We really enjoyed leasing the Trek motorhome for our voyage to Alaska last summer. There was plenty of storage space for bringing all the supplies we needed, more living area to entertain or stay indoors in bad weather (and we experienced quite a bit of it that year!), great ground clearance for rough backroads, lots of roof space for solar panels to keep us powered up, the ability to tow a 4×4 vehicle for further exploration off-the-beaten-path, and a spare bed for having guests spend the night. It was nomadic living with most of the comforts of a house, and lots of people love bigger RVs for those reasons and more!
We’d still recommend it, or something else similarly sized (35 feet or under) for many travelers. After a year-long experiment driving a 26 foot motorhome and towing a car too, we decided that the added stress from the limitations and maintenance posed by such a large vehicle weren’t worth the extra storage and living space. We felt a strong urge for our next RV to be significantly smaller and more nimble than even our 26′ Airstream bumper-pull trailer was.
Our travel priorities, now that we’re in our third year of RVing, have shifted yet again – and that’s fine with us! One of the many beautiful things about RV life is being able to add new experiences as you see fit.
What inspired this new level of “how small can you go”? Well, we want to hit some of our favorite urban areas again, stealth camp/driveway surf near friends and family more often, drop into more places last-minute without reservations, and squeeze into the kinds of cozy little campgrounds and parking areas that we couldn’t fit previously.
Ultimately, our hearts yearned to live even more simply and compactly when we travel. Someday we may backpack around the world, so this is a step in that direction to see how little we can live with. We look forward to testing the limits of our already minimalistic lives, and making more spontaneous travel and life decisions than we have been.
Additional benefits to van life:
- I can use the #vanlife hashtag now! 😆
- Overall size – 21′, with no towed car, only one engine to maintain, and we fit in a normal parking spot most places.
- For the first time since going nomadic, we aren’t towing anything, and it feels awesome and much less stressful.
- We’re a narrower width and shorter height like a normal vehicle, so we can street park more easily. There’s not as much pre-planning of routes, like for low clearance bridges on country roads, or gas stations needing room to turn a big rig and vehicle around. Since we hate taking the interstate if we can help it, this is a big bonus!
- More maneuverability in cities, parking lots, small campgrounds, boondocking, driveway surfing, and stealth camping. We can stop at more roadside attractions, park right at the place we want to be without commuting in by car, and always have our home and dogs nearby.
- We can drive some of the more RV-limited roads that were off limits to us, like in National Parks, and the entirety of the Pacific Coast Highway.
- Far more comfortable ride and handling – it feels like a long minivan to drive, and we’re much less tired after driving days.
- Better gas mileage – we’re averaging 16+ mpg versus 6 mpg in the bigger motorhome! 😱
- We’re trying to return to spending more time outside, less time indoors, and being more active. A smaller living space makes us want to get out more, it will force us to walk the dogs more, and to ride our bikes or walk instead of always driving.
- Forced minimalism – we’d been hauling around so much stuff we don’t use, for no other reason other than we had the space to store it. We want to pare down to only the essentials and collect more experiences than things.
- Eco-friendliness, efficiency, reliability, and durability, plus higher resale value.
Here’s a gallery of photos of our new 2016 Winnebago Travato 59K. We’ll refrain from really reviewing it in-depth for a while, to give ourselves time to get to know it, make some additions and modifications, and see how it performs over time. If you have any specific questions for us, though, please ask away!
Disclaimer: We were not sponsored by Winnebago and are not being paid for our reviews. We bought our van at a dealer, and while we may share some of this content with Winnebago in the future, our opinions – and the van – are 100% our own!
I really love your new home! There are a lot of advantages to being compact yet luxurious. Congrats!
Thanks! It should be quite the tiny living adventure. We love it, and it already feels like home. 🙂
Wow, now that’s a change I wasn’t expecting, thought you might go sailing with Jason & Nikki 🙂
Good on you guys for giving it a go!
Looking forward to following along with your adventures
Thanks! Maybe someday we’ll be under sail too, but with three dogs we decided to be landlubbers a while longer – plus we haven’t seen a lot of our continent yet! We’ll be able to park at the marina and share drinks with them on board, I hope! 😉
We are so psyched for you guys and can’t wait to creep in your rig this summer! :p
Thank you! Can’t wait to see you too!
Pretty sweet! Congrats!
Very impressed. Can’t wait to see the future posts of how you are doing in your new mini home. I just looked at one of those this past weekend. And I was impressed with the convinces of creature comforts.
Very cool! That is one sharp ride 🙂
It looks so sleek, well designed and a lot of features packed into a small space. So excited for you guys, and the flexibility this style will give you. Funny how some RVers start small and go larger, and some start larger and go small. Just goes to show, there’s so many ways to do this – and they’re all awesome.
Can’t wait to catch up in person and have our new shiny vessels next to each other.
Thank you! It definitely called to us with its style and options in a way that few, if any, other off-the-lot RVs have for full-timing. We weren’t up for another renovation project with the time it would take away from our travels, so this was a great find for us in that it worked so well without major modifications.
We can’t wait to see your “new” bus too and share stories over a box of vino 😉
I love the idea of a class B because of the much greater maneuverability they provide but the kitchen and bathroom areas are so limited I wonder how happy full-time RV’ers can be in them. Add to that the small fresh/gray/black tanks and I can’t see how people can boondock more than a few days at a time. I’m seriously considering a B but plan to spend at least half my time boondocking so please let me know what your opinion/experience is in these areas and what, if anything, you would change in the rig if you could.
Good points, and we’ll be sure to report back on how comfortable it is long-term! We suspect with some adjustments to our travel style, it’ll be worth the trade-offs. If we get tired of being in a small bathroom or are in an area without good camping options, we plan to get a hotel for a day or two, or rent a place on AirBnB for a while to stretch out. Now that we can fit in a normal parking space or driveway that’s an option for us. 🙂
We probably won’t boondock more than a few days at a time in this, but we were never ones to do that for too long anyway, because we need good cell phone reception for work and we like to change scenery often – we have itchy feet! It used to be a big hassle to pull up the levelers, retract slides, hitch up the toad, and move all of that to dump tanks. Now we can be ready to go in 5 minutes, and take care of that on a grocery run into town, or plan our route by a gas station or RV park with a dump. Here goes nothing!
I nearly emptied my bank account last night after driving one of these! The “voice of reason” (my wife) stepped in, and drug me out of the RV dealer.. :-/
A couple additional things you didn’t mention in your great points above;
A “B” Van will probably last at least twice as long as a typical “motorhome” being it is a steel truck (no leaky rubber roof or soft rotting plywood floors).
Resale on B’s is historically very high as compared to most trailers and motorhomes.
For non-fulltimers, B’s can be used every weekend vs. the typical two or 3 times a year many people use their motorhomes.
I’m looking forward to hearing about how it works out in there with the three dogs! 😀
Best of luck to you and congratulations.
Boo on reason! She’ll come around. Show her our blog 😉
Good points about the longevity and resale, we had that in mind too, especially after seeing how poorly constructed most RVs are that just have weekenders and vacationers in mind. We also plan to sometimes rent a house or apartment for a month or longer in a desirable central area and stretch out a bit, then take the van out for fun weekend camping trips in the area. It’s much easier to do that with this parked in the driveway or street than something so big we’d need to find a storage facility for it.
We’ll be sure to report back on how it goes! Good luck with your purchase process!
Congratulations! This looks awesome! I’m with you two. Bill is exhausted after long drives-which we try to avoid! And were unsuccessful. Jason did show us something like this at last years Tampa RV show. I thought he was crazy. But it all makes sense now. Can’t wait to follow along and see how it goes.
Thanks, Debbie! We try to avoid the long drives, but they’re inevitable sometimes when you need to get from one place to another quickly or there’s nothing in between. Even the shorter drives in a class A were pretty exhausting for us, not to mention the set up and tear down process and dealing with the toad.
It is kind of crazy to be going this small, but if you aren’t trying to accommodate more than 2 people and don’t have a lot of gear or hobby equipment you need storage for, you can get out and see things with less traveling stress and a lot more parking options with one of these!
Love your new ride! I think you’ll have a great time with it. Curious though as to how you’ll take care of your dogs in really hot or cold weather? With the class A, I assume you were either in a campground with full hookups or boondocking where you could run the genny for power thus keeping the dogs comfortable when you go out in your TOAD. With this, the dogs are where you are – all the time, since there is no TOAD. If you want to tour something in town during the day for example, and it’s hot, how do you plan to keep them cool? I’m curious because we are struggling with this very decision right now. We love the beach, where of course, it’s hot. Would love to be able to just pull up to a convenient beach parking lot and enjoy the day, but with pet restrictions on the beaches and genny restrictions on many parking areas, I’m not seeing how this will work. One way of course is to just forget the hot areas and follow the moderate temps around the country, but that defeats the purpose for us. Sorry for the long winded question, but I would sure appreciate your ideas as you’ve obviously already put a lot of thought into this. Enjoy!
Thanks, Roger! We have thought of the dogs a lot with this purchase, and it should actually be easier for us to have them so nearby all the time for potty breaks, feeding, and to make sure they’re behaving. 😉
We couldn’t go far from the RV park before since they needed to be let out every 6-8 hrs, and after one incident when a breaker flipped at a campground and our AC turned off on a hot day while we were away from the dogs and RV, we never trusted the AC alone anyhow.
We haven’t been in hot weather much in our travels if we can help it, since we have the flexibility not to be, and RVs are pretty miserable in hot and cold extremes unless you do a lot of modifications to better insulate them. We don’t like running our AC much and never have, or being in commercial campgrounds for long, and we usually hit the beaches in the shoulder seasons, when it’s a touch cooler, but a lot less crowded. The generator isn’t horribly loud on this van, it just sounds like a diesel truck idling, and we plan on adding a kit to reduce the noise/vibration even further, and possibly add the auto generator start kit to kick on if it gets above a certain temperature inside.
Alternatively, you could park at a nearby campground and bike or take a bus or taxi the rest of the way, leaving the van connected to shore power. We plan to do this a when visiting some cities with good public transport and very scarce surface parking, or at tourist attractions like theme parks or national parks that are more summery activities.
The many windows in our floorplan allow for excellent cross ventilation, and the Maxxair fan pulls in or out a lot of air. We also have a Dyson bladeless fan that we can leave running on the inverter we plan to install. We aren’t too worried about anyone crawling in a window when our 60 lb dog would be eye to eye with them and ready to eat them as they peeked in!
Thanks Kristin. Great ideas all! It does make a lot of sense to seek out the shoulder seasons to make it more comfortable for the dogs. I like the idea of fewer people and lower costs too. I have a feeling that once we get out there, there will be plenty of great opportunities to chase that 75 degree day 🙂
Ref. that day your CG power went off, I’ve been looking into some options available now that will start bombarding your cell phone with text alerts if the temperature rises quickly, the power goes off, or, if you have an autostart gennie, the gennie turns on. Some even have video feeds now that can stream right back to your cell phone. Requires a good cell signal of course. Wouldn’t rely on the CG wifi when the pet’s safety is at stake. Anyway, thanks for all your ideas, and have a wonderful 2016 in your beautiful new Travato!
Hi i just found your post. We are about to buy a 2019 travado. How do you like it so far? Anything you hate? We have to small dogs and live in south Florida and want to trade our travel trailer in. Any thought are very much appreciated! Thanks mike
Hey Mike! Sorry for the delay getting back to you! I recently sold my Travato and bought a Coachmen Crossfit class B, but I loved my Travato while I had it for 2-1/2 years. It was reliable, and great for camping everywhere I took it. You’ll find a lot of great resources in the Travato Owner’s Group on Facebook if you’re on there. Hope you find or found a great RV to suit your needs – let me know if you have any additional questions! 🙂
Love it! That’s exactly what I would get if I went to live on the road. 🙂 I can’t wait to see it when we cross paths again! Are you still renting out your house and condo?
It’s super manageable for one person, as are most vans. One of the big reasons we went so small was so if one of us needed to handle the driving and setup alone, we could.
We are still renting out the houses, and as long as we have good renters there, we’ll just keep doing that! Tennessee is a good place to have a home base in since there’s no state income tax. 🙂
Nice! Very well organized. And the fur kids look like they have made the adjustment easily.
We will probably downsize to a truck camper when the time comes. We could reconfigure the back of our truck to add one and still have room for side tool boxes. However, we are still loving life in our Airstream for now.
Thanks, Page! The dogs do love the smoother ride and more room to stretch out, and the big screen door to look out. They actually lay down and sleep now while we drive. They were always slightly freaked out by the movement and noises in the class A.
A truck camper is a great option too – but so is an Airstream! Having the tools for Bob so easily accessible in your truck is really nice, and a van wouldn’t work for that. The tools of our trade just happen to fit in a backpack, so we’re able to downsize this much. It’s been fun trying out so many types of RV over the years – nothing is perfect! 🙂
Good on you. Will follow your downsizing experience with interest.
Thanks, Carron! We’ll be sure to write about as much of it as we can!
It’s super cute, I love the interior!
Thanks, Leigh! It’s quite modern and Airstream-esque, with the curved upper cabinets and euro style finishes. It was definitely more “us” than most motorhomes with more traditional styling, and the neutral colors makes for it easy decorating it further to our tastes. 🙂
Where do the dogs sleep? On the bed with you guys, or on/around the front seats as they’re (adorably) pictured in the photo?
Love the van!
Thanks!! They mix it up a bit – the smaller dogs love curling up in the front seats on blankets, and there’s a little dog bed on the floor in the passenger’s foot area too. The big dog loves the memory foam rugs on the floor, or the foot of the bed in the corner. When we leave them alone, they usually sit in the front seats and watch for us out the windshield, and make any people walking by crack up laughing or do a double take. 😉
Looks awesome! Really like the flip down sink feature. Can’t wait to see it in person.
Thanks! Can’t wait to see you guys and your new RV in person soon! 🙂
Man, that thing is HUGE compared to our Vanagon 🙂
Ha! So true. We wanted a VW so badly, but the deal breaker was the lack of a bathroom. For full-timing, that was our minimum requirement! It’s not as fun to be “roughing it” all the time 😀
I like the looks of the design, so I’ll be curious to see how you guys like this in the longer term. I’m just curious if you leash the dogs while you are driving?
Thanks! We’ll also be switching it up a bit here and there with an occasional vacation home rental, hotel room, or staying in friends’ and family’s driveways too, depending on our location, availability to park the van nearby, and if we want to spread out a bit and enjoy a hot tub or large kitchen and bath for a while. 🙂 We did that even in our bigger RVs, but it’ll be easier to park at those places now, being so much smaller.
When we drive, the dogs are free range. They stay up near the cab mostly, and sleep on the floor between the seats, or the little dogs in the passenger foot area or on the passenger’s lap. We haven’t had any problems with them getting in the way while driving, but we also spent some time working with them in our first motorhome last year, teaching them that while we are in motion, they can’t bother the driver or get under their legs. They get used to it pretty quickly and now are very happy passengers!
Hey Kristin, I think your rig is very cool. I noticed in the one comment you said that you guys had ruled out a VW because there’s no bathroom. That’s pretty logical when there are two people traveling. But for solo vancamper folks (I’ve been one for 3 years now) the PETT full-size folding toilet is great. I wouldn’t be without one (they can be ordered at REI). I wrote a little e-book about equipping a vancamper: http://roger-steen.squarespace.com
Neat – thanks so much for sharing your book, Roger! A VW may very well be our top choice if we do something in a place like Mexico or South America someday. For a while longer, we’re going to spoil ourselves a little though with something more modern, especially since we have pretty busy full-time jobs that don’t give us time to tinker with an older vehicle or find places to shower. The three dogs and their food take up a lot of space too, so we can’t really go much smaller than this! 🙂
Oh my — this seems absolutely perfect! Coming up on a month Tim’s old van conversion, I am loving the smaller space, but missing some of conveniences like running water. This seems like the best of both world — well though out, great use of space, tolerable design. Hmmm… now you’ve got me scheming.
Thanks, Kerri! It took us a year of planning and dreaming to decide on this one, based on what we loved about our Airstream and class A. We were totally sold only after they announced the flex bed kit, to convert the two twins to a queen, which is new for this year. We could have built something ourselves to do that, but it would have been kind of clunky and they solved that problem for us, thankfully!
We LOVE being so small and nimble, as I’m sure you’re finding in the van too. We’re total modern day hippies at heart, but we love the comfort and conveniences too, so this is the best of both worlds to us. Have fun in Baja! We’re hoping to do that trip too in the next couple years. 🙂
Is the flex bed system comfortable. I know you have the froli system on the twins but if made out to full or queen do you lose some comfort? I understand this system will be standard in newer models of the K.
There is less softness in the middle section, but as it’s where our hips are and we side sleep mostly, we really like the higher density foam there. It’s a thicker piece of foam in that section to account for the Froli system not being there, so it seems a little more supportive, actually. Maybe it wouldn’t be comfortable if you like a softer mattress overall, but with the addition of a thicker quilted mattress pad, we’re happy for now with it. We’ll be sure to post more about it in our follow ups over time! 🙂
I just mentioned in another comment that we fully anticipate having to replace the foam someday, maybe sooner than later, but only time will tell how long it lasts with 24/7 use. They aren’t really made for that, so it’s to be expected as with all RV mattresses. We may get a better quality latex foam with a memory foam component, or a memory foam topper if we can still roll it up small enough during the day.
Being new to retirement and thinking of traveling in an RV. Still trying to figure out how big or little we should go so it’s great to follow along as you try different things out. How is it having to set up beds every night and how comfortable are the beds.
Hi Michael! It’s a better way to travel than suitcases and uncomfortable hotel beds, in our opinions, whether you do it full time, or part time. Full timing isn’t for everyone, and someday we may have a part time home somewhere to be able to relax and spread out a bit and expand our hobbies beyond space-restrictive ones.
This is our favorite RV so far, largely because it’s so easy to drive and we don’t have to pre-plan so much as we travel. It’s also so much less work to clean and maintain. The extra space is nice if you need/want it, but not enough for us to get past the extra stress while driving and finding places to park.
The bed has been fine so far for us – we anticipate having to replace the foam someday, maybe sooner than later, but only time will tell how long it lasts with 24/7 use. They aren’t really made for that, so it’s to be expected as with all RV mattresses. We may get a better quality latex foam with a memory foam component, or something. The support system under the beds is really nice though! Making it or taking it down takes about two minutes with two people, and really isn’t hard at all to just roll up the covers into a bedroll on the back of one couch. The only downside to this cross-coach design, besides the bed being short, would be if you get up often for the bathroom in the night. We don’t often, and we have the person more likely to do it sleep on the side that’s next to it. It’s less of an annoyance to us though than when we had to climb a step or ladder to get into a bed in our class A’s before. Good luck with your decision!
Thanks for the information. We love following your adventures. We have a very large German Shephard and a greyhound, so the van may be cramped. We’re renting a class C this spring to see how that works. Would like to start spending our winters in the southwest, have had enough snow!
This looks so exciting!! It certainly appears to be a viable retirement option!!!
Congrats on the new addition! Looks like an awesome way to spend your 3rd year full-timing (3 years !! !!).
Very cool! We’ve been looking at smaller rigs too because the 30 footer is starting to feel a bit big. Really liked the Hymer we saw at the RV Show last month as well as the Travato and View. Congrats guys!
Thanks guys! Can’t wait to hopefully see you again soon! Did you see that Hymer just bought Roadtrek? Big changes ahead for both brands I’d suspect. Will be interesting to keep an eye on how that plays out.
We really liked the Hymer van, but felt the Winnebago’s materials were a bit higher quality after seeing it in person, and the Travato had more features standard that we wanted, like solar. There seems to be more storage too. This works better while we have our big dog – we felt very claustrophobic in that layout because she couldn’t turn around easily or have a place to lay on the floor that wasn’t in the way. We may do a different layout someday, but we’ve been really loving the couches and big bed in this one. Best of both worlds, if you don’t mind breaking down and setting up the bed. 🙂
Now that you’ve used the Travato for a while, how you like the low, small refrigerator? Especially interested in your reply since you had a full year of enjoying a much larger refrigerator in the Trek. Has it affected your camping style since you have to go shopping more often? We love everything about the Travato 59K, but the half size fridge is the last sticking point before we go ahead. If you had it to do over again, would you consider the larger fridge a must? Thanks!
Hi there! Sorry about the delay, I didn’t get around to approving your comment until this morning, which is why it wasn’t appearing on the site 🙂
We actually really don’t mind the small fridge. We had a similar sized one in our Airstream, so we were already used to that before the bigger one in the Trek. In both of those, I much preferred to have the extra counter space and open layout over a full-height fridge, and we’ve been surprised at how much we can fit in it. It’s really deep!
We used to lose things in the old one because it was too big, and have our food spoil often because of inconsistent temperatures top to bottom. In this one, there’s not as much room for that to happen. We also really like the tiny freezer because we tend to buy our food fresh, and the bigger freezer was wasted space and energy for us before.
It really boils down to personal preference and what you like to eat, though. We cook quite a bit, with mostly fresh proteins and produce, and with the much easier maneuverability of the van now, we don’t mind shopping often and can stop alongside the road more easily, at farmers’ markets and roadside stands. We weren’t able to do that when we were over 40′ total! We still have a lot of room for dry and canned goods for if we’re off grid or away from good shopping for a while, and we buy a lot at Costco that we can store under the bed and in cabinets.
Hope that helps! We LOVE the openness of the Travato 59K and wouldn’t change a thing so far!
Thanks so much for your thoughtful response Kristin! It really helps to hear your perspective on this. Guess I’ve always just assumed that “bigger is better” in refrigerators, but in this case, what you say makes a lot of sense. Showed your response to my wife and she agreed that the openness and counter space were important and that this one may work well for us. Thanks again! Guess it’s time to go shopping! 🙂
You’re welcome! I’m glad I could share our experiences. Let me know if you have any other questions, and happy RV shopping! Hope to see you on the road someday soon! 🙂
Hi Kristin! One more question as we get closer. Liking the K more and more and planning a trip to Pennsylvania next week to see them. One sticking point is the lack of extra seat belts. When we were looking at another brand that had this issue, the manufacturer told us he knew of owners who had taken their RVs to Mobility Dealers (companies that modify vans to installs Wheel Chair lifts and many other things) and have had seat belt systems installed. Since the seat wasn’t specifically designed for seatbelts, the manufacturer wouldn’t do it. My question for you. Is there any room under the side beds on either side up against the walls where we could reach the floor to install belt anchors, or is it all taken up by tanks and such? We don’t anticipate having other people on board much, but it sure would be nice to have the option for a day trip now and then. Plus we typically harness our two small Westies with the Sleepypod harnesses (http://sleepypod.com/clickit) , so we would like to at least be able to install the baby seat anchors that they attach to. Roger
Hi again, I actually got some feedback from a large dealer who had their service techs look at the plans for the area. Didn’t say no, but listed a lot of important systems and wiring bundles that are under those beds. Said it would be up to me if I wanted to “interfere” with those systems to install seat belts. Nice way of saying I should leave it alone I believe. Might still be a couple spots where I could install a couple of anchors for the dog’s vest systems though.
We didn’t really research this because it’s not something we need, but I do know that any seatbelts added without a rigid backrest in place would not be DOT certified. In the 59G, there’s a steel frame in the dinette that they must be attached to for it to be crash-rated. In our class A, it was the same way in our dinette.
You could add tethers for the dogs pretty easily, though. If they don’t have to handle much weight (which I wouldn’t think they’d need to, for Westies!) you could add D-rings to the top of the bed platform, and shouldn’t feel them when laying on the bed because of the Froli suspension system for the mattresses in between. You’d have to cut into the wood to make a pass through for the belts if you wanted them to get all the way to the floor, though, and the water tank would probably make that difficult on the passenger side, since it butts up against the wall. :-/
On the driver’s side, there would be more room to attach to the floor, in and around the Truma unit and electrical/plumbing, but you’d be cutting into the wood there too. You could contact Winnebago and see if they’ve ever modified a K for seatbelts. Being that it only sleeps two, I don’t think it’s something they planned for, though. A mobility company might know a workaround, but it would require quite a bit of modification I’d imagine, and I’m no expert there!
Hope that helps! I have some pictures of our beds opened up if you want to see more of what’s in there – just shoot me an email on the contact page. 🙂
I read your article with interest. My husband and I will retire late next year and are interested in travelling with a Class B. We won’t be full time, but would like to do several months out of the year. I noticed very few rv blogs that travel in a class B. You touched on a lot of reasons that we will be looking at class B, easier driving and parking, better mileage and if we want to stay somewhere a little longer, we can get an Airbnb or short-term rental. I had looked at a Travato last year and they didn’t have the convertible beds so we may have to take another look. I’ll be following to see how it goes!
That’s great – congrats on the upcoming retirement, and let us know if you have any questions! We’re still loving ours after 4 months in it now. We’re still amazed by the places we can camp in it – like a parking garage in downtown Charleston, SC a few weeks ago! It’s definitely giving us back a lot of spontaneity that we were missing in our travels before. Thanks for reading! 🙂
New to your site and learning a lot, so apologize if this is answered somewhere else. Did you purchase or lease the Winnebago you currently use? Seems the purchase price is 60-90K+ which is a huge investment to try out living on the road. While they do hold their value, would like to know your thoughts. I did see you leased the other RV which I didn’t know was an option. Keep posting and we’ll keep learning.
Hey Brian! We purchased the Travato, and the previous lease was only an option because the manufacturer reached out to us via our blog and wanted someone to test out a new RV model of theirs for a year. The class B’s do hold their value well, so as long as you use it for a year or two, the risk is pretty low that you’ll end up upside down in your loan. We love ours, and would encourage you to go test drive one and hang out in it a little while before buying. Most dealers are really nice about it. If you have any other questions, let us know! 🙂
Hi Kristin and Jason, I’m curious about your experience with the longer table for your work. I have a writing business that I would bring with me in a class B. I need a good size table to spread out. I haven’t seen many pictures of it set up. Also, how comfortable is it to sit on the couch for hours while working at the table? Do you get enough back support? Thanks!
Hi Susan! We’ve used the table a bit for work, but a lot of times we like to sit outside with our laptops in our screened room, or one of us will use the little desk up front while one person stands for a while at the kitchen counter to stretch, or sits on the sofas with a lap tray. We usually only need a laptop to do our work, so we don’t use much space to spread out. It would be plenty of space though I’d think – it’s a really long, albeit somewhat narrow, table that can seat four comfortably. I have some pictures of it set up I’m happy to send you if you want to email me using the Contact Us area on our site, or they are posted in the Travato Owners’ Facebook group as well.
The sofas are comfortable for about an hour of sitting, then our tailbones really start to feel it. We plan to replace the existing foam with something higher-density and maybe add a latex topper. The cushions used with the center table to make the bed extend across the hallway make great back bolsters, and with one or two of those behind you and/or a lumbar pillow, you can get pretty good back support. Let me know if you have any additional questions! 🙂
Hi Kristin! Thanks so much for your helpful reply. I’ll look forward to hearing about the modifications that you do. One quick follow up: is the passenger seat more comfortable for sitting longer periods of time while working? Do you use a pillow for extra support? Thanks!
Hi Susan! We tend to move around a lot, so I’m not sure about many hours in a row – we’ll do a couple hours at a time working, a walk, then a couple more hours, and repeat. It’s pretty comfortable for that duration, like it is for driving. You might like an extra cushion on the seat bottom or in your lower back for more support, but we do fine with it for a few hours at once. We also stand at the kitchen counter sometimes, since it’s the right height for us to use as a standing desk. Hope that helps!
Nice change of van and the site is very nice and informative. Quick question for you… how do you like the K layout with the beds used as couches? Are they comfortable for sitting? Any modifications you would make to make them more comfortable? We are looking at the K, the G, and the RT Zion so your input would be helpful.
Hi Kevin! We love having the option to use the beds as couches or a dinette. We had some friends over in bad weather, and fit 6 adults and three dogs in the Travato comfortably – pretty impressive for a 21′ van! We fell in love with the openness of this layout. It’s the only class B we’ve been in that didn’t feel claustrophobic to us, if we have to spend a decent amount of time indoors. If you don’t spend much time in it, that’s not such a big deal, but it’s our home and rolling office for much of the week, and not just a weekend or week-long place to sleep and eat while out adventuring.
There’s also a ton of light from all the windows, and we like that the bed is so much bigger than the G model when you combine the two sides with the table insert. The beds are pretty comfortable for shorter sits or sleeps, but we found after an hour or so in one position, you start to feel it in your tailbone, hips, or shoulders. After 6 months of full-time use, we’re looking at replacing the cushions with a higher-density foam and probably latex toppers. We have a piece of memory foam on there now, but it’s too squishy to turn over in our sleep easily, and makes us really hot.
We’ll post at some point about what kind of changes we’ve made and will make to it – we’re taking a travel break for a bit and plan to add some more solar, an inverter, update those cushions, and have some warranty work done. Nothing major, just little things here and there that need tweaked. Let me know if you have any additional questions, and good luck with your decision! Be sure to join the Travato Owners’ Facebook group if you are interested in getting more opinions on it. 🙂
Great comments and experiences. Can’t wait to hear of future experiences and mods.
Love the blog – my wife and I currently own a 2007 Airstream 23′ Safari trailer and are thinking about downsizing to a 59k or the Hymer. Curious questions: can the side windows be left open when it’s raining outside? Also, have you used the kayak racks?
Hi Tom! No, the windows can only be left open on the side with the awning, if you leave it extended out a bit. That’s one drawback, but we really like the sliding windows compared to tilt outs for if we want fresh air while driving, or leaving them cracked for our dogs when we’re in a public parking lot. We did buy some metal louvered inserts for the front cab windows that can be left in when it’s raining that are fantastic – we got those from EuroCampers.com.
We haven’t used the kayak racks, but there’s a Travato owner’s group (prospective owners can join too!) on Facebook if you haven’t found it yet, and some people there have used them and have recommendations. We have inflatable stand up paddleboards, so we haven’t needed the racks, and plan to use the space for more solar instead. 🙂
Let me know if you have any additional questions! Good luck with the decision!
This van looks like heaven to me 🙂
Hi, sorry if asked already, how do you handle the “gotta run into town” issue? Simple to unplug and roll?
Hey Lance! We usually unplug and roll if we need something – it’s quite simple with a van that has no slide-outs or levelers built in, and we need to empty our gray and black tank every few days, anyway. Other times, we stock up before we get to a place and try not to move while we’re there. With our trailer or class A, breaking down camp took about an hour. With our van, we’ve got it down to about 10-15 minutes, as long as all our outdoor gear (screened room, chairs, table, rug) aren’t needing to be put away. 🙂
Hi Kristin, l just found your blog and was very excited to read all about your personal experiences. Your blog and comments on this thread are wonderful and provide a lot of information. I’ve been researching the Travato 59G for a few months. It’s pricy and compact so I have hesitated a bit. I like the 59G because I have a granddaughter that needs a forward facing seat for a car seat and the dinette makes into a bed for company. At 21 ft. the Travato barely fits (slight over hang) on my 20 ft. driveway, but I do not anticipate a problem with my HOA. Have you heard any issues about HOA with fellow readers with parking their Travato in their suburban driveways? I’m in California so some of them are pretty stringent. I can ask my HOA, but I prefer not to draw attention to myself if I get one. I will be traveling solo with dogs as well. My purpose for the Travato is to travel to Arizona to visit family and back to the south during the summer (I’m a teacher) to visit my daughter and her family. I want to stay in the Travato in lieu of hotels. I like my own space and I have 2 small dogs. If you go to a restaurant, and it’s hot in the Travato, do you leave the generator running for the dogs in the van so they have the A/C? If so, isn’t the generator pretty loud? I have been going back and forth with buying a van vs. a trailer. With the trailer the dogs are at the RV Park in lieu of a Target parking lot and it is nice to have a car as freedom to tool around. However, the thought of towing and hitching and paying $150 a month to store the trailer is a real hassle. In addition I don’t currently have a tow vehicle so that is an added expense. The Travato is more expensive, but more flexible, I just worry about going shopping and having the dogs in the car in the Arizona summer heat with a very loud generator running. However, traveling in the van makes it nice for long travel because you can’t leave them in a hot car to eat in a restaurant or run in a store when you are by yourself. So, since you are traveling with pets I would like to hear more about how you accommodate them when you leave them alone in the van — especially in the city. Thank you!
Hi Sherry! Thanks so much for the compliment, and for reading our blog!
We have parked a few places where we were scolded by HOAs or even kicked out, so I would definitely check your bylaws or those of family members’ carefully if you’ll be parking in your driveway or at other peoples’ homes with HOAs. If the wording is questionable, maybe show the board a picture of one so they can see that it’s not a very obvious motorhome? You might emphasize that it will be a daily driver for you too, and not some broken down old thing. Most people think of RV and think Cousin Eddie from Lampoon’s Christmas. 😉
We do leave the dogs with the generator and AC running in warm weather but we don’t ever fully trust it – or even temperature monitors – with our precious pets’ lives, so we check on them every 15-30 minutes, depending on the temperature outside. The generator is a bit loud at close range, but we try to park with the exhaust (most of the noise) facing away from businesses and people, on the outer edge of a parking lot. It’s no louder than someone’s diesel pickup idling, and sometimes quieter than that, even.
We didn’t have an on-board generator in our trailer, so like you said, no option for running AC and leaving the dogs behind during a stop on a hot travel day with it. Towing and hitching is a lot of work too, and more stressful while driving than the van. We don’t miss that aspect – the Travato is so easy to drive! We were never comfortable leaving the dogs in the trailer or motorhome at the RV park in any kind of heat either – we left them for a couple hours in New Mexico once and the breaker flipped at the power hookup at the RV park, and it was over 95 degrees in the trailer when we got back. The power hookups and the fuses/breakers and wiring in RVs are never reliable enough that I’d trust them for more than an hour or so. We’d rather have the dogs right in the parking lot, where we can check on them after that terrible scare.
For those reasons, we try not to do too much travel in really hot weather if it can be avoided, but if we do, we seek out parking in the shade + run the genny. If you’re traveling with someone, you can take turns hanging out in the RV with the van running versus going in every store together, and there’s almost always parking spots far enough from a business where the generator won’t bother anyone. I’d recommend going to a dealer and see if they’ll run the genny for you, so you can see how loud it is. Walk away about 50 feet, and you’ll see what I mean that it’s really not that bad.
If you have any other questions, let me know! I hope you do get a van and we meet on the road someday! 😀
Love the blog, great information, Seriously looking at the 59K for extended traveling year around in upcoming retirement. Wondering about enough power with the 3.6 V6 as we will be crisscrossing the Rockies a fair bit. Also plan on dry camping a fair amount and concerned about fridge not running on propane. Any thoughts on theses much appreciated, Thank you so much. Greg
Thanks for the truly informative blog. We are strongly considering the Travato 59k for all the reasons noted in your blog but especially the open feeling with great windows. The only issue we have is the lack of any additional seat belts which was addressed earlier in your blog. Anything new on how we could get some relatively safe lap belts professionally installed? The only other class B we have seen with this nice open feeling is the Leisureway lexor TS. Are you familiar with the Lexor TS?
If you want to be even less noticeably an RV, you can get the Travato without any graphics or even without the Travato logos. Our dealership is agreeing to remove the Travato logos for us.
The fridge looks really small and I don’t see a freezer. Have you found these to be problematic for full timing or do you have a work around? Thanks!
It’s short, but quite deep (full counter depth) and has a small freezer in the top inside, about the size of a shoebox. The fridge holds enough for about a week or two for two people, which is as long as we can go without stocking up again on fresh veggies and fruit. We prefer fresh food to frozen, so it works well for us to just shop a bit more often, but if you eat a lot of frozen foods it might not be practical to have such a small freezer. There is a lot of storage in the kitchen for such a small van, though, and we always make it work by modifying how often we shop and what we eat a bit if necessary. Since it’s so nimble, it’s really not much of a pain to go to the store. You just have to be ready to answer a lot of questions and give some tours! 😉
Hi guys. I hope you are all still on line and enjoying your travels. I am seriously considering the Travato K but I have one huge problem I don’t know how to solve. I am only 5’2″ tall. When I sit in the front seat to drive, or the passenger seat…I cannot adjust the seat back. It is impossible. I have to sit forward in the seat, leaning forward a bit to grab the release at the bottom of the seat. In this position, with my hand on the release, my back cannot lean backwards enough to touch the seat back. My arms are too short. Any suggestions on how to resolve this problem?
Hi Barb! Thanks for reading our blog. 🙂
I’m 5’4″ and have a similar problem. It is a really poor design, I agree! One thing that may help, which helped me, is to put a thick pillow behind you so you don’t have to lean back as far to push the seat while also pulling the lever. Once I’m done, I toss the pillow back on the beds. Another thing I’ve done is lean over the seat from a standing position and pull the lever with one arm, while pushing against the seat back with my other elbow. We don’t have to adjust them very often, so it’s not too much of an inconvenience. Thankfully, you can turn the seats without sitting in them, which we do much more frequently! I hope that helps – let me know if you have any other questions! Happy travels!
Kristin, thank you for your reply. I am so struggling trying to make a decision between the Ford Paseo and the Travato K. I am sure you won’t want to suggest anything so here is my question…if it was just you and your dogs and you had to pick one…..which would you pick? The Ford is a bit bigger..larger bathroom, more money…hate the dark color. The K is sweet but I can’t adjust the seat….don’t have to make up the beds thought…I like that. The bench seats in the Ford are not twin beds….too narrow so will have to build a bed each night…but without the insert it is a great place for dog cages. The other question…the wheel span is greater on the T even though it is shorter than the Paseo…although the Paseo has two wheels in the back. I have never driven anything other than a car…so I have no idea which way to go. What would you guys do?
Would you mind sharing?
Hey Barb! If it was just me, I’d definitely choose the Travato. We actually looked at the Paseo before buying ours, and decided that it wasn’t for us. The dually wheels are two more tires you have to check and replace, and don’t add much stability (we find the handling of the Travato to be really good). It also felt claustrophobic to us inside, though that doesn’t bother everyone, it was also why we didn’t choose the Travato G instead of the K. We loved the lightness with all the windows and no walls in the middle, space for dogs and people to move around each other in the hall, and being able to see from the front to back from the front seats.
We’ve also never really liked dinettes or found them to be that practical for anything except eating or computer work, which you also have the small table at the front of the Travato for, and dinette beds are rarely comfortable like a real mattress on a bed for sleeping on long-term – we can always feel the seams between cushions, and the foam is usually not thick enough for proper support. We just added a latex topper to each twin in ours, and they’re quite comfortable now. It’s great not having to make and unmake the bed, too, and figure out where to store the bedding.
If I were you, I’d go to a dealer and spend a few hours there, pretending to do normal things you’d be doing on a daily basis, and see if one feels right to you. We pretended to work on a computer, cook, and sleep in ours, as well as mimic getting ready in the bathroom, and the Travato felt ‘right’ to us. You may find your situation is different though! Good luck, and let me know if you have any additional questions!
We are looking to buy a class B for first time travelling. I am 4’11” and my man is 6’3″. Will we fit? Actually I fit most places, but my man doesn’t. Can the bed be extended? Your info is great so far.
Hi Laurie! The bed on the passenger side in ours is 80″. The bed on the driver’s side is 74″. Even with the beds pushed together, if you slept front to back instead of cross-ways in the van, you’d be fine.
It may be a little low in some areas of the van for him to stand up straight, especially in shoes – the actual ceiling height is 6’3″, but in the bathroom there’s a light that sticks down a few inches, and where the air conditioner is it’s a bit lower too. We don’t spend a lot of time standing in there, though, and while seated he’d be fine. The front seats are from a work van, so designed for larger men.
If you were interested in the Travato G model, the bed is a little bit shorter, at 77″. You can see both floorplans here: https://winnebagoind.com/products/class-b/2016/travato/floorplans
Hope that helps! Let me know if you have any additional questions 🙂
Thank you for your prompt reply. We hope to be looking at the 59K this week in Vermont. Not many places in NH to find one.
We looked at the 59K yesterday and loved it. Chip was ok with the ceiling height. He just brushes it with his hair. What we are concerned about is someone else driving it to the dealer and not taking the precautions with breaking in the engine properly. We were told at one dealer that the drivers frequently tow their own vehicle for their return trip. Not good to tow with a new vehicle according to the specs. We are considering flying or driving a rental to the closest dealer to the factory and working with them. Has anyone done this and how was their experience? Chip is a motorhead and very fussy with our vehicles and paying such a lot of money, he wants the engine to be broken in properly.
Hey Laurie! A lot of people do that, yep! You might join the Travato Owners and Wannabees group on Facebook and see what others have done in regards to that. Lichtsinn RV is supposedly great to work with, right down the road from Winnebago’s factory. Best of luck with the new purchase – hope we see you on the road sometime! 🙂
Great idea. We just purchased our seventh RV, a used Pleasure-Way class b and are planning our first trips. Question: You have pets; how do you secure them in your rig? Ours only has two seat belts. They previously rode with seat belt harnesses. Not sure how to keep them safe. Ideas?
Hi Dan! We let our pups stay loose in the van because they lay on the floor and don’t move around much. We know it’s not the safest method, but they’re happier and more comfortable that way and we don’t have room to travel with crates. We are looking at installing extra lap belts in the rear of our van for any people we need to take with us, but don’t plan on tying the dogs up at this point. If they moved around much while we drove, we would so they aren’t a distraction. We’ve heard of other people installing D-rings in the floor to tie down crates or dog harnesses. Happy travels in your new van!
Here’s our two solutions. First, we installed an eye-bolt in the base of the passenger chair frame. A simple “brace lead” with clips on both ends lets us attach one end to the eye bolt and the other to the dog’s harness. The other option we used is to run a leash around the passenger chair base (quite solid) with the clip attached to the harness. Both work and keep our dogs relatively safe.
So I know this is an old post, but I just stumbled across it while researching the Travato. My husband and I are interested in traveling the country with our our dogs,
and feel that this vehicle would be a great option. Would love to get to know you guys, in the hopes of gaining some of your advice and insights about TV travel. Great blog – thank you for sharing!
Hi Theresa! Sorry for the delay – we’ve been traveling and working quite a bit lately and comments got away from me. We’d love to share any experiences we can with you. Have you purchased a van yet? If not, or even if you have, check out the ‘Travato Owners and Wannabees‘ group on Facebook, if you use Facebook. There’s a lot of people there with a ton of knowledge. They helped us immensely. Let me know if you have any additional questions about traveling with dogs and van life! 🙂
All the images that you are sharing of the RV is awesome. I love to travel with my family or friends. I have a Winnebago Travato RV van for our travelling purposes. I love the B-van. There was plenty of storage space for bringing all the supplies we needed, more living area to entertain or stay indoors in bad weather. But, one disadvantages of this vans is the Travato’s generator hangs pretty low and would be an expensive repair if damaged.
Hi Aaron! That’s very true. Have you added the Sumo Springs to your rear suspension yet? I recently did that, and it added some extra height to the van that helps me clear things now, like concrete stoppers in parking lots when I back in, or sidewalks. I haven’t hit the hitch or generator on anything since adding them, though I am careful about clearances and usually check before I back all the way into a spot. I haven’t had any trouble with speed bumps or most inclines, but I try to take them at more of an angle if possible, with the side opposite the generator exhaust as the low side. If you need details about the Sumo Springs, you can check the Travato Owners group on Facebook. It rides, handles, and performs in high winds a lot nicer with them too!
Hi. Thanks for this great blog. I know this is an old post, BUT…are you still happy with your decision to downsize? Ever miss your Trek or think maybe you should have done something in between, like a b plus? Isn’t it a pain leveling your class B each time you pull into a place without having leveling jacks?
BTW, I ask because I still own my first MH which is a class B and I find myself longing for more space and leveling jacks. I’m trying to resist the urge to over-react and am trying to decide between something like a small class A (like a Tiffin Allegro Breeze or a Newmar Bay Star Sport), a b plus (like a Leisure Unity Corner Bed), or a small C like a Winnebago Navion 24J. There are 3 of us, my wife, my daughter and me.
Hi Dan! Very happy with the decision to downsize, but ease of driving/parking and fitting into smaller campgrounds was a higher priority over bringing a lot of stuff with me or having a lot of space indoors. I use the van mostly for sleeping, sometimes working, and the kitchen/bath, and am almost always out exploring or sitting outdoors, so indoor space is lower priority than getting to the places I want to go easily. The “b plus” options are a nice compromise, if you need an extra bed and don’t want just a convertible dinette for your daughter. You might check out the Travato owner’s group on Facebook for ideas from people who travel with more than two people – some good options and advice there. I did drive a Navion and a Trend, and both were quite easy to handle.
I like the Travato, but am not a fan of wet baths. Wonder if replacing the wardrobe with a shower is cost prohibitive? Is the bed on the gallery side removable for a wardrobe and a chair-desk set?
Hi there! I’d recommend looking at a different model maybe – I think the entire bathroom would have to be reconfigured in that case, since the shower pan and toilet surround is all one piece. Winnebago might work with you on a custom build, if you reached out out to them. They did some work with the Fit RV to change some things in theirs. I really don’t mind the wet bath, but I use it rarely, as I typically use campground or gym showers, or a friend’s/family member’s when I’m driveway camping. It’s not too cramped and with the addition of some shower curtains around the inside, nothing but the floor gets wet. I added a teak mat that dries quickly, and place a quick-drying bath rug over that after I shower so I have something dry to stand on. The beds both cover quite a few things – the fresh water tank, Truma heater/furnace, and water pump and lines. I wouldn’t recommend removing them, but some people have reshaped them to be desks and such. The Travato Owner’s group on Facebook has lots of ideas, if you search there. Good luck!
It does appear that the American’s *need* their half-price televisions. Certainly not worthy of lining up in a crowd or getting in a physical fight over one…
Good article & excellent way to articulate. Keep it up.