In early spring, Jeff comes to me and asks if I want to go to the local RV and Boat Show the following weekend. I said, “Sure!” not really knowing what it would lead to. And why would I want to miss out walking through a crowded hockey rink maze. This one day, couple hour event led us on a two month journey of looking for a trailer of our very own.
7 Reasons I Hate Shopping for a Trailer
1. Numbers — You can’t just go out a pick a trailer. Well you could, but it probably would not be all that safe. Weight is important. How much weight you can pull, how much does the trailer weigh empty, how much does it weigh full, how much weight can the truck pull, and how much of a difference will the hitch that joins the truck affect all of this? Jeff was in charge of the numbers. Mainly because, after two minutes my eyes glaze over and I start thinking about poppies. He worked the numbers; so much it was giving him nightmares. If it’s confusing for a man with a math degree imagine what it’s like for everyone else. This was made even more nerve-racking by dealers telling us, “Oh, you’ll be fine!” and other RVers (via forums) saying, “Shit no, you shouldn’t tow that!” We looked at trailers from 33′ all the way down to a 23′. Numbers, numbers, numbers.
2. Reality Check — You have to compromise the dream of what you want with what is available. There are many trailers, sizes, options, and layouts; but not really. We looked at so many our eyes began to cross and we could not remember one from another. At one point, we resorted to handy-cam recordings of our tours so we could play them back later. With so many options, we didn’t think we would have to make allowances for what we wanted; but we would like one feature or two in this trailer and a feature or two in that trailer. We could not find a trailer with all those features existing in the same place — kind of like buying a house. Eventually we made a list of absolute must haves to help narrow down our search.
3. It’s Like Buying a Car — Even though you can’t drive it on its own, buying a trailer is like buying a car. You have to haggle for the best all inclusive price because what is written on the window is not necessarily the best they can do. Or the complete price. There is a bullshit back and forth match until both teams end up on a number (there are those numbers again) they can both live with.
4. A Growing Monopoly — There are a lot of places to shop for travel trailers in our area. There were two right here in town. We also went to three other towns to do all day research. It was tiring but at the time it gave us a good perspective of what was out there. It also helped us to build our knowledge base on trailers. But in hindsight it was probably a waste of time. There is a growing trend of many of the smaller dealerships being owned by a larger company making for less of a chance of negotiating a better price between them.
5. You Can’t Test Drive Them — You can walk around them until your heart is content but you won’t know if a trailer will fit your needs until you actually use it and unfortunately you can’t take them off the lot to test-live them for the weekend. I think part of the reason it took us so long to decide was our process of trying to work through every scenario of usability we could think of. “Well, if we did ‘this’, would it still work for us?” Mental test drives are tiring.
6. Toilets — When you are shopping you get to look at so many toilets but can’t use any, seriously it’s like looking at pizza commercials all day and getting a craving for pizza but there are no shops around. And don’t get me started on the nice porcelain toilets with the cheap seats?
7. 1 Slide or 3 — This one falls a little under numbers and a little under reality check. Slides are amazing! If you don’t know what a slide is, it’s basically a little compartment that slides out giving more space to move around. It is amazing the difference 2 to 3 feet make. We both love them. Unfortunately it is easy to get spoiled by slide outs once you have seen a few trailers with them. One of the first trailers we walked through at the RV Show had three slides (ooooo, ahhhhh), it was awesome. It’s easy to get spoiled by slide outs but they can easily ruin your numbers with the added weight. In the end we decided we definitely needed at least one to make our travel experience a happy one.
There you have it, 7 Reasons I Hate Shopping for a Trailer. Now that it is over, I wouldn’t put it past us to trade it in, five years down the road, for something else and start the experience all over again. The upside though is we won’t be so green when we do.