I was just wondering if anyone here had tried towing the Nissan NV. Our local dealer is going to get one in the next few days, and we're hoping to buy it. They're apparently selling really fast.
Our travel trailer (2011 Forest River Salem 26TBUD) is under 7,000 pounds when it's fully loaded. We're a family of 7 (5 boys!) and praying for more children. Right now they're 9 years old and younger, but they grow older and bigger all the time, like children tend to do.
We'll be trading in our Ford E350 XLT. It tows okay, but our Armada tows a little easier, especially on hills, so I'm hoping that the NV will be similar.
I know the NV is ugly, but it has head rests on all the back seats, and you can customize the configuration extensively. Sometimes function is more important than style. And really, once you start driving 12 passenger vans, style goes out the window.
We have almost the same criteria, but we're in almost the exact same position as the OP. Except we have 5 kids instead of 3.
So far, we haven't taken the TT on any really long trips, but we do intend to at some point. For shorter trips, we can rely on mifi if we're going to be in a city that we know will have good cell coverage. Getting away and getting back to nature and all that other stuff is fine, but my husband has to have a job to make that happen, and the job entails checking emails, running database scripts, and all kinds of other IT stuff. He can swing it for a weekend, but it would use an astronomical amount of data if he did it for a whole month.
I also think that a good Web presence is essential with younger campers, but a lot of RV park owners don't really get that yet. We don't limit ourselves to places with lots of good reviews, but if there aren't many reviews, I want a good website with lots of pictures, maps, and detailed descriptions of the park's amenities.
I think it sounds interesting, from a chemical perspective. We're the type of family that eats organic foods, avoids artificial stuff, takes herbs, etc., and the idea of drinking water from lines that have had antifreeze in them is icky to me, especially since we store our TT in a storage lot and don't have a great place to wash out the holding tank. However, we just blow out the lines to winterize, so it's not an issue for us. I think I've heard that people who live where it gets cold can't just blow out the lines and have to use antifreeze everywhere, so it's something I'd want to research better if we ever lived somewhere I had to do that. It's my goal to never live somewhere that cold, though.
We usually use the bathhouse. There are 7 of us, so cycling through one shower with a tiny hot water heater takes forever. I like a nice shower, and a navy shower doesn't meet that criteria. We'll use ours for the kids if it's dark or bad weather, but DH and I hardly ever use it. He doesn't mind a fast shower, but at 6'2", he appreciates not having to do yoga moves to rinse the shampoo.
I did once give my little ones a warm bath without even lighting the hot water heater. That was probably the last time we'll ever go camping in August in Texas with highs over 105. The water came out of the spigot hot. Ick.
Our packing, hookup and tow went fine, but we showed up to Table Rock State Park and found their computers had been hit by lightning.
That must have been some storm. My brother-in-law's family owns a store in Seneca, and they lost 22 out of 23 computers due to a lightening strike.
As for your camping trip, it will get better. Unfortunately, I think the learning curve is steeper with kids. There are so many things you have to remember, and you don't get as much time to just relax. They want to keep going. On the plus side, you're making memories. You're bonding whether you're out doing fun stuff or making a clown out of yourself by doing something silly. I grew up RV camping, and I still remember all the funny mistakes my dad made. Now my 5 sons are watching their dad and laughing at him.
Do make lots of lists. Double-check them before you leave. And get the kids involved! They should make sure that their clothes, bedding, etc. all make it to the RV before you leave. And anything that you can afford to buy an extra of to keep in it, the better. I'm not ashamed of the used Goodwill sheets we have in our TT. I know my kids would have to go without due to me forgetting if we didn't have them.
I just renewed our TT tags this past week. I did it online, and they didn't ask me for insurance information. In the past, when I've registered our cars online, I just had to enter basic information like insurance company and policy number--no coverage amounts or anything. When you mail it, you just include a copy of your insurance card, which also doesn't contain that information. Actually, the most recent time I renewed our cars online, I didn't have to enter the information any more. The computer did a check and found that my insurance was registered with them, so I guess All State shares their records with the state.
I agree that you should somehow try it out before you buy something expensive. You may want to rent a unit for one trip, then buy used, and then ultimately buy your dream RV.
We have 5 boys, ages 9, 7, 5, 2, and 2 months, plus my husband can work from anywhere with an Internet connection. And we homeschool. We love being able to go on long trips, but we don't do them in our travel trailer. We use our TT on shorter trips, where my husband will take vacation days all or most of the time we're gone. So far, the longest we've ever gone is 8 days, but we will go on slightly longer TT trips at some point. We've had the RV for under a year, and I was pregnant for most of that time.
When we go on longer trips, we rent a house. That doesn't really work as well when you're not staying in one place, but it's the only way it works for us right now with younger kids. Our typical long trips are about 6 weeks, with a month in a rental house and the rest in hotels for shorter durations on the way there and back.
At some point, we will go on longer trips (probably about 2 months or so) in the TT as we explore our country, but we're going to have older children then. It's just not worth it when they're little. It's too hard to give my husband peace and quiet when he needs to work, and none of the children are old enough to really help me with the little ones if I, for example, take them all to a museum on a day with bad weather. My 9 year old is helpful, but he can't help drive or be out of my sight for any length of time. What you want to do sounds like a lot of fun, but you may enjoy it a lot more in a different stage of your life.
The TV is the hardest part when you have more than the standard 2 kids. Unless you're willing to cram all 6 of you into a truck and never take a friend with you, you probably shouldn't dream of a TT with a big bunk house in the back.
Most SUVs won't pull the really heavy TTs. Some will tow medium weight TTs, but you have to get an upgraded model with a bigger engine in some of them. We recently got a new TV, and we chose an Armada because it would tow our TT with just the basic model.
If a popup would serve you really depends on your family dynamic. You can get 2 king beds in a pop-up, which is amazing. And you have the benefit of having 2 accessible beds without losing your couch and/or table. Of course, you will have to convert at least one of those to a bed at night for everyone to sleep, but you'd be okay all day for naps.
Popups do keep everyone close together, but if your family is like ours, you don't spend a lot of time at the campsite just doing nothing. You're either hiking, or going into town to visit museums, or going to the Disney Parks, or whatever. We never spend long at our TT unless it's time to sleep. It's true that the kitchen isn't big, and if popups are the same as they were when we had one, you don't have an oven. I love the way the stove can be used in the unit or outside, though.
To us, the biggest reasons why we're TT people now and no longer popup people are the bathroom and the canvas. We don't mind using the campground bathroom most of the time, but it's nice to have a real bathroom in the middle of the night. And I mean real as in hard walls around it. (We did have a bathroom in our popup, but we ended up deciding the extra weight made it not worth it.) My husband really despised the canvas in the popup because we could hear everything outside just like in a tent. It doesn't bother me, but it's a bigger deal to some people. I like the idea of hybrids, but that's why we've never tried one.
I drove over a concrete barrier in a parking lot before. I completely forgot it was there until I'd driven all the way over it. You'd be surprised how very little speed it took to get over it. At the time, I couldn't think of any other solution except continuing on my way, so I did it. Backing up probably would have been better, but nothing broke. I waited a good long time to see if there would be any consequences before I told my husband. I imagine anyone inside the restaurant looking out the window at me doing it probably was laughing. I sure would have been if I'd been in their position. It's funny to me now, 15 years and about 6 cars later.
The funniest thing I ever observed at a campground was my grandfather. He was driving the wrong way on a one-way street. That's a fairly normal mistake, but when my dad said, "This is a one-way street," my grandfather told him, "That's okay. I'm only driving one way." We took his motorhome keys away shortly after that.
Add me to the list of people who is seriously impressed with your son! You should call your local newspaper and see if they'll run a story about him. It would be really special to him, and I'm sure it would be encouraging to a lot of the people who read it.
We camped last weekend. It was just a bit under 100. (That's a cold front.) We'd only been able to camp once this spring, due to my husband traveling a lot for work and me being excessively pregnant, so we decided that going out when it was really hot and we had a new 5 week old was perfect.
Actually, we had a family wedding we needed to attend that was about 1.5 hours from our house. We decided we might as well camp close to the wedding and make a weekend out of it. It was really fine. Our campsite had a little bit of shade, and that helped. The travel trailer (just one AC) stayed comfortable except for when the door was opened for too long. Of course, with 5 children, the trailer did get warm several times, but it cooled off relatively quickly. We did some outside activities in the morning and swam in the evenings. In the middle of the day, we napped and went out shopping. I think it probably is best to go somewhere that has indoor stuff you'd like to do. And picking a campsite with trees will help a lot.
We happily camp at either, but having spent the last weekend camping on gravel, I can tell you that toddlers are naturally compelled to throw rocks. They're drawn to it and just can't stop themselves. It's much more relaxing to camp on concrete when you have a two year old. They need to be trained to not throw rocks, of course, so I guess gravel sites have that advantage of providing the training time, but sometimes concrete is a nice break.
We love our Salem 26TBUD. I'm not sure what the total length is, though. It has triple bunks that are in the main room, not in their own room. Between the super slide and the fact that the bathroom is in the back instead of on the side, the empty floorspace is HUGE and great for kids. We just spent the past several days camping with our five boys, ages 9, 7, 5, 2, and 5 weeks. It gets a little cramped when it's messy, but after a quick cleanup, it's wonderful.
October is a little more crowded than some other months, and September is still pretty hot. Our personal rules are only November through February, except for Thanksgiving and between Christmas and New Year's. The time of year you're planning on going will be fine if that's when you need to go, but if you can go a few weeks later, I think you'll enjoy it.
I strongly recommend getting a Disney World guide book. Disney World is HUGE, and it's actually comprised of 4 full theme parks: Magic Kingdom, Epcot, Animal Kingdom, and Hollywood Studios. You'll never be able to see everything, so a guide book will help you figure out which ones you really want to see and which you'd rather skip. We were there for a month two years ago, and we didn't see absolutely everything (although there were plenty of rides and shows we did over and over). We're going back for a month this November because it never gets old. I wouldn't recommend doing anything else in the Orlando area during your first trip. You'll have plenty to see at Disney World alone, and trying to squeeze in other stuff would just be exhausting.