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What it’s like going from a Motorhome to a Fifth Wheel

Ever wondered what it is like going from a motorhome to a fifth wheel? We have been experiencing just that for the past five weeks and we’re ready to share all, what surprised us, what we like, and what we don’t like.

If you are a regular here at the RV Lifestyle, you know that for the past 10 years, Jennifer and I have been traveling exclusively in motorhomes – Class B campervans, Class B+ big campervans, and Class C small motorhomes.

But in early May, we bought a 32 1/2 foot Arcadia Fifth Wheel and have now put about 1,000 miles on it, camping across four states. We talk about that experience and answer your RV Lifestyle questions and share some tips in this week’s Episode #399 of the Podcast.

You can watch the video version below:

You can hear the audio-only version on your favorite podcast app or click the player below:

Why we have gone from a Motorhome to a Fifth Wheel

As we explain in the podcast, we still have our Class C motorhome, a 2020 Leisure Travel Vans Wonder. We have loved the Wonder and although we will probably be soon putting it up for sale, our switch to the larger fifth wheel is because of a new emphasis we are placing on staying put in various areas longer.

We decided late last year – our 10th year of doing this – that we wanted to use our RV as more of a base camp that we could set up to and use for longer periods of time in one location. We would then venture out from that location to more thoroughly explore a region.

One of those areas is in Mid-Tennessee. Last fall, we bought five acres of heavily wooded mountaintop near the town of Linden and we have been developing it into what will be a private RV retreat for us. We see the fifth wheel being used a lot there. In fact, this podcast was recorded at Paradise Landing, not far from our Linden property.

Mike and Jennifer Wendland talking about What it’s like going from a Motorhome to a Fifth Wheel
Recording at Paradise Landing

We would like to get similar land in Northern Michigan. We’d also like to do some extended trips in the Arcadia where we can park it in a centrally located area and venture off in our truck to thoroughly explore various regions.


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What’s different about the Fifth Wheel?

In the podcast, we share our initial impressions about switching from a motorhome to a fifth wheel.

Driving

In a motorhome, you just go. In a Fifth Wheel, it’s a bit more complicated. You need to back your tow vehicle into position (using a spotter helps!), and hitch your Fifth Wheel up.

It’s not instinctive and after maybe a dozen times of doing so, I’m almost comfortable doing it.

Driving a small motorhome (unless you are towing a vehicle) is also generally a bit easier.

With a Fifth Wheel, you are not that much less than the length of an 18-wheeler. That means wider turns and much more use of the mirror. And slower speeds. No more than 65.

But my overall impression after 1,000 miles is that towing is much less intimidating than I expected.

As far as mileage goes, my Wonder Class C motorhome is 12.5 miles per gallon. Towing the Fifth Wheel, I’m getting pretty much the same with our F-250 towing truck.

Unhitching

In a small motorhome, you pull in, level up, hook up, and are done.

In a Fifth Wheel, you first have to get in the spot. That’s why I picked drive-through spots during our first few outings. But most campsites are back-in and that is not easy (see the story we just published called Backing up an RV).

Practice makes perfect and I’m getting better. But I have lots more practice to do. Let me leave it at that.

Unhitching is pretty easy, though you need to get the leveling jacks out. My biggest frustrations to date have been with the supposedly automatic leveling system. Except for maybe two or three times, every campsite we’ve been to has seen the auto-leveling system fail, forcing me to do a manual level.

But I’m adjusting to that, too, and I’m slowly figuring it out.

arcadia 5th wheel and truck What it’s like going from a Motorhome to a Fifth Wheel

Room! The Biggest Difference in Going from a Motorhome to a Fifth Wheel

Where to begin. We are luxuriating in the room we have. The comfort we have.

A nice comfy queen-sized bed. A real kitchen table with real chairs that also doubles as a work area.

The L-shaped sofa that also makes for a perfect place to nap.

A big shower with really hot water. Larger black, gray, and freshwater tanks.

A kitchen/galley area with room, a real oven, and a massive cupboard.

Panoramic picture windows that let the outside in.

A fireplace.

So much storage space we haven’t even begun to fill it up.

And more. We’ll soon do a video walkthrough that gives you a tour of our Arcadia. But for now, let me say that the room and comfort make us wish we had bought a Fifth Wheel a long time ago.

Anyone else go from a Motorhome to a Fifth Wheel?

If so, we’d love to hear your experiences and get your advice.

Use the comments below!

Where to go next?


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7 Responses to “What it’s like going from a Motorhome to a Fifth Wheel”

June 11, 2022at9:37 pm, Shirley Hemphill said:

We have been camping for many years. Starting with a canvas pop up to a hardside pop up. Then a travel trailer. After that we have had a small motorhome and a large one. Also we have had three 5th wheels. We have alternated between the last two. We love both the motorhomes and 5th wheels. Both have their advantages. It does not take much to transfer from one to the other. We love traveling and camping with family and friends.

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June 13, 2022at9:08 am, Team RV Lifestyle said:

That progression sounds very similar to Mike and Jen! Thanks for sharing, Shirley! Team RV Lifestyle

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June 11, 2022at9:10 pm, Bev Parkison said:

We love both of my RVs! A 35.5’ fifth wheel and a Northern Lite truck mounted camper. The same one ton truck is used for each one. The 5th wheel is for longer stays and wintering and the TC is perfect for moving often and off the grid. We really like having a choice.

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June 13, 2022at9:07 am, Team RV Lifestyle said:

It is nice to have a choice, isn’t it? Thanks for sharing! Team RV Lifestyle

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June 08, 2022at4:57 pm, Deborah Beck said:

We had 2 Winnebago motorhomes and switched to a Keystone Cougar 5th wheel 3 years ago. We love the extra room, the fireplace, the kitchen island, and the pantry. We also love having the truck to run around in. Also, my dog was terrified in the MH, but has no problem riding in the back seat of my truck. My husband is great at backing into a site, as well as maneuvering in and out of a gas station or a campground. The queen bed is a bit cramped, as we have a king at home, but we make do. Not having an extra engine to maintain is a big plus.

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June 09, 2022at10:42 am, Team RV Lifestyle said:

Thank you for sharing this, Deborah. There are so many things to enjoy! Team RV Lifestyle

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June 08, 2022at9:42 am, Gene Bjerke said:

Gee. You can pull the shades and pretend you never left home.

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