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Old 02-10-2011, 11:24 AM   #1
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marblehead , Massachusetts
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Newbie with kids looking for direction

Hi Y'all,
Have been lurking for a while - am hoping some of you might help me figure the best way to go.

Our situation is Mom, Dad, 9 yo daughter, 5 yo son, and 50 lb. dog. We were recently at an RV show and I fell in love with the 28' International Serenity. I think the sleeping situation would work fine for us.

I had hoped at this show that we would see the Earthbound trailers as I had seen them on the HGTV RV special and am curious about them.

We are located in the Boston area and apparently this is not RV country as there aren't many dealers up this way although we do have a new Airstream dealership.

Given that buying the airstream would require a new TV, I'm not sure it is going to work out for us from a $$ standpoint. Thus I turned my attention to the Earthbound as I think we'd be able to get away with our current vehicle.

In mulling all of this over, I keep coming back to the issue of the two kids spending so much time on longer trips strapped in the back seat of the car. The 9 yo can entertain herself pretty well but the 5 yo gets a little awnery on longer trips (is asking when are we going to be there before we've even left our own town).

Given this concern, I have started to think that maybe a TT is not the way to go given the age of the kids. Anyone out there doing longer trips with kids and a TT? Feedback would be appreciated!

At the RV show we recently attended we went in lots of Class C's and a couple of Class A's. I thought the Class A's were totally overwhelming - I couldn't image driving them myself (being the 5'4" mom) and ideally whatever we end up with I am hoping for enough ease of use that I would be able to take off for a girl's weekend or with the kids when my husband is not around. Are TT's difficult to hook up to the car. How is it hooking things up at the RV parks?

At the show I was a bit put off by some of the cheesy interiors of the Class C's... sorry if this is offending anyone. I just went gaga over the Serenity interior of the Airstream (the Earthbounds appear to rather snazzy too). I hate to be picky about style but I have to admit it matters to me. I don't want to spend most of our vacation time in something bland, or cheesy.

I was poking around on the internet last night and caught sight of the Thor ACE Evolution. I guess an under 30' hybrid of a Class A and a Class C and even has a doggie draw for food and water. I could imagine something like this working well for the kids. They can do arts and crafts or play games or watch TV while we are on long drives.

As you can I am all over the map. Just trying to figure out what stylish options are out there for someone with kids and for someone who would ideally like to have something easy enough to maneuver on her own if hubby isn't available to travel.

any and all advice greatly appreciated.
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Old 02-10-2011, 12:07 PM   #2
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First, welcome to the Forums, we're glad to have you.

Second, I'm not sure you should plan your RV decision based on where your 5-year-old is currently, when you have stated that your 9yo is capable of sitting still. Your 5yo will be there soon enough.

There are certainly advantages and disdvantages to either a moho or a travel trailer. In a moho, if you want to do "excursion" trips once you set up camp, then you'll probably want to take a "toad" which means "towed vehicle" and you disengage it once you reach your destination, and use it to make shorter trips.

The travel trailer doesn't require a "toad" but it does require a tow vehicle that is a) adequate to pull the trailer and b) comfortable for the family on the trip itself. The newer Airstreams are much bigger and heavier than my vintage one, so I don't know what's required to tow them. My 1/2 ton Tahoe is more than adequate for my vintage Airstream.

My kids love the DVD player we have in my tow vehicle, that might work for yours, or it might not. When I was a kid we used to take long x-country trips and international trips into Mexico in the Family Truckster, our Chevy Caprice Classic station wagon. I was the youngest of three and I'm sure I asked my folks a million times if we were there yet. And I'm sure they told me to shut the heck up and we'd be there when we got there. We passed the time playing games, like "the billboard alphabet game." That one got really fun in Mexico.

Nothing wrong at all with preferring the style of an Airstream or Earthbound over the white box alternatives, that is part of what draws many Airstreamers to the brand in the first place. At the end of the day, it's your vacation, and you should be happy with your accomodations.

I've never had a moho so can't really help with your questions, but I wouldn't worry too much about the 5yo who will likely outgrow the impatience long before you're done using your RV, whichever one you ultimately choose.

Good luck!
-Marcus
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Old 02-10-2011, 12:25 PM   #3
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Welcome BostonRV and keep lurking and learning. I agree with Marcus that decisions shouldn't be based on the 5yr old. We were in your shoes a little over a year ago, MoHo vs TT and our questions were answered at an RV show in Tampa last Jan when we spotted our Airstream. You are either going to tow a vehicle behind a MoHo or tow a TT behind your vehicle. We finally agreed that we didn't want 2 engines, 2 transmissions, oil changes, etc of two vehicles to care for and put alot of $$ towards.
I've seen the Earthbounds, even walked thru a couple, but, we really like the Airstream. Everywhere we go, people always want to see inside...at rest stops, restaurants, gas stations. We love being the "different" one on the block. We did have numerous problems in the beginning and took "Belle" to the mothership in Ohio and everything has been addressed and she's been great! Our kids our now in their twenties and time does go by fast. Your five yr old will learn to have alot of fun on trips and will be sayiing when are we gonna go again vs are we there yet! No matter what you choose, let us know! Making great memories is what its all about, no matter what you're driving or towing.
The Serenity is beautiful, we have the Cilantro 27'International and we are having a great time....so enjoy the journey!
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Old 02-10-2011, 12:53 PM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bostonrv View Post
Hi Y'all,
Have been lurking for a while - am hoping some of you might help me figure the best way to go.
Welcome to the forum.

Quote:
We are located in the Boston area and apparently this is not RV country as there aren't many dealers up this way although we do have a new Airstream dealership.
Colonial Airstream, in New Jersey, is the largest east coast dealer. A long way I realize but it may be worth making the trip if you haven't seen many trailers firsthand.

In general in the Boston area, due to the density, it is difficult to find a place to store any larger RV and it takes some time to drive out to areas where an RV might best be enjoyed.

Quote:

Given that buying the airstream would require a new TV, I'm not sure it is going to work out for us from a $$ standpoint. Thus I turned my attention to the Earthbound as I think we'd be able to get away with our current vehicle.
There are two things to consider:
1. The industry and most web sites, forums, etc. exaggerate the role of weight in determining what a vehicle may safely tow. If you can't tow a 25' Airstream safely then you probably can't tow a 25' Earthbound safely. Airstreams because of their aerodynamic shape and lower overall height are generally tow easier than competing trailers of similar length.
2. Tow vehicles come and go while Airstreams last. Get the trailer that meets your needs and switch tow vehicles if you have to.

Quote:
In mulling all of this over, I keep coming back to the issue of the two kids spending so much time on longer trips strapped in the back seat of the car. The 9 yo can entertain herself pretty well but the 5 yo gets a little awnery on longer trips (is asking when are we going to be there before we've even left our own town).

Given this concern, I have started to think that maybe a TT is not the way to go given the age of the kids. Anyone out there doing longer trips with kids and a TT? Feedback would be appreciated!
I have three kids, 7, 10, 12 who accompany me on most of my trips. I've used a couple different tow vehicles and took the kids on longer car trips in various cars before I got the trailer so I know whereof you speak.

It really helps to have sufficient space for the kids so that they can play, sleep, or engage in activities without getting in each others' way. It also helps to have reading lights for traveling at night, and it helps to have a DVD player.

For a while I had a full-size van and even though it was old and beat up and noisy the kids loved it because of the space and because the middle row of seats could be turned around to face the back so they could play cards and things. Now I have a Suburban which, though it lacks the swivel seats, has large bucket seats in the middle row. The kids love it. We go on trips up to around 5 hours a day.

Another fact to consider is that most RVers break up trips since it is easy and practical to stop for the night halfway to the destination.

Finally, remember that even in a Class C the kids are going to be expected to stay in a seating position with a seatbelt rather than moving around.

Quote:
At the RV show we recently attended we went in lots of Class C's and a couple of Class A's. I thought the Class A's were totally overwhelming - I couldn't image driving them myself (being the 5'4" mom) and ideally whatever we end up with I am hoping for enough ease of use that I would be able to take off for a girl's weekend or with the kids when my husband is not around.
There are smaller class As too but yes the larger ones are a little intimidating. Still, with a little practice, they're not hard to drive.

Quote:
Are TT's difficult to hook up to the car.
It does take practice but is not difficult nor does it require a great deal of physical strength. There are tricks. Some people use the little magnetic marker sticks.

Quote:
How is it hooking things up at the RV parks?
Not difficult. You're hooking up a power cord, a garden hose, and maybe a drain hose.

You don't mention the usual bugaboo with trailers, which is backing up. That takes practice, and there are a few people who never figure it out and end up selling their TT for that reason alone. If you already know how, great, if not, spending an afternoon with a rented u-haul trailer in an empty parking lot to get the hang of it is probably worth it.

Quote:
At the show I was a bit put off by some of the cheesy interiors of the Class C's... sorry if this is offending anyone. I just went gaga over the Serenity interior of the Airstream (the Earthbounds appear to rather snazzy too). I hate to be picky about style but I have to admit it matters to me. I don't want to spend most of our vacation time in something bland, or cheesy.
If design, style, and appearance didn't matter we would all live in gray concrete houses and wear sweatpants and T-shirts, and humanity would be the poorer for it.

Quote:

I was poking around on the internet last night and caught sight of the Thor ACE Evolution. I guess an under 30' hybrid of a Class A and a Class C and even has a doggie draw for food and water. I could imagine something like this working well for the kids. They can do arts and crafts or play games or watch TV while we are on long drives.
As you're probably aware Thor is the company that manufactures Airstreams.

The RV shows don't have everything. The RV industry is highly segmented and for the most part sells two products: One for budget-minded family camping, and another for retirees. There are products that don't fit in those narrow categories, like Airstreams, but they are niche products that sell poorly and don't usually show up at RV shows or most dealerships.

Quote:
As you can I am all over the map. Just trying to figure out what stylish options are out there for someone with kids and for someone who would ideally like to have something easy enough to maneuver on her own if hubby isn't available to travel.

any and all advice greatly appreciated.
1) Rent something for a couple of weekends and contemplate the experience and what you like/dislike and what changes you would make. A rental RV won't really give you the biggest benefits of RV ownership, like not having to pack before a trip and having a familiar consistent space, but it will show you a few things that do and don't matter

2) Don't rule out the nicer B vans. Take a look at the Airstream Interstate and Airstream Avenue. Also Gulfstream makes a nice van. They are smaller and not for everyone but with only two kids you could make some of them work.

3) Since you're in Boston think hard about where you're going to store your rig and what the consequences are of that for going on a trip.
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Old 02-10-2011, 01:00 PM   #5
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Greetings from the Florida Panhandle

Welcome to the Forums. We're glad to have you with us.

I wholeheartedly agree with the others. Don't make this type of decision based upon your five year old's needs. Our forty-one year old was five only a few days ago.

Motorhomes have their place, but I think that a travel trailer is more versatile in most camping situations, and Airstreams are right at the top of the heap. I have looked at the Eartbounds. They are really very innovative and quite nice. I'm just not quite sure that you are going to see any Earthbounds still wandering the highways and byways fifty or sixty years from now.

The "cool factor" of an Airstream is hard to beat.

Brian
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Old 02-10-2011, 01:26 PM   #6
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I don't think the travel trailer nor motorhome is for you yet, based on your description.

Look for a good used (save many thousands) camper van, a really nice one such as an Airstream Interstate. Stylish and you can hit the road in a jiffy, camp almost anywhere, and the kids have room to play games, kick back and sleep, or have lunch going down the road. See the sights (really maneuverable compared to any other camper) and spend the days outdoors (even the biggest motorhome is really crowded for a family). And you don't need a tow vehicle or toad.

We have had a series of VW camper vans over 35 years, with kids, and the concept can't be beat for easy travel. We only went to a small Airstream because we are spending months away from home now as retirees.

Doug K
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Old 02-10-2011, 02:16 PM   #7
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I agree with most of what has already been said. I would suggest you consider a used, smaller airstream, and use the money you save to buy a tow vehichle. You can always upgrade after you know that it is for you. Remember the most inportant thing about a TV is can it safely handle the weight, and most important, can it stop! Even if it can pull it, it may not do the others!
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Old 02-10-2011, 02:20 PM   #8
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By the way, my kids never cared what they slept in/on, or what we drove as long as we went!
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Old 02-10-2011, 02:35 PM   #9
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Thank you all!

Thanks so much for the GREAT advice and information. Obviously we have a lot of looking around and thinking to do. We will most definitely rent a couple of times before making any decisions. There is a Moturis place close by that I have contacted.. they have new models showing up in April so we will get a chance to try these out.

In terms of what we'd want to do with whatever we end up with. We'd LOVE to do some cross country travelling. We've spent several of our vacations in the Southwest (Utah - Bryce and Zion, Arizona - Lake Powell, Grand Canyon, Sedona) and just love this part of the country. I can imagine going back there in a heartbeat. We'd also like to visit close friends who moved to California and would love to drive the route between San Francisco and Los Angeles.

I don't imagine myself spending lots of time just hanging out in a camp ground. I'd like this as a way of travelling to lots of places and now that we have a dog a RV would allow us to take him along.

I can also imagine going down to DisneyWorld and making stops along the way at various places such as historic sites in Virginia, Savannah Georgia, Outer Banks of North Carolina. I have heard the camp ground at Fort Wilderness hotel at Disney is great. I think they have good dog care down there too.

The detail involved in all of your responses is so touching and I am so appreciative for your responses. I think this could be such a great new chapter in our lives. We always thought about going cross country and we knew we'd get a dog one day. Adopting our amazing dog George last summer seems to be the catalyst for this move into an RV (that and the fact that airline travel when you can only go during the public school vacations is just SO much $$$).

As for the camper idea.. I'm not too sure about that. We looked at the Airstream Interstate at this RV show we went to recently and it is TINY. There is only sleeping for two as far as I could see and looking at various forums I understand that the sleeping isn't the most comfortable. The floorplans I could see working were this 28' airstream:
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Or the Earthbound Morrison (love the nice size bathroom):
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Or the Thor ACE Moho
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I am sure there are many other floorplans that would work but I am mindful of having enough space that we don't feel cramped.

I drive a Mini Cooper so this would make a nice Toad if that is the route we go but I am not ready to give up on the Airstream yet! They just have a certain cache that is hard to let go of.

thanks again! please reply with any more thoughts. much appreciated!
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Old 02-10-2011, 04:24 PM   #10
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Hamburger Themed Airstream on Ebay

Also wanted to mention that a used Airstream to make the $$ work isn't out of the question (although knowing kids and the stuff that comes out of them sometimes, I'd prefer new - sorry, I know that is a gross thought ).

Anyway, there is a very cool 1979 hamburger theme airstream for sale on ebay right now. check it out!
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Old 02-10-2011, 05:49 PM   #11
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We travel with 2 adults, 2 kids, and 2 dogs. I can understand your concern about kids and long drives. I like the safety of having my kids in the truck in case of a crash instead of a motorhome. Our dogs are 55lbs and 145lbs... they ride in the back of the truck (in travel kennels)for everyone's safety. We hope to get a camper shell for them before summer.
The kids pack their own truck backpacks for the trip. Books, a few small toys, dvds. I know many people don't like to to use DVD players. Ours don't watch many movies at home, but on the road they can watch one or two a day(depending on the length of the drive). It makes the trip special. I've heard some people suggest audio books too.
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Old 02-10-2011, 07:07 PM   #12
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We've done two kids, two large dogs and the two of us in a 1972 26' AS and loved it. Really, the kids and dogs don't mind as long as your out doing something. Kids also like it if you take a tent and let them sleep outside. Get an old AS, fix it up and have some fun.
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Old 02-10-2011, 07:21 PM   #13
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What's good here is that you'll get a bunch of divergent views. There are obviously lots of ways to go here. Here's my take - we don't have kids, but we have similar tastes in trailers - I always wanted an Airstream and we've looked at Earthbounds.

We're really happy that we first bought a (relatively) inexpensive trailer (a tiny T@B) to try out first. We learned a lot with that trailer. We found out we liked RVing. We found out we wanted something a bit bigger but not too big. And we were able to resell it without too much depreciation or hassle.

To be honest, if I wasn't hung up on the looks of a trailer, I'd own a Trailmanor. They specialize in folding hardsided trailers that have lots of room but are lightweight and easy to tow with smaller tow vehicles. The bigger ones are very roomy with lots of beds. They also make solid-sided trailers that are also very light. There are some pros and cons to these, as with any trailer (including Airstreams.)

If you have the money and want to indulge in a brand new Airstream right off the bat, more power to you! A new Airstream Serenity is sweet (we're smitten by a Serenity 23D, but with 2 kids that would be tight for you.) But I can't help but think that a used $15k Trailmanor (or some other trailer) could let you keep the tow vehicle you have (it sounds like you have something other than the Mini for towing), find out if you like camping, and then be able to be resold without losing much $ if you want to move up/if you don't like it.

Go to lots of shows - there's a big one in Springfield next weekend. I agree that you're safer carrying the kids in a truck or SUV than a motorhome. And there are tons of places within 2-3 hours of Boston to go camping!

One more thing - you do want a big enough trailer, but consider that you'll be spending a lot of time outside or sightseeing. The kids might even want their own tent to get away from Mom and Dad.

Tom
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Old 02-10-2011, 08:03 PM   #14
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My wife and I have the 28' International ... same floorplan as you show above. We bought it 7 years ago. My 6 year son and 3 year old daughter love it. My daughter calls the Airstream "home" - and we all enjoy the family being close and together. The sleeping arrangements are perfect. My wife and I enjoy having a queen bed and privacy. Our dog travels with us and sleeps at the feet of my son on the front "L" sofa/bed. The great thing about an Airstream is that you can buy it and love it forever. A TT is much less expensive to maintain compared to a drivable (insurance, engine, tires, etc, etc).

You are very correct about Fort Wilderness. I highly recommend Disney as your maiden voyage ... it will assure you of family buy in! ;-). Once they fall in love with the Airstream, they'll come to love anywhere in the Airstream ... even a Walmart parking lot.

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