Drove to Ventura to see the Winnebago Travado on the Dodge Promaster; first visit my brother met me at Barber RV. I was glad for the company wanting to revisit the Travado after seeing the Aktiv. I’d seen the Travado several years ago and had not been impressed but changes have been made to the rig and my thinking now is different. I’m better able to understand the crowded interior as providing Class C like options in a smaller motorhome. Class B’s advantage is in the tight maneuvering, ability to park in a regular parking space and to go most anywhere a car can go. This makes the Class B motorhome a great rig for travelers who do not look to settle into a location but rather tend to keep moving. The B is perfect in areas as diverse as boondocking at wilderness camps next to a lake or high in the mountains without need for external hookups to exploring major cities being able to merge with city traffic and utilize available street parking. Those traveling in a larger motorhome, a trailer or a 5th wheel (etc) need to have a tow vehicle or a rental to use for exploration.
The Class B motorhome is fully self-contained and is built on a van body. The type of van varies, older B’s have been built on the Dodge Ram 3500 Van which is what I have, the Ford and the Chevy Van, to the more modern Mercedes Sprinter, the Dodge Promaster and the Ford Transit. This is not a complete list, other vehicles have been used. Manufacture of the motorhome is crafted onto the van with different layouts, quality and styles. Here’s a very quick video that explains it a bit. Or for a little longer explanation check this.
In searching for my next motorhome I need to make concessions esp. in price and cabin spaciousness and unless I import from Europe or am able to find time and resources to design my own am faced with limited options. Class B’s tend to be the most expensive of the types (except for the top end Class A luxury) and not many are made. Mark asked good questions, Chuck, the salesman was friendly and easygoing. He turned the generator and air conditioner on so I could hear them and allowed me all the time I wanted. He showed Mark and I the Winnebago Trend, a nice class C and a small Class A both on the Promaster at 25 feet. Sitting in the cab of the small Class A was the most exciting, there is so much room, I felt insulated and spoiled, if I had the space to park a 25 foot rig I might be tempted.
I returned about a week later with my friend Sue to do a test drive of the Travado. I have dreams of taking her along on a trip, I find her company soothes me and she, like I, is not attached and so can travel with me and the dogs. The table in the front (this is the G model there is also a K model with no table but has twin beds and the bathroom in the back)) converts into a second bed. This is a perfect area for my dogs to ride right behind the driver’s seat. The bed in back is like the Aktiv, a Murphy style allowing a partial walk through with storage underneath the bed; the mattress is thinner and easier to fold up but very comfortable as it employs a cleaver spring like device. On the other side is the rear side bathroom. Sue was amazing; curious and inquisitive trying everything, the fit of the bathroom which was very tight, prodding into the cabinets, the large refrigerator, the decent closet, we hopped on both beds and spun the drivers chair around in the table configuration for a hand at an imaginary game of cards over our imaginary drinks. She is fun to have along. It was Sue that said, yes please get the mechanic as we were checking the Promaster engine. The mechanic happily explained all and was the one who came along on our test drive. We both took a turn at the wheel; this is when I discovered that I truly liked driving and sitting in the Promaster. It was comfortable and responsive. I would be very happy covering long distances like this. We were given as much time as we wanted and I came close to thinking this could be the rig for me.
My complaints however started to grow on me. The front table could not be removed, it could be lowered to make the bed but would not detach and it blocked ease of access from the drivers / passengers seats into the cab. Removing it would allow easy placement of the dog’s crates but the table was necessary to make the area into a bed. The door screens were flimsy, if one of my dogs looked at them too hard there would be damage, they seemed made out paper and were unstable in their tracks. The bathroom curved sliding door likewise was asking for trouble. The interior laminate veneer walls were thin with an air space behind them, some of the veneer was already chipping. My dogs are not little gentle fluff balls, nor am I, it worried me that I’d be replacing damaged interiors. Even a Command Stick On could tear those things. The rig needs cubbies and shelves yet will pose a challenge to attach such without damage or falling off, the salesman said I wouldn’t want to put screws in that thin stuff and suction mounts will likely not stay except for very light items. Similarly the one piece modular bathroom enclosure would be challenging to install additional shelving, like for the dogs grooming equipment . . . then I stared dreaming . . . would be so cool if the back of the shower/bath opened in the back with a door, a recessed door to hold some storage items. The toilet could be moved far forward to allow room for getting in and the entire bathroom stall/enclosure moved up or shortened an inch or so from the back and rounded a little on the bed facing corner to allow a bit of a side view and air flow….. I could pop the dog’s right in from the rear door for a cleaning which would be fantastic; hang an air dryer and I could avoid mounds of sand and dirt tracking in. The bathroom door should slide open or push back all the way towards the bed so one could just slide off the bed into the bath… would be so much easier. Then there’s the TV. It’s useless in its current location unless you have the neck of a giraffe so would need to be moved. Maybe it could be attached to the bathroom wall, except that wall is too thin and weak or fitted behind the fold up area of the bed. Well, seems I’d just want to redesign a bit, sigh.
Travado enthusiasts have posted a plethora of modifications and projects, yet to buy it as is seems to be a work in progress. I would need some ingenuity, time and money to reconfigure and modify. Would be fun but given the 6 to 8 weeks to get the rig and then time for a shake out and repairs I’d likely not have the time and maybe not the money. Taking all into consideration along with how tight it is for my friend, my dislike of the thin interior walls and other issues doesn’t give me the wow factor that would make it easy to spend so much.
I did not dislike the Travado, I liked it better than the Aktiv, but I did not have the chance to get to know the Aktiv as well as the Travado. The Travado met my 2 biggest wishes, a second adult bed and an enclosed bath/shower in a rig less than 22 feet. It’s fun to drive and they are are improving with every model.
Sue and I had a great lunch, a real treat for me as I am so often along with my dogs.
After eating we headed to Thousand Oaks to see some other rigs continuing my search! I’ll cover that in the next post.
I love to follow the Fit RV; they currently have a Travado and have done such great modifications that their ideas have been incorporated into the updated models. Here’s a link to their list of updates.