We’ve Chosen Our Next RV!

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Since we’ve been hinting about this on our Facebook page for a while, it’s time we came clean.

We’re getting a Travato!!

To be more specific, the next Fit RV will be a bright yellow 2016 Winnebago Travato 59G.  Now, yellow isn’t one of the standard colors offered for the Travato, and that requires some explanation.

If you’ve read our blog for the last couple months, it’s pretty obvious we were intrigued with the Travato. And it’s also pretty obvious we get along famously with the cool folks from Winnebago. Recently, when we were in Forest City, Iowa for a factory tour, we saw this little guy sitting in a big row of ProMaster chassis.

Yeah, we feel like it's a "he".

Yeah, we feel like it’s a “he”.

Well when we saw the lone beacon of yellow in the sea of silver and red chassis, it called out to us, in a very visual way. We had to ask about it… and then we started talking about it… and here we are today. We didn’t visit Winnebago with any intention of buying a new coach, but sometimes things just work out.

If you’ve followed the Travato, you’ll know that Winnebago has been rapidly improving and refining the design since it came out. They don’t intend to stop, and this is one of the things that we like about them. When we were talking with them about what we would want in our next coach, they also had a number of new concepts they wanted to try out. We naturally had some ideas we wanted them to incorporate as well. What we finally arrived at would best be described as a “concept RV”.

Our “concept” Travato is going to have some unique features, and I’m sure you’d expect nothing less from my next RV. It will be one of a kind, and we’re thrilled to have Winnebago take this on for us. (Stef is especially thrilled, because I don’t think she was really all that excited for me to build another RV from scratch.) I’ll go into detail on the new features next time I write. Think of our RV as an experiment: some of these things may make their way into production, some may not. Either way, please don’t go to your dealer expecting anything you see in our RV to be available as an option – because we’re not sure if that’s possible or reasonable.

It's safe to say, we won't misplace it.

It’s safe to say, we won’t misplace it.

So what happens now?

Well, our new RV is supposed to be ready during the first half of July, in Forest City. What’s cool about that is that YOU CAN JOIN US ON OUR SHAKEDOWN CRUISE! That’s right; we’ll be taking our new RV on its maiden voyage for the Driftless Adventure, put together by Winnebago Outdoor Adventures.

This isn’t just for Winnebago coaches! If you aren’t familiar with them, Winnebago Outdoor Adventures plans group RV trips for ANYONE who wants to sign-up. This will be, very literally, our first time in the coach, and we’d be delighted to have you along to celebrate with us. This will be a four day trip through Iowa, Wisconsin, Illinois, and Minnesota, but it’s only open to RVs 26 feet and under due to some restrictions along the way. We’ll be writing more about this soon, but in the meantime, you can read about the Driftless Adventure here.

Don’t Worry – We’re Still Us!

If you’re worried that this is the end of The Fit RV as you know it, don’t be!  Sure, we’ll be rolling in a shiny new Travato, but that doesn’t mean we don’t still like seeing what’s new in small RVs. I’m too much of an RV junkie to give that up; so you’ll still see us reviewing RVs into the future. And the RV tips and experiments will continue as well. We don’t intend to become industry puppets, and Winnebago doesn’t want us to. In fact, they actually made a point of saying that. They don’t want us to change a thing we’re doing. So, props to the Winnebegans.

But! Where Winnebago really does want to work with us is in promoting a more active and healthy style of RVing! We couldn’t be happier to have such a cool and well-known partner in spreading The Fit RV message. We (and I’m including the Winnebegans in that “we”) are very excited about this part of our future, and we hope you are, too.

He's an empty van now, but just wait...

He’s an empty van now, but just wait…

So – how’s that for a major update? Exciting stuff, right?

Obviously, lots more details to come, so stay tuned, and stay healthy on the road!

James is a former rocket scientist, a USA Cycling coach, and lifelong fitness buff. When he's not driving the RV, or modifying the RV (or - that one time - doing both at once), you can find him racing bicycles, or building furniture, or making music. In his spare time, he works for a large IT company.

    77 thoughts on “We’ve Chosen Our Next RV!

    1. Mark R Villano

      I was looking over your initial 5 point criteria and the deal breakers there-in, and find it odd that you chose this particular rig. Considering that it doesn’t have a fixed / “dedicated” bedroom, or a dry bath, and I’m not sure whether or not you optioned the diesel. Just seems an odd choice, when for that extra foot over your 24′ max, a Leisure Travel Unity IB would be so much closer to what you initially said you were looking for. Guessing that it came down to dollars and cents, which is always a big, if not the biggest factor for most of us, (aside from bike storage).
      Regardless; I hope that you’re happy with the Travato, and that it provides you with many years of safe travel, and great memories.

      1. James - Post author

        Hi Mark –
        I actually ran down our five criteria (and more) in the very next post I did on this RV.
        Lance doesn’t have a dry bath, but after living with it for a while, Stef and I agree it’s not as big a deal as we had thought. We just couldn’t have dealt with one of those tiny Sprinter wet baths where you have to lean towards the center of the van to stand up. The one in our Travato is HUGE. And we actually do consider the bed permanent – yes it folds, but we don’t have to make and unmake it each day to use the RV. Also, one person can remain in bed and the rest of the RV is fully functional without having to crawl over them. It was really the daily cushion-swapping-bed-making-thing that was driving us insane, and the 50g “murphy” bed eliminates that.
        But, like you said, the main thing is that we’re happy with and having a blast… which we are!
        Thanks for chiming in. See you on the road!

    2. Paul Banbury

      Congratulations! We have been avidly digesting the blog and vids- nice work! We are almost sold on a 59K, and have a few months of travel to do before we order or look for a used one, so we read you for every detail.

      Like- you mention the 59G bed is wider than your bed at home-? We must be misreading the specs- we see that it is 47″ wide. If we are wrong this could be good news.

      1. James - Post author

        You’ve got the 59G bed dimensions correct. It is narrow.
        I think maybe you were thinking of the twin beds in the 59k? The longer of the two is 80 inches long – which is the same as a standard queen mattress. That’s what we have at home.
        Stef and I still like each other, so we think we’ll be fine in the narrow bed (47″) in the 59G. 🙂

      1. James - Post author

        Hi Mark!
        I checked out your link. The front half looks really similar to the Travato. The back half is completely different. Interesting.

    3. Bob

      Looked over your list of “must-haves”, then your wish list. Will be interested in how you do with the black tank – only 15 gallon (though better than a Roadtrek Zion at 9.6!). Noticed that ERA with Sprinter does offer a 22 gallon on the 70C. Is there no room with the ProMaster chassis for larger?

      Agree that 30 would be really nice. I heard on a video somewhere (yours?) that Winnebago makes their own tanks, so they do not have to rely on only what the supplier has.

    4. Highlander

      James, Lithium? Cutting edge stuff right there!

      Climate Resistance
      Lead acid batteries and lithium lose their capacity in cold environments. Lithium-ion batteries are much more efficient at low temperatures. Moreover, the discharge rate affects the performance of lead acid batteries. At -20°C, a Lithium battery that delivers a 1C current (one times its capacity), can deliver more than 80% of its energy when the AGM battery will deliver 30% of its capacity. For harsh environments (hot and cold), Lithium-Ion is the technological choice.

    5. Ken

      What made you choose the 59G vs the 59K?

      I think the biggest reason for not getting a diesel is then you have to go with a LP generator. The small 6 gal capacity of the LP tank is then not sufficient.

      1. James - Post author

        Honestly, it was the bikes. There are more opportunities to store the bikes in the 59G.
        And yes – good point on the diesel and propane usage. That was one of our thoughts as well.

        1. Ken

          Why not store the bikes on an outside rack. Don’t you have to put them outside when you sleep or can you fit them underneath the bed?

        2. James - Post author

          Well, they’re racing bicycles, and they’re insanely expensive.
          But you should probably wait for my next post… 😉

      2. Jonathan Miller

        Diesel does not automatically equal propane generator. It’s just that manufacturers cheap out and don’t usually include a diesel generator. Really what they should have is the engine mounted generator and battery/ solar like the eTrek. No need for a generator at all.

        1. James - Post author

          Well, on the Travato, the diesel does get the propane generator. In theory, you could put a diesel generator on a diesel class B – but in practice, you’d have a hard time getting it to fit! The smallest Cummins Diesel generator I could find was 18 inches tall. That’s 5 inches taller than the gas generator. On a Travato, you’d have maybe 1.5 inches of ground clearance left. That just won’t work.

          I do agree with you on the “engine generator.” Whether you call it that, or a “second alternator” (which doesn’t sound as sexy) – I think it’s a good idea. It’s the same end result, with one less motor to maintain. I think eventually, that setup will become more and more commonplace. We are starting to see more RV manufacturers offering solar already. I think the future’s going to be pretty cool.

    6. Ken

      Hopefully you will fix the crowded area up front and move that fresh water tank. Why not put water tank high on the van. Then you can eliminate a water pump and use gravity feed:-)

      1. Ron

        Because you don’t want something that heavy high on the vehicle – it raises the center of gravity considerable and makes for poor handling characteristics.

    7. Highlander

      Please don’t take this wrong but, with you guys as the “Poster Children” for the new bred of RVers coming up (physically active types into Class B RV’s), Winnebago was smart tag teaming with you to shed that tired old image. This ain’t your Grandparents style of RVing!

      Go ahead and delete the following if it breaks your protocol (after all it’s your site) but, “Gone No Mad” is Eric and Tina’s YouTube channel, and they really rock the hiking aspect of RVing. Plus, Eric has mad skills, like yourself, editing first class videos. When is the article coming out on what this tricked out ride will have?
      Props to you guys for taking it to the next level!

      1. James - Post author

        I don’t know how we could take anything in your first paragraph the wrong way. It seems complimentary! We’re happy to be “poster children”, and we’re happy Winnebago is taking the leap with us!
        I’ve not seen the Gone No Mad channel, but I’ll take a look.
        I have just about finished the post with all our mods. Well, not actually all. It was getting really long, so there are still some things I haven’t covered. But I should have it up before next Monday for sure.
        Thanks for stopping by!

    8. Laura

      Congratulations you two on your new RV purchase. I love the color. Can’t wait to see what modifications you and Winnebago come up with to your new coach. Also, loved your interview with Mike Wendland. Thanks for all the wonderful information you share on living healthy as we travel down the road.

      1. James - Post author

        Mike’s a great guy. The interview was as much fun as it sounds like we’re having.
        Glad to have you aboard – stay tuned for more Travato modifications!

    9. Bob


      Will be following your blog on your new Travato – how it is outfitted, mods, and performance.

      I think Winnebago is on to something with this model – separate dining, separate sleeping, fold up bed for storage, on board bathroom, ProMaster base, better price point than Sprinters. Only others like that are the Safari Condo ProMaster XL21 (US Dealers??) and – if they do come to US – HymerCar Grand Canyon. I would be interested in your reviews/comparisons to those models. Will not be surprised to see more similar layouts on ProMasters.

      1. James - Post author

        Thanks, Bob! If I ever see a Safari or Hymer here in the states you can bet I’ll be taking a good look. (It seems like Hymer may have given up for now?)
        Anyway, we’re super excited about our new rig, and you can bet we’ll be sharing details about it.
        July can’t get here soon enough!!

        1. Stefan

          Hi James,
          I just recently discovered your youtube channel, blog & FB site & really enjoy reading all the information and and watching the great vids you guys put together. Awesome job. Also congrats on your new Travato. The yellow is pretty cool! cant wait to see an entire Vid tour of Lance once you guys will post one. I just recently discovered the promaster as a strong contender for the “Camper van” we want to purchase. Being from Germany I was looking the entire time fro VW to come back with the T^ California or weekender (Wishful thinking here) and recently the Mercedes Vito (Mertis in US) let me hope for a Marco Polo but i doubt we will see this one her ein the US pretty soon. So I ended up buying a Ford Transit Passenger for t build out to a pop up camper my own but now regret this decision after I noticed no real after market parts and build out materials available since its a new model in europe as well. As for the promaster, not much has changed at all from the FIAT Ducato and so many parts (even if they need to come from Europe) are available.. So I am looking into getting rid of the Transit to either get a Travato or was hoping for the Hymer Grand Canyon.. You stated that Hymer might have given up on offering the Grand Canyon here in the US. Did you came across some more NEWS – press announcements on this on? if soe would be great if you could share.
          As for the Travato, I am not a big fan of the furniture and decor selection and was wondering if you think Winnebago will let you customize the interior , different wood fascia more like the European Hymer or VW campers ?
          We have two little boys and want this to be our Weekender Camper Van and I love the front bed but also could see adding a Pop up roof to the Travato , more like the Hymer Grand Canyon option in Europe that is available with pop Up roof and bed. Do you think the Air conditioning roof unit is far enough in the rear to accomplish this?

          Anyways, looking forward to see many more stories and posts from you guys & Lance,

        2. James - Post author

          I really didn’t find any press release that said Hymer had given up – I’m just guessing that judging by the silence and non-response.
          The interior of the Travato is actually mostly made by Technoform, from Italy, so I guess, technically speaking – it is European. But I’m not aware of any plans for new interior treatments. They do update them from time to time, so something new may be available from year to year.
          As far as adding a pop-up roof? That’s pretty ambitious. The air conditioning is pretty far to the rear, but there are other things further forward (plumbing vents, antennae) that would make adding a pop-top difficult. I don’t know how the upper cabinetry is mounted, for example. If it attaches to the roof, then the pop-top would be out of the question without losing the cabinetry. There are several outfitters who deal with pop-tops. I think it would be a smarter option to get a conversion designed for a pop-top from the start.

    10. Tom Boles

      WOW…congratulations!!!! A new rig for you and Steph, a new concept for W, sounds like a great win-win! And..we get to watch and hear about it all! That’s a win for everyone!

      Good luck and remember…no detail is too small and no concept too big when you undertake something like this!



      1. James - Post author

        You sound almost as excited as we are!
        You’re going to love my next post on our new Travato. 🙂

    11. Peter Kingsley

      Hello James,
      I’m curious to know whether you had compared the Promaster to the Ford Transit before coming to this decision. And if you had preferred the Transit, would you have waited for the converters to come along with a conversion of that?

      1. James - Post author

        I actually did not look into the Transit that seriously. But that was not because I don’t think it’s a fine platform to build on. It is, from what I know.
        It more had to do with the wait for converters. (Probably next year at the earliest. I expect a couple announcements at the Hershey show this fall.)
        Also, since I was seriously beginning to plan for building it myself, the ProMaster was the only chassis I would have chosen for that. Because it is the only one wide enough for a transverse bed, which figured into my floor plan.

        1. BJ

          Congratulations! My wife and I enjoyed your youtube video so much!
          You mentioned about transverse bed…does that mean you can sleep from left side of the car to the right (across the direction of the car)? Like Hymercar grandcanyon/safari condo floor plan? We are planning to buy a B recently and we really liked 59G except the narrow bed for two people, so we inclined to buy a sprinter model which we believe is too high and long. If Winnnebago produces a modified version of 59G as you mentioned, all the credit is yours, and that will be our choice!!!
          Thanks so much.

        2. James - Post author

          Hi BJ,
          Yes, by “transverse bed” we mean sleeping “across” the coach, instead of lengthwise front to back.
          The second bed in the Travato is a transverse bed. For our main bed, we’ll be sleeping in the regular 59G bed (which is not transverse).
          Sorry if there was a misunderstanding. Even so, our new RV will be AWESOME!

        3. BJ

          Well… as you mentioned in your website, permanent bed is important to us too. We like to have the bed at the back to be permanent. We liked 59G because of the living space at the front which we are not intend to convert it into sleeping space. Unfortunaely the bed seems to be too narrow. Maybe we should wait for news from Hymercar, but they are very quite since they introduced Grandcayon months ago.
          Anyway, we can hardly wait to see your upcoming post for your new RV!
          Wish your the happiest RVing!

        4. BJ

          I still think 59G is best suited for my purpose. May I ask a personal question? Do you and Stef plan to sleep on the bed at the back together most of the time? You don’t have to answer, but I apprecaite anyway.

        5. James - Post author

          Yes, we do plan to sleep on the back bed together. We wouldn’t have it any other way! 🙂
          We do appreciate the concerns about the bed being narrow, however. It’s more than a foot narrower than what we use at home.
          But really, if you want to get space from your spouse, a Class B might not be the best choice! lol!

        6. Stefany

          Stef here chiming in on the bed thing! We’ll definitely only be using the back bed. The front bed when it’s in the dinette configuration has one extra cushion required to convert it to the bed. It’s typically stored up above the cab. To save space, we’re already planning on never bringing that extra cushion. So, using the front bed won’t even be an option. UNLESS James annoys me, that is…. 😉

        7. BJ

          Stefany and James,
          I appreciate your prompt response. My wife and I agree with you 100%. The bed seems to be no problem for us. Besides, we are smaller than average in stature. It has been our pleasure to watch you guys on Youtube. We could not believe that you have grandchildren! You look like in your 30s!
          We live in Seattle, and we plan to go to Oregon to see one of these 59G at one Oregon RV dealer in the next week or so.
          Thanks so much.

        8. James - Post author

          I’ll make sure Stef sees your comment. 😉
          We both love Seattle, btw. Expect to see a Yellow Travato there in the future…

    12. Scott Malan

      What was your 2nd choice or ” runner up” if you had not gone the Winnebago route?
      Can’t wait for your update.

      1. James - Post author

        Honestly it was getting to the point that I was starting to source material for building one myself…
        We really didn’t have a fall back plan – no RV or floor plan was perfect.
        I suppose it would have depended on which manufacturer we could have convinced to make one to our specifications (for a reasonable price).

    13. Randy

      I am so excited for you guys! I am so looking forward to hearing all the fun details that will be going in your new RV. One thing I’m pretty sure of…Stef will finally be getting a larger fridge…right??? LOL You’ve got to make sure you swing it by KSL. We need to show Adam how to roll for his Adventures Show!!!

      1. James - Post author

        Randy, you have no idea what this is going to do to Stef’s meal planning! We’ll have the standard 5 cubic foot unit that comes in the Travato. That’s TWICE as big as ours now!
        But, in all seriousness, it will let us take a lot more fresh produce (it takes up a lot of space…).
        And absolutely, we’ll take you guys for a spin – count on it!

    14. Toni Parker

      And a place for your kayak!!! 🙂

      What does the Travato get for gas mileage? Did you get gas or diesel?

      1. James - Post author

        We’ll be getting the gas.
        In a long term (1 year) voyage, another couple got between 15 and 16 mpg with a gas powered Travato. We hope to do a little better than that. But even if we just get the 15mpg, the payback for the diesel engine is pretty far out. Plus, the easier servicing with the gas is something we’re looking forward to.

        1. Tumbleweed

          We avg 20 mpg in our Travato & we’ve had it for a year now. Highway miles avg 22+.

        2. James - Post author

          Well that’s encouraging! I was only counting on just over 15 in my “gas vs diesel” math. Thanks!!

    15. Ted

      Cool! A new Travato!

      hmmm, I’m guessing you’d push for the following mods….

      Changes to the rear bed area to make room for storing two bikes and still allow two people to sleep there.

      Insulated plumbing, heated tank pads, and beefed up insulation to make it a true 4 season rig for winter camping. Maybe they’ll use a composite like Azdel for construction.

      A swing up extension for extra counter space in the kitchen

      Extra USB ports (don’t want to lag behind the 59K)

      A 2nd AGM battery (again, gotta keep up with the 59K)

      It will be interesting to see if you go with the diesel model given it’s funky driving properties. This would also switch the generator to sharing the small propane tank, but you’ve indicated you seldom use it anyways.

      Other stuff, Frolli bed system, Truma heating system, and solar, already appear to be covered by Winnebago’s upgrade schedule.

      Best of luck to you both with your new rig!

      1. James - Post author

        Thanks, Ted!
        All good guesses. You’ll definitely want to catch our next post about it. (working on it…)

        1. Highlander

          I’m guessing a cross between the two (henceforth known as the Travato 59GK), along with an Inverter and Surge Protector installed as icing on the cake!

          Our 59K is slated to be done July 22nd. Glad you pulled the trigger. Soooo happy for you guys!

        2. James - Post author

          The GK would be interesting! But ours will be most closely related to the G, so I’m calling it a GX.
          If you’re done on July 22, that’s sooo close to our shakedown cruise. If it comes in sooner, please join us.
          It would be great to have some readers along.

    16. Jeff


      I wish you and Steph the best on this.
      Couple of questions.
      Are you two buying/leasing the RV from Winnebago or is Winnebago going to give it to you two to promote it?

      1. James - Post author

        Fair question.
        Stef and I will be buying this Travato. (With our own, hard earned money.)
        As cool as it would be to have them give us or loan us an RV – it works out better for both us and Winnebago that we purchase it.
        Besides – I’d go nuts if I had an RV I couldn’t make modifications to!!

        1. Bob

          Hopefully, you have good support and communication from their engineering/design department for any mods you do. Then maybe they show up in future T-59g’s as changes or at least options. Would love to see them offering more energy options/alternatives like 12v/110v fridges (in different sizes for those of us who do not need anything huge)

        2. James - Post author

          The tech team at Winnebago has been great. Honestly, some of the things we’ll be getting are things they wanted to try. So I do think some of what you’ll see will eventually make its way into the “off the shelf” product. I can’t promise anything like that though.
          I think multiple fridge sizes would be tough, just because each one would require a new wall of cabinetry to support it.
          The fridge in the 59g is pretty narrow, and there’s only one that width that I’m aware of.

    17. Dave

      Congrats on your new rv hope you enjoy many trips with it. I just have a question regarding the price of the travato, I see many 2015 travatos ranging from a low of $69,000. To $95,000. Is this just dealer Mark up or is there that many options that could cause the price to vary so much.

      1. James - Post author

        Hey Dave –
        We don’t really get into prices on our site, because there are so many things that can affect the final price a dealership will set. I do know that there are quite a few options on the Travato that could affect the price. The diesel engine is a biggie. And Fiamma isn’t exactly giving away those racks either. So yes, there are some options that would be significant in determining price.
        But as to why one dealer is charging $X and the other is charging $Y – I really can’t speculate.

    18. Carol

      Congrats! Really cool news. Can’t wait to hear more details. Yellow is definitely unique! I call my husband’s yellow 370Z “Sunshine.” And yes, we never lose that car in the parking lot.

    19. John K

      That is exciting news…. Solar plus Tesla battery to replace the generator , I know that is not realistic for your RV, but I can’t wait to see how that works out.

      1. James - Post author

        I know it’s not realistic too. But that hasn’t stopped me from checking out that battery…

    20. Tina@GottaRunNow

      How exciting for the two of you! I’ve enjoyed following your blog for the experiments, fitness and recipes and look forward to keeping up with you in the future.

    21. Ian (Zyzzyx)

      So, gotta ask… gas or diesel?

      And I’ll admit, I’m a bit jealous of a July delivery date for a finished RV. We’re still waiting on delivery of our ordered Promaster, and then will be building it out myself.

        1. James - Post author

          Gasp! You’re holding me accountable! Well played!
          I’m actually working on a post which will detail some of the modifications and other tweaks that we and Winnebago are trying on this RV. (I’m going to call it the Travato 59GX, or 59GX for short until we have a better name.) That post will explain a lot more and probably answer most of the questions you have.
          But – without giving too much away yet

          Must Have Criteria: 4 of 5 as listed in the post. But the 5th one was something we were considering dropping. I’ll explain later. So either 4/5 and a tie with Das Bus, or 4/4 and beats Das Bus – depending on how you look at it.

          Nice Features to Have: Beats Das Bus in 1, loses in 1, and ties in the other two.

          If you’ve followed us lately, I’m sure you’ve seen the “Gas vs Diesel Calculator“. And I can tell you those calculations definitely came into play to make me OK with a gas coach. The good thing about the Travato is that in its gas powertrain, it gets pretty decent mileage. Sure, not as good as the diesel, but when you push the break-even point out to 500,000 miles, it seems less relevant.

          Anyway, stay tuned for more details.

    22. Boaz

      I mean this in the nicest possible way, but in her present form she reminds me of a line from a song: “We all live in a yellow submarine…” 🙂 . I’d be tempted to name her Big Banana.

      1. James - Post author

        I’m sure we’re going to get plenty of creative suggestions for a name. I’ll add yours to the list…
        (But we’re pretty sure it’s a “he”.)


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