When we decided to embark on a camping lifestyle, we were faced with several decisions regarding the type of vehicle that would work best for our family. Trailer or RV? Class A or Class C? How big? What floorplan? For context, we are a family of four with a very busy three year-old boy and a five year-old girl. My husband, who thoroughly researches any and every big purchase in our family, was more than happy to dive in and begin exploring our options.
We decided relatively quickly that a trailer wasn’t the best fit for us. We didn’t own a truck with which to pull a trailer, and weren’t particularly interested in trading in one of our current cars to buy one. This coupled with the fact that we both had history with RVs, pretty much cemented our decision. An RV it would be!
Over the next several months, our weekends began to include stops to local RV dealerships to look at virtually every model of coach on the market. We liked the space offered in a Class A, but thought that the quality and reputation of a Winnebago would put it out of our price range.
We came close to purchasing several other makes and models, but for one reason or another, they didn’t work out. They were too big, too small, or the finishes weren’t quite right. I realize I sound a bit like Goldilocks searching for the perfect bowl of porridge. But hey, it was a big purchase and we wanted it to be just right.
Then one day in December of 2015, we thought we had found it … the perfect RV for our family. My husband had been corresponding online with a dealer, seen photos, and started to negotiate price. This particular dealership was located about three hours from our house, but we had reached a point where we were nearly convinced that this was “the one”, so we were willing to make the trek to seal the deal.
Unfortunately, when we arrived, we found that the dealer had somewhat misrepresented the condition of the RV. There were a few unexplained (and unmentioned) dings, scratches, and leaks that should not have been present in what was being advertised as a brand new vehicle.
Needless to say, we didn’t pull the trigger and instead began the long drive home. To say my husband was disappointed would be an understatement. I was too, but it definitely hit him hard. So much so, that when we passed a sign on the freeway advertising one of those big fairground-style RV shows, I agreed to stop even though I really just wanted to get home.
As we began to explore rows and rows (and rows and rows and rows) of RVs, we had the opportunity to see a Vista. After our experiences earlier that day, the quality of this model really stood out. The layout was exactly what we had been looking for, and the extra features exceeded our expectations. After some discussion with the salesperson, we were also pleasantly surprised that we were able to make the numbers work within our budget. That day, Lola the Vista (yes, we named her Lola) joined our family, and today we couldn’t imagine our lives without her.
Ultimately, these were the reasons that we chose our Lola (hint…they had nothing to do with yellow ribbons in her hair):
The layout of the Vista worked really well for our family. We liked that there was both a sofa and dinette, and that the front seats swiveled around to become part of the living area. This has proven to be very comfortable for our family of four, and lends itself perfectly to movie nights and snuggles with our kiddos. It was also important to us that we could install our kids’ car seats to be forward-facing while driving. Having seatbelts in the dinette allowed for this and meant that we wouldn’t have rambunctious kids roaming free as we drove to our next destination.
2. Bunk beds
This was the ONLY thing that mattered to our kids. They thought the idea of bunk beds was the coolest and still exude unreasonably sweet levels of excitement every time they sleep in them. It is also great that they each have their own private space when they need a little quiet time, and that we have a “home” for all the toys and stuffed animals that seem to accompany us on our trips.
3. Jack-and-Jill bathroom
I had no idea how key this would be, but when it’s 6a.m. and the kids are still sound asleep, it is so wonderful to be able to sneak into the bathroom and back to bed without having to leave our bedroom. This feature has given us as much as an hour or two of extra sleep on occasion, which as our fellow parents know, is priceless.
In case you weren’t aware, kids come with stuff. A lot of stuff. There are car seats, bikes, toys, and stuffed animals they just can’t live without. This combined with camping chairs, grills, and other essentials, makes storage pretty important. While we are clearly not minimalists, the Vista has always had plenty of room for all of our creature comforts.
This is an all-encompassing category for all the wonderful things we never knew we needed. We love that we have a generator, automatic leveling jacks, a full-wall slide, an outdoor television and speakers. We have especially come to enjoy movie nights or listening to music under the stars!
We also appreciate that we were able to equip the Vista with a hitch to tow our Jeep Cherokee, which has given us even more freedom on the road. While these are all things that we would obviously survive without, we have come to really value the added comfort and convenience they add to our adventures.
Like many people, when we decided to buy an RV, we were a little overwhelmed with all the things we needed to consider. After all, this was a lifestyle choice we were making for our family and it was important that the RV we chose fit that lifestyle.
Now almost a year and a half into life with Lola, we can safely say that we made the right choice for where our family is today. As our kids grow, we may evolve into another model. But shhhh! Don’t tell my husband that or he will start researching now.