RV’ing is fast becoming the top choice among young families as a mode of travel. It’s virtually stress-free, comfortable and leisurely. Gone are the stresses of traditional travel and in it’s place is a family friendly road trip that incorporates all the comforts of home with an exciting, fun journey that creates lasting memories and results in closer family bonds than you would ever think possible!! Read on for our Motorhome Must Haves to make the journey into RV’ing as wonderful and exciting as possible!
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Newmar DutchStar Specs
Dan recently had a conversation outside the RV while filling up with gas. As so many people do, a man approached Dan to talk about the Newmar Dutch Star.
How Big? 43’
How much? About $350,000
Gas mileage? Around 7 mpg — more if Dan drives, less if Susie drives
What’s Comfort Drive? Epic technology that makes driving EASY!
How many does it sleep? Our traveling family of 14
And as always, the conversation flows into incredulity!
How many kids you got? 12.
And from there the conversation takes a turn to how amazing RV’ing is with kids. I can’t imagine driving even 30 minutes in a car ever again with all our kids. We are all spoiled rotten.
I mean, road trips are notorious for driving parents crazy, right? The kids fight, they have to pee constantly and never at the same time, they are hungry or thirsty, bored and cranky. They are kids. Add in the fact that we are a large family and yeah, space becomes an issue as well!
RVs Make Road Trips Fun Again
Even I have a hard enough time sitting in our truck for a Costco run, let alone a 25 hour drive across country.
Which, as a matter of fact, we are on the tail end of. Colorado to Rock Island, TN and we are totally not crazy. In fact, we are relaxed and completely comfortable. Why? How?
I’ll tell you. But first you should know I never enjoyed road trips. Cramming an entire family into a car for a 20+ hour drive is not my idea of luxury travel. It’s more like hell on wheels, truth be told. We used to do it, in fact, once in 2002 we drove from Colorado to VA. We did this for my mom’s wedding. On the way home, Dan drove a moving truck with furniture for my brother.
It was nothing short of hell. We almost pitched a tent in the middle of some land in KS and called it home. We did, stop in some random KS town and jumped in a hotel pool. It was Africa hot and I needed (needed) to wear our children down somehow.
Many more stories like this, pre-RV. No more, now that we have The RV.
The RV Search
We realized then that the kids were in charge. They could make or break a vacation in a matter of minutes. If we wanted peace in our car we were going to do what they wanted, when they wanted and exactly how they wanted.
Dan being the ultimate man of the house was having none of that. After arriving home, the search for an RV began. At first, under the guise of facilitating travel to and from kayaking events. Then, it morphed into so much more. Freedom became the goal. Freedom from the mortgage, the car payments, we just wanted to breathe. If you are curious as to How we Make Money and Travel Full Time, check this out.
So the quest began. Truth be told we bought the first RV we qualified for.
Original Motorhome Must Haves
Of course, I’d looked at all the luxury RV’s, we looked at mileage heavy entertainers, and we looked at junkers we could buy for cash, but in the end we played it uber safe and bought a cheap, yet solid diesel. In all my searching I’d learned I had only a few absolute must-haves. And my Motorhome Must Haves for traveling with kids were as follows:
#1 – Diesel
When we purchased the Georgie Boy Cruisemaster, we prioritized a diesel engine due to the terrain we’d be driving as well as the amount we’d be driving. Mountains and 25,000+ miles per year demand a work horse engine and we found that in the Cummins Diesel. We wanted an RV for the longhaul and a Diesel was our first Motorhome Must Have!
#2 – Front Door Location
Plain and simple, I wanted control of the door. So, exit location because my 2nd Motorhome Must Have. You see, in our RV, to get to the door you have to go past the front seat and that means absolutely zero worry of kids opening it while barreling down the road. Serious peace of mind, with our wild crew.
#3 – Capacity
Obviously seating and sleeping a maximum number of occupants was a priority for us, a family of 14. The Georgie Boy had ample seating, and although tight on sleeping, we made it work. Seating capacity was in the top of our Motorhome Must Haves.
Today’s Added Motorhome Must Haves
We were desperate to begin traveling with ease and so we grabbed the first RV that met these very few requirements. We knew we were roughing it, we knew this, but traveling was our priority, not luxury.
Now, having been on the road for 3 years, all the above are still very much relevant but, after traveling in a Newmar Dutch Star for the past 3+ months, we’ve added to our list of necessities.
We are now more knowledgeable about luxury and safety and decor and amenitites. There really is no going back.
#1 – Power Awnings
Our awning blew off our Georgie Boy in NM. Before that we almost lost our awning in CO due to a sudden wind storm that blew in and destroyed several friend’s RV. There is no substitute for the power awnings on the Dutch Star that are equipped with a wind sensor. No room for human error! Awnings as a Motorhome Must Have is simple, it’s a way to get out of the sun, and sit and read, even work while the kids run around like crazy people.
#2 – Huge Mirrors
Huge mirrors ROCK! With mirrors the size of the DutchStar, makes seeing things way more likely. Most newer RV’s have larger mirrors than our 1999. However, if you are looking at older rigs, put big mirrors on your Motorhome Must Haves list.
#3 – Cooler in Understorage
When I first saw the electric cooler/freezer in the understorage I thought how cool for an outdoor movie party. But, almost immediately, after our first shopping trip I realized how incredibly versatile and useful it was for everyday life. You see, my kids eat everything in sight and the beauty of the cooler is that it is not in their sight. So, I hid everything in this cooler. It also enabled us to stock up on necessities for longer boondocking excursions, which is something we absolutely love to do!! Put understorage food storage in your MotorHome Must Haves.
#4 – Automatic Recoil on Power Cable and Water Hose
This feature is a must-have for Dan. It simply makes his life easier in the less than exciting aspects of RV’ing and anything that makes Dan’s life easier in these areas is a must have!
Now there are so many many things about the Dutch Star that I love, like the 1.5 bathrooms and the beautiful finishes inside and out and the luxurious feel the cathedral ceilings give, the Sleep Number Bed, the Televator, surround sound, central vacuum, granite countertops, double sink, dishwasher, washer and dryer, incomparable comfort, etc.
But this particular blog is about the features I cannot (CAN NOT) live without. And so without further ado …
#1 – Tile Floors
The entire purpose for purchasing an RV is to have adventures with family and friends and to create memories. RV’ing is an escape from reality, from the daily grind and so the last thing you want to be doing is worrying about carpet stains. My motto with the tile floors is “It’s OK”. It literally takes 10 minutes for me (or someone else) to wipe the entire floor down on my hands and knees. Tile floors offer an ease of living, incomparable by any other flooring surface. So let the kids run in and out all day, it’s all about the fun!
#2 – Automatic Blinds
Now automatic blinds may sound like a luxury, and they are, but for our family and countless others out there, they are also a necessity. And a pretty major necessity at that.
When you live in your RV or travel extensively the blinds obviously go up and down often; the manual blinds do not withstand the useage, while the automatic blinds do. After a month or two in our Georgie Boy we had zero blinds, until Dan fixed them (and then again and again) and we were hanging camo blankets in the windows at night! That is not cool. What is cool is having blinds that expand the age of time.
Incidentally, these blinds block out ALL light. All of it. We woke this am at 9:24 thinking it was 5 am!
#3 – Residential Size Refrigerator
Absolutely necessary for all, regardless of your size family. No-one can live comfortably out of a dorm room refrigerator. No-one.
#4 – Convection Oven Microwave
Again, I thought, huh cool. I had no idea how much this appliance would change the way we RV. Imagine not using your oven for 3 years … RV’s have ovens, but they are the size of a toaster oven, this convection oven in the Dutch Star is 30” and bomber! There is nothing we can’t cook, no limit to the meals I can make. In fact, we baked my birthday cake in it!! Dan is much happier with our current meal plan and so are the kids!
#5 – Induction Burner
I have an induction burner at home so I knew how incredible it would be to have one in the RV. Our Georgie Boy had a 3 burner gas stove and it ran on propane. It took about ½ an hour to heat a huge pot of water for spaghetti! The induction burner takes maybe 2 minutes! Kids want hot chocolate after a cold river run, I’m down because it won’t take all afternoon! Chili? Ham and Bean Soup? Stir fry? You bet!
#6 – 2000 Watt Inverter
Funny story. When we first drove our Georgie Boy we couldn’t figure out how in the world to charge our computers and phones and other electronics without running the generator. Short answer … you can’t because it does not have an inverter, which converts DC power from your house batteries to AC power for your electrical outlets.
Fast forward to the past 3 months and we are in love with the inverter. It keeps the electric outlets powered without the use of the generator. This is pure gold. The kids can watch movies, Dan can work, my phone can charge and the fridge and cooler stay cool.
#7 – Windows
I love the windows on the Newmar. They open out, enough to let air in, but not fully open to allow a body to go out! In our Georgie Boy, I was paranoid, constantly checking to make sure no-one had windows open … in the Newmar, I really have no worries, except keeping the kids seated! 🙂
#8 – Bunk Room
You have no idea how incredible having a bunk room for the younger kids is. It’s been a lifesaver really. In our Georgie Boy everyone has to retire to bed at the exact same time because all the kid sleeping is in the front and the master bed is in the back. There was really no way for us to carve out time to relax just the two of us…unless we left the RV.
In the Dutch Star, it’s a whole new ball game. We can put the younger crew to bed at a reasonable hour and we can have adult time. Adult. Time. The bunk room also offers a place for all the Legos, American Girls, etc they bring with them.
I very VERY much love the fact that the bunk room is behind the master bedroom. Like with the windows and the front door, it just takes the worry away. The little kids are tucked away behind us, which offers an element of safety that just makes me sleep better at night!!
So there you have it … my bare bones must-have necessities for any RV that is in our future. Of course, there are a gazillion luxuries of the Newmar Dutch Star that I don’t know how we’d ever live without. The 1.5 bathrooms are such a luxury. The generator that works on a switch, the pantry, the extensive storage throughout, the comfort, Comfort Drive, Side View Cameras for changing lanes, the LED lights on the awning, the exterior entertainment system, the keyless entry, the personal programmable windshield wipers, automatic leveling system, 3 zone a/c, shoot, a/c that actually works well.
Breathe, Susie, Just Breathe!!