We spent a lot of time looking at floor plans once we decided on a 5th wheel rig. The basic differences seem to be where the kitchen is located. Some, like the Forest River Blue Ridge 2950RK, put the kitchen in the rear of the rig. Most of those rigs end up being a single-bedroom trailer, which we didn’t want, so we concentrated on the mid-kitchen rigs.
That part wasn’t so much a decision as a realization that we had to have at least two bedrooms: one for us, and one for the kids. That seemed to suggest what’s commonly called a bunkhouse, where the second bedroom has at least one set of bunks. It’s usually set up as a twin over a full, or a twin over a twin. Some of the upper twins are designed as jackknifes, where the bed folds up, somewhat out of the way. Keystone’s Mountaineer Model 345DBQ is just one of many examples. Glendale’s Titanium 36E41TBR even advertises the bunkhouse as two separate bedrooms, calling it a 3-bedroom/2 bath rig. The bunkhouses tempted us, but we still weren’t sure.
What about toyhaulers? Recall that these are the ones with a garage at the back, for storing motorcycles, ATVs, or even cars. We had looked at a couple of toyhaulers, but decided they didn’t really work for us. The Ticknor family with 11 kids made a Gulfstream Enduramax work very well for their family, though. The Enduramax has a loft bedroom as well as two power queen beds in the garage area, and that worked out well for their tribe. Dana says, “We LOVE the coach, and have no regrets. We chose it because of the open floor plan and the atrium slide with all the windows.” They’ve recently modded the garage by building bunks in place of the queen beds.
Kiana McLay says of their Enduramax, “We wanted a slide out in the bedroom, a bathroom completely separate from the master bedroom, 2 slide outs in the living room and a separate room for our boys. We looked at bunkhouses and toyhaulers and found the toyhauler to be much more versatile for our family in doubling as a kids bedroom and hauling bikes and other large toys when moving.”
Those two families illustrate how personal the floorplan choice is. They’re at opposite ends of the spectrum–11 kids vs 2–but they both like the same rig.
We were pretty much set on a bunkhouse—the Glendale Titanium was on our short list for a while—but then we found the Treehouse. It had three sleeping areas: a master bedroom, a rear bedroom, and a loft area above the rear bedroom. It also had a second bathroom, which had become a must-have. Even better, that second bathroom had a separate entry from the outside, so we could use it as a mudroom if needed, and the kids could run in quickly from the outside without tromping through the whole rig. It also had a separate refrigerator outside. Several of the rigs we had looked at had full outside kitchens with a stovetop, cabinets and a fridge, but we felt like we lost too much inside storage with this set-up. We really liked the extra fridge space though, and that’s one area where toyhaulers seem to excel. They typically have a larger fridge in the kitchen, and can handle an extra mid-sized fridge in the garage. After two visits to two different Treehouses (one Sierra and the other a Sandpiper, which we ended up buying), we knew that was what we wanted, and what worked for our family right now.
If you’re considering life on the road, first consider what you need, based on the size of your family. Realize at this point that your lifestyle will be changing, so don’t necessarily try to shoehorn everything you do now into 400 square feet. Think about how many kids you have, and if they’re picky about having their own space. If you’ve got a bunch of younger kids, will they be okay sleeping on bunk beds four feet off the floor?
Try attending an RV show, where you can walk in and out of rigs to your heart’s content. Grab all the literature you can and take notes about what you like and what you don’t, because they’ll all run together when you get home. After you do that, sit down and make a list of must-haves, needs, and wants in the rig. Maybe your OTR employment will require a desk. You’ll need to consider where that will sit in the rigs on your short list. Keep in mind too that many families “mod” or remodel their rigs, so things are rarely set in stone.
Keep a list of rigs that you like. Compare new rigs to those on the list, and keep refining that list. Once you’ve got it down to a few models, then it’s time to start visiting dealers. Plan to spend an hour or so looking at a rig, and try not to do too many in one visit. Take plenty of notes this time, and take a camera, too. Have the family sit down at the table. Do you fit? Have the kids try out the beds (take shoes off first, though!). Look at the kitchen, and picture making dinner there. Your counter space may drop by as much as 75%!
Unless you already have a rig, choosing your rig is going to take a while. Don’t let that bother you. While you’re going through this process, you can be working on downsizing your household, and figuring out where you’re going to store all the stuff you’re not selling or taking with you. That’s the beauty of this stage: several things can go on at the same time.
Next installment will be all about your tow vehicle. See you soon!