Sometime last year I asked Adam what he thought about us maybe buying a travel trailer. My family had one for a few years when I was growing up, and I thought our kids would get a kick out of having similar adventures. Adam didn’t jump at the idea… his family lived in one for a year (all seven of them) while building their house, and he doesn’t quite have the warm fuzzies about campers that I do.
So image my surprise when a few months ago he told me he thought we should get a camper. He said he was ready for some family adventures, and taking off for a few days and getting far, far away from the to-do list sounded pretty darn great. Our boys are almost to that sweet spot age (currently 8, 6, 3 & 1.5 ) where they are old enough to not be babies, but young enough to still want to hang out with us. You have to take advantage of those years, because they are fleeting. Also, we’ve tried tent camping with them a few times and it’s the worst. Outdoor adventures + air conditioning and real beds seems like the perfect combo.
So we sat down and came up with a list of things we wanted in a camper. Here was our list –
- Bumper Pull
- Under 10K (hopefully more like 5 or 6K)
- Local (within about 2 hours or so)
- Sleeps 6 or more
- Bunk beds (so our dining table and couch aren’t always in bed form)
- Not huge (under 30 ft)
- U-shaped Dinette (so we can all sit at the table together)
- Didn’t need work (being outdated is fine, but I’m not looking for a project)
So we started shopping. For the most part we avoided dealerships (they never have anything in our price range) so mostly searched on Craigslist and Facebook Marketplace. And when I say “searched” I mean we both obsessively checked those sites five times a day for about three months.
I don’t know if you’ve bought anything big on craigslist lately, but it like 50% scams. It’s crazy. I almost lost my faith in humanity shopping for a used RV. I wish I was kidding. And the ones that were in our price range and weren’t scams were gone before I could even think about loading the boys up in the car to go look at them.
ANYWAY, the one we ended up buying I found on facebook marketplace, about an hour away from us. I first saw it when it as listed at 12K, and I ignored it beacuse it was too expensive. A few weeks later the price dropped to $10,500, and I also ignored it. It was really new (2014) and if it hadn’t sold yet there must be a reason, since RV’s seem to be flying off the shelf this summer. A couple more weeks passed and it was still available, so I told Adam I thought we should go look at it. The layout was perfect and it checked all the boxes, plus the price was actually under blue book value. It was more than we wanted to spend, but it was also nearly a decade newer than most of the trailers we had been looking at and seemed to be in near perfect condition.
So Adam and I loaded everyone up to go look at it, got a flat tire on the way, and showed up super late to meet the nicest people. We looked at the camper but couldn’t help but be disappointed. Despite looking perfect on the outside, the inside looked….lived in. Rough, and quite a few things were broken. Not any worse than the others we had looked at, but this one was nearly twice as much.
So we explained to the sellers that we weren’t interested. I told them that everything about it was just what we were looking for, but the price was at the absolute most we could spend and the condition wasn’t as great as we had hoped. Then we headed home.
The next morning I get a text from the sellers saying they would sell it to us for 9K. I couldn’t believe they came down that much, taking off $1,500 off the price put it smack dab in crazy good deal range. Adam and I agreed that at that price it was too good to pass up, and since I’m a giant pain that loves to negotiate I responded with an offer of $8,700.
They accepted, and just like that our three-month camper search came to an end (and I managed to make it through without cursing out a single craigslist scammer. Props, Ashley, props.)
Now early in our camper search Adam and I had agreed on two things …
- It sounded totally fun to remodel a camper. It’s a small space so it would be fairly quick and simple, not to mention cheap.
- We were absolutely, under no circumstances, going to renovate whatever camper we bought. We are DIYing our house and already have projects on projects on projects, so we just wanted to use the camper, enjoy it, and not make more work for ourselves.
A couple of days later we went to pick up our new camper, and we hadn’t even owned it ten minutes when Adam was like “We should definitely paint the cabinets…they would look so much better.” I quickly responded “NO. No more projects.” Unfazed by my rejection, he kept on talking.” There’s only a few, it wouldn’t take very long. We could even do it the easy way and just use chalk paint.”
Now, that…that got my attention. Not because I was excited about painting cabinets, but because evidently he listens when I talk….even about boring stuff like chalk paint. Suddenly he was crazy sexy to me. So sexy, in fact, that I replied “Well, if we’re going to paint the cabinets then we should probably do one of those peel and stick backsplashes too.”
And that was it, we were in full on “excited about a new project” mode. That hot, attentive bastard sucked me in. Not that I’m surprised, this is just who we are…I should have known better than to think we could leave it alone. Plus it’s just so brown, too brown…and I love brown.
Anyway, I’m not quite sure what the remodel will consist of (or even what direction we are taking it), but I’m not going to worry about it right now. For the rest of the summer we’re just going to use and enjoy it, and when kids are in school (and the weather cools down!) we will dive into the makeover.
I do need some advice though, from all you seasoned RVers. We have our first trip coming up soon, but we haven’t set up the trailer at all. I did order a new mattress (this one) and some board games, but beyond that it is empty. Do you have any favorite items you recommend? Organization tips? Things you thought you needed but you never actually use? Wise words about doing this with a trailer full of small kids? I’m all ears!
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