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Old 06-07-2015, 08:00 AM   #1
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Trailer versus Sprinter?

We currently have a 2013 23' international CCD. While we love it, we find ourselves not quite using it as much as we'd like. We're still young (relatively speaking) and working, so basically just weekend warriors and the occasional week long vacation. We are considering making the switch from the trailer to a touring coach with the thinking that it may match our lifestyle a bit better (quick trips, usually only one or two night stays). Has anyone else made a similar transition and what has been your experience?
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Old 06-07-2015, 08:36 AM   #2
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Coaches are complex, trailers are simple, mechanically speaking. It would be another motor vehicle to maintain.
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Old 06-07-2015, 09:09 AM   #3
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I didn't make the transition. I started off with a Sprinter-based Airstream Interstate right from the beginning. I had plenty of reasons to buy my Interstate. There would have only been one reason for me to buy a trailer— more living space than an Interstate. But just how much living space do I need for just me? It's not like I'll ever be full-timing in it or have a lot of overnight guests.

This is an issue where you're unlikely to get unbiased opinions. Those who have trailers tend to think that we Interstate owners are crazy to not want a trailer. However, those of us who have Interstates tend to think we'd be crazy to give up our Interstates for a trailer.

Some people will say "It's another engine to maintain, etc. etc." just like the previous poster did. That argument fails on one level, in that it assumes (1) your trailer's tow vehicle would be your only vehicle; and (2) your Interstate would not be your only vehicle.

If you're planning to get rid of both the trailer and tow vehicle for the Interstate, your maintenance headaches would be reduced, not increased. If nothing else, fewer tires to replace when the time comes, fewer items to insure, and fewer items to park at home. As long as you don't have to park in a multilevel parking garage with its low overhead clearance, an Interstate is no more difficult to handle than a big tow vehicle. I used to drive mine to work at least once a week just because I could.

And since every Interstate no matter the model year or length has at least 5000 pounds of towing capacity, if you decide to get another mid-sized trailer later, you can keep the Interstate as your tow vehicle for it.
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Old 06-07-2015, 09:12 AM   #4
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Seems at rally's I had been seeing more Interstate/B van drivers towing small to medium sized Airstream trailers. Visually they make a brilliant combination.
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Old 06-07-2015, 09:34 AM   #5
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We went from a 2006 Safari 25 FB to a Sprinter based 24' MH two years ago and have never looked back. I have a Model A speedster that I tow on an aluminum tilt trail with the MH to various events. The fact that my wife can drive the MH is a plus. In August, my brother and I will attend an event in Georgetown and on the way back, I will meet my wife who will drive the MH to La Veta and we will continue on to NE New Mexico. My brother will take the hot rod back to my house.

At 24' and a tad over 7' wide, driving through urban areas is no problem and parking has yet to be an issue. For the record, my MH is a 2013 Unity TB built by Mennonites in Canada and is the first RV or boat I've ever owned that has had zero defects! The Safari has a permanent parking place and has become a guest house.
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Old 06-07-2015, 09:40 AM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jkbrothers View Post
We currently have a 2013 23' international CCD. While we love it, we find ourselves not quite using it as much as we'd like. We're still young (relatively speaking) and working, so basically just weekend warriors and the occasional week long vacation. We are considering making the switch from the trailer to a touring coach with the thinking that it may match our lifestyle a bit better (quick trips, usually only one or two night stays). Has anyone else made a similar transition and what has been your experience?
There's a phase of life called "acquisition" and much later one of "paring down" - which often starts when you look across a 2 acre yard and decide you'd rather pay someone else to mow it.... no better idea lets move into a nice condo...Phase. Where you are on that spectrum has a lot to do with the "right choice".

Why not let this summer help you make the decision? PLAN (not dream) but actually PLAN 10 trips this summer. Most can be "noon Friday to midnight Sunday and less than 100 miles from home base. Heck if your in-laws or other friends live say 30 miles away - it can be "we'll park it in your drive and go to the race, amusement park, ballgame, etc." Tailgate for one.

If at some point you realize you want to take 3 or 4 BIG trips - but that the Bigger trailer is better for that, you're done, stick with what you have. If you LOVE going out on shorties and just wish you had a van you could park instead of draggin' the wagon... I'd see an Interestate in your future, especially if it could also be the family's second "car".

Of course you might want to downsize to a 16 sport too. They're a lot less expensive than an Interstate to buy, and to own.

I do know two people who work in the Portsmouth Shipyard - and live across the border in N. Carolina. They've both adopted a conversion van work week to eliminate a day or two of the long commutes. I wonder if the family life lost cost isn't greater than the money saved.

----------------------------
in short, which is where I should have started, the real question is "WHY don't we use this as much as we thought we would? A carefully researched answer can save you a lot of money AND a second disappointment. There are actually two or three choices you haven't mentioned:
  • Interstate or other van
  • Revise habits to accommodate more travel in current trailer
  • trade for a Sport
  • Travel less often but keep the current trailer
  • Sell trailer, rent one a couple of times a year when you get the urge
  • travel now and then. stay in hotels
  • face it, you're actually either homebodies or couch potatoes, sell the trailer and enjoy HOME
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Old 06-07-2015, 10:35 AM   #7
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Rent a Sprinter, for a weekend, or week long trip, from "Airstreams 2Go", then decide. I did that with a Roadtreck, bought the 30 instead--yet the Roadtreck, was to be my first choice years ago.
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Old 06-07-2015, 10:36 AM   #8
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First of all, thanks for the thoughtful responses. I should have added a couple of key pieces of info. 1-we would eliminate the tow vehicle (F-150), thus reducing our qty of "maintained motors" and 2-my wife isn't comfortable pulling the trailer, but I think she'd be ok to drive a 24' sprinter (we prefer airstream, but are open to other vendors). Of course it would begin with a test drive to be sure.

This is just the beginning stages of discovery, so appreciate the perspective of those who have experienced both trailer and coach life.
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Old 06-07-2015, 11:10 AM   #9
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Howdy Neighbor. We have somewhat transitioned having recently purchased a RT Adventurous CS model. We retained ownership of our 23 ft Safari but relocated it to Northern California last summer. We relocated out TV as well (a 2008 Escalade EXT). Our daughter now maintains them both and insures them as well although we are still on the title along with her. We anticipate using the combo at least once a year in various week long excursions on the West Coast, but meanwhile she and her family (husband and 3 kids) use it on long weekends whenever they can, most recently in Lake Tahoe.

Like you, we are still working and are constrained by our PTO allowances. We too thought it would be easier to take weekend jaunts to festivals and the like by having a B van. this has worked out OK, but we do store our van offsite (at Wally Park near the JAX airport... $1,200 per year) in a covered environment, and it is only 20 miles away so we can go by and check it out often or pick it up to bring out to the house for maintenance and prepping.

I find we are more likely to use it in this fashion than the trailer, but honestly, we are still constrained by how far we can drive in a weekend. Florida is better in the spring and fall for festivals so we layoff using it somewhat in the summer.

We were just discussing getting our trailer on a covered pad on our daughter's property soon, as our nice inside storage deal may evaporate once her father in law sells his warehouse. This actually appeals to us as an alternative to staying in hotels when we go to visit (no room in their small house). So like a previous poster, it becomes a lodge for the occasional stay over.

I do restrict their use of the TV to no more than 500 miles a month in order to retain its usefulness as a TV (now over 80K miles), but it is well maintained.

One downside to the whole B van thing is now we are more likely to delay retirement a few years in order to pay it off! These things aren't cheap you know. We could have delayed purchasing, but we didn't want to give up the whole camping lifestyle. We actually bought the B van before we relocated the Safari, because we knew we wanted a good long term highway curiser that we could use in the interim.

Like others have said, my wife will willingly drive it, and although she did finally learn to drive the TV/trailer on the trip out to CA, she much prefers the Sprinter.

For two people, its a great solution. Really like the CS's large fridge and other amenities. The bed is so much better for two than our old corner bed arrangement (we actually slept on two beds, the standard mattress in the rear and the front lounge.)

One last comment, we do find we can be somewhat more spontaneous with the van. I will say its a bit more flexible in terms of where we stay and when we go.
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Old 06-07-2015, 11:47 AM   #10
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Like you, we are still working and are constrained by our PTO allowances. We too thought it would be easier to take weekend jaunts to festivals and the like by having a B van. this has worked out OK, but we do store our van offsite (at Wally Park near the JAX airport... $1,200 per year) in a covered environment, and it is only 20 miles away so we can go by and check it out often or pick it up to bring out to the house for maintenance and prepping.

That's actually where we keep our AS too. Pricey, but worth it to keep it under cover. Thanks for the input.
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Old 06-07-2015, 03:30 PM   #11
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Sure, we've seen and admired it! We are at the other end of the same row. I'd suggest you head on over to Dick Gore's RV down the road a piece on the other side of Airport Rd. They are authorized dealers of both AS Interstates as well as RoadTreks. We test drove an Agile there. We ended up purchasing our CS from a dealer in Orlando however as they had the model we were looking for. Had Gore do the wheel bearing repack and brake inspection before going to California, but they are not an AS trailer dealer... I'm sure they would take yours as a trade-in however.

We originally bought our AS when we lived in NC and desired to take our dogs with us on vacations to the FL beaches. On one visit to St Augustine and then Little Talbot, we found the house we wanted and ended up moving here later that year. So our needs changed quite a bit... We now take the dogs to the beach in a car several times a week, and prefer to do festivals without them. Hence the desire to get a weekend cruiser.
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Old 06-07-2015, 06:04 PM   #12
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Welcome, JK. Needs change, and a wise person keeps up with those changes - but slowly. Even the best of plans can be upset. Two years ago we bought our motor home because that was the best choice for us at that time. Please note those last five words, "for us" and "at that time." Now, two years later, we are seeing that we aren't doing what we thought we would be doing, and we're considering switching to an Airstream TT.

If finances permit, what about trading the F150 in on a used Interstate? Protagonist says that they will all tow at least 5000 pounds, and if I read the chart correctly, your present coach has a gross weight of 6000 pounds. With proper loading it might be possible to tow you present coach with the Interstate. That would give you the best of both worlds.
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Old 06-07-2015, 06:16 PM   #13
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Protagonist says that they will all tow at least 5000 pounds, and if I read the chart correctly, your present coach has a gross weight of 6000 pounds. With proper loading it might be possible to tow you present coach with the Interstate. That would give you the best of both worlds.
Mistake in wording on my part. Hitch receivers on older Sprinter 2500-based Interstates are rated for 5000 pounds. Hitch receivers on extended-length Sprinter 3500-based Interstates are rated for 5000 pounds. Hitch receivers on non-extended Sprinter 3500-based Interstates are rated for 7500 pounds, but if the van is at curb weight you'll only have about 6400 pounds of towing capacity before you run up against the GCWR.

So it could be done with a non-extended 3500-based Interstate, but not the other models.
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Old 06-09-2015, 06:34 AM   #14
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We currently have a 2013 23' international CCD. While we love it, we find ourselves not quite using it as much as we'd like. We're still young (relatively speaking) and working, so basically just weekend warriors and the occasional week long vacation. We are considering making the switch from the trailer to a touring coach with the thinking that it may match our lifestyle a bit better (quick trips, usually only one or two night stays). Has anyone else made a similar transition and what has been your experience?
We went the other way, but I grew up with trailers so to me they are second nature.

But motorhomes are much easier to drive around than a trailer, especially if you don't tow a car. We once took a trip to the Outer Banks in our B190 motorhome, and it was fun to stop at a Wendy's and back into a regular spot, not having to worry about length and all. You can rent a car at your destination, as long as the car isn't integral to your trip (i.e., I would tow my car to an event specific to that model of car).

Or you can break camp and tour with the motorhome itself, but that can be annoying, too. "Oh, shoot, I'm out of milk... well, let's stow everything, disconnect the power and water, and run to the store..."

There are a couple things I didn't like about the motorhome:
1. It's a car + a camper, so you have all of the potential problems of both. Worse, if one breaks, they BOTH go into the shop for repair. (I used to say the B190 was all of the problems of a 20 year old car and a 20 year old trailer rolled into one - you won't have THAT problem, but the concept does apply.)

2. Propane - this always bugged me. To refill the propane, you have to drive the motorhome to the propane dealer. The tank isn't removable.

3. Your plates and such rattle every time you hit a bump on the road. It's something you get used to and stop noticing, though.

But, if your wife is willing to drive the motorhome and not the trailer, then what are you waiting for? Having a second driver is safer (if you get really sick or something) and it means you can switch off and not be as tired at the end of the day.

On a more general note, if you're going to use the motorhome more, then do it. When we switched from the (admittedly small) B190 to the trailer, we started camping a LOT more. I think we've already gone out four times since the beginning of April, and we have a major road trip coming up, and we have ~10 more trips planned through Christmas. We just have a lot more fun now. Clearly, a trailer was the right answer for us.

And, the Sprinters are nice...
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