RV Basics

Inside My Roadtrek 170 Popular: The Non-Cartoon Transformer

When people hear I’m traveling the country in an RV, they generally think I’m navigating windy roads and low clearance bridges in a huge monster-truck size vehicle, which doesn’t sound relaxing and peaceful at all. Then they see my Roadtrek. And well. They think I’m living in a van.


But friends, I am NOT living in a van. (Well, OK, it’s a van, but it is an ENTIRE house in the inside!) Shall I bring you inside for a tour?

First, let’s hang out for a while in the living room. Lovely, no?

roadtrek living room

You are looking for the dining room? Here you go. Also, the dining room can be the office.

living room office

And just like that, one room has become three. But I’m more ambitious than that.

The living room can also become the bedroom with a push of a button. OK, sure, a push of a button + the addition of a tempur-pedic mattress pad, soft sheets, comfy pillows, and a warm comforter. But still, that’s five minutes well spent.

roadtrek bed

Where is all that stuff the rest of the time? The mattress pad and comforter stuff right down behind the couch and the rest fits nicely in the cabinet above, with space left over for a little bookcase (the temper-pedic pillows are on the left, the sheets are in the packing cube in the middle labeled “sweaters” (however, my sheets are not made of sweaters), my books are on the right — mostly books not available on Kindle, like the autobiographies of John Madden and Ken “Snake” Stabler, which yes, I am currently reading right now).

Roadtrek storage

But let’s say I’ve gotten ready for bed, but I still have some work to do. I just head over to my second office (with bonus skylights). Both chairs in front swivel around and a table pops up from nowhere! (Actually, in between the closet and the kitchen, but as though from nowhere!)

Front Office Roadtrek

Here’s my kitchen, complete with two-burner stove, sink, refrigerator, and microwave.

roadtrek 170 popular kitchen

And then my amazing, transforming bathroom. By day, just a regular bathroom. By.. well, also day, I just open the door, roll up my rug and remove the drain cover, pull the shower curtain around the hall, and I’ve got a roomy shower.

Here you can see the bathroom with the door open and the curtain rail:


A closer look at the shower controls:

roadtrek shower

And here’s what it looks like inside the shower:

roadtrek 170 shower

Except in that photo the door on the left is closed so you can see inside. This is what it would actually look like if I were inside the shower and not outside taking the photo. You can’t really tell, but the door is open and the curtain is pulled around it:

roadtrek 170 popular shower

I also have a TV, DVD player, and surround sound system that includes speakers throughout the RV so I can rock out whether I’m hanging out in the living room or the front office. Normally, I listen to music by plugging my iPhone into the DVD player, but sometimes I connect my laptop to the TV and watch TV from bed (yes, I’m watching Grey’s Anatomy; so do you):

roadtrek tv

I could hoist up the antenna and watch TV over the air and at most RV parks and campgrounds I could also plug into cable, but I’m more a stream over the internet whenever I want kind of girl, so I haven’t done either of those.

But what about storage?

I’ve got a closet just to the right of the kitchen (behind the driver side door) to hang up my clothes up in (I keep my shoes in a bin at the bottom):

roadtrek wardrobe

Above that is a little shelf where I keep tools and things.

The Roadtrek used to have a third seat, but I removed it and put in lightweight drawers. There’s also storage in the cabinet underneath (I keep a bunch of shoes and nice clothes that I don’t need every day in that section).

roadtrek storage

In the bathroom, I’ve added a few containers (held in place by Command velcro) to keep everything in place.

bathroom storage

You’ve seen the storage for my bedding to the right of the air conditioner (er, also there’s a couple of bottles of gin and tonic back there). The cabinet on the left has a box of electronics and other various items like my curling iron and window screens.

I’ve also got storage above the front seats. And I keep coffee and other vital essentials in bags in the upper shelving on both sides.

I keep kitchen stuff (plates, cups, pots, and pans, whatever) in bins under the sink. I have a little pantry with stuff like peanut butter above the stove. And I keep towels and first aid kit and odds and ends in the cabinet above the counter. (Yes, I have 6 bath size towels in there! They are magic towels!)

kitchen storage

And then there’s all the storage under the couch (that I get to from the back doors) for things like my lawn chairs.

Of course, I spiffed it all up a little too. Here’s a few before and after photos:

2014-07-12 06.42.38

roadtrek afterYes, I can even light the vanilla candles for even more peace and relaxation. Well, as long as I take the battery out of the smoke detector first. Otherwise, that’s a path to less peace and relaxation for everyone.

55 replies on “Inside My Roadtrek 170 Popular: The Non-Cartoon Transformer”

This is the bomb. Actually I have never understood what that meant but if I did then this would be it. I love this magical mystery machine!

Hey all my name is Mark and like Vanessa I have a Versitlle 170 and live and work out of it all over this beautiful country. I have been in it for a full year now and so far I have not had anything break or not work as advertised. Too include my solar power which while boondocking will keep the beer cold in the fridge LIG

Mark, I just bought a 2004 190 and want to equip with solar panel(s). Don’t know how or where to begin. What should I expect the cost to be and who do I find to do this? The propane fridge thing freaks me out so I want to avoid running it on propane.

I’m not sure where you’re located, but look for a local installation shop who can walk you through the options based on your particular RV and who can install it for you. (Or, if there’s no place local, look for someplace near your next destination.) Here’s an example (in Oregon):

Hey Mark – my wife and I are thinking about the Roadtrek 170 to travel cross country. Do you think it’s big enough for two? I see the bed is 73 x 50 and I’m right at 6 ft.; my wife is 5’6″.

Heard you today on Wharton radio. Like what you had to say about search, and even more about your travels in the Roadtek.

I live in Asheville, and, my idea of an ideal road trip, is to walk out the door, and drive to California. I did that last year. Took a month off, drove through the South to see my son who was then living in Las Cruces, visited friends in Albuquerque, toured through Four Corners, Monument Valley and then on to Ventura, CA, where I stayed with friends for two weeks. Then, I drove north through SF and across country to see friends in Des Moines and Kansas City, and then home. It was just shy of 8,000 miles. If I didn’t have a deadline for returning, I would have gone all the way to Seattle and done Lewis & Clark sites all the way across the country.

I work at a college for a few years, and the president at the time had been a sociology prof. She had grown up the grand daughter of an oil wildcatter. She told stories of traveling all over the country looking for oil. Her avocation was to be physically present in every country, yes, country, in the US. She had this huge US map with every country where she had been colored in. She had been in about 2/3 of all the counties. I thought that was a great idea, so I tend to come back a different way than I go some place. Always new things to see.

During the trip last year, I was able to maintain connection to my world and work back home. My experience was very much like yours, though I didn’t go to libraries. That is a good idea.

I’ve just return from three weeks in Glasgow (for the Scottish Independence referendum), London (with friends), and the champagne region with of France (World War I museums, cemeteries and memorials), with a side trip for a conference in Jackson Hole, ending with a few days in the Tetons and Yellowstone. I’ve been back eight days, and I’m already ready to get back on the road.

More than anything, what I like about this kind of travel, where there is serious intention, with a marginal itinerary, is the chance to meet people. I like to ask questions, and, I always find out fascinating things that transform my perception of who I am and the place where I am at that moment.

I look forward to hearing more about your journey. If you get this far south on your return, meaning Asheville, I’ll buy you dinner, and introduce you to some great people here, some in the tech world and some in many others.

So, as the Welsh bid farewell, Yaki Da Ffrind (To your good health) with your travels.

“Her avocation was to be physically present in every country, yes, country, in the US. She had this huge US map with every country where she had been colored in. She had been in about 2/3 of all the counties. ”

You really meant COUNTY, not country, I’m sure…

Hey Vanessa, I am impressed how you outfitted your RT. It looks soooo cozy in there. I heard your interview on Mike Wendland’s podcast (and I’m also in the Facebook group) so I decided to check out your site. I am pleasantly surprised and am definitely following your journey here.

We just got a 2013 170, and are trying to figure out how to make up the bed. What kind of mattress pad did you get, how do you keep it in place since most don’t conform to the shape of the flat couch/ bed, and how do you keep the sheets in place. Thanks for your reply.

How tall are you? I am 6 ft and wondered. Did you feel safe (secutiy system). DID you buy new or used? i am thinking of giving up apartment for this (?), but wondered can you do that in winter climate (Mass). I think I would save money…long term.

Lovely? YES! I love your rig….everything about it. I want one. Like….today. Any pointers on where to find a nice gently used 170 Roadtrek and how much I will have to pony up to get it? I am in love!

Loved your ideas for the camper, I too have the ‘itch’ and am looking at the 170 because it’s maybe easier to manage. I see you are off the road for now. Keeping the wee camper? Or by any chance selling it? I am looking, don’t want to get into a too old one…any suggestions?
Oh, and happy new year! Lived for 10 years in Seattle, loved it, in Austin now..

I bought a 2004 170Popular September 2015. Flew from LAX to Rochester NY to get it from original owner private party. The 170 is so rare out West that I searched the entire country and many websites before finding mine on the Roadtrek website classifieds. It always wintered in FL so has no winter-related corrosion. Paid $28,000. It never had a generator though, so consider that when/if you buy. I ran CarFax and it showed the annual maintenance the original owners had through their local Chevy dealers. I also had it inspected before I committed. I’m solo and don’t live in mine, but it’s all I really need for serious travel/camping. It’s way too tall to go onto my garage, but the 170 is short enough to store in my driveway without blocking the sidewalk. And the sellers are my new long-distance friends – double win!

Did you ever find your Roadtrek 170? We have a gently used 2003 with 81,000 miles on it for sale. $29,500. Please contact me if you are interested.

Hello, I just bought one yesterday. A 1998 RT 170P. They are hard to find in the Northwest. They are very expensive, but there are many for sale, mostly 190 & 200s. I paid 22,5000. It is in excellent shape with many upgrades. I am flying 700 miles and driving it home.

Thanks for sharing Vanesa, heard you on Mike And Jennifer Wedlands Roadtrekking show. I have a 05 170 and love it, it is little tight for my wife and me but coming from minivan camping, the 170 seems pretty big. Heading out to Missoula Montana this July to celebrate with the bike centinneal group and we’ll be sure to bring out tandem bike. Take care.

This is so very helpful in our decision-making process. Thank you so much for sharing!

We’re scouring eBay and web pages, planning to travel from Canada to somewhere in the southern US for a used unit, that hasn’t seen salty winter roads like we have here in our area. We were waffling between a 170 and something larger but this has helped make the decision to stay small. As tenters from way back we like compact and cozy.


I have just found my 170 Versatile and should have it home in a few days?..I am ecstatic ❤Thank you so much for sharing all your great ideas as not having the back of my Tahoe to haul and store everything which didn’t fit in my little camper. Your organism inspirational!

Hi Vanessa,

I love your setup in your 170. Would you have any experience with your Roadtrek in winter months? I looked through all the different Class B and the short length of the 170 looks like it can park anywhere and won’t draw much attention. I live NJ, where winters are nice enough to freeze pipes. I am wondering if you had any experience with how the Roadtrek handles winter, like temperature in the cabin with propane furnace, water usage and the like. I have been looking at solutions like using a composting toilet and keeping a jug of water inside the RV for winter water usage or getting a gym membership for showers or a sub arctic sleeping bag.

I have driven it in snowy places like Wisconsin (etc.) during the winter and the propane heat works great. It was always toasty warm at night if I had the heat on. When I had propane issues and spent a few nights in November with no heat, I was still OK with my warm comforter.

Since I was on the move a lot (so was generally driving it at least a few hours a day), I wasn’t too worried about winterizing but I found that I had to deal with the lack of water anyway because any place I would get water from (campgrounds and the like) had winterized and didn’t have water available for filling up.

Here’s some good info on winterizing and winter living in the RT:

And on winterizing:

Thank you for sharing you lovely 170 with the world. I just got my 1997 170P TODAY! Yes, I am beyond excited. And the best part – it only has 8,209 miles on it! I know, super crazy – bought it from the famous “little old couple that bought it at retirement and never used”. I’m in central California… hope to see you on those happy trails

Yikes! Check everything out carefully on that rig. Extremely low miles can be much worse than one that has been used gently but well-maintained. Generators must be run on a regular basis to keep them functioning. That’s a huge expense if it hasn’t been used in years. Check seals, electrical lines, etc. for cracks. Things that look like new from no use can be brittle and an accident ready to happen. Replace all the smoke and CO2 detectors asap. 20 years is a LONG time for that rig to just sit. Good luck!

I just bought my Roadtrek 170 with just shy of 25,000 miles (2009 Popular). In excellent condition, but I had to pay a higher price for it because of that and also because I live in California. Does yours come with a zipup screen for the back? Mine does and I love that idea for camping in hot weather when I want to take a nap. Can’t wait to drive it and use it. It arrives tomorrow just in time for the long President’s Day weekend. P.S. Love your personalization of your 170. Gives me ideas! Thanks!

Congrats! Sounds awesome. Yes, on the screen – it’s very useful when it’s warm out. You will love it.

I found that once I was in mine for a while, I adjusted how I personalized it based on how I used it (and I changed a lot of what I stored in it).

For me, it made a big difference to hang (light) artwork on the walls and put a few candles out (the former attached with command tape and the latter affixed with earthquake putty –

Hello, I was wondering if you have a floor plan picture to your roadtrek? I have a 1990 ford e250 and would like to redo the interior for better storage and looking into some options. I cannot wait to start traveling once I’m done.

Hi — Very happy to see your 170 and hear your enthusiasm for it!
I’m in the process of purchasing a 170 Versatile … but just got a chance to drive a neighbor’s 190 today so now wondering about the bed size and if I’ll be comfortable in the 170s bed.
I am going to trade-in my current minivan so my Roadtrek will be my primary vehicle. I have three kids and plan on doing most of my traveling with the two younger ones (boy/girl 10-year-old twins) and myself. (Husband and teenage son will be busy with work and teenage-stuff). So, I am 5 ft 6 inches and wondering if I will be comfortable in a 170 bed. (Good sleep will be a priority since I will be the only adult and therefore doing all the driving). I’m hoping to get one or two of the cab mattresses to set up the front seats so the twins could sleep up there sometimes, but I’ll probably have at least one in the back bed with me.
All that to ask these questions: do you think I’d be comfortable in the 170 bed? With one 10-year-old or without? Although the 190 bed size is tempting, the fact that I will be driving it EVERY DAY to grocery stores, work, city driving, etc. makes me wonder what’s best and I want to be comfortable driving it every day (in Boston area so traffic is heavy).
Any help would be appreciated! I will be bookmarking your site to keep an eye on it!
Thanks in advance — Alexandra (and 10-year-old twins Meghan and Nicholas) (I am even considering Roadtrek-schooling for one year … seeing the country would be a wonderful education! (I’ll just have to help them keep up with math so they could re-enter brick-and-mortar school eventually!)

I’m 5′ 5″ and am very comfortable in the 170 bed (with the addition of the tempurpedic mattress pad). I think it would be fine with an additional short person. Have you fully investigated the options for the front seat mattresses? When I looked into it, it seemed like those were pretty uncomfortable and maybe would only work for very small children (but there for sure could be better options — I didn’t actually need them so I didn’t do extensive research). Another option for one of the kids might be a twin size inflatable mattress on the floor, although this might block access to the bathroom.

In any case though, I think those issues/solutions would be the same with a 170 or a 190 and I don’t know that at your height, you would really notice much of a comfort upgrade in the 190 (can you try out the bed of the 170 you are purchasing to be sure? Or maybe measure out the dimensions of both and set up a test area on your floor at home and try it out?).

I think you would get used to driving either one, but I would think that the 170 would be easier to use as a daily driver than the 190. The 170 is probably closer in length to your current minivan, would fit in more parking spaces, and so on. I rarely had trouble parking the 170.

The RT has pretty big blind spots since you can’t see if there’s a car in the lane next to you (either lane). I imagine that gets worse the longer the vehicle.

hey all an easy fix to the blind spots are those little round mirrors that you stick on your side mirrors I guarantee this works

Hi Vanessa —
Thank you for your thorough response just over a year ago! With your help, I did purchase a 2011 RT 170 Versatile and the bed is very comfortable and fits our needs. Unfortunately, we’ve had some trials and tribulations with odds-and-ends going wrong electrically and mechanically, but hoping as of this week all will be fixed. (I don’t think it appreciated going from its southern home in Florida/Georgia to the harsh Boston winter). I hope to hit the road with my now 11-year-old twins when they get out of school in a few months. It is a tight fit for three — even though two of us are smaller people — but that’s in big part because I still have all four seats up front (since we use it everyday and I didn’t want the kids in the way back where we can’t talk, etc.). So, having all those seats does take away from storage, but we are continuously finding smaller ways to reduce what we need and are approaching packing for the summer as if backpacking — light, small things. You were absolutely correct about the tri-fold mattresses not being very comfortable. (Our dealer threw in two used ones for free, so that was a great help.) But, we do make up a single bed in the very front, bridging the gap between the two front seats. It works for my small daughter and she enjoys having her own little space in the front of the vehicle (let’s hope she grows slowly!). I think for our next trip, I’ll bring along an added self-inflatable mattress pad to put on top, since it is pretty hard.

Your website has been very helpful and I wanted to finally get back to you to thank you for your help as we embark on this journey.

One other question: I realize our circumstances are different since I’ll be traveling with kids, but I’m wondering how much pre-planning you do on your trips. I’m hoping to take them to Yellowstone (from Boston) this summer and wondering if I should be making reservations in advance for both our destination and along the way, or if you find that just winging it can work.

Thank you again! Hope you are well and my apologies for taking a full year for that thank you! — Alexandra
PS Also, I read that there’s an interview of you on one of Mike’s Roadtrek Podcasts. I’m going to see if I can find it today while I’m packing for a five-day trip to DC with the entire family (so now adding a 17-year-old son and my husband into the mix). We’re bring a tent for added sleeping room, but packing all of us, plus camping equipment is going to be a challenge! (We did get an aluminum cargo carrier for the trailer hitch extension to help bring the camping equipment).

How exciting! I’m glad the information has been helpful.

Yes, the podcast episode is here (probably can get it on a podcast app too):

In my experience, you probably want to make reservations at destinations like Yellowstone (especially in summer). You can wing it along the way if you don’t mind being flexible in where you overnight.

In my experience, in the summer, sometimes I could find a great camping spot along the way and other times, I have overnighted at a truck stop or similar. So I suppose it depends on how much you’d like the journey itself to be stops at interesting places vs. just an efficient way to get to the destination! Winging it definitely means taking a chance (although, I often have been able to find a great spot when winging it – especially in out of the way places or due to cancelations), but it also gives you more freedom.

I have a 2006 Roadtrek 170 on a Chev 2500 van frame with a 6.0 liter Vortec engine and I am 6’2″. We set up the bed sleeping area to be parallel with the van, so my feet hang slightly over the bed into the isle which is ok. We recently added a plywood extension and bought an additional cushion and now I sleep perfectly fine without having my feet hang over the end or having to slightly curl up into a semi-fetal position.
The main difference between the 170 and the larger models is the bed area. The 170 only has a double bed. The 170 is perfect, better gas mileage (18-22 mpg highway.) Average when heavily loaded with everything but the kitchen sink is 16 mpg highway, 14 to 15 in town. I can park it anywhere and have no HOA problems at my home when parked in my driveway. It is perfect as a daily driver and is actually shorter then my Chev extended cab Silverado pickup truck. I can fit into even the tightest parking spaces and even parallel park on any street with no problems.

I have a 2007 Roadtrek with the L shape seating the back. I my 170 but would really like a conversion kit to the electric sofa. Raodtrek doesn’t have one. If there is anyone out there that has a solution It would be much appreciated.

I am considering the RT 170 , when I return from Europe in fall.
Although I am not sure about the reliability of the Chevy 4.8 Engine as this is a fairly heavy vehicle. Love to hear or see a survey from the 170 owners about the issues such as mountain drives like the Cascades or Rockies, fuel consumption, maintenance cost, major repairs of weak points with the total mileage/ years driven with the vehicle.
Also, would the RT 190 with the 6.0 engine a better choice where there is also an additional choice of RT and Pleasureway Lexor. Thanks.

Hi Vanessa,
I am ready to get the 170 but here are two quick questions:
1. Did you consider increasing the somewhat low clearance with a higher suspension?
2. I want to have some garage space by the back to store a folding back. How complicated is it (electric wiring in the way?) to move the couch bed a foot to further forward to get that space?
Happy Travels.

Hi Udo,

I didn’t have trouble with the clearance, although I tried to stay on roads that wouldn’t need extra clearance. You might check out the Roadtreking group on Facebook to ask around.

For moving the couch/bed, there is electrical wiring (at least if you have a bed that’s wired), but the bigger issue might be whether there’s enough space to move the bed forward a foot. When flat, they generally take up the entire space in the back to the cabinets in front of them. A lot of people put a cargo box on the back doors for additional storage. Again, you might check the Facebook group for ideas. But something like this:

Thank you for sharing the views of your 170. I’m buying a 2001 170 Popular for myself from the original owner. I will follow your travel log.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *