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Our First RV Experience

August 10, 2016 RV Lifestyle Tips & Tools

My wife and I recently purchased a 2016 Leisure Unity CB… our first ever experience of owning a recreational vehicle. Now… we’ve didn’t just wake up one morning and decide to purchase one (though almost), but had been poking around at the idea for a couple of years. We initially looked at small tear drop style pull-behinds and migrated our way to larger 5th wheels. After much thought about our active lifestyle, we decided an all in one vehicle with easy maneuverability would most likely work best for us.

One day I called our local Leisure Van dealer just to inquire if they happen to have a corner bed unit we could look at. The salesman I spoke with said they just had one delivered via order that the owner wasn’t able to take delivery of. We headed to the dealership the next day “just to look”. Well… the salesman gave us an offer we just couldn’t ignore… and after considering our expenses, long term goals and excitement about new possibilities we made the decision to purchase. We totally lucked out though! We had done pretty extensive internet research on Leisure Vans, the company & products and had watched quite a few of the videos, including one posted by a couple that did a factory tour. The attention to detail and manufacturing process completely sold me on what a great, quality product Leisure Vans creates.

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We made arrangements to pick up our new Unity on Saturday. From the dealership, we planned to go straight to a local state park and spend the remaining weekend learning how to operate the RV’s systems. This is where our first challenge began… figuring out which equipment would be necessary to help with the RV experience. We did quite a bit of research on the internet and even read the online manuals for our Unity before we picked it up. From there, we made an Excel list separating the essentials and options and prioritizing items we would need immediately and items that could wait.

spreadsheet

Of course, essential items comprised mostly of exterior setup products, leveling blocks, water hoses, and anything associated to dump tank processes. I evaluated many different options; everything from self-made to purchased and ready to use. One item I was a little leery of (based on mixed reviews) was the use of plastic leveling blocks. But, after two trips, I’ve been completely happy with the choice I’ve made.

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One of the other items that I put some more extensive research into was a propane grill. I didn’t want to be hindered by having to purchase and transport separate propane bottles and wanted to be able to make full use of the quick-connect propane hookup that is included on the Leisure Vans. Many of the RV specific grills are more expensive than basic bottled propane grills. The problem is that the bottled propane grills come with a regulator, which is not necessary or wanted when connecting to the Unity’s propane tank. After some searching I purchased Cabela’s propane grill, which comes with a regulated valve which I ditched, and then purchased a separate not regulated valve and quick-connect hose off of Amazon.com. The system works great!

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To complement our RV living, we looked at various accessories that take minimal space, help eliminate rattle and help with general organization. We’ve since found a small collapsible table that supports the grill, a small foldable step stool to assist with the awning and various accessories.

Some final accessories we’ve found helpful are android phone apps for locating RV related conveniences. Everything from dump stations, free boon-docking locations, various RV site ratings, and even a bubble level application. I also found a checklist application with RV specific lists that can be completely configured to your individual needs within the app itself or via Excel.

Android App Recommendations:

apps

I’m currently researching various options for transporting our bikes. We have both road and mountain bikes that we’d like to transport during many of our adventures. I’ve seen some that offer full enclosure and some that provides minimal protection. I’m looking for something that provides a very secure system with protection, but ease of use. Based on what I envision, I may have to modify something that can be purchased. But for now, placing the bikes inside while moving (though not ideal) is completing the task.

We are looking forward to many more trips in our RV and currently have plans to attend the Albuquerque Balloon Festival and make a weeklong trip to Jamestown New York and the Niagara area of Canada.

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Kurt & Teresa Pennington

Kurt Pennington and his wife Teresa are individuals that participate in an active lifestyle type of life. Everything... or anything outdoors is our attraction. Our main forms of recreation are cycling, running and occasionally doing some adventure races or other outdoor activities. Kurt works as an application engineer and Teresa is a marketing director for Active.com.

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  • Peter Barrett

    Thanks for this article. We just purchased a Unity last week and took a trip to Edmonton (we live in Victoria). Great apps…thanks for sharing.
    Peter and Patricia Barrett
    Victoria BC

  • Beth

    Did you get the regular dinette or U shaped? If U shaped, what are your thoughts? This is the model I am looking to get eventually.

    • Kurt Pennington

      Beth…. we got the U-shaped and LOVE it!… it allows us the flexibility to have more than just the two of us at the table if we like. If one of us is just being lazy or relaxing, you can also stretch out along the back bench portion. I also feel it adds a little more ‘class’ to the interior.

      • Beth

        Thanks! Seems whenever I find a unity Cornerbed on RV’s trader, it has the regular, not the U shaped dinette. Can you post a picture on this disqus section? Or send me one at bethersk@gmail.com

  • Sy

    Regarding your bike transport dilemma, check out Saris Freedom Superclamp for 2 or 4 bikes. Pricey, but well worth the money for its ease of use, lightweight but sturdiness.

  • Duke

    Thanks for the details. Katy and I just order a Leisure Unity for delivery next April. I hope to see what you decide for your bikes. I am starting that research now.
    Duke Downey

    • Kathy

      Did you order from the factory or the dealer? What type of down payment was required at the time or did you have to finance the whole amount with the order?

      • Duke

        Ordered from Holland RV. Minimal amount down. Will pay in full when delivered. No financing.

      • Mary Ann

        We ordered10 months ago from dealer. $5000 down.

  • David Carter

    My wife and I love those RV’s too. Out of curiosity, why did you want the model with the corner bed? Is there enough room for the two of you? Neither my wife or I are big people but it looks small ! Thanks

    • Kurt Pennington

      David… we choose the corner bed so that if one person wanted to stay in bed, they could while the other made use of the entire RV. Our thought with the MB units is that one the MB was deployed, it used most to all of the living space. We also like that with the corner bed, we have a much larger living space in case we want to invite a few friends over. My wife and I are thinner people… I’m about 5′-10″… and fit in the bed just fine, though I do use a smaller (narrow) pillow so as to give me more space.

      • Daniel Craig

        Kurt, thanks so much for taking the time to reply. You answered a very important question for us. My wife and I are also thin as I too am 5’10 but we often wondered if the corner Bd was large enough. We have an RV show in town next weekend and a dealer in the state is now carrying them and will have them at the show. Safe travel and many thanks.

      • David Carter

        Kurt,….thanks so much for taking the time to answer my question. It was great to hear that answer from an actual user and not a sales person. My wife and I appear to be around the same size as you and your wife so that should work. We have an RV show in town next weekend and one of the state’s dealers is now carrying LTV and is bringing a Unity, not sure which model. We are going to check them out. Many thanks and safe travels !!

        • Eduardo Paz

          Great question I’m looking at the island bed. I like all the space in the bedroom my friend is trying to talk me out of it.. He think i would need more space around the table! and not so much around the bedroom section. so Pro’s Con’s for the Island bed? (looking for any opinions)

          • Teri Lancaster

            go with the Island bed!! we have the fold down couch that makes the bed and I wish we had got either the two twins that make a king or the island bed. the corner couch that is the same set up as the corner bed makes it a little challenging to get out of the bed in the dark and get into the bathroom. the corner of the couch is almost right up against the bathroom door.
            we RARELY spend our time inside ‘sitting around the table’ by the time we are inside its about time for shower and to bed. As well as I’m thinking that after being on the road a great deal that having the shower across from the toilet in both the twins and island would be much more functional.

  • bart4u

    I love the Leisure Travel Vans but they really need a real locker storage area for things such as a bikes. Room for at least two bikes. For me I would want that and I would get the trailer hitch devise that would carry my Vespa scooter. Thanks for your App selections.

    • Vince

      I too love the Leisure Travel Van twin bed Unity model. I am considering the Nicova 101 model for carrying two bikes plus extra items in the enclosed case.

      • bart4u

        I saw the Nicova 101. Looks like you have to break down the bike to fit in the case. I wish Leisure Travel Vans would extend the rear of their coaches 2-4 feet so a bike or a Vespa scooter could be loaded up in the rear with a ramp. I see in their videos about how the salesman can put in golf clubs in their rear storage. I would think more people would use bikes more than golf clubs. I would also like to get a roof for a Kayak. In a few years when I retire I will be getting a RV but just doing my research for right now.

        • Christopher

          I don’t want to see the coach get any longer, but I definitely want to see bike storage. The way I picture it is one of two ways: take the existing twin bed model (this is what I bought) and turn it into a full-time king bed configuration (I’m 6’4″), eliminating the center nightstand and shelves, raising it a couple of inches and perhaps shifting the under-and behind-the-bed plumbing/vent pipes a bit so that you can create access to all that storage area under and behind the bed, via a bike-wide access door on the rear or side. Even better if this storage space slides out on a tray!

          The other way being to combine the existing space behind the twin bed on the passenger side and combine it with the storage below making one larger/taller space with a correspondingly larger/taller door, also gain more depth from the space used by the nightstand and possibly shift the freshwater tank forward.

          At any rate, please, yes LTV, build in some interior bike storage!!

    • Gail Kelleher

      See my photo above. The company that makes this box also makes carriers for scooters. I love this box as it protects my bikes and provides additional storage.

  • Acheet Mapanz

    Consider towing a Honda Fit, Bikes on top or small 10 Foot Customized Cargo Trailer.
    Then you can wave at the $350,000 +++ Class A Motorhomes as you head to the mountains..
    Adios Suckahzzz! Got me a Leisure Travel!

  • Sherry Hammalian

    I have a 2016 Unity MB. We tow a honda fit and would like to put a 2 bike platform rack on the Unity while towing the Honda Fit. Any recommendations. Also any recommendations for a dual hitch that works with our Unity. Thanks for any help you can give.

    • Christopher

      If I were willing to tow a vehicle, I would put the bikes in the back of the towed vehicle, as I normally do when just using my RAV4 to go somewhere. I have a hitch-mounted carrier for it when carrying passengers in the rear seats (almost never), but otherwise I prefer the security of keeping the bikes inside the vehicle.

  • Gail Kelleher

    I use my unity to take long road trips across the U.S. and often to Canada. I always travel with a couple of bikes. I worried about my bikes hanging out in the open air during rainy weather and despite securing them with a cable lock, I had one stolen–while I was sleeping in the unit!! So,when I spotted what I think of as a bike closet when I was visiting Quebec, I tracked it down and got one. Love it. Keeps the bikes dry and safe–the doors lock and people tell me that they have no idea that there are bikes inside. In addition, I store lots of extra items in there, up to 150 lbs. Can only be purchased and installed on site at its location southwest of Montreal. Komo, the family-owned business, designs many custom hitches for rvs and cars to carry motocycles, handicap vehicles, etc. Check out the photos. (having a problem uploading one photo of the open box. will keep trying)

  • Gail Kelleher

    View of the inside of the Komo bike carrier. I had to crop it to load it here. Hard to see but the box has metal clamps inside that help to secure extra items behind the bikes–I put folding chairs and biking items like shoes and helmet and beach towels in there.

  • Kurt Pennington

    Gail – I like that setup for an enclosed bike carrier. I notice on your Leisure Van the tail-lights are vertical… on mine they’re horizontal and I fear I’d loose sight of at least two, one being a reflector and the other being an actual tail light. I did end up going with a cargo rack/carrier for the time being. It was relatively inexpensive and has worked out well… though the bikes aren’t protected from the elements. Our plan is to eventually get a small trailer or possibly even tow a small vehicle, where I’d hope to be able to place the bikes inside. I’ve attached a photo so you and other can see…

  • Jody Mooney

    Thanks for the article Kurt and Tersea. We are picking up our Unity IB on the 26 November 16 and while I’m so excited i’m a bit nervous. I’m hoping we can boondock on our way home. This is too our first RV and we are very active people. I feel that I need to have a list of the most important things to remember when boon docking, or having the van sit for 2 weeks. We also had the dealer install a WiFi Ranger Elite as my wife needs WiFi as she is an author. Do you have any suggestions on a list of the most important steps to remember? Thanks

    • Kurt Pennington

      Hi Jody. I’m sure by now you’ve taken your Unity out! We are loving ours and have taken quite a few trips with it this year already. Some have been short (1-2) days, but we also did an 11 day trip up into New York State from Dallas. Initially I did use a Checklist app and still refer back to it occasionally for longer excursions or maintenance items. I would say the most important thing is to get into a routine of when leaving, and when arriving … basically setup and tear-down as I refer to it. Before heading out, we always make sure everything internal is secure. We start the refrigerator as soon possible also… and even add some ice packs to assist with the initial cool down. For the exterior, I check the surroundings, lock all the storage areas and check the tires. Probably the most important thing for me, is to take my time and not rush… think about the ‘checklist’ in my head. I do the same when we arrive some place. I kinda do a sequence of items… Level the van, hook up electricity if available, extend stabilizers, hook up water, extend slide out. I try to do the stabilizers and slide out with electric hookup, just because I figure I get better power for the motors… though I know the battery or generator can handle it fine too. When we leave, I basically reverse the process and disconnect the electricity towards the end, after I’ve made sure to switch all interior items off the AC power.

      Hope this helps… everyone eventually determines what works best for them. Again…. what I think most important is to take your time and not be rushed… go at your pace and think about what you did or need to do.