Meet the newest member of our family, Fernando (means brave traveler)! He’s our new (to us) travel trailer that we have had for exactly a month and finally got to take him out on his maiden voyage this weekend (more on that adventure this week)! We love camping as a family and have been in a 1996 pop-up trailer since 2010 and were beyond ready for an upgrade now that the kids are older. Fernando was a MUCH bigger upgrade than we ever could have dreamed of!
We have a crossover vehicle with a tow capacity of 5200lbs (including the camper, our bodies and belongings) so we were very limited to what we could pull to begin with and we had other specific needs. OK, some of those in the “need” list were most likely “wants” (this was a very valuable lesson my father taught me at a young age). We have 3 kids so we needed 3 beds for the kids that didn’t have to be setup every night (like a couch, or the dinette) for sure, air conditioning (let’s be honest, this mama does NOT do camping without it!), decent storage and we needed a large dinette that could hold all 5 of us. On the want list was a slide out for more interior space, an outdoor kitchen and more privacy for the adults. All while being under our weight restrictions.
We shopped for new and used campers day and night online, on craigslist and at local RV dealers (including General RV, which was a complete joke. We don’t recommend them at all. EVER). We found a few that would have worked, but weren’t the most ideal. Lots of double bunks that were so narrow that we knew that the kids would grow out of them in a few years and we’d be back to square one all over again. We needed a layout that would last for years to come.
We were at an RV show in Mason, Michigan and were checking out the used units before heading home when we spotted Fernando, a 2012 Forest River Surveyor Eco Lite SP260 (it’s certified green!). I saw the 3 stacked windows in the back and knew it had triple bunks, which are extremely rare to come by for some reason, so you can imagine my excitement. I ran in and jumped for joy!
It also has a nice big bathroom, something that our pop-up didn’t have at all. Walking to the campground bathroom late at night or in the early chilly mornings were not a favorite task. Especially when the bathroom is not close or you have a potty training toddler in tow that just can’t hold it. The shower is kind of pointless because it’s so small, but the camper also only has a 6 gallon water heater, so you’d really have to make it a quick one!
The slideout kitchen gives an RV a lot more room inside such a simple concept! This unit also has a ton of storage,something our old pop-up seriously lacked. I had to construct shelves out of shower curtain rods and wire shelving that acted as our pantry (and frequently fell down) to get storage overhead. It has a nice pantry, full fridge and a freezer!
The HUGE dinette fits us perfectly (no more eating on our bed!), and the storage is so nice!
It also has a bonus entertainment center that acts as a wall between our bed and the rest of the camper for privacy (and a tv that flips around to face the bed!), wardrobes on either side of the bed so we don’t have to live out of suitcases, and AC (so mama can chill!).
The other bonus was the power awning which doesn’t sound like much, but the awning on our pop-up was always a source of frustration for both of us. We nearly divorced over it several times. Seriously. So when I saw this awning was so magically easy to use on top of everything else, I had to have it. We had to forgo the outdoor kitchen because of the bunks but overall it had everything we needed and so much more!
Kitsmiller RV was so amazing to work with during our whole purchasing process and continue to be helpful with our questions. We just called them Saturday to ask why water was shooting out everywhere when we tried connecting the water and they walked us through it all. We highly recommend them if you’re in the market for an RV!
We really look forward to making family memories with Fernando, just like we did in our old pop-up (which we hope another family will enjoy as much as we did!). With one weekend already under our belt we hope to have hundreds more with our family! Wanna camp with us? We’d love to get a group of families to camp together. Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org and we can chat about it!