It’s said that if you want to improve your chances of reaching a goal, make your goal public. Say it aloud in a firm declarative sentence. I will lose 10 pounds, go back to college, run a marathon, write a book, have a difficult conversation, and so on.
I took that bit of wisdom to heart when I confidently announced my Oliver Trailer was going into production on May 29. It was uncomfortable when I had to fess up a week later that I wasn’t ready so I rescheduled it for June 14. Two weeks later, it was downright humiliating to admit I asked for another extension.
Come on! the voice in my head shouts, How hard can it be deciding between Gray Heather and Tuxedo Gray fabric?
But here’s the thing: it is hard. It’s really hard.
This week I will sign the final contract. In addition to pages of legal stuff, the contract details every decision I’ve made about the trailer. This includes basic decisions like my choice of flooring and fabric colors. But it also includes upgrades, add-ons and any additional customization I want.
There are a lot of decisions. Big and small. Many come with an additional cost, so that weighs heavy on my mind too.
But what weighs far heavier is the desire to get it right.
My Oliver isn’t a summers-only weekend grownup toy. It’s going to be my home. And it is so tiny that there isn’t a place for ugly or inefficient.
Most of my choices I plan to reveal when I take possession of the trailer so I can include lots of photos. But, today I will share my two most difficult decisions to illustrate the back-and-forth thinking process I’ve been going through for the last month.
The “Boondocking Package”
From the get-go, I’ve planned on setting up my rig to maximize the boondocking experience without the noise of a generator. I’ve wanted a composting toilet and a full solar set up which is solar panels, batteries and an inverter.
Since Oliver offers the full solar set up as an add-on and the composting toilet as an upgrade, it begs the question: why was this one of my most difficult decisions?
First, it was the money. Upgrades, add-ons and customization added up more quickly (and higher) than I anticipated.
A few days ago, I went back to the budget I created three years ago where I planned to spend $30,000 for the rig. By choosing the Oliver and adding in the extras, the price is more than double my original projection.
But by reviewing that first budget, I also had a realization. And this was surprising to me. My startup costs should still fall within 10% of the original budget. Though I allowed only $30,000 for the rig, I added $10,000 more for “upgrades.” Then I added another $10,000 for contingency. I budgeted $30,000 for a tow vehicle but now I’m thinking I can get one for $20,000.
Realizing I would fall within an acceptable margin of my budget was like a big exhale. I felt such a sense of relief. Who cares if my individual line items were so wildly off as long as the total remains reasonable?
Lack of choice was the second reason I struggled with the “boondocking package.” Oliver offers one brand and model for each of their upgrades. So if I want lithium batteries, I wouldn’t be getting them through Oliver. I get the batteries they offer or I make my own arrangements.
After so much research on things like lithium batteries, I felt a little cheated.
Oliver takes pride in offering a high-quality rig and I had to understand the same would hold true for the brands they offered as upgrades and add-ons as well. Plus, it was highly probable that, of all the brands of composting toilets available, given the choice, I would’ve ended up with Nature’s Head. Yes, the same brand Oliver offers.
And, in the end, how great is it going to be to pick up a rig completely ready to go? How convenient not to leave Oliver to drive to a solar company, then to a place where I have the marine toilet replaced with a composting toilet.
I did price comparisons to make sure my need for this convenience wasn’t outweighing cost savings. A Nature’s Head composting toilet costs $925. If I ordered direct, I’d have to figure out how to install it myself or pay someone to do it. As an upgrade with Oliver, it’s $800 installed.
Win-win for me, I decided. It just took me a little while to understand this.
Standard Floor Plan vs. Twin Bed Floor Plan
By far, the single hardest choice has been which bed setup will be the best for me. There are pros and cons to both, in general and specific to me. The Standard Floor Plan has a U-shaped dining table that converts to a king-size bed. The Twin Bed Floor Plan has two twins with a nightstand in between.
Even as I write this, having made a decision, I am not convinced I made the right one. That’s hard to admit.
We spend a third of each day sleeping and, in the case of living in an RV, probably another hour or two laying in the bed as it is also serves as the couch, the desk and, maybe, the dining room table.
My earliest list of “must haves” included a real mattress and my “would like to have” list included a bed bigger than a twin. I envisioned a sleeping area as comfortable as the one I sleep on now.
And even though it wasn’t on the “must have” list, a twin bed was never really a consideration. That was a carryover from when I initially considered much shorter fiberglass trailers. Hence my original budget’s price tag. A bigger-than-twin bed was a decision I never questioned, never gave a second thought.
Never, that is, until January when I stepped into an Oliver with the twin bed layout for the first time. I wrote about the experience of seeing the twin bed layout as both a practical and aesthetically-pleasing choice.
After reading about innovative options for creating a “bridge” between the two beds for my pets to go back and forth, I felt a bit more assured about my leaning toward the twin bed option.
Further research led me to understand that the mold used to make the twin bed and standard floor plan is the exact same. Basically, the nightstand in the twin bed plan can be detached (it’s held with four screws and caulking), holes for the legs of the table can be drilled and–Voila!– you have the standard floor plan. In other words, Oliver could convert my twin layout into a standard one. That gave me a bit more reassurance.
And in the end, I went with the twin bed option. I still don’t feel fully confident that the decision is the right one. I don’t think I will until I start sleeping and living in it. But I take comfort in knowing I can undo the decision in the future if I need to.
Which way would you have gone on the boondocking package and the layout? Please share your thoughts in the comments.