At the end of the summer last year our family packed up our site and left the campground a day early because rain was headed our way and we did not want to pack up a wet tent and supplies. It wasn’t the first time we dodged the rain by leaving early and it is always a bit of a bummer to head out a day or two before we planned.
I know we could have toughed it out, but all the work when you get home to dry out everything, make sure nothing gets stinky and clean all the mud and dirt off tarps, cords, chairs, tent, ect. gets really old, really fast. We spent a lot more time camping this year and plan on more in the future so we decided to start looking for a camper.
Step one was to decide on which type we wanted. Since we want to avoid packing up early because of weather and we may camp in colder weather in the spring and fall we eliminated a pop-up and hybrids from the hunt. (There are some fantastic ones out there, just not what we were looking for.)
Our Buick tow capacity was the next big hurdle. It hauls our 21 foot boat just fine, but the campers I really liked were just at or slightly over the towing limit. So, after some figuring, we decided to get a truck! Our Ford F-150 will haul up to 7600lbs, opening up an entirely different category of campers for us to check out!
We wanted to keep the trailer under 30 feet so it would be easier to tow and easier to get into camp sites. This is our first camper and I have seen seasoned pros park in tiny spot, surrounded by trees, leaving little wiggle room, but I get sweaty just thinking about backing it up…
My husband did a ton of research in the fall and would send me listings to check out, youtube video tours and sales prices at dealerships within a couple hours from us. I stopped at a dealership in St. Johns, MI to check out a few and we found some we really liked. Thankfully we decided to put the camper shopping on hold until after the holidays.
In January we drove to Grand Rapids for the RV Show at DeVos Place. It was huge and a little overwhelming, but we had a chance to see a ton of different makes and models to help us decide exactly what we wanted. The kids want bunks, a tv and a couch, and I want as much easily accessible storage as possible, a manageable size for navigating campgrounds and a happy husband (so basically whatever he wanted in a camper was a yes!). By the time we left, the show was getting pretty crowded, and we were very ready to leave!
Brent found a listing about an hour away for a camper with a floor plan we both loved, the right size and a decent price. We were ready to drive the hour to go check it out, but realized that next weekend nearby Michigan State University was hosting an RV show at the Pavilion. The dealers were mostly local and while we were there we had a salesman from Gillete Interstate RV offer to help us find exactly what we were looking for if we needed any help.
Monday we emailed him about the camper we liked and he had one at the dealership just 15 minutes away! We went to check it out a few days later and it was perfect. Every camper we had been in before always was lacking something we wanted. Like wood doors for the bedroom instead of curtains, or storage doors on the sides of the dinette benches, or one piece counter tops, or a pantry (no having one was a deal breaker for me). This one checked all the boxes we had on the list and was a decent color scheme (who designs the interiors really…??…).
We were able to negotiate a price we were happy with and have a backup camera installed too. Our salesperson, DJ Kowalk, (firstname.lastname@example.org) answered all the questions we had, was super honest, very friendly and easy to work with. Pushy salespeople always put me on edge, and DJ was not pushy at all. We put a deposit down on the camper and headed home.
About a week later we scheduled to do the final review of the camper and pay the balance. I told the kids I had to stop on my way to dinner to pay for something. They had not been in the camper yet, although we showed them the video tour online. They didn’t know we had already picked this one out and couldn’t believe we stopped to pay for a camper! We surprised the kids with little owls in the bunks too!
I cannot wait to start making memories in our new camper. This is basically a childhood dream come true for me and I am so very glad it all worked out so well!
Let me know how your family camps in the comments!
Talk to you soon,