Author Topic: Cheap camper/trailer ideas?  (Read 2730 times)

The Fake Cheap

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Cheap camper/trailer ideas?
« on: August 28, 2019, 07:34:22 PM »

So my wife seems pretty set that she wants to get a trailer for camping for next summer. I'm not really on board for the following reasons:


If we were to get a trailer (a smaller size one, like 14-15 feet is probably what we would go for) we do not have a vehicle able to tow anything of that weight.  We have 2 cars, no truck/SUV.

I understand we could go the route of tent trailer, which cars can generally tow, however we've heard tent trailers are more trouble than they are worth (we would buy used) and also I don't love the idea of towing with our cars, one is 10 years old, and the other is 1 year old.  According to a quick search online the 1 year old car is not recommended for towing. 

I don't like the idea of selling the 10 year old car for a used truck SUV so we could tow something, because the 10 year old car is pretty solid, I plan to keep it another year or two, it's been basically flawless since we bought it 6 years ago.  Also if I bought a used truck/SUV  gas would probably cost 1.5x-2x more than with my current car, (which would amount to about an extra $50-100/month).  Also I've become very environmentally concious, so I don't beleive in burning extra gas, even if there was no cost difference.

I thought I might have found a solution with converting a "Sprinter" van (someone posting a nice thread about this in this sub forum) but it would probably be a bit of a stretch of my abilitlites but I would go for it, however the real deal breaker for going this route is that there seem to be very few of these available for sale in my area (Eastern Canada) and they seem to be extremely hard to find with a 3rd seat, which we would require for our child. 

We do have decent tenting equipment currently, however we were burned twice this year with weather, rain, which is really the biggest downfall with tenting. 

Can anyone think of a way I can make this work cheaply? I thought of buying the trailer, and then just renting a truck/SUV as needed, but it was about $150/day or $600 for a week to rent these.

Would it make any sort of sense to buy a truck/SUV that we just use to haul the trailer?  I can't see it, having a $7,000 truck/SUV just sitting in your driveway at least half the year, and then we do do "use" it the other half the year it's only for camping?  It sounds crazy to even consider such a thing.



Cassie

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Re: Cheap camper/trailer ideas?
« Reply #1 on: August 28, 2019, 07:49:24 PM »
We have a 27 ft motor home for sale for 7k.

cangelosibrown

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Re: Cheap camper/trailer ideas?
« Reply #2 on: August 28, 2019, 10:28:32 PM »
On the face of it, I agree it sounds crazy...how much have you been going camping?

So extra gas, plus transaction cost of selling a car and buying an truck, plus extra cost and depreciation of owning the truck instead of the car, plus cost of buying and owning the trailer, plus extra gas to tow the thing around... Add all that up, my guess is you're talking at least 5k per year, maybe more depending on the truck you get.

I've done a lot of tent camping in my life. My advice is to upgrade your set up so the rain doesn't bother you as much, and also just be willing to leave and go get a hotel or go home if the weather truly isn't cooperating. Not like you'd be having fun in the trailer if it was raining, just be drier and still bored.

I've considered getting an RV or trailer to live in, but I'd never consider getting one just for some vacation camping trips.

HPstache

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Re: Cheap camper/trailer ideas?
« Reply #3 on: August 28, 2019, 11:25:54 PM »
A good suggestion would be to rent a trailer or motorhome from rvshare.com .  We have been on the other side of this site renting our tent trailer and it works great.

Linea_Norway

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Re: Cheap camper/trailer ideas?
« Reply #4 on: August 29, 2019, 01:10:26 AM »
And what about combining tent camping with occasionally renting a cabin or an airBnB when the weather is bad?

pbkmaine

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Re: Cheap camper/trailer ideas?
« Reply #5 on: August 29, 2019, 01:19:10 AM »
Have you looked at used pop up or teardrop campers?

MicroRN

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Re: Cheap camper/trailer ideas?
« Reply #6 on: August 29, 2019, 05:36:35 AM »
If you don't already have a tow vehicle, it seems excessive.  How often do you camp?  Could you just upgrade your gear?  A big rain fly can make a huge difference.  Or what about looking at camp sites with cabins instead? 

chemistk

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Re: Cheap camper/trailer ideas?
« Reply #7 on: August 29, 2019, 06:05:53 AM »
A good suggestion would be to rent a trailer or motorhome from rvshare.com .  We have been on the other side of this site renting our tent trailer and it works great.

If this or a similar site is available in your area, it's an excellent suggestion. Essentially, AirBnB meets Turo for RVs. A lot of 5th wheel/Travel Trailer owners on the site will include (for a small fee) transportation and set up to your campsite and some will even offer to take care of gray/black water disposal as well. We nearly did a weeklong trip using the site and would seriously consider it when we're ready to camp again. The best part is that typically the nightly cost is hilariously low for a lot of pretty swanky motorhomes. The only thing you'll need to look at is insurance, what your policies will cover vs. what the owner's policy will cover.

Back to your original issue - what vehicles do you have, specifically. Many many cars are capable of towing small tent trailers (or even ultralite travel trailers) without any issue, and a 10 year old car (unless poorly maintained) should not be of any concern. Consider this RV (would never suggest buyng new):

https://www.jayco.com/products/travel-trailers/2019-hummingbird/10rk/

At a dry weight of 1545 pounds, many many small 4cyl cars could tow one of these.I'm not necessarily suggesting you purchase one, but more that there are options out there that don't involve offloading one of your perfectly fine vehicles or renting a truck in addition to the upkeep of owning and storing a larger RV.

Papa bear

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Re: Cheap camper/trailer ideas?
« Reply #8 on: August 29, 2019, 06:08:11 AM »
Buy a used RV to use the for a season or 2.  Keep it in really good shape, clean, etc.  most of the depreciation is on the front end; you could resell for what you payed for it after awhile.

Or, rent out your RV while not using it and make some cash, and then sell it after a year or 2. 



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lentil

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Re: Cheap camper/trailer ideas?
« Reply #9 on: August 29, 2019, 09:07:39 AM »
Quote
And what about combining tent camping with occasionally renting a cabin or an airBnB when the weather is bad?

This is our go-to strategy. If camping becomes miserable for whatever reason, we leave and rent a motel room (or airbnb) for the night. Even in the unlikely circumstance where a motel or rental is unexpectedly expensive, it works out to being way, way less than buying and maintaining a specialized camping vehicle. And I think just knowing we have that option takes some of the pressure out of vacations.

mm1970

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Re: Cheap camper/trailer ideas?
« Reply #10 on: August 29, 2019, 10:47:55 AM »
Quote
And what about combining tent camping with occasionally renting a cabin or an airBnB when the weather is bad?

This is our go-to strategy. If camping becomes miserable for whatever reason, we leave and rent a motel room (or airbnb) for the night. Even in the unlikely circumstance where a motel or rental is unexpectedly expensive, it works out to being way, way less than buying and maintaining a specialized camping vehicle. And I think just knowing we have that option takes some of the pressure out of vacations.
Yup.  I went through this EXACT process that you are going through, but about 10 years ago.

It just didn't make sense to get anything - not a teardrop, a tent trailer, or camper.  We have a Matrix and a Civic.

Now, there were LOTS of small cars towing small trailers in Denmark this summer, so it CAN be done.

But it didn't pencil out for us - we only camp about once/ year.  We are unlikely to do it more often even with a trailer or RV or whatever.  When we do go camping for a "week", we do a couple of days in a tent and then switch to hotel/ airBNB.

Turkey Leg

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Re: Cheap camper/trailer ideas?
« Reply #11 on: August 29, 2019, 11:22:36 AM »
https://www.hikertrailers.com

Quote
Hikers can be towed with most passenger cars, mini-vans, and small SUVís. Its compact size makes it easy to maneuver in the woods, highways and bumpy roads.


YK-Phil

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Re: Cheap camper/trailer ideas?
« Reply #12 on: August 29, 2019, 11:43:25 AM »
https://www.hikertrailers.com

Quote
Hikers can be towed with most passenger cars, mini-vans, and small SUVís. Its compact size makes it easy to maneuver in the woods, highways and bumpy roads.

In the OP' situation (small car, occasional camper), this is what I would get. It wouldn't work for me as I live full-time in my camper and need the space, but if it were for a few weeks or even months a year on an extended road trip, this would work for me.

The Fake Cheap

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Re: Cheap camper/trailer ideas?
« Reply #13 on: August 29, 2019, 06:32:13 PM »
Thanks for the responses everyone, some good thoughts.  I'll reply to more later when I have some more time.

We have a 27 ft motor home for sale for 7k.
Way bigger than what we are looking for.  Thanks for the offer.

On the face of it, I agree it sounds crazy...how much have you been going camping?

So extra gas, plus transaction cost of selling a car and buying an truck, plus extra cost and depreciation of owning the truck instead of the car, plus cost of buying and owning the trailer, plus extra gas to tow the thing around... Add all that up, my guess is you're talking at least 5k per year, maybe more depending on the truck you get.

I've done a lot of tent camping in my life. My advice is to upgrade your set up so the rain doesn't bother you as much, and also just be willing to leave and go get a hotel or go home if the weather truly isn't cooperating. Not like you'd be having fun in the trailer if it was raining, just be drier and still bored.

I've considered getting an RV or trailer to live in, but I'd never consider getting one just for some vacation camping trips.

We just bought a new tent last year, which was a nice step up from our old previous tent.  Just packing up and going home isn't fun in the rain, and neither is setting everything back up to dry when you get home.  I know that's kind of excusy, but it sucks.

A good suggestion would be to rent a trailer or motorhome from rvshare.com .  We have been on the other side of this site renting our tent trailer and it works great.

We have briefly explored this option in the past, and it is very price, because I'm in a small city so there is only one RV place to rent from, no on line places that I could find serve my area.  The one local place rents  small RV for $225/night, that's fairly pricey, but seems like it might be cheaper than buying.

And what about combining tent camping with occasionally renting a cabin or an airBnB when the weather is bad?
  This is possible, not super convenient, we don't have any data plans so would need to rely on wifi once we leave home, again still faced with packing and unpacking wet camping gear.

Have you looked at used pop up or teardrop campers?
By pop-up I assume you mean what I call a tent trailer, with the canvas sides.  We haven' t had great feedback from people we know with these, but their light weight (and low cost) means that we wouldn't need a gas guzzler to haul them, but we would still need something with more towing power. We may consider going this route.

If you don't already have a tow vehicle, it seems excessive.  How often do you camp?  Could you just upgrade your gear?  A big rain fly can make a huge difference.  Or what about looking at camp sites with cabins instead? 
We go camping about 3 times a year,usualy 2 nightsper trip, plus we normally rent a cottage for a week.  One bonus I figure with a trailer is that we could do off season camping more easily...less people!!!!  I realize that considering such a purchase for only a few nights here and here is totally ludicrous so we would do some longer trips, plus hopefully some spring and fall weekend trips.

A good suggestion would be to rent a trailer or motorhome from rvshare.com .  We have been on the other side of this site renting our tent trailer and it works great.

If this or a similar site is available in your area, it's an excellent suggestion. Essentially, AirBnB meets Turo for RVs. A lot of 5th wheel/Travel Trailer owners on the site will include (for a small fee) transportation and set up to your campsite and some will even offer to take care of gray/black water disposal as well. We nearly did a weeklong trip using the site and would seriously consider it when we're ready to camp again. The best part is that typically the nightly cost is hilariously low for a lot of pretty swanky motorhomes. The only thing you'll need to look at is insurance, what your policies will cover vs. what the owner's policy will cover.

Back to your original issue - what vehicles do you have, specifically. Many many cars are capable of towing small tent trailers (or even ultralite travel trailers) without any issue, and a 10 year old car (unless poorly maintained) should not be of any concern. Consider this RV (would never suggest buyng new):

https://www.jayco.com/products/travel-trailers/2019-hummingbird/10rk/

At a dry weight of 1545 pounds, many many small 4cyl cars could tow one of these.I'm not necessarily suggesting you purchase one, but more that there are options out there that don't involve offloading one of your perfectly fine vehicles or renting a truck in addition to the upkeep of owning and storing a larger RV.

The two cars we have a compact cars, nothing large.  According to a quick internet search, the 10 year old car can tow 1000 lbs, so that rules out pretty much everything.
Buy a used RV to use the for a season or 2.  Keep it in really good shape, clean, etc.  most of the depreciation is on the front end; you could resell for what you payed for it after awhile.

Or, rent out your RV while not using it and make some cash, and then sell it after a year or 2. 

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This idea has also crossed my mind, but if we went this way it would some type of RV unit, which is ok, not a ton of used selection in my area, but yeah...maybe I could find one in like the 15K range, keep for 3-5 years and hopefully sell it for 10K for an overall cost of 5K, plus maintnence etc.  This would be a decent option, anyone have any expereince with this kind of thing?

magnet18

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Re: Cheap camper/trailer ideas?
« Reply #14 on: August 29, 2019, 08:18:45 PM »
Airstreams are pricey but they hold their value well, others will be cheaper and depreciate up front so you may get a better deal with less hassle if you plan to exit quickly

I live in an 80s airstream going on 18 months now, and if not for the fact that it was my primary residence there would be absolutely no way I could justify the expenses, it was ~25k upfront and I've probably sunk at least 5 modifying, upgrading, and repairing.  (Not to count hundreds of hours of my labor, but I enjoy it)
I also get $.50/mile just in gas, so factor that in, plus hundreds in misc. Little pieces of equipment you didn't realize you needed that all cost way more than they should. (Plug adapters, wheel chocks sewer hoses, etc...)

Rvs and rv industry parts are well known for their unreliability, so tread carefully.  DW and I absolutely love the RV and living in it, but if I didn't live in an RV, I'd definitely not buy one just for vacation.

Linea_Norway

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Re: Cheap camper/trailer ideas?
« Reply #15 on: August 30, 2019, 12:06:59 AM »
How do you dry the tent at home? We take out inner and outer tent apart, as well as footprint and drape it over the washing lines. Or if it rains, in the staircase. It is a bit of hassle yes, but doable. Maybe because our tent is not big, it's a biggish hiking tent.
I also find rain a bit annoying when packing. But if it rains while you are out camping, it helps to put up a tarp as well to give you some more space to cook under a roof.

Does that rain come unexpectedly? If you only camp for a few days each time, could you just schedule a cabin stead of camping, based on the weather forecast?
Don't campsites in the US have cabins that you can hire just by going there? So that you don't need wifi?

Dee18

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Re: Cheap camper/trailer ideas?
« Reply #16 on: August 30, 2019, 05:17:43 AM »
My family used tent trailers for many years.  They worked great for us as we just wanted a comfortable place to sleep. (The key is to always dry it out...but it was so easy to put up and down that was no problem) I am thinking of getting one myself, but for now we have done the 2-3 nights camping in small tents then a night in an Airbnb or hotel.  We even flew to Alaska and followed this as we could fit our camping gear into a couple of duffle bags.