Why am I writing this?
We haven’t fully retired yet and Sally wants to continue on as a teacher unless we win the lottery. Sally’s no fool! There are times when we have a weekend that we don’t have plans for and we get the urge to go out and camp. Now we have a tent that we have used when we started traveling years ago but we’re getting a little long in the tooth for tent camping, plus we like the amenities that the motor-homes offer.
So we’ve been thinking about something that we could just hook up to the SUV and go on short notice. We have two motor-homes, a Class A that we rent part time and a Class C that we rent full time. It’s pretty easy to take the Class C out when we want to. We keep that at Family RV in Morgan Hill, CA and they do the renting and prep so that anyone who wants to rent it can, Naturally since we’re the owners we don’t need to rent it. We just tel them when and if we want to use it and pay them a small prep fee. There are two issues with using the Minnie (Winnebago Minnie Winnie 32K). One is that it’s in such high demand and we don’t want to lose the income form the rentals. The other is that because of the length it’s hard to get into some campgrounds, believe it or not.
We have a Mazda CX 9 SUV but its only rated to tow 3,500 pounds so our options are to trade it in and get a stronger tow vehicle or to look at a towable that will fit in under 3,500 pounds including tongue weight and cargo.
Trailer Pros and Cons
Trailers, for short trips, are a cost effective way of spending a week or two camping. For the two of us a light weight trailer would make sense. They’re relatively easy to hook up and disconnect, they can fit in about every campground, and they can provide a comfortable little home away from home as one like a Winnie Drop or a Pacific Coachworks Mighty Lite can give you all the amenities that two may desire. They usually have a dinette that can be made into a bed, a kitchen, and a small bathroom. With a few lounge chairs that you put outside under the attached awnings you can relax by a pit fire with the marshmallows and a good book.
A lot of serious campers even have “retro” trailers that are lightweight but usually need a tow vehicle that can tow up to 5,000 pounds. One blog that I like to go to for those retros is http://girlcamper.blogspot.com/ that is authored by Janine Pettit. Her site has some pretty good posts on the small trailer lifestyle with some excellent photos. Another site that gives plenty of information for camping and travel with trailers is http://rvfamilytravelatlas.com/ run by Jeremy and Stephanie Puglisi, a “Jersey Shore” couple that have towed a pop-up trailer and now a larger Jayco Whitehawk trailer, although that one requires a stronger tow vehicle than our lightweight SUV.
Some of the more interesting small trailer designs that I have seen come from outside the U.S. One in France is the Beauer 3X horizontally expanding teardrop trailer. It expands from 43 Sq ft to 129 Sq ft. With a full kitchen, lounge, shower, and sleeping area.
Another teardrop from Australia is the Gidget Retro Teardrop. This tear drop is also expandable and according to the specifications has a kitchen and shower in addition to the sleeping area.
Now there are quite a few American made lightweights that have all the ammenities and are expandable and I have to say that we can learn a lot form our European and Australian cousins when it comes to design.
A few American examples with UVW’s under 2,800 pounds are pictured below. These provide all the amenities that you’ll need for a short trip and flexible site needs.
Winnebago Drop Jayco Jay Flyte154BH
Lance 1575 Pacific Coachworks Mighty Lite M16BB
So what are the cons for towables? Well when you think of it there really aren’t any except for one – Full-timing. That’s right, while you can comfortably live in a Fifth Wheel. the smaller light weight towables are not that comfortable for long term living. Now I know that there are those of you out there who will disagree with me, especially the Class B crowd who are generally much younger than we are, the fact is when you get to our age you appreciate the amenities that a large Class C or a Class A motorhome provide. As I said earlier you get that level of comfort with a Fifth Wheel or a larger Travel Trailer.
I mentioned that we are an older couple but that doesn’t bother us if we want a short excursion in a small towable. When we begin our full time phase, however, we plan to be in our larger Class A. For us a towable is out of the question since we like the drive-ability of a motorhome with a small toad in tow.
Motorhome Pros and Cons
This is the easy one to discuss. I’ve already mentioned above why we like the motorhome, but what are the cons for having a motorhome?
Well, if you live in an apartment like we do parking the motorhome is a bit of an issue. A lot of municipalities don’t allow motor home parking on the street, so unless you have a driveway available to you you have to find a place to store your rig. That costs money, in the SF Bay Area rental fees for your coach can go from $75/Mo in the boondocks all the way up to $500/Mo for indoor storage.
This also leads to limited access to your coach. The higher end storage yards have gates that you can enter a code to go in and get your coach, but the rest of the yards have hours that are posted when you can get your coach or they will charge you a fee during the off hours to get your coach. With your small travel trailer you can park it in your slot where you keep your car.
Our two examples of the motorhomes are pictured below.
Class C (with yours truly in front)
With our tight budget for now we’ll stick with our Class A. We do have plans to get a samll towable to add to our rental fleet but with the way that our Class C is being rented we probably won’t get to use the Trailer since the demand will be high for that one too.
So what do y’all think? Let us know in the comments section below.