travelling with a family. Not all models have a second sink.
- Couch. The trailer we chose has a couch and a murphy bed. I didn’t think this would be an important feature, but the first day we are cooped up on a rainy day, I am sure we will be patting ourselves on the back for choosing this option. Playing cards, sitting with a cup of tea in the evening while the children sleep, or breastfeeding the baby will all be more comfortable on a couch than a bed.
So there you have it! Our short list of important things to consider when shopping for and buying your travel trailer. Good luck on your hunt.