Saturday, January 11, 2014

Choosing what's right for me

I grew up in a camping family. When I was very young, we started out tent camping, but quickly moved up to a used travel trailer. When I was a teenager, my dad bought an old motor home which we named the Tramper, and we vacationed in it for many years until it died in a meadow in Montana. So I've experienced it all, and I have some definite preferences.

It's a major decision choosing between a motor home and a travel trailer. (No, I'm not considering living 5-6 months a year in a tent, folks.) Advantages of a motor home are obvious:
  1. Security. You can pull into a rest area, campground or truck stop and never have to unlock your door if you just want to make a meal and/or go to bed. 
  2. Backing up. I've never towed anything, but I have driven and backed up the Tramper, so I know I can do that.
  3. Stealth camping. If your rig is small enough, you can park lots of places and not be detected that you are actually camping.
But there are some major drawbacks, two in particular:
  1. Investment. Motor homes are more expensive than travel trailers. 
  2. Mobility. You are either stuck where you camp, or you must pack up your whole home to run into town for bread and milk. Plus if you have a breakdown that puts it in the shop, you are stuck in a hotel room without wheels and relying on public transportation.
Now, some folks drive a motor home and tow a small vehicle (nicknamed a "Toad") for their errand and sightseeing runs. But the economical advantage and convenience of not towing something and being a bit more stealth go right out the window with that approach. Plus you have two engines to maintain while on the road. That is not for me.

Travel trailers solve the motor homes' two main disadvantages:
  1.  Expense. You could pick up a pretty nice used trailer for under $10,000 and find a used tow vehicle for less than that.
  2. Mobility. Park and set up your trailer, then jump in your vehicle and go off to see the sights.
I'm about 90% certain a small travel trailer and used van or pickup with a shell is the best option for me. I know I will want to camp in most locations for several days or even weeks, and I don't want to be without a vehicle for touring. Lots of women who have never towed a vehicle in their lives until retirement learn to do it, and I am confident I can, too. And I WILL learn to back it up! No being restricted to pull-through spaces for me.

So the hunt is on. I'm no where near ready to buy yet. I still have 2-3 years to work! But I'm doing research to find the best size, brand, floor plan, and features to fit my travel plans. I spend hours on the internet looking at models and reading full-timers blogs. I've learned a lot so far, and think I will be well equipped to make a good decision and a great purchase when my new adventure draws close.

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