The campground in Burnet, Texas, where Sally and Joe Purchase spent two and a half months.
Destination: Near Austin, Texas
Traveler: Sally Purchase, 59, Muskegon, Michigan
The recreational vehicle was my husband’s idea. His parents went RVing when they retired and loved it. So we bought a used, 36-foot-long fifth-wheel trailer in the summer of 2022 and a used Ford F-350 to tow it. The RV’s interior was brown. I’m an art teacher, and I knew I wouldn’t be happy living in a brown tube, so I got new furniture and painted the inside with a gray-blue-white color scheme. Once I spruced it up, I was happy.
We decided to visit Texas for our first trip, and we’d drive each day until we got tired. The first day we made it to southern Illinois. We parked overnight in a Walmart parking lot, but something was wrong with the propane, so there was no heat. We stayed in a hotel instead.
The next night we made it to Little Rock. Some of the roads in Arkansas were really bumpy. We hit a few potholes, and the wall over the axle on the inside and outside of the camper got cracked. We need to make that repair now that we’re home.
In Texas, we stayed for two and a half months in a campground in Burnet, about an hour outside of Austin. It had a great community of people and events: game nights, craft nights and a Super Bowl party.
What surprised me most was that living in such a small space wasn’t that difficult. I was worried that we would get on each other’s nerves, but it was fine. We spent a lot of time outside. I think one of the keys is not to bring too much stuff and to have a spot for everything, so you don’t live in chaos in such a tight space. But when we got back home, after so long in an RV, our house felt like a mansion. —K.B.
Practice at home. To get a feel for the vehicle, Purchase and her husband drove the RV locally and on short trips before embarking on their multistate adventure. Backing up was the biggest challenge, so her husband practiced in a church parking lot.
Buy used. Purchase estimates that they saved roughly $40,000 by buying a used RV instead of a new one. But be cautious: Some campgrounds don’t allow RVs that have passed the 10-year mark.
Find a free spot. Many places — including a lot of Cracker Barrel restaurants and some Walmart stores — let you park overnight for free, but getting a spot can be competitive, so if possible, go early, Purchase advises.
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