My wife had this fantasy about buying a camper (travel trailer), loading up the family a weekend a month (with longer trips sprinkled in through the year), and heading out for Great American Adventures.
Nothing seemed more ridiculous to me, but I played along. To my benefit, it easily justified buying a Toyota Tundra, with crew cab, that could be used to tow said camper. The logical plan that I laid out for my wife was that we would buy the Tundra first, get it paid off, then buy the camper. I’m not a big fan of being in debt, or laying out a bunch of cash at once for depreciating assets. So one at a time, in spite of her “it’s just a monthly payment” argument. Yeah.
The second part of my nefarious plan to Never Buy A Camper was to construct a list of requirements that the camper must satisfy in order for me to slap down my money. Over time the list grew, until ultimately it looked like this:
- Dual Axle (stability while towing and backing)
- All aluminum frame (no rot)
- Four season capable (not that we’d live in it year round, but this makes it easier to heat and cool)
- Two doors (safety first)
- Two Air Conditioners (I like to sleep in a refrigerator)
- U-Shaped Dinette (Family card games)
- Recliners in the living area
- Outside Kitchen w/Beer Fridge
- Bunk Beds
- Total weight less than 8,000 lbs
This list was sufficient to keep me out of the trailer game for years.
Then one day Wifey sees an advertisement for a new RV dealer opening near Richmond, VA.
General RV decided to expand into Virginia, and carries a line of campers that we’d never seen before. Grand Design, an great company, started by industry veterans that set out to build the best campers the world has seen in a long time.
So we loaded up and headed to General RV just to have a look around and grab some free hot dogs.
A nice sales representative approached us as we walked in the door. Nothing pushy, just a conversation, wanted to know if he could help us find anything.
Yeah, I’ve had this conversation plenty of times.
Usually I want to grab my free snacks before I whip out my list, but I jumped the gun and rattled off my Requirements – I mean “things I’d really like in my camper” – and he didn’t flinch.
He thought for a minute, and said “I’ve got two different models that have all that, you all want to have a look at them?”
My wife was wide eyed at this point because no local dealer had been able to meet my very basic set of specs.
“Sure!” she said. Somehow I felt that I had walked into a trap. I had no proof, but this all seemed a little off.
Long story short. This dude walked us through more than a few models of campers that met all of my requirements, then he walked us into two Grand Design Imagine travel trailers. The 2800 and the 3170BH.
We ended up buying the 3170BH that day. Came back to pick it up a few days later. Spent the initial weekend camping (or shakeout run) at the Massaponax KOA just south of Fredericksburg, VA.
Since then we have been to Niagara Falls, Letchworth Park, Myrtle Beach State Park, First Landing State Park in Virginia Beach, and many other really fun destinations. Turns out the two younger kids love getting away. The dog loves camping. My wife loves camping. And incredibly, I love camping.
My Secret Plan To Never Buy A Camper was a bust.