RV Travel As A Family of Five
Hi, we’re the Bone family. We are a traveling crew of five, plus a standard poodle, and have been traveling in our RV for a little over two years now – loving the freedom it’s given us to explore and make memories together as a family.
When we decided to buy an RV, we knew we’d need to shop for one that offered a good amount of space for us to sprawl out. After looking at many travel trailers and fifth wheels, we quickly knew we wanted to purchase a fifth wheel. They had higher ceilings, more basement storage, and generally came equipped with floor plans that suited the needs of our family.
If you’re considering taking your family on the road for extended RV travel like us, here’s why we decided to choose a fifth wheel model and some tips for making the transition into life on the road more smooth.
Our Heartland Bighorn Traveler Fifth Wheel
After researching and walking through numerous fifth wheels, the mid bunk floor plans became our favorite. Narrowing our search even further, we found the Heartland Bighorn Traveler 39MB, a fifth wheel that met all of our needs.
Our fifth wheel is a mid-bunk floor plan, so we have separate rooms and living areas. We have a rear living space with opposing slide outs and 13’ ceilings that really make the space feel open.
The kitchen island is great for meal prepping and we have a full-size residential fridge that easily holds 2 weeks’ worth of groceries for our family. Our pantry consists of six cabinets with ample shelving that provides space for lots of non-perishables.
Next to the kitchen is our two boys’ bunk room. They each have their own bunk bed and plenty of cabinets for their clothes and toys. Above the boys room is a loft that has a queen size mattress for our daughter and bins for her personal things and clothes. Giving our teen her own private space was important to us when looking at different models.
The front of our RV is the master bedroom, complete with a king size bed, massive closet, six-drawer dresser and a separate closet with washer/dryer hook-ups. I love the size of our bathroom too, it contains lots of storage space and a large shower.
Find the Right RV Model For You
Comfort is a Key Consideration
We originally thought we wanted a travel trailer because they are smaller and more lightweight. With very minimal towing experience, we were initially intimidated by the size and weight of a fifth wheel. The thought of towing 16,000 pounds cross country made us uneasy. Ultimately, we overcame our fears and purchased the RV that we knew our family would be comfortable in. We wanted to set ourselves up for success and if we weren’t all going to be comfortable and happy in our home-on-wheels, then we wouldn’t be able to travel for long periods of time.
Importance of the Right Tow Vehicle
When we first purchased our fifth wheel, we had a 2008 F250 truck. Our fifth wheel weighed 13,000 pounds dry (meaning its weight with nothing inside of it). We added about 3,000 pounds with all our belongings which brought us to 16,000 pounds (well below the 21,000-pound tow capacity). This truck towed us all over the southern flat lands, but as soon as we reached any type of mountainous terrain, we noticed the truck was struggling.
After nine months of towing with the old truck, we finally upgraded. We purchased a 2020 F350 dually with a 33,100 pound tow capacity and we are no longer limited on where we can travel. Since upgrading, our truck has towed through the Rocky Mountains, Utah mountains, and all of the various terrain in the East with our new truck. We couldn’t be happier.
Check out this article on tips for how to tow a fifth wheel
Bonus Tips for Shopping
When we narrowed our shopping down to two different fifth wheel models, our dealer helped us by hooking them both into power. We then ran the A/C, turned all of the lights on, and spent almost an hour in each one separately going through the motions of day-to-day life. This really gave us a feel for what it would be like to travel for extended periods of time in that particular fifth-wheel, and we were able to make an informed purchase decision from there. We highly recommend asking your dealer if you can spend some time in the RV you are considering to purchase. Everyone’s needs and wants are different, so this is one way to find out what really works best for your family.
Transitioning to the RV
We get a lot of questions about how extended travel compares to staying put in a sticks-and-bricks home, but we don’t feel like we are missing out on anything. When we were shopping for an RV, we considered the things our family valued most, and made sure we could still do those things mobily in our RV.
Hosting Family and Friends
As a family of five, we have quite the variety of hobbies and activities we enjoy, including hosting guests. We always loved hosting in our sticks-and-bricks home, so it was important to us to find an RV that allowed us to continue to do so. Even though we spend most of our time traveling, we still love to host family and friends so we can share our life and travels with them.
We love to boondock in beautiful locations, but sometimes they aren’t easy to get to. Our Bighorn Traveler allows us to get to those remote locations while also having the comforts of “home.” Our RV can take us from National Parks to luxurious RV resorts.
At least once a month, we enjoy family movie nights. Our RV has a queen-size pull-out sofa bed in the living room that we set up and all pile on to watch a movie. We indulge in our favorite snacks while enjoying wonderful family time together.
We highly recommend fifth wheels if you are considering extended RV travel with a larger family. The storage, interior space and high ceilings are truly unmatched. Now it’s time to get out there and find your home away from home. Happy travels!
Darren and Amanda have been traveling in their Heartland Bighorn Traveler 39MB fifth wheel since June of 2021. They homeschool their three children Allianna, Dallas and Dawson, and thoroughly enjoy being able to show them the lessons they learn about in their textbooks. When they’re not homeschooling or working, you can find them chasing waterfalls in Tennessee and visiting family in Louisiana.