Author Topic: I want a camper.  (Read 5802 times)

Queen Frugal

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I want a camper.
« on: February 06, 2020, 01:36:38 PM »
I know, I know. This does not sound Mustachian. But I would love some input.   

Here is my current situation:

I am packing for the next national park roadtrip with my 9yo daughter over spring break. Over 10 days, we will visit Carlsbad Caverns and White Sands in NM, Zion and Arches in UT. It is about 3000 miles round trip. We will do it by using my Prius as our "RV". I just removed the front seat to give us more room (lol I have never been more proud of myself!). It will be cold at night and I am hoping the Prius will keep us warmer than a tent (you can leave the the car running all night and the engine will kick in periodically to charge the battery). Looking out the back window also will give us an excellent view of the stars at night.

We have done this before - though this is the first time I will share the trunk of my car with my daughter to sleep in for 10 solid nights. There is a part of me that gets a kick out of the extreme minimalism of using a Prius as my RV. But there is a part of me that really longs for a little more space!

The space would allow me to 1) get a little more work done on the road; 2) EAT. I have severe food allergies and have to cook my own food. Cooking in a Prius doesn't work well!, 3) take the dogs with me when I want to and 4) spread out more!

I would love to take a year or more off and just travel in an RV, but I don't see that ever working out for me. I have a job I can't take that much time off for but that I love and will probably keep doing until I'm too old to travel in an RV, I have a 9 year old in school, and I have an aging parent who needs me around from time to time. A year off to travel seems like a pipe dream.

So I want to do the best I can to travel the way I can. I could get away from work for 2-3 week stretches once or twice a year for sure if I can find a way to work from the camper at least some during that time. I do need fairly good internet access as I do a lot of work in the cloud. I have been reading up a lot on how to get better internet access in remote areas (I definitely prefer those type of camping arrangements) but I would love some input regarding whether the speeds are going to be robust enough to access the cloud with all of the options available.  I have watched youtube videos of people using all kinds of methods to get their internet, but I am not well versed in download speeds and how that translates to answering the question "will I have to wait 2 minutes every time I click from one screen to the next?" Because that would drive me crazy. I don't need reliable internet every day all day, but I need access to it every now and then at least.

I am yearning for a 16-17' Scamp or Casita with a bathroom, air conditioner/heater, fridge, etc. I can stomach the cost of a used one - they hold their value pretty well. But the vehicle to pull it with is hard for me. I would have to say goodbye to my little Prius, with it's great gas mileage, reliability, and that can even serve as miniature RV! I will need at least 5000# towing capacity to get the job done. The vehicle needs to have kid-friendly back seats. I do not drive much other than these travel trips I do but I do drive to client's homes occasionally and I can't be leaking oil on their driveway and it needs to be somewhat presentable. I bet I will drive it about 12k a year. Any suggestions on 1) vehicles and 2) best age/miles to look at? I am somewhat partial to Toyotas because the dealership in town has been great to work with on repairs.

I do understand the costs involved in this. I have put pencil to paper on the costs. I suspect it will cost an extra $200 per month at least with extra gas costs, camper costs, repair costs, and a more expensive vehicle.


ixtap

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Re: I want a camper.
« Reply #1 on: February 06, 2020, 01:47:29 PM »
My initial reaction is to just rent an RV, for as much use as you foresee.

You are calculating $200/month running costs, so I guess you probably have a place to keep the camper. Just those running costs will pay for two weeks of rental per year. The upfront costs will stretch for a couple more weeks for the first several years.

If you do decide to go through with it, look for a Jeep Grand Cherokee or similar sized Jeep. The 2006 Limited Grand Cherokee came standard with the towing package, but it is common add on for other years.

WSUCoug1994

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Re: I want a camper.
« Reply #2 on: February 06, 2020, 01:58:27 PM »
something like RVShare.com could be the best of both worlds.  Many of these owners (for a fee) will deliver the RV wherever you want it within reason.  It is likely worth a little research.  I am planning on "renting" for the road trips we have planned around North America - although I have never done it.

acepedro45

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Re: I want a camper.
« Reply #3 on: February 06, 2020, 02:05:03 PM »
Rent, rent, a thousand times rent! Reading between the lines of your post, it sounds like you are an avid camper but have never done the full-on RV thing with its attendant costs and hassle.

Quote
...they hold their value pretty well...

I am very uncertain of this unless you consider keeping up with maintenance to be a totally separate budget header.

I'd try renting a few times and experiment with the internet question before I made any big-ticket decisions.

Queen Frugal

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Re: I want a camper.
« Reply #4 on: February 07, 2020, 07:11:57 AM »
My initial reaction is to just rent an RV, for as much use as you foresee.

You are calculating $200/month running costs, so I guess you probably have a place to keep the camper. Just those running costs will pay for two weeks of rental per year. The upfront costs will stretch for a couple more weeks for the first several years.

If you do decide to go through with it, look for a Jeep Grand Cherokee or similar sized Jeep. The 2006 Limited Grand Cherokee came standard with the towing package, but it is common add on for other years.

Thanks for the idea of a Jeep Grand Cherokee! I had one several years ago, and it had electrical problems that my mechanic never could fix, so I had not really been thinking of a Jeep. Your post inspired me to start looking at them again and I think that might be a great fit. Lifestyle wise, it would be a perfect car for us. One of the most disappointing things about my Prius as a camping car is that it has horrid ground clearance so there are many remote places it just won't go. And I like remote places! I also moved last summer and my back alley is riddled with potholes that the Prius struggles with.

I do agree renting first is a good idea. And, I very well may do that. I have always wanted to experience Alaska and it is a long drive to get there and since I am always strapped for time, it makes more sense to fly there and rent an RV. So I probably will do that before making the final decision/purchase.

something like RVShare.com could be the best of both worlds.  Many of these owners (for a fee) will deliver the RV wherever you want it within reason.  It is likely worth a little research.  I am planning on "renting" for the road trips we have planned around North America - although I have never done it.

Thanks for that! I have heard of such sites but I have never checked them out.

Rent, rent, a thousand times rent! Reading between the lines of your post, it sounds like you are an avid camper but have never done the full-on RV thing with its attendant costs and hassle.

Quote
...they hold their value pretty well...

I am very uncertain of this unless you consider keeping up with maintenance to be a totally separate budget header.

I'd try renting a few times and experiment with the internet question before I made any big-ticket decisions.

Thank you for your input! Renting at least once makes sense.

You all are my Mustachian voices of reason!

For years I keep doing this to myself - I tell myself a camper is just a waste of money and then I keep thinking about how much I love to camp and how much easier a camper would be. Eating for me is just a royal pain. I get sucked into "I want a camper" every time I travel because I have such a difficult time eating while traveling. This time the "I want a camper" bug hit me while I was trying to figure out how to eat on the road and then I decided on my standard dehydrated vegetables that require boiled water only. And I am sad about my dehydrated vegetables. I appreciate the financial practicality of renting other people's campers/RVs, but for me a huge part of the allure of having a camper is having my own kitchen that I don't have to worry about cross contamination in. Cross contamination is an issue for me so unless I have free access to plenty of water to first clean all the utensils in someone elses's RV/camper, I can't use the kitchen. Having never rented an RV/camper, I don't know how much of a problem it would really be to cook in someone else's kitchen.

For now, I have decided that since I keep doing this to myself, I should make a plan to do this in the future. It's a new bucket in my budget that will only get filled after all of my other more practical buckets like maxing out my HSA, my Roth, and maybe my SEP IRA too (depending on how my year turns out), and having plenty of cash on hand for unexpected home repairs. I don't have to execute my "camper" plan until I am good and ready, but that may be next summer.  I am trying to figure out how much to put in my "camper" budget mostly. The car is the part that gets me - it has been soooo nice to have a very cheap car. I cringe at the thought of giving that up.


ixtap

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Re: I want a camper.
« Reply #5 on: February 07, 2020, 07:19:39 AM »
For cross contamination, I would plan on spending the first night at a campground near the pick up place. You need time to get organized, anyway. This will give you access to unlimited water to scrub away.

We have rented near home and taken the time to load up our own plates, pans, sheets, etc. Way too much to check on a plane, though!

Fishindude

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Re: I want a camper.
« Reply #6 on: February 07, 2020, 07:22:54 AM »
Nothing wrong with owning a camper, so long as you are going to use and enjoy it regularly.  It's a big jump considering you have to trade in your small car and get a truck or big SUV to pull a camper.

First thing I would do, is rent one of those small motorhomes for trips a couple times and see if you really enjoy the camping lifestyle and to help you understand everything that is involved.   Better to find out you don't like the lifestyle while renting, than to have purchased a bunch of new stuff on a whim.

If you do elect to buy, I would never buy a new camper.   You can find them several years old, in great condition for half of the original purchase price.   And if you can't afford to keep the rig stored indoors somewhere when not in use, then you can't afford a camper.   Leaving them outdoors year round is hard on them.

Miss Tash

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Re: I want a camper.
« Reply #7 on: February 07, 2020, 10:25:10 AM »
Fly into Vegas and rent a Juicy van.  I did this a couple years ago with my sister and saw the parks you're going to visit.  Very fun and economical.

ontheway2

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Re: I want a camper.
« Reply #8 on: February 07, 2020, 10:30:52 AM »
What about one of those suv tents? It seems it would work with the Prius being a hatch, and it would allow room to spread out and bring pets. Depending on the tent, you couldn't leave the vehicle running though because of the exhaust.
It creates a living room that you can stand up in

Something like this. https://www.autoanything.com/truck-tents/77A2945A3066850.aspx?kc=GOOGADW&DZID=PLA_g_8758422927_89662065353_10210-2945-3781862_m&utm_source=g&utm_medium=cpc&utm_campaign=8758422927&utm_content=89662065353&utm_product=10210-2945-3781862&gclid=Cj0KCQiAsvTxBRDkARIsAH4W_j9s-S2i8dx5-4oj_OIAqU1QdkFHfmDStQ9IWYEy0hgpi_PicRYLcAQaApMEEALw_wcB
« Last Edit: February 07, 2020, 10:33:54 AM by ontheway2 »

Dicey

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Re: I want a camper.
« Reply #9 on: February 07, 2020, 10:41:11 AM »
Hahaha, we have had a a new-to-us RV sitting in our driveway for the past week. Of course we paid cash. DH and I are both experienced campers. He has owned RV's before and is a DIY Jedi Master. We are FI (I'm FIRE). He still has about 18 months to go, but he gets huge amounts of vacation and has tons banked. I am collecting the gear we will need very frugally, but shit still adds up and takes time to procure...

In your situation, the answer is: RENT. #RentRentRentRentRent

ixtap

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Re: I want a camper.
« Reply #10 on: February 07, 2020, 11:02:36 AM »
Hahaha, we have had a a new-to-us RV sitting in our driveway for the past week. Of course we paid cash. DH and I are both experienced campers. He has owned RV's before and is a DIY Jedi Master. We are FI (I'm FIRE). He still has about 18 months to go, but he gets huge amounts of vacation and has tons banked. I am collecting the gear we will need very frugally, but shit still adds up and takes time to procure...

In your situation, the answer is: RENT. #RentRentRentRentRent

That reminds me, even if you are renting, it might be worth investing a couple of things, such as leveling blocks, especially if you want to go boondocking!

jeninco

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Re: I want a camper.
« Reply #11 on: February 07, 2020, 11:09:30 AM »
You might consider something that's partway between -- I wouldn't necessarily recommend this exact thing but we have a VW Eurovan that's a nice mix between a full-on camper and a regular passenger vehicle. It's pretty comfy to drive, and has a pop-up top that makes "getting into bed" a 30-second operation. They come with mini-kitchens, although since we live in the southwest, we got the "weekender" package, not the full camper package, and we use a camp stove on a fold-out table. It's definitely more flexible and comfortable then a prius, although it also gets a (not) stomping' 20 miles or so per gallon.

Queen Frugal

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Re: I want a camper.
« Reply #12 on: February 07, 2020, 11:42:46 AM »
For cross contamination, I would plan on spending the first night at a campground near the pick up place. You need time to get organized, anyway. This will give you access to unlimited water to scrub away.

Great idea!

What about one of those suv tents? It seems it would work with the Prius being a hatch, and it would allow room to spread out and bring pets. Depending on the tent, you couldn't leave the vehicle running though because of the exhaust.
It creates a living room that you can stand up in

Something like this. https://www.autoanything.com/truck-tents/77A2945A3066850.aspx?kc=GOOGADW&DZID=PLA_g_8758422927_89662065353_10210-2945-3781862_m&utm_source=g&utm_medium=cpc&utm_campaign=8758422927&utm_content=89662065353&utm_product=10210-2945-3781862&gclid=Cj0KCQiAsvTxBRDkARIsAH4W_j9s-S2i8dx5-4oj_OIAqU1QdkFHfmDStQ9IWYEy0hgpi_PicRYLcAQaApMEEALw_wcB

Those look interesting! Part of the reason we are sleeping in the car this time  (vs the normal tent setup) is that there are so many quick overnight stays between destinations and I HATE packing up wet tents in the early morning and loading them into my tiny car with me.

Fly into Vegas and rent a Juicy van.  I did this a couple years ago with my sister and saw the parks you're going to visit.  Very fun and economical.

That looks like a great idea! I don't think it will work for this trip, but another dream destination for me is Sequoia and Yosemite. It looks like I could pick up a Jucy in San Francisco for that purpose. I like it!!! https://www.jucyusa.com/

You might consider something that's partway between -- I wouldn't necessarily recommend this exact thing but we have a VW Eurovan that's a nice mix between a full-on camper and a regular passenger vehicle. It's pretty comfy to drive, and has a pop-up top that makes "getting into bed" a 30-second operation. They come with mini-kitchens, although since we live in the southwest, we got the "weekender" package, not the full camper package, and we use a camp stove on a fold-out table. It's definitely more flexible and comfortable then a prius, although it also gets a (not) stomping' 20 miles or so per gallon.

Yes I have thought about some kind of camper van but most of them I have seen that would be "presentable' enough to show up to visit clients cost more than I want to spend. I don't really want to maintain two vehicles. A vehicle + a camper seems like a better set up to me. Actually I found a modified van a few years ago I had to work really hard not to buy. Inside it had all the amenities I wanted and it was a great size - i.e., it would fit easily in normal parking spaces.  But it was named "the shark" and an artist who owned it had painted it to look like - you guessed it - a shark. I might have sent my clients to an early grave seeing me drive around in that! But it would have been a fun road trip vehicle!

...shit still adds up and takes time to procure...

In your situation, the answer is: RENT. #RentRentRentRentRent


Yeah, maybe. You all have given me great feedback. Thanks!

ontheway2

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Re: I want a camper.
« Reply #13 on: February 07, 2020, 12:03:01 PM »

Great idea!

What about one of those suv tents? It seems it would work with the Prius being a hatch, and it would allow room to spread out and bring pets. Depending on the tent, you couldn't leave the vehicle running though because of the exhaust.
It creates a living room that you can stand up in

Something like this. https://www.autoanything.com/truck-tents/77A2945A3066850.aspx?kc=GOOGADW&DZID=PLA_g_8758422927_89662065353_10210-2945-3781862_m&utm_source=g&utm_medium=cpc&utm_campaign=8758422927&utm_content=89662065353&utm_product=10210-2945-3781862&gclid=Cj0KCQiAsvTxBRDkARIsAH4W_j9s-S2i8dx5-4oj_OIAqU1QdkFHfmDStQ9IWYEy0hgpi_PicRYLcAQaApMEEALw_wcB

Those look interesting! Part of the reason we are sleeping in the car this time  (vs the normal tent setup) is that there are so many quick overnight stays between destinations and I HATE packing up wet tents in the early morning and loading them into my tiny car with me.


Yeah, I understand. I've been trying to decide between something like that or a teardrop type camper. I want to be able to plan ahead and not worry about rain and being miserable, and I would love a window AC to extend the camping season with us being in the south. I want something like this if I get a vehicle that can tow 1500 lbs. No bathroom, but could cook in it, sleep, eat, etc

https://www.rustictrailteardrops.com/papa-bear/
« Last Edit: February 07, 2020, 12:05:16 PM by ontheway2 »

dhc

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Re: I want a camper.
« Reply #14 on: February 08, 2020, 06:44:48 PM »
Sounds like the main attraction is for cooking. Why not just get a better camp stove and pots/pans/utensils? There's no reason to have to only eat dehydrated food while car camping.

K_in_SoCal

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Re: I want a camper.
« Reply #15 on: February 08, 2020, 08:14:36 PM »
We have a class B van camper, mostly because of health issues that necessitate having a bathroom with us when we travel.  Nothing about it is frugal, per se, but we do our best to make it a bit more mustachian.  We are a family of four adults (although the almost 20 year old has delayed getting his driver's license because paying for auto insurance when he would rarely get to drive doesn't make much financial sense).  Three adult drivers share one subcompact hatchback, and the Sprinter van camper.  We rarely have to use it as the second vehicle, but it is there.  We also use it to carry things if the cargo space in the car isn't sufficient.  We use it as a bike race support vehicle (place to change, to shower, to hang out in, and to bring our own food).  It's nice for day trips -- we can carry food in the refrigerator and cook in the van, shower off the sand from the beach, etc.  With careful driving, we typically get 21mpg, which is better than the Tacoma truck we used to own.

For camping, when possible we either boondock or "stealth" camp in it, avoiding camping fees.  BLM dispersed camping is free, as is staying in a friend's driveway.  We'e figured out how to sleep all of us in it reasonably comfortably, although it's much better with just two of us.  When we travel, we make a point of taking all the food we will eat and cooking in the van, versus having an eat out mentality, even in cities.

We did used to have a fiberglass "egg" style camper, but stopping every 20-30 minutes to get to the bathroom wasn't tenable.  We bought it used (bought a 2009 Escape in 2012) and sold it in 2015 for the same price we paid.  Of all travel trailers, I've never seen anything hold value as well as the fiberglass egg trailers.  It's amazing to see someone asking $10K for a 25 year old trailer, but they get it.  Maintenance on the fiberglass trailer was super minimal, mostly just repacking wheel bearings each year.  The van has more expensive maintenance by far.

Without a doubt, the van camper is a luxury item, but it's paid for and we're good shape finanically.  We aren't FIRE, in part because we want to assist our boys with their schooling, but mostly because DH doesn't want to leave work yet.  Still, if his job was gone tomorrow we could work it out without him going back to work, and I already don't work for pay.  Even assuming we live to 100, have to finish paying off the mortgage (only debt), and never receive a penny from social security, FIREcalc shows us with 100% success.  (We would have to use SEPP and participate in ACA.)  So I don't let myself feel guilty about the camper van.

FINate

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Re: I want a camper.
« Reply #16 on: February 08, 2020, 08:51:49 PM »
RVs are great, but expensive and require a fair amount of work to keep the systems properly maintained. Towing slows you down (safe towing speeds) and is murder on fuel economy on tow vehicles that are already bad on MPG. Route planning requires more care, you don't want to get into places that are too tight. But it can be worth the extra expense and hassle if you camp a lot and enjoy the creature comforts.

In your situation you should rent first to make sure you enjoy the experience. Would also very seriously consider a small teardrop or popup tent trailer, which have heaters and are generally very light and easy to tow.

The simplest solution, however, is to get a tent and some quality sleeping pads and down sleeping bags. Outdoor Vitals makes great sleeping bags at a very reasonable price (https://outdoorvitals.com/collections/sleeping-bags). These extra things will easily fit in the back of your Prius. Add long johns and beanies and you'll sleep warm. Pick up a Buddy Heater to warm the tent before bed and in the morning, though I wouldn't run it overnight. A CO/smoke alarm combo is recommended.

GreenEggs

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Re: I want a camper.
« Reply #17 on: February 09, 2020, 12:11:38 AM »
Ditto on the tent.  Tents are inexpensive and keep you out of the weather.  I'd much rather sleep in a tent than cooped up in a Prius for 10 days.  You can get a big tent that you can walk around in & store all your stuff for cheap.  It's a lot quicker & easier to set one up that it was to remove the front seat from your car.   You can afford a tent now.  There's no numbers to crunch or car shopping to do. 




You can keep your Prius and keep saving your money. 

the_fixer

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Re: I want a camper.
« Reply #18 on: February 09, 2020, 01:57:53 PM »
Or how about a van?

Could be a step up from camping in the car and you can have everything you mentioned in it.

Could be anything from a minivan, cargo van or even a transit style van.

Once you get into towing it opens a whole new string of things to consider as well as storage.

Do some searching and look at what people have done with various Van builds


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Dicey

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Re: I want a camper.
« Reply #19 on: February 09, 2020, 10:11:54 PM »
Hey @Queen Frugal,
I'm really enjoying this thread. DH and I just bought a small RV. I started a thread to figure out what I need to kit it out and there have been lots of really helpful replies. Thought you might want to come on over and join us for the ride...planning is half the fun.
Kind regards,
Dicey

https://forum.mrmoneymustache.com/ask-a-mustachian/experienced-rvers-need-help-the-mustachian-way!/

Lucky13

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Re: I want a camper.
« Reply #20 on: February 10, 2020, 12:39:07 AM »
Doesn't seem like you've fully account for increased cost of gas, as your MPG could easily be cut in half going from a fuel-efficient Prius to a larger van or RV. (depending on fuel prices in your area this might be bigger or lesser concern for you)

dandypandys

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Re: I want a camper.
« Reply #21 on: February 10, 2020, 05:28:27 AM »
You just have to try a nice tent first! Yes, it is slightly annoying to put a wet tent in the car- but really not too much hassle. I reccomend the REI Kingdom 8. SOOO nice! Hubs and I feel like we are living high on the hog when we go camping in it. Checks its screened in porch room! Great for if there are bugs :)

engineerjourney

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Re: I want a camper.
« Reply #22 on: February 10, 2020, 07:29:36 AM »
What about a tent trailer/pop up trailer? The ones that pop up and out (ours had a hard top over the center part)?  We used this camping when I was a kid, had a kitchen (ours didnt have a bathroom) and tons of space to use when it rained.  We also pulled it with a minivan so it definitely wasn't as heavy as some of the rigs talked about here.  It was a HUGE step up in luxury camping but also pretty cheap!  Its on my radar for camping when my kids get older.  I think they make models with bathrooms too but we werent interested in that back then since we just stayed at KOA sites with real bathrooms and showers!

Queen Frugal

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Re: I want a camper.
« Reply #23 on: February 10, 2020, 01:13:25 PM »
I appreciate all the ideas! Vans and pop up trailers and tents are all great and have their places, but I am resigned to a small camper and a different vehicle. This set up would allow me to cook in bad weather, travel with my dogs and have somewhere to keep them safely, have air conditioning would make camping in hot weather much more pleasant, I could sleep in a Walmart parking lot if I needed to, and I could unhook the camper and go do things without having to lug around my house on wheels.

My Prius is a 2014 with with fairly low mileage. I bought it new. At the time I was planning on doing a lot of long commuting and I couldn't find a used Prius that was a better 'deal'. Then the job didn't work out as planned and I didn't commute long distances after all. I paid cash and Toyota had a nice rebate offer going on at the time and this was an old model they were trying to get rid of. I should not have bought it new, but hey - my mustache was just starting to grow in at the time.

So I am thinking a 2008-ish Jeep Grand Cherokee. There are plenty in my area. I also think I would like a Scamp or a Casita. They do hold their resale value fairly well and they don't have as many 'gadgets' that will break.

So here is my budget:

Sunk costs:

$   6,000 - 2008 Jeep Grand Cherokee private party value
$ 12,000 - Camper
$     600 - sales tax
$ 18,600 - Gross acquisition costs
($11,000) - sale of Prius to my neighbor
$   7,600 - net acquisition costs

Annual ongoing costs above what my Toyota is costing me
$ 1,100 - gas*
$    539 - Jeep repairs**
$ 1,000 - Trailer repairs***
$ 2,639 - annual cost
$    220 - monthly annual costs

* My Prius averages 40 MPG. I am hoping the Jeep will average 18 MPG (this is the city rate). I drive 12k a year and I am assuming $3 per gallon.
** National average for Jeep maintenance is $666 but it is an older Jeep so I am using $1000. From that, I have deducting the average cost of maintenance for my Prius of $461.
*** I have no idea what average trailer repairs will be. Tires definitely wear out and the wheel bearings need repacking. I think I can handle winterizing it.

A couple of other comments/variables. I would definitely use the trailer at least twice a year when visiting family over holidays. I could then take my dogs and save about $600 a year in dog boarding costs. This would likely offset any extra costs associated with camping the way I do - which is mostly state parks. Also, the insurance would probably be a wash. I could drop to liability on the Jeep (right now I am paying for full coverage) and I would probably get full coverage on the camper.

I do have to say a Jeep would be a luxury for the way I live. I don't drive very much unless I'm road tripping. I live 4 blocks from the office, 2 blocks from my daughter's school. I occasionally drive to client's homes to visit them. I drive once a week across town to visit my mom and out of town once a week or more to take the dogs out to the dog park or to go hiking or something. My recreational activities - hiking, dirty dogs in the back, etc - would definitely benefit from a Jeep!

Thoughts about the budget?

 

FINate

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Re: I want a camper.
« Reply #24 on: February 10, 2020, 02:11:29 PM »
I appreciate all the ideas! Vans and pop up trailers and tents are all great and have their places, but I am resigned to a small camper and a different vehicle. This set up would allow me to cook in bad weather, travel with my dogs and have somewhere to keep them safely, have air conditioning would make camping in hot weather much more pleasant, I could sleep in a Walmart parking lot if I needed to, and I could unhook the camper and go do things without having to lug around my house on wheels.

You can do all these things except air conditioning* with a pop up tent trailer or tent w/ tarps ;-) We did a three week road trip last summer and it rained a fair amount...we just put a shelter up over our cooking area. But I get it, you really want the trailer and the Jeep.

* Air conditioning is energy intensive. Realistically, not going to happen unless you have electrical hookups, which cost extra. In a pinch you may be able to run some ACs on some generators, but it's not a good general solution.

Do you have a place at your house to store the trailer? If you don't then you'll need to factor in another $100/month for storage.

Your up-front costs need to include all the stuff you're going to buy to furnish the trailer: pots, pans, dishes, utensils, bedding, tools, spare fuses, leveling blocks, wheel chocks, and a myriad of asserted odds and ends. Would say $200-$1000 depending on where you buy and how much you can get used.

You're not going to get anywhere near 18 mpg towing, more like 10-12. So while you would have spent $225 on gas for a 3000 mile road trip, you now need to budget for around $900.

Also, you'll want to consider replacing the battery unless you're certain it's been well maintained and hasn't had a lot of cycles. $100-$200 depending on size, brand, etc. Plan on doing this every few years depending on usage, climate, and so on.


Queen Frugal

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Re: I want a camper.
« Reply #25 on: February 10, 2020, 02:26:08 PM »
Do you have a place at your house to store the trailer? If you don't then you'll need to factor in another $100/month for storage.

I can park the trailer at home no problem.

Your up-front costs need to include all the stuff you're going to buy to furnish the trailer: pots, pans, dishes, utensils, bedding, tools, spare fuses, leveling blocks, wheel chocks, and a myriad of asserted odds and ends. Would say $200-$1000 depending on where you buy and how much you can get used.

...

Also, you'll want to consider replacing the battery unless you're certain it's been well maintained and hasn't had a lot of cycles. $100-$200 depending on size, brand, etc. Plan on doing this every few years depending on usage, climate, and so on.



Wheel chocks? I have NO idea what those are! I'll have to google it. I'll add some more to my budget to cover these costs. The basics are easily covered with stuff from the thrift store but things like wheel chocks might be harder to find!  Do you think $1,000 a year for trailer maintenance sounds reasonable?

FINate

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Re: I want a camper.
« Reply #26 on: February 10, 2020, 03:07:33 PM »
Wheel chocks are for blocking the tires to keep the trailer from rolling away after you unhitch. You should get into a routine, a checklist if you will, for hitching and unhitching the trailer. And double check everything. Chocking/blocking the wheels should always happen before you unhitch, even on flat ground.

I should also add, you want to make sure that the Jeep you get has the tow package, which usually means better cooling (it will have to work harder), possibly a trailer brake controller, and the appropriate connection for trailer lights (usually a 7-way).

Ongoing maintenance costs largely depend on how much you're willing/able to do. You need to repack and re-grease the bearings annually. Also need to inspect all the seams and remove and replace worn calking. And appliances occasionally need repairing (refrigerators especially seem to have problems). I once hit a tree with the top corner of my trailer and damaged the awning...that alone was about $1k to fix. If you do most of the work yourself, and avoid damaging it, then $1000/year is probably reasonable.

Queen Frugal

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Re: I want a camper.
« Reply #27 on: February 10, 2020, 03:51:35 PM »
Hey @Queen Frugal,
I'm really enjoying this thread. DH and I just bought a small RV. I started a thread to figure out what I need to kit it out and there have been lots of really helpful replies. Thought you might want to come on over and join us for the ride...planning is half the fun.
Kind regards,
Dicey

https://forum.mrmoneymustache.com/ask-a-mustachian/experienced-rvers-need-help-the-mustachian-way!/

Thanks! I have been lurking there already!!! :)

We have a class B van camper, mostly because of health issues that necessitate having a bathroom with us when we travel.  Nothing about it is frugal, per se, but we do our best to make it a bit more mustachian.  We are a family of four adults (although the almost 20 year old has delayed getting his driver's license because paying for auto insurance when he would rarely get to drive doesn't make much financial sense).  Three adult drivers share one subcompact hatchback, and the Sprinter van camper.  We rarely have to use it as the second vehicle, but it is there.  We also use it to carry things if the cargo space in the car isn't sufficient.  We use it as a bike race support vehicle (place to change, to shower, to hang out in, and to bring our own food).  It's nice for day trips -- we can carry food in the refrigerator and cook in the van, shower off the sand from the beach, etc.  With careful driving, we typically get 21mpg, which is better than the Tacoma truck we used to own.

For camping, when possible we either boondock or "stealth" camp in it, avoiding camping fees.  BLM dispersed camping is free, as is staying in a friend's driveway.  We'e figured out how to sleep all of us in it reasonably comfortably, although it's much better with just two of us.  When we travel, we make a point of taking all the food we will eat and cooking in the van, versus having an eat out mentality, even in cities.

We did used to have a fiberglass "egg" style camper, but stopping every 20-30 minutes to get to the bathroom wasn't tenable.  We bought it used (bought a 2009 Escape in 2012) and sold it in 2015 for the same price we paid.  Of all travel trailers, I've never seen anything hold value as well as the fiberglass egg trailers.  It's amazing to see someone asking $10K for a 25 year old trailer, but they get it.  Maintenance on the fiberglass trailer was super minimal, mostly just repacking wheel bearings each year.  The van has more expensive maintenance by far.

Without a doubt, the van camper is a luxury item, but it's paid for and we're good shape finanically.  We aren't FIRE, in part because we want to assist our boys with their schooling, but mostly because DH doesn't want to leave work yet.  Still, if his job was gone tomorrow we could work it out without him going back to work, and I already don't work for pay.  Even assuming we live to 100, have to finish paying off the mortgage (only debt), and never receive a penny from social security, FIREcalc shows us with 100% success.  (We would have to use SEPP and participate in ACA.)  So I don't let myself feel guilty about the camper van.

Thanks for sharing and I appreciated hearing about your experience reselling your "egg"!

Wheel chocks are for blocking the tires to keep the trailer from rolling away after you unhitch.

Aha! I have hauled plenty of horse trailers over the years and I have never heard that term! I always called them blocks. Well, there you go. I have shown just how little I know about the camping world. Lol!

FINate

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Re: I want a camper.
« Reply #28 on: February 10, 2020, 04:00:59 PM »
Aha! I have hauled plenty of horse trailers over the years and I have never heard that term! I always called them blocks. Well, there you go. I have shown just how little I know about the camping world. Lol!

Maybe it's a regional thing.

Queen Frugal

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Re: I want a camper.
« Reply #29 on: February 10, 2020, 04:27:33 PM »

You're not going to get anywhere near 18 mpg towing, more like 10-12. So while you would have spent $225 on gas for a 3000 mile road trip, you now need to budget for around $900.


Yeah, that is probably true. I have also thought about getting a smaller trailer - like a 13' - which probably would max out at 2500 - 3000# loaded -  and I could then get a less robust towing vehicle with better mpg. The 13' trailers are tough to find though. I like the Toyota Highlanders  -  and even some of the the hybrids can haul 3500 pounds - but I don't see very many older ones around and it's confusing to me which ones are really robust enough to tow a trailer long distances with.  I am not sure my mpg would be a whole lot different when hauling a trailer anyway. It's just going to suck gas whatever car it is I suspect! And, most of my miles would be hauling a trailer as I don't drive much otherwise.

FINate

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Re: I want a camper.
« Reply #30 on: February 10, 2020, 04:51:50 PM »
Yeah, that is probably true. I have also thought about getting a smaller trailer - like a 13' - which probably would max out at 2500 - 3000# loaded -  and I could then get a less robust towing vehicle with better mpg. The 13' trailers are tough to find though. I like the Toyota Highlanders  -  and even some of the the hybrids can haul 3500 pounds - but I don't see very many older ones around and it's confusing to me which ones are really robust enough to tow a trailer long distances with.  I am not sure my mpg would be a whole lot different when hauling a trailer anyway. It's just going to suck gas whatever car it is I suspect! And, most of my miles would be hauling a trailer as I don't drive much otherwise.

The Scamps are a narrower and more aerodynamic than a lot of RVs so they may be more efficient to tow? I wouldn't know, they are too small for my height for me to have ever considered/researched them.

Most Highlanders with tow package are rated for around 5000 pounds, I think. Take the GVWR (loaded weight) of the trailer and divide it it by 0.80...this is what I would shoot for as a minimum tow rating for long distance. So a 3000 lb trailer would tow nicely with minimum 4375 lb tow rating. Some configurations of the Jeep Grand Cherokee are rated for over 7000 lbs of towing, which should feel comfortable towing a 5000 lb trailer.

calimom

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Re: I want a camper.
« Reply #31 on: February 10, 2020, 06:33:41 PM »
It sounds like you're leaning toward a Jeep+trailer option, and you're educating yourself on all the expenses and pros and cons of such. Jeeps do have a reputation of expensive repair costs, as you know. A big benefit to a tow-along is that you can set up camp and then leave for further adventures in the tow vehicle and be able to return to your fully set-up campsite.

Just for the sake of another idea, check out https://camperism.co/2018/03/13/25-best-honda-element-camping/. I've personally always thought the Element was cool and practical. There seem to be multiple ways to customize, and ideally one could be found used. It would also be a good around town type of vehicle for the driving you do.

A few years ago I rented a Class C motorhome for a National Parks trip with my 3 kids and a grandmother along to help out. My son was at that time a 4th grader and we had a Parks Pass, and visited Zion, Bryce, and the Grand Canyon. I picked it up in our hometown a day before taking off and used all our own bedding, towels and camping equipment. It was mildly intimidating to drive at first, but I gained confidence the first day. But once we were parked in a campground, that was it. We either walked or took park shuttles from there. As my kids have gotten older we've done less camping of any kind (we did a fair amount of tent camping for awhile) but we all had a great time and I hope to do more camping in the future.

the_fixer

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Re: I want a camper.
« Reply #32 on: February 10, 2020, 06:39:46 PM »
We had a scamp 13ft and I am a big fan. Sold it in one day for what we paid new so at least you can get your money back if you change your mind.

A few things A/C is going to require power either a decent size generator or a decent size plug in.

The fan that we had in our scamp was better than A/C other than in extreme heat and it humidity. A/C sure helps with the resale but it was just not awesome in our scamp too loud and hard to not make it a meat locker due to no thermostat on the A/C.

The 13 is pretty small especially if you are going with the bathroom model and really only has one place to sleep. That place is also the dinette so you ha e to make it up and tear it down.

When one of us was getting ready the other would have to go outside there was just no room unless you were to break down the bed.

I honestly think that a cargo van would have more room than our scamp 13 had.

Here in a year or two when we retire I am planning to buy a cargo van that can tow our current trailer around the US and double as a quick weekend or overnight camper but also hold our bikes, kayak and toys so as we travel around.

I would highly recommend trying out a scamp for a couple of nights the 13 is pretty small.




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Queen Frugal

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Re: I want a camper.
« Reply #33 on: February 11, 2020, 07:14:34 AM »

The fan that we had in our scamp was better than A/C other than in extreme heat and it humidity. A/C sure helps with the resale but it was just not awesome in our scamp too loud and hard to not make it a meat locker due to no thermostat on the A/C.


Very interesting! In the summer where I live, the temperature sometimes only gets down to 70's at night. That's pretty hot if the camper was baking all day in the sun. Could you get relatively comfortable with the fan in that kind of weather?  It would certainly open up possibilities! I have been trying to find 13' with A/C and no bathroom and that seems like a rare combo.

the_fixer

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Re: I want a camper.
« Reply #34 on: February 11, 2020, 07:31:09 AM »
If the scamp has the max fan or the fantastic fan you can cycle all of the air in a scamp in a matter of minutes they can really move air.

open all of the windows and turn in the fan and you will be moving so much air that it should level out with the outside temp pretty quick.

In the morning when it is cool I would close the windows and blinds and keep the cool air in and once it started heating up I would turn on the fan and open the windows.

Shade is your friend try to park in the shade it helps big time.

Can you be comfortable.... ? would you be comfortable in your house at that temp with a bunch of air moving or a ceiling fan blowing on you without AC?


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Re: I want a camper.
« Reply #35 on: February 11, 2020, 10:55:32 AM »
@Queen Frugal - I wanna ask about your food allergies really quick, because my daughter has very severe food allergies and it brought us to buying our own vs. renting.  I mean this in both directions as well.. No one is allowed in our camper and we physically can't rent others campers.   Have you thought about this aspect?  Ultimately for us, camping was our one escape in the rather isolated world of severe food allergies so we have gone above and beyond.  Both my daughters and wife love getting out as many weekends as we can, but admittedly, we pull more of a hotel on wheels than we do a mini camper. For us, it quite often becomes our hotel when we travel out of town too though.. Hotel even carry a level of risk for allergies with us currently.

Queen Frugal

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Re: I want a camper.
« Reply #36 on: February 11, 2020, 11:47:59 AM »
@Queen Frugal - I wanna ask about your food allergies really quick, because my daughter has very severe food allergies and it brought us to buying our own vs. renting.  I mean this in both directions as well.. No one is allowed in our camper and we physically can't rent others campers.   Have you thought about this aspect?  Ultimately for us, camping was our one escape in the rather isolated world of severe food allergies so we have gone above and beyond.  Both my daughters and wife love getting out as many weekends as we can, but admittedly, we pull more of a hotel on wheels than we do a mini camper. For us, it quite often becomes our hotel when we travel out of town too though.. Hotel even carry a level of risk for allergies with us currently.

I have celiac so I can't eat gluten. People with celiac have a variety of symptoms after eating gluten, but for me it is that my puny digestive system turns off - usually for about 3 weeks. It certainly makes for a miserable 3 weeks. Dairy and oats also severely slow down my puny digestive track. While I don't have a severe food allergy, I certainly can appreciate what it must be like to have one. People think having celiac must be hard for me because I must miss bread. I don't. I miss living. I sometimes do stay in hotels and airBNBs, but it is always risky and it is always stressful. I would love to hear if you feel like your hotel on wheels has been a good choice for your family.

LovinPSDs

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Re: I want a camper.
« Reply #37 on: February 12, 2020, 05:08:23 AM »
@Queen Frugal - I have this serious love hate with our setup, mostly because we LOVE the time outside and as a family.  We bought it before joining the MMM/FI movement so it's way overkill if I was starting over.  When I think about shuffling things around to downsize it means buying and selling a couple different vehicles, which usually ends up costing more money in the long run anyway.  I would like to simplify our setup though.  Easier to pull, setup, take down, etc would all be big pluses for us. I do want to atleast make the statement that we use our camper ALOT.  It's not a 1-2 trip a year thing for us.  We out probably every other weekend in the nice weather and have done the longest stint of 10 days last year.

If I was looking to do this all over, a couple things I would consider
- Storage - we currently pay $90 a month for covered storage.  Super convienent and great that it's covered, but I'd love to be able to have it at the house for conviences and cost wise.... Our house simply can't accomodate.
- Go as small as your comfortable.  The bigger you go, the bigger the Tow Vehicle has to be.  This is the problem we're dealing with.  5th wheel and 1-ton clown truck.
- Conisder trying to make your vehicle also your camping rig - May be tough if you need a kitchen
- BUY USED... there are TONS of reasonably priced campers out there.

I keep going back and forth on if we should stop camping for a while and focus on a few financial goals, but I'm just not sure if I want to do that to my kids.  They love it, we love it, its like a vacation every weekend... If I was starting from scratch I'd just try to make it as cost effective as I can.


I think I missed, how many people are you trying to accomodate?

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Re: I want a camper.
« Reply #38 on: February 12, 2020, 07:13:12 AM »
Jucy is a minivan RV rental company.  https://www.jucyusa.com/our-vehicles/jucy-mini-rv-rental/ 


Their minivans have pop-up roofs for sleeping and the kitchen area is accessed from the rear, with the liftgate opened for shelter.  This seems like a workable design for a couple of people.  I don't know where you'd find one of these for sale or a company that does the conversions, but thought it was an interesting design to share here.




the_fixer

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Re: I want a camper.
« Reply #39 on: February 12, 2020, 07:27:33 AM »
Pretty easy to replicate that jucy setup just buy a roof top tent and mount it to your choice of vehicle. You could even put one on the Prius.

We had an adventure off-road style trailer that was setup with a roof top tent. Worked fine but the wife wanted more amenities and I was not a fan of climbing down the ladder in the middle of the night or when drunk :)

I do know someone that put one on a small harbor freight trailer  so it is super light and only a few steps to the ground.




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Queen Frugal

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Re: I want a camper.
« Reply #40 on: February 13, 2020, 06:10:32 AM »
@Queen Frugal
I think I missed, how many people are you trying to accomodate?

I would like room for three - one of which is my mother who needs something relatively easy to get in and out of. Many of the Scamp and Casitas have a 16 or 17 foot version that has a full/queen bed plus a cot size bed. I am thinking that could work perfect.

Your comments about your own situation are very helpful.

The Jucy type setup is not all that different than my setup with my Prius - save for the kitchen area in the back. Sleeping in the back is surprisingly comfortable as the seats lay out flat and it is plenty long enough. I bought a great big roof top duffle bag that holds more stuff than I would ever need to go on a road trip. It shifts around a little when driving and it is hard to get in and out of but it works. It would not be difficult to make a table that sticks out the back if I wanted to cook that way.

One of the things that has been hard for me in traveling in a car camping way is finding a bathroom. During the day it isn't a problem but at night I need to "go" frequently. I have found that using a campground bathroom for this purpose is hard. By the time I crawl out of my car or tent and stumble to the bathroom with a flashlight and then back to bed, I am wide awake. Last summer I took a "GoGirl" with me on a road trip to Yellowstone and used it in my great big tent at night. I was discouraged by the results. Every one in a while, it leaked. Ick. But I have been experimenting with a "Pibella" at home and it seems to work much much better. I am cautiously hopeful that it will allow me a place to "go" IN MY PRIUS at night. That is the primary reason I removed the front seat for the trip.

I have debated whether I would really want a full bathroom in a camper. It is a lot of extra space. And I have already learned to pee through a Pibella straw! Ha! But my mom will at least need a porta potty.


FINate

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Re: I want a camper.
« Reply #41 on: February 13, 2020, 08:52:26 AM »

Clean Shaven

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Re: I want a camper.
« Reply #42 on: February 13, 2020, 09:05:41 AM »
Have you considered a camping porta potty - https://www.amazon.com/Portable-Toilet-Camping-Porta-Potty/dp/B06XGN67XS
Walmart sells these too, along with lots of RV products for less than the RV stores - so if you need to stock up a camper, I recommend wandering the aisles at your local store.

You can also get a pop up type enclosure for the portapotty. Lots of choices, often marketed for use for outdoor showers.

the_fixer

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I want a camper.
« Reply #43 on: February 13, 2020, 09:15:40 AM »
Trying to accommodate that many people with the needs you have mentioned are probably going to lead you down the path of something larger possibly a bunkhouse tin camper or a larger pop up.

Mo money mo problems

Or as they call it in the RV world 2ft itis


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« Last Edit: February 13, 2020, 09:17:11 AM by the_fixer »

Queen Frugal

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Re: I want a camper.
« Reply #44 on: February 13, 2020, 09:21:32 AM »
Have you considered a camping porta potty - https://www.amazon.com/Portable-Toilet-Camping-Porta-Potty/dp/B06XGN67XS

Yes. Obviously it won't work well in a Prius (ha!) but definitely it is an option and actually my preference for the camper. Then I don't have to deal with black water disposal, which would be nice!

ixtap

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Re: I want a camper.
« Reply #45 on: February 13, 2020, 09:26:43 AM »
Have you considered a camping porta potty - https://www.amazon.com/Portable-Toilet-Camping-Porta-Potty/dp/B06XGN67XS

Yes. Obviously it won't work well in a Prius (ha!) but definitely it is an option and actually my preference for the camper. Then I don't have to deal with black water disposal, which would be nice!

I do not understand this, although it is a fairly common sentiment in #vanlife circles. I have done both and I would 100% rather deal with a hose and two levers than carry a couple of gallons of waste to the nearest toilet, dumping it in an enclosed space with the accompanying smells, wash it out and return it to place. Now, if you are just going to pee, MAYBE. But we used our porta potti as our sole source for long weekends on the boat.

Clean Shaven

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Re: I want a camper.
« Reply #46 on: February 13, 2020, 03:39:42 PM »
Here's a fairly inexpensive option for renting a camper - try it out, see if you like it:

https://www.theclymb.com/Product.aspx?l=00030000000000000000&p=ESV01233&a=021320_TCB_Adv_Weekly_LOVE&jb=n


kpd905

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Re: I want a camper.
« Reply #47 on: February 15, 2020, 07:20:31 AM »
Here's a fairly inexpensive option for renting a camper - try it out, see if you like it:

https://www.theclymb.com/Product.aspx?l=00030000000000000000&p=ESV01233&a=021320_TCB_Adv_Weekly_LOVE&jb=n

Why is that priced per person when you are still just renting one van?

the_fixer

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I want a camper.
« Reply #48 on: February 15, 2020, 07:37:50 AM »
Here's a fairly inexpensive option for renting a camper - try it out, see if you like it:

https://www.theclymb.com/Product.aspx?l=00030000000000000000&p=ESV01233&a=021320_TCB_Adv_Weekly_LOVE&jb=n

Why is that priced per person when you are still just renting one van?

I found that odd as well and it appears the actual company is escape camper vans and there is no mention of per person on their site that I came across so I would compare the price.

Not sure what the link posted above for theclymb is but seems like a reseller that is giving you a voucher so can book with escape camper vans but it looks like they are breaking it up into per person.


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« Last Edit: February 15, 2020, 07:42:03 AM by the_fixer »

Clean Shaven

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Re: I want a camper.
« Reply #49 on: February 15, 2020, 07:56:26 AM »
The Clymb is a reseller. They're legit.

If you keep reading on the FAQ in the link to the offer, it says it's per rental, not per person. I was wondering about that too.