Purchasing our first travel trailer!
Updated: Jan 17, 2021
In my last story I shared all about my weekend camping in Maine that led to our decision that the time had arrived to finally purchase our very first camper! The next step on our journey to becoming RV'ers was to find our home on wheels and as is typical for our family the experience was quite the adventure.
Aligning our work schedules to find the right day to go camper shopping turned out to be a lot more complicated than it would have been for most families. As a law enforcement officer, Sam's schedule tends to be rather unpredictable and so our shopping window was narrowed down to one day. This is real life trying to plan anything for our family. As fate would have it that day turned out to be the WORST possible day to be walking around an RV park. There was a literal monsoon when we woke up that morning and the rain was coming down sideways. As I desperately checked the hourly weather there was a glimmer of hope to be found in a two hour window predicted to be without rain. We hung our hats on the weatherman that day and packed into the car thrilled for our first time camper shopping knowing that we were ready to bring one home.
How often is the weatherman actually right? I mean, honestly, we should have known better. That two hour window of blue skies morphed into an even more ridiculous torrent of rain and wind. It was clear that there wouldn't be any dreams coming true that day. Boooooooo. Instead we spent some time with the salesmen reviewing our needs as a family and the capability of our tow vehicle, so we could narrow our search down before the next visit. The day was saved when we discovered that one of the models we had been looking at online was due to arrive in a few short weeks, so we made plans to return then confident that it would be the one we were bringing home.
Those two weeks dragged by as we anxiously awaited the arrival of our future camper. When the call finally came that it was wheels on the lot I had to stop myself from hopping right in the car and driving down there. Cooler heads prevailed and we made an appointment for a few days later that week. It turned out to be pure destiny that we put off the visit because in the meantime a few other models arrived and when we went down to checkout "our camper" there were a bunch more options that fell within our wants and needs.
These areas were our primary focus when searching for our perfect match:
Bunks. We have three daughters, enough said.
A modern look. The older models favor darker tones, no thanks.
Gross weight of the trailer. Don't want to overtax our tow vehicle.
Length. We wanted to stay under 30ft for our comfort with towing and the limitations of many national park RV campsites.
Keeping those important factors in mind we toured four different campers that day. The first one was a Salem 24BHXL, which was the model we had been leaning towards from virtual tours. The interior was GORGEOUS in person and checked all the boxes. It was the smallest camper lengthwise that we would see that day and seemed like an easy tow. We walked out of that camper feeling like that would likely be the one we chose.
The next one was a Salem 26DBUD and as soon as we walked in we knew it was "the one". That was the very first time Sam or I had experienced that feeling of this is it. The interior was modern and bright. There was a ton of natural light that came in from all the windows on the slideout. The dinette was massive and we were confident that we could fit our family of five in there comfortably, which we could never say about other seating arrangements we had seen. The amount of storage was impressive with this model boasting an oversized pantry, storage under the dinette and the couch, full closet in the master with storage under the bed, extra pantry in the entryway, and storage under the bunks for the kids. This was a well thought out floorplan for a family and did not feel cramped at all.
The salesman practically had to drag us out of the 26DBUD to go see the remaining two models. The first was a Passport, which was nice, but just not the same wow factor and the other was a used 2017 Passport, which was a hard pass.
When it came down to deciding between the two Salem models we liked we put the glamorous "wants" aside, looked at the needs, and of course the cost! For a few thousand more the 26DBUD gave us only an extra 2 feet of length, but because of the differing floorplans it felt like 10 feet when we were inside. With a bunch of kids running around we appreciated the idea of not climbing on top of each other on any rainy days we might be stuck inside. The difference in towing weight was only 500 lbs and the interior was identical except for the layout.
I'm sure by now you can tell which one we chose!
That very same day we purchased the Salem 26DBUD by Forest River and it truly was the one we had been waiting for.
Bringing the camper home was an adventure. It snowed the entire morning, there were high winds all afternoon, and when we finally got to our neighborhood there was a tree across the road blocking our street. Sam and I spent an hour an a half parked on the side of the road with our second home sitting behind us waiting for the road crews to clear the trees and open our road back up.
We couldn't help but laugh at what an adventure this had already been. Our very first day towing this brand new camper and it seemed that everything that could go wrong, as far as towing conditions, did go wrong. We figure we got the worst possible towing experience out of the way that day and everything after that will feel easy breezy!
We were already making memories.
We already had tales to tell of our adventures.
We were already feeling more connected through this shared experience.
Once that beautiful behemoth was finally parked in the driveway we spent all afternoon and evening just hanging out in there and counting our blessings. Mia and I have done our homeschool lessons in there on quite a few mornings because it is also a magic school bus of learning, just kidding I just don't mind making excuses to spend time in there because I am so in love! We have even hosted a few camper and chill evenings with our friends because we just aren't ready to tuck her away for the winter and wait until spring to make more memories.
Guys. We bought a camper!!!
We are campers again!
Well, more like glampers now, but I'll never complain about a hot shower.
Who is ready for a camper tour?