How To Live The RV Life

Photo courtesy of Dean Schlaak and Tom DeGree
Photo courtesy of Dean Schlaak and Tom DeGree

Tom DeGree and Dean Schlaak were once owners of Wilde Café and Spirits. DeGree had since moved on to a career in real estate, soon to be followed by Schlaak. When the COVID-19 Pandemic started shutting down the state of Minnesota, they were looking for something different – something “entertaining,” as DeGree and Schlaak puts it.

That was when they bought a used 2006 26-foot Gulf Stream trailer off of Facebook Marketplace for just $8,000. “We knew we wanted a Fifth Wheel for size and ease hauling. It was right for us for now, but we know this is just a starter and plan to upgrade now that we know we enjoy RVing,” explained DeGree and Schlaak.

5th Wheel Travel Trailer. Courtesy of Go RVing

During the Pandemic, the recreational vehicle business saw a huge jump in sales and usage. It seemed that with offices closed down and people starting to work from home, an RV provided an opportunity to work away from the trappings of the usual routine.

If you have never owned an RV before, it is suggested to try one before you buy one. One such outlet to introduce you to the RV lifestyle is Go RVing. According to Christy Hamilton, a public relations representative for GoRVing.com, explains that the mission of this organization is “to encourage potential RVers by sparking their curiosity through rich, authentic and diverse storytelling. Go RVing is a great resource for those that want to get started and need to find out how! There are so many tips and inspiring stories, you’ll be amazed at how RVing can enrich your life.”

To help get millions of first-time RVers on their way to discovering this lifestyle, GoRVing.com has an online tool called Find Your RV. Hamilton explained that this tool “takes consumers through a series of questions to help define their preferred travel experience, narrowing down the types of RVs that would be their best fit. From there, consumers can take specific steps to make their decision easier and more enjoyable.”

Conventional Travel Trailer and Truck Camper. Courtesy of Go RVing

The question we’re all wondering is what kind of RV would be right for us. DeGree and Schlaak chose a Fifth-Wheel trailer, which is towed by a full-size pickup truck with a center-mounted hitch in the box. They can be unhitched and stand alone at a camping area or at home, when not in use. 

A trailer, or as Hamilton classifies these types of RVs “Towable,” tend to be better on one’s budget and can accommodate several people inside. According to Hamilton, Towable RVs make up “nearly 90% of the new sales market.”

Yet, we generally think of RVs as the ones we can drive across the country. These “Motorized RVs” will cost more than their towable cousins. In turn, they do offer more amenities – including all of the creature comforts of home. 

Photo courtesy of Tom DeGree and Dean Schlaak

If you are not sure if the RV Life is for you, try one before you buy one. Hamilton suggests that you can “borrow one from a friend or rent one from a local dealer or peer to peer rental company like www.Outdoorsy.com / www.RVShare.com.  Some campgrounds will have RV Rentals on site and others have Park Model RVs available for rent.” 

DeGree and Schlaak agree: “One our friends rent their RV through a service, it helps pay for their RV, they block the weekends they want to use it and rent the others.  This might be a way to see if the RV lifestyle is for you.  That being said, after you take out your RV several times setting up gets a lot easier and you know what to look for in campgrounds.”

Type C Travel Trailer. Courtesy of Go RVing

However, there are a few things to consider. DeGree and Schlaak told me that “[t]he biggest challenge [in owning an RV] is finding reasonable places to store our RV when not using it, a lot of people jumped on the RV craze in 2020 so storage places became expensive and scarce.”

Not just space, but taking in consideration the cost of operating, maintaining, and keeping your RV clean. Motorized RVs usually bore the brunt of these costs, as Towable models just need some care for the plumbing, electrical, and mechanical parts – including the towing apparatus. 

Photo courtesy of Tom DeGree and Dean Schlaak

While the RV life is seen as a solution for the rising costs of housing and the fluctuating status of some workplaces, one must be aware of how then rise in RV sales and use through the COVID-19 Pandemic created some issues with their owners. However, if this lifestyle interests you, give it a try! 

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