I never actually thought I’d be an RV owner. Growing up with parents who were firm believers in the “tent-or-nothing” style of camping, an RV of any make, model, or style seemed out of reach. In fact, I briefly went through a period of time when I actually teased friends who owned RVs that they weren’t actually camping because they could sleep in a real bed at night.
Then I changed my mind.
Alaskans have an interesting relationship with RVs; either they own one and love it to pieces, or they despise the very sight of this lumbering chassis making its way down the Seward Highway, usually carrying a load of tourists and driving 10-15 miles under the speed limit. And while I place a pox on those who refuse to pull over and let the mile-long stretch of cars pass from behind, I have now joined the legions of happy recreational vehicle owners, with some help from my friends at Great Alaskan Holidays.
After visiting with know-it-all Corbin last fall and learning just how and why the RV market survives and thrives in Alaska, AK Dad and I did some serious thinking. Was it time to invest in something with a roof, hard sides, and a stove for rainy days and chilly nights? How and where did we start looking? There’s nothing I despise more than making big decisions that involve lots of cash, but the guys at Great Alaskan Holidays helped from the start, even though the ultimate outcome wasn’t what they or we expected.
Great Alakan Holidays is known for its stellar RV rental service, a post about which you can read HERE. But they also sell new and pre-owned RVs (sometimes by the company, as models are retired for after two to three years of rental service). With an on-site shop and parts/equipment store, the stage is set for lifelong ownership and maintenance, which for newbies like us made a lot of difference.
Here are suggestions from the Great Alaskan Holidays team:
1. Fit the RV to your family. Will you be eating, sleeping, and playing indoors or out? Is space for everyone and everyone in his or her space a priority? Consider things like kids sleeping together or separate, tub versus shower, bed location, and more. With every added passenger, space becomes more of a premium. We recommend taking every person in the family along to inspect RV size, then adding one or two more in case kids bring friends. See how everyone fits with sleeping quarters, in particular. Trailers range from 18 feet to 32 feet; RV’s between 24-31; motorhomes even larger.
2. Consider your budget. Great Alaskan Holidays offers pre-owned fleet models starting at $43,000; not too bad for a year-old rig. In previous posts I mentioned that these RVs are in tip-top condition, with 117-point inspections performed on a regular basis; with a shop on-site, you can rest assured the maintenance can be stress-free (almost). In addition, if a new RV is the only way to go, take advantage of Great Alaskan’s pre-sale program whereby one can save up to $8,000 with a deposit now and the balance due upon delivery in September. Crunch the numbers if you like with the help of the company’s helpful sales staff. They are not pushy at all, by the way, and really know their stuff.
3. Look at your lifestyle. Many Alaska campgrounds fit smaller RVs and trailers, especially those managed by public lands agencies like the US Forest Service, Park Service, and Alaska State Parks. If these are your preferred style of campground, often more rustic, a large trailer or RV might not fit places you’d like to visit. Also consider that a plethora of dirt roads can be tough on an RV, so backroads full of dips and heaves might not be the ideal situation. We fit somewhere in the middle, and opted for a 20-foot Gulfstream trailer that our SUV can pull with ease. It also has bunks for AK Kid and a buddy to use, while AK Dad and I take the front area of the trailer. It feels just right, and that’s how it should be for this transition from tent to not-tent.
Great Alaskan Holidays has an excellent service department and store where “the little things” RVs require can be found. Hoses, brushes, mats, and stuff I never thought I needed are there. The store is on-site, located on Old Seward Highway between Dimond and O’Malley, and is open seven days a week. Parts for Winnebago, Ford, Itasca are available, with helpful technicians to help diagnose and solve just about any problem.
AK Dad and I searched for three years before we settled happily upon our little Gulfstream, and I must thank the team at Great Alasksan Holidays for their patience. I asked so many questions and each time received an honest answer, personal service, and even a tour of the shop. Have questions? These guys have answers, and if you’re like us, that makes all the difference for such a big investment.