I just got back from a 12 night trip in our fiver...very comfortable. I just hate to come home.
A couple of points came to mind... 5th wheels have a tendency to pick up lots of love bugs. So, keep the nose waxed good. I had hundreds stuck to the front...but a quick rinse, a few brush strokes with RV soap, and a rinse and they were gone. Good thing I touched up the wax before the drive home, or those love bugs would have required some elbow grease to get off.
The other thing that came to mind...while my wife and I were returning to our site from a bike ride (folding bike by Downtube that store easily inside the camper) ...we witnessed a gentleman backing his fiver into a site. He got it twisted a bit...and before I could even yell STOP he had crunched the rear pillar of his new F-350. If you get a short bed truck, do yourself a huge favor and get a Superglide hitch. We have one, noticed that the people camping next to us had one too. I bet that guy that just crunched his truck is wishing he had one too. Also, when learning to back a 5 th wheel...try not to exceed about a 45 degree angle. The more angle you get between the truck and the camper the larger the lead time is to transition out of a turn again. It CAN be done...just remember the huge lead time AND the twisting moment you are putting on your running gear. Two and three axle trailers have a lot of side force on the springs and axles when pivoting a trailer at high angles.
I've been taking notes on things I would prefer to have in my next 5th wheel :).
1) vanity that you can actually spit toothpaste into without hitting your head on the mirror.
2) 16" wheels to give a better selection of tires. 15" tires are limited to junk, basically.
3). Dual A/C units. In FL, parked in a shade free spot...with one A/C...our camper will get up to 83-84 degrees during the day with the single a/c unit going full tilt.
4) receiver hitch for bike rack attachment.
Some other wishes...
Full body paint to eliminate peeling decals
6 point hydraulic self leveling
50 amp service
More fridge space
Full queen vs short queen mattress.
Larger grey tank for camping in state parks with no sewer connection.
Slightly larger wardrobe space if going full time
Possible washer dryer connection if going full time
Wired for SAT if going full time.
Built-in ice maker??? We use a countertop model now...and it takes up a lot of counter space.
Our unit is fine for us really...but when I retire, we plan on doing a LOT of traveling...we'll probably upgrade then.
I do love being able to see the hitch while hitching and I hitching....no need for an assistant, flags on poles or cameras...just turn around and look...the hitch is pretty easy to see back there.
The only drawback...for those with arthritis...the steps might get old...there are usually more steps to get in/out of 5r...and a few more to reach the front living space.
Other than the learning curve of learning to maneuver one while backing up...and loss of the truck bed for bikes...or truck roof racks for kayaks...the fifth wheel is:
Very stable towing since the weight is nearly directly over the rear axle...thus NOT imparting a force into your steering wheel when being passed by large trucks.
Large pass thru storage compartments
Shorter overall length of combined tow vehicle /camper...given the same sq. footage.
When unhitched...there is some dry storage under the front overhang
As approved by only certain states...you are permitted to tow another item behind a fifth wheel. Unfortunately...GA and FL aren't states that approve this.
Requires a heftier tow vehicle to tow due to kingpin weight and larger frontal area wind resistance.
I'm sure I've overlooked some other important characteristics...but most other things are very similar with other campers.
The only thing that I have heard of is that new carpeting and wall paneling can off gas.. I think these they off gas for a period of time. Some people are sensitive to it. I have not noticed this at all. It's probably worse when stored all closed up in hot weather. But open a few windows...get a cross breeze going...turn down the temp on the a/c...I don't think it's a problem,
Manufacturers are careful about venting batteries...and all come with smoke detectors, carbon monoxide detectors, and lp gas detectors. They are interested in your safety. Our lp gas detectors picks up dog farts..,since our male Samoyed likes to sleep near the detector. It's woken us a few times in the middle of the night.
The biggest hazards that I can think of is parking too close to rising rivers, parking under dead trees, and the occasional dometic fridge fire.
You might buy a used model that's off gased the new building materials...or rent a camper and have her do bloodwork before and after camping to check IGE levels...see if she has an immune/allergic response to the camper.
I would worry more about radon in a home than anything in a camper. Most campers probably spend more time outdoors and are healthier for it.
Decals peel off...other than that --- no problems. Just keep up on checking roof seams...and other routine maintenance...water heater anode, bearings, tires, battery levels, clean the camper and awning from time to time. Air filters, replace old monitors (smoke alarm, lp gas detector, carbon monoxide detector, check for gas leaks, keep your tires at the correct pressure, clean your holding tanks, flush fresh water tanks.
Ours is only three years old...and we love camping in it.
We have two Samoyeds...we pullthe shades...put on soft music...turn the lights off...and leave them to snooze in their crates. They actually look forward to it because they know whenever they go into their crates and we close the door...they get a treat.
We also have a monitoring system in the camper that will call us if the temperature gets above our alarm set point...or if the power goes out. It's simply a pay as you go cell phone, PhoneLynx Bluetooth bridge, and an Intermediate Freeze Alarm. We can also call into the camper from wherever we are and get a report on the current temperature etc...