Our Journey to finding the perfect Camper Van

Our journey to finding the perfect camper van began almost 5 years ago when I a friend of mine on social media announced she and her family were going “full time”. My hyper-focusing, ADHD brain become obsessed with the idea- I was hell bent on selling all our belongings and moving into an RV.  From that moment forward, I researched THE SHIT out of RV’s. Learning ALL about different types of trailers, 5th wheels, teardrops, vintage, new, motorhomes, camper van,  class A’s, B’s, or C’s… etc…  I started to understand and research the lifestyle, communities, in’s and out’s and get excited about the idea of “Being free”.  Sadly, my better half was not on board.  However, he did agree to a trip to the Hershey PA RV show – where we purchased our 1st Travel Trailer. A 2019 Forest River Wildwood FSX 179dbk… and our journey into camping life began.

campsite set up for camping with forest river travel trailer

The journey to where we are today – was a labor of love…    

We were a little over a year of owning our travel trailer, had taken a handful of trips in our trailer together as a family, all of which had major bumps along the way.  While they all ended fairly well, the had rocky starts  – which was harder for my husband to overcome.  My heart was slightly broken thinking this would never become a reality for me… and I would never be able to travel extensively with my girls.  In typical Stacey fashion I circled back around to the VERY FIRST RV I fell in love with.  A very expensive, Class B – Hymer Aktiv which was way out of our financial reach at the time.  At the same time the campervan movement started to really take flight and I KNEW deep down that I was meant to travel and explore this country with my girls in a camper van. I HATED pulling our trailer, and doing it alone with a compromised back (due to a car accident) as the only adult felt near impossible. So, I put on my deep-diving hat and began to learn and understand the world of VanLife.

vintage Volkswagen Vanagon with family standing in front

Along my journey into learning about camper vans and van life I became DETERMINED to find that magical unicorn van.  I dragging my family all over in the search.  Sometimes the trip was 30 mins away other times 3 hrs, and our longest rabbit hole adventure, a 9 hr trip back to Ohio, only for major disappointment.  I eventually decided that my only option was to piecemeal something together so I purchased a vintage 1989 VW Vanagon. Only after the purchase did I learn that I totally got taken advantage.  I put on a happy face and  tried to make the best of it by doing a complete engine rebuild, professionally cleaning it, installing seat  belts for my girls, and all the odds and ends only to then realize it wasn’t what I hoped it to be and sold it – breaking even-ish. 🙄.  Out of frustrating I turned around and sold our travel trailer, knowing it wasn’t in our best interest to keep it.  About 48 hours later after freaking out and feeling “trapped” I ended up buying a brand new hybrid pop up trailer thinking I had made the right choice – but deep down knowing it wasn’t really going to do the trick.

Family standing in front of pop up trailer

About 10 months into owning our popup and 4 trips later I stumbled upon the Winnebago Solis Pocket. I found a dealership within an hour from our home, Colonial RV …  they gave me an awesome trade-in price on pop up making the van more affordable.. and within 3 weeks we brought home “Bagel” and it’s felt right! Since owning her, we’ve gone on more adventures then I had in past 2 years with our other travel trailers!

If you’d like to know more about WHY we went with the Pocket… here’s why.

Winnebago Solis Pocket with kids sitting in doorway

What did we have before the camper van… ansome pluses and minuses

  1. Wildwood Forest River FSX 179DBK  – This was our first rig, a travel trailer.  It has no slides, it was a single axle (meaning only 1 set of wheels), it was 23 feet long and was lightweight, had a full bath/shower, kitchen area, dinette, awning, full sized bunk beds (meaning the beds were full sized mattresses)  and a jackknife couch with short queen murphy bed.  The trailer was beautiful, had a good amount of storage, space for the girls, AC.  But it was hard with the murphy bed.  We also traveled with our 2 dogs – one who’s big and follows me everywhere, even in a small trailer!  Foolishly we did not know when we bought it to upgrade to an electric hitch and leveler – making it virtually impossible for me to hitch and unhitch solo.  Regardless, We (I) learned A LOT with this travel trailer.
  2. 1989 VW Vanagon – this was a shit show of an experience!  Which taught me – I DID NOT want to renovate another van and for our family,  newer/new, is best.
  3. Coachman Coleman Clipper Express 12.0TD max –  This hybrid pop up trailer was a dream after the travel trailer. It was small, lightweight, well thought out design and just a lovely trailer.  However, I still had to tow it. It did not have a traditional bathroom – just a camping toilet – which we did not mind.  It also did not have all the grey and black tanks like the Forest River did. Meaning it was less to maintain. I did not have to clean any tanks, empty anything, hook up any sewer hoses, nothing!

Included in the pop:

  • outdoor shower with hot water
  • indoor sink
  • way better AC then the TT
  • small fridge.
  • short queen bed
  • gaucho couch/bed

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