In the first six months of this blog, I’ve shared my process of deciding on which RV to purchase. I have been researching and thinking and making pros/cons lists since 2014. I have scoured websites, owners’ forums, blogs and vlogs. If I added up the hours, it would not be a small number. Guessing, I would say upward of 250 hours trying to determine the best trailer and tow vehicle for me and my purposes.
At work several years ago, we had a personality test and training. It was intended to help us identify what “color” we and others were and use that information to improve our interactions. I don’t remember a lot about it except you were one of four colors. I was a blue. And, when it comes to decisions, a blue personality can be perceived as being indecisive even though the reality is the opposite. A blue wants to be sure she has all the information available in order to make the best possible decision. And gathering information can be a never-ending process, thus the perception of indecision. That said, once a blue finally does make a decision she is confident it is the right one.
Most days I’m confident I am on the brink of making a decision about my travel trailer. I feel it. Then doubt creeps in and I return to gathering information. I have spent more time and brain power on this decision than any other I can remember. Why? This is a question I ponder. There is no doubt that, for me, a big part of it is the money. The funds for this phase of my life have been saved a dollar at a time and I feel a tremendous amount of responsibility to honor that hard work as well as the sacrifices I made along the way in order to put just a little more in the bank.
But it’s more than that too. So I thought I’d try to put into words why making this rig decision has been such a challenge for me.
Early in my research, I saw a video where the vlogger reported that an RV salesperson estimated 75% of people who purchase a rig will trade it in within three years. There is nothing scientific about the figure though it is one I have heard repeated several times so I take it seriously. The statistic has played out in many of the fulltime RVers I follow. Less Junk, More Journey, for example, just moved into their fourth rig and they have been on the road less than two years. Others include We’re the Russos and Drive Dive Devour.
The reasons given for changing rigs vary but what it boils down to is that the idea people had in their heads before they started didn’t match with the reality. For many, it’s about size. What I see most is people buying their first rig big and finding it limiting so want something smaller. A layout that doesn’t fit their lifestyle is another reason people change rigs.
Knowing 75% of buyers will trade their RV within three years is a stat I battle. It adds pressure to the pressure I already put on myself to get it right the first time. I should take comfort that I don’t have to get it right the first time. But I don’t.
Another challenge I confront is the fact that my rig is not merely a weekend toy. It will be my home. So even after attending one of the largest RV shows in the country, after walking through 30 or 40 or 50 rigs, I recognize nothing can duplicate the experience of actually living in one. And I can’t live in one until I own one. Catch-22. At the RV Show, there were rigs I sat in for five, ten minutes trying to imagine what daily activities would feel like. What would it be to read in this rig? To shower? To cook? How would it feel to sleep? To write? What would it be to hook and unhook it from the tow vehicle? To drive it? To back it up? But all of that imagining is just that: imagining.
I haven’t rented one though it has been suggested to me by several people. I am certain the experience of renting wouldn’t ever come even close to replicating the experience of truly living in one. A rental won’t have the amenities important to me. And, at between $115 – $230 per day (at least in Anchorage, Alaska), those same funds are put to better use by attending an RV Show, visiting a manufacturer or putting it in the dream pot. In my mind, it’s like thinking a week’s vacation in New York City gives you a window into what it would be like to live there. Apples and oranges, my friends. Apples and oranges.
Lack of reviews is another challenge. When buying a new car you can find other people’s thoughts on the same car. You can research safety ratings, driving test results. It’s unclear why there isn’t an equivalent for RVs. Maybe RVs are thought of more as toys. The first letter, after all, does stand for recreation. Or maybe the buying market isn’t large enough to justify the costs associated with testing. I found it frustrating.
However, it isn’t entirely a vacuum. Owner forums are a valuable resource. Owners don’t review their rigs so much but if you read enough entries you begin to see patterns. Conversation threads about particular features on the rig can give both an idea of common complaints and problems but also many will offer solutions. My reading of such forums leaves me believing that the RV community is generous to those in need of a little help or advice or encouragement. I take comfort in knowing there is a resource library at my fingertips.
At some point in the very near future—ready or not—I must cease the information-gathering phase and move into the decision-making phase. This, I know. This, I know I will do. There will be a day when the answer comes to me as if it was the one true answer all along and I just hadn’t been paying attention. This is how hard decisions work for me.
But, today? I’m not quite there. Today, I think I’ll visit one more website, watch one more video, create one more list. Today, I claim my blue-ness. I embrace the difficult aspects of my choice to Supersize my LIFE.