Wednesday, July 13, 2016

Makiing Adjustments

The past month has been a time of adjustment. A month ago today we traded in our Mobile Suites 5th wheel for a new Airstream. The MS had approximately 350 square feet of interior space. The Airstream has 224 square feet. That 125 square feet doesn't sound like much--maybe a large walk-in closet? But we reduced our living space by 1/3. That is taking a lot of mental and emotional effort to adapt to.

We lived full-time in a 5th wheel for 6 years. It contained everything we owned (except for what was in a small storage unit). For the past year and a half we have lived half the year in the RV, the other half in a small (719 sq ft) house in Arizona. When we moved into the house 2 winters ago, we left everything that we didn't need in the RV. So we had a lot of down-sizing to do. We have 8 large boxes of stuff our son Eric will ship to us in Arizona in October.

After that process, we had to figure out how to store things in this new, smaller trailer. It has been disorienting, stressful and irritating. Most of all, the small amount of floor space just to walk around in is an issue. We have to turn sideways to pass each other in the hall between the kitchen and the bedroom. The shower is tiny. There isn't much counter space in the kitchen. Much of the storage is at floor level--I get down on my knees numerous times a day. At least it keeps me flexible. But it has been emotionally trying, big time.

In addition to storage and space issues, we have to adjust to the location of cabinets and other hazards. For instance, there is the corner of this cabinet.

Monday night John leaned down to throw something in the trash--but his head hit the corner of the cabinet before he got to the wast basket. We made a trip to the emergency room. They first bandaged the head to get the bleeding stopped. Then they put in 10 staples to keep the wound closed until it healed. Ouch!

We are changing our way of living out here on the road--we are camping, yet we are still living in the RV. The 5th wheel had at least 13 feet of clothes rods. Now we have about 2 feet in addition to the few items we are hanging in the back seat of the truck.

The holding tanks are much smaller.  Each tank holds just under 40 gallons.  That means the tanks have to be emptied every 3 days.  On the positive side, the dump valve handles in the 5th wheel had gotten nearly impossible to pull in and out.  In the Airstream they operate easily.

In past years, we traveled cross-country in a pop-up tent trailer and were able to do that just fine. We only had 2 ice chests, no refrigerator and one suitcase, no closet. Our first 5th wheel had the same size refrigerator/freezer we have now. It will be fine as soon as I learn how much I can buy at one time. It means shopping more often.  (On one trip with that 5th wheel as we returned home from Philadelphia, the freezer door fell off.  We duct taped it back in place until we could get it repaired.)

There are really good aspects of the move as well. This trailer weighs 10,000 pounds less than the 5th wheel. It is so much easier to pull. And we can do it with a new, smaller truck. No more big butt dually! And the gas mileage is much better.  We even pulled into a Wal Mart parking lot this week to do some shopping.  That was a first.

We don't have to worry about any hydraulic slides or a hydraulic leveling system. There are only 2 steps up to the front door. We had 5 steps up into the 5th wheel door and three more into the bedroom!

Although we had 5th wheel trailers for 19 years, John never got really good at backing them into RV sites.  He had been using various types of bumper-pull trailers most of his life.  He is glad to be back to parking that type of trailer.

Before our 5th wheel had such problems, we were thinking about buying either a pickup camper or a popup tent trailer so we could park in campgrounds with smaller sites, like national parks and forest service campgrounds.  With this new trailer, more of those places will be open to us than with the 5th wheel.  And we no longer have to carefully watch signs for clearance under bridges.  The Mobile Suites was 13 ft 9 inches tall.  The Airstream is only 9 ft 9 inches.  Very few places we can't go with this trailer!

Over the winter we plan some changes/improvements. We hope to replace the gaucho couch with recliners.  We might also try to have some extra storage space built in. We're excited about that.


  1. Hopefully John can get away without using a Bump Hat inside the trailer. That looks nasty!
    Kathy and I are looking ahead at downsizing as well but she still has her sites on another 5th wheel trailer because we have just started our Fulltiming Adventure. Maybe when we re-establish a home base that will change.
    Be Safe and Enjoy!

    It's about time.

    1. We downsized because we aren't fulltiming any more. I would want a 5th wheel to live in year round

  2. Sorry about John's sister-in-law.
    And John's head injury.
    I guess it's good we started off in a smaller RV as it all feels so normal. I think it would be tough to downsize like you did.

    1. We had no problem with this kind of space when it was all we knew. It is the comparison that is so difficult.

  3. Hello. Hope you heal quickly and take care in the future. My husband spotted you blog while researching for our trip to AK. Do you mind a question? It may lead to more. We have a truck camper (we are used to small living, the other half of our lives we live on a boat). We are considering a 5th wheel, 21 to 25 feet with a low profile for the AK trip next summer. How do you think the fuel consumption would compare between carrying the camper and pulling the 5th wheel?

    Probably will have more questions but will read your blog first.
    Thanm you, regards Chris and Phil

  4. We too are adjusting going from a 40 foot motor home to a 26 foot travel trailer. And we had hit our heads, but not like that. Ouch!

  5. Oh, John that hurt me to see that...hope all is going well out!!!

  6. Oh, no, John! Do we need to buy you a hard hat? Why do I feel you might have downsized a bit too much? If the dump valve starts to stick on this one, there's an easy fix.

  7. Oh, no, John! Do we need to buy you a hard hat? Why do I feel you might have downsized a bit too much? If the dump valve starts to stick on this one, there's an easy fix.

  8. Our door to the controls can be a head banger if we don't remember to close it, thankfully so far not as bad as John's head banger, hope he's feeling better soon.