Author Topic: How to have family adventures without a truck and trailer? Or is it worth it?  (Read 2336 times)

red_pill

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So we are looking for ways to do more family adventures.  We have more time off and have some $ to spend on it.

It seems that what everyone else around here does is buy a truck and trailer.  A few years ago we borrowed a friends' trailer and the in-law's truck a few times and had some good luck at a few great spots, but also a few bad experiences with crowded campgrounds.  It wasn't exactly the off-grid, quiet time I was looking for.  (And both the truck and trailer are no longer owned by those parties so this isn't an option now). But now some other friends are getting set up with a truck and trailer after doing a 2 week RV rental trip that they loved and are hoping we will join them for some trips next year.

We would love to do it, but I'm torn.

The value of the family time is self-evident.  While it isn't the back country experience I usually look for, I do my hard core trips with my buddies that scratches that itch.  So this is just easy living relaxing time.

But, the expense of this would be substantial (even though we can totally afford it) and it rubs up against my environmental beliefs and my usual preference of doing things differently than what the crowd is doing.  On the other hand, sometimes the reason the crowd is doing something is because it is, in fact, awesome, and they have all figured something out that I haven't, and the substantial expense could be the best money we ever spent. 

Still, I would like to weigh my options and was hoping for some advice or suggestions of options that  perhaps I haven't considered.

So, the goal is to explore natural areas, unplug from life, and escape our suburban prison, even for a few weeks at a time.  I have 5 to 7 weeks of vacation time a year, and wife's schedule is very flexible and we have no reservations about taking the kid out of school for a few weeks at a time...they really don't do that much anyway.  So, we do have a significant amount of time each year to do this.  Kid is pre-teen and I'm sure their interest in hanging out with us will be waning.  Or maybe not if we can find something to do together.

The constraints are that the family has somewhat finicky needs....zero chance of getting them in a canoe, kayak or hiking overnight anywhere.  It's just not their thing, and I do that with my buddies anyway.   So as far as I can tell we are left with doing a glamping car-camping set up, or doing Airbnbs, or the truck/trailer thing.  There isn't anyone that rents trucks you can tow with around here.  Motorhome rentals are a few hundred bucks a day plus fuel and campsite fees.  Trailer rentals are around $100 a night, but neither of my vehicles can tow anything.  A car camping set up that would be sufficient for the preferences of my family would probably run at least several hundred dollars (nice air mattresses, a big enough tent that we can stand up in it [seems to be a significant complaint]) though we do have the vast majority of everything else we would need.  We have nowhere to store a trailer so that would be an added expense (about $100 a month here).  Airbnbs around here run between $150 and $250 a night it seems.

I'd really love to avoid the trailer...but cannot deny that the trips we did with one were awesome.  Sooooo much more comfortable than a tent, which really does get old after a few days especially if there is crappy weather.  So maybe the truck trailer thing would be just the best money I've ever spent.   But whenever I see everyone else doing something I try to avoid it since I feel like it's just a trap.

Would love to hear some suggestions.     



 

 

NorCal

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I’ve always enjoyed car camping with the family.  You can always get a cot or air mattress if it helps the comfort.

Roof top tents are also becoming a thing, which would eliminate the trailer need.

former player

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To me, easy living and relaxing in the country without buying stuff to own says renting a cabin.

feelingroovy

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We've had similar ideas. Truck and trailer sounds like too much hassle to me. My in-laws always had this and watching the amount of consternation when something was potentially broken on either just seemed not worth it.

A van conversion or teardrop trailer seems much simpler and much more feasible. But we never pulled that trigger either.

Our best solution has been camping cabins. Many state parks have them. They usually have electricity but no bathroom. Varies by state. It's the best of campground camping with none of the worst parts. You can go inside when it rains or the bugs get too bad, but it's not comfortable enough inside to choose to spend all day there.

The cost also varies by state but $3-400/week is typical. Way less than hotels or airbnb. Or buying any sort of rig.

Here's an example: https://parks.ny.gov/camping/cabins/default.aspx

Ecky

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My family always tent camped. We had a late 80's Honda Accord we'd take, typically to a state or national park, and unload the tent, grille, sleeping bags, coolers, etc. from, and it was plenty adequate for having an amazing time. We used to laugh at the people pulling in with one ton trucks pulling 40' apartments on wheels.

As an adult I have a greater appreciation for why some people glamped that way, but I also have personal experience suggesting none of it is necessary.

v8rx7guy

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Rent a motorhome.  RVshare and Outdoorsy are two popular options.  We have both rented our trailer out and rented others for a trip.  No need to buy something.

bloodaxe

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I would rent a rural AirBnb. I've stayed at a few where I was literally in the middle of nowhere. They were pretty awesome.

Truck and Trailer sounds pretty inconvenient.

Not considering cost you would have to perform the following:
* Pay a lot for gas for the Truck
* Maintenance for trailer and truck
* Find a place to park the trailer, if you don't have space
* Cleaning the trailer
* Getting the trailer ready

I have a somewhat related story, since you mentioned your kid(s) are/is preteen age. I have friends who bought a sailboat to go on adventures with their kids. They had a lot of fun initially.

Well, the kids are now preteen/teen age, and don't want to spend time with their parents as much. Especially in close confinement on a boat.

So the friends are paying marina fees and have to regularly clean a sailboat they hardly use. Maybe once a year.

Cranky

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We’ve enjoyed renting cabins, but if your kids don’t want to do outdoorsy things, maybe think of other ways to spend family time?

red_pill

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So I did the math...

Assume trailer storage costs $1,000 a year, trailer insurance is $500 a year and the trailer depreciates at $1,000 a year (total guess).   That is $2,500 in fixed costs.  Assuming 25 nights a year of use (which would be like 2 full weeks and then 3 long+ weekends), that is $100 a night right there.  Of course, one could reduce that by storing at home (but we can't) or by buying an older model trailer with less depreciation.  Still, it is an expense that is not far off the rental cost, but with less risk (and doesn't include the tow vehicle expenses).

@bloodaxe hit the nail on the head about my worries with the mention of his friend's boat...bought with great intentions but now it is hardly used.  Exactly what I want to avoid.

@Ecky - we also have always laughed at the folks in the 40' trailers.  I once had to suppress a laugh when an acquaintance told me that he had to get his satellite tv fixed on his trailer because he was going "camping" on the weekend.  Ugh.  That is just so pathetic that I can't stand the thought of doing anything remotely similar.

My other realization is that there are some trips that you actually can't do with a trailer.  Some of the best sites are walk-in only....not a hike and with carts to carry camping supplies, but even that little bit culls the herd and you aren't stuck listening to someone else's stereo or generator. 

@bloodaxe at your recommendation I have looked into rural AirBnB's..... BINGO!  Plenty of off-grid cabins that scratch the itch for isolation but also are decently comfortable.   We are starting planning on the next trip with that.  Seriously, I found some awesome spots.  Thank you!  Can't believe I didn't think of that before.

The way I figure, I can do a ton of awesome trips with rural AirBnB's and car camping, and a combination of those two.  Might as well plan and execute on those, and then see if the trailer discussion fades away into the background.  Can always revisit later.  And if I do revisit, then we would for sure rent one instead of buying. Maybe post retirement in 4 years time
it might be time to buy one if we can get out that much, and by renting we will know what we like or don't like.  I love the lack of long term commitment that renting affords.

Fishindude

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+ 1 For renting a cabin.
Second option would be to rent a motorhome for these trips.

Doesn't make sense to own unless you will be using it a lot.   And you need someplace to keep this equipment stored indoors when not in use.

BDWW

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If you're buying a truck and trailer specifically for this endeavor, it seems suspect.

If you already had a truck, and just wanted to get a (used) camper, it can be somewhat reasonable.

Quote
keep this equipment stored indoors when not in use.

I know of precisely one person who stores their trailer in a big shop, everyone else just parks them. Perhaps I'm misinterpreting what you're referring to.

Quote
Assume trailer storage costs $1,000 a year, trailer insurance is $500 a year and the trailer depreciates at $1,000 a year (total guess).

Storage can be free if you have the space, no need for trailer insurance, and shop around for a good deal on a used one, and the depreciation is minimal. We could sell ours for what we paid after ~6 years of ownership.
Not saying it's cheap, but the fixed costs are/can be minimal. Our biggest trailer related expense (after a completely optional lithium solar pet project), is gas. Unless you have a big diesel truck, expect your mileage to be roughly half it's unladen mileage.

The other expense is a bit of maintenance time. Winterizing, dumping, cleaning, filling propane tanks, etc.


Fishindude

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I know of precisely one person who stores their trailer in a big shop, everyone else just parks them. Perhaps I'm misinterpreting what you're referring to.

Toys like campers left outdoors year round quickly deteriorate.   The sun and weather will fade paint and prematurely wear out the roof, plastic vents, window weather stripping, etc., they will get dirty just from atmosphere and dust, decals will fade and curl,  tires will weather check, it's common to have mouse, rat and squirrel problems, snow and ice left standing on flat camper roofs leads to leaks, etc.   Compare a 10-15 year old camper that's been kept outdoors it's entire life to one that's been garaged when not in use and it will be apparent.


SwordGuy

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Harbor Freight sells a trailer that folds up so it doesn't take up much space.   Less than $300.    You can tote a lot of camping supplies on it.

BDWW

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I know of precisely one person who stores their trailer in a big shop, everyone else just parks them. Perhaps I'm misinterpreting what you're referring to.

Toys like campers left outdoors year round quickly deteriorate.   The sun and weather will fade paint and prematurely wear out the roof, plastic vents, window weather stripping, etc., they will get dirty just from atmosphere and dust, decals will fade and curl,  tires will weather check, it's common to have mouse, rat and squirrel problems, snow and ice left standing on flat camper roofs leads to leaks, etc.   Compare a 10-15 year old camper that's been kept outdoors it's entire life to one that's been garaged when not in use and it will be apparent.

I suppose if you're a bit of a diva about it, it's definitely not really a problem around here/for us. Our 17 year old camper is doing just fine. My parents is a 95? so 25/26 years old and no issues, and my inlaws is a late 80s and still doing fine.
« Last Edit: August 03, 2020, 03:12:11 PM by BDWW »

SimpleCycle

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For weeks at a time and relative economy, I think a "car glamping" set up is the way to go.  It has some start up costs associated with it, but is very flexible and portable.  You can even mix car camping with cabin camping or AirBnBing to best meet the needs of your family.

The best air mattresses in the whole world are the single-height Coleman Quick Beds.  You can buy a "cot" that these fit on top of.  It's an amazing setup, my 71 year old mom sleeps on one when she visits with no complaints.  That plus a big tent and you are good to go.

For me, camping got more fun and less work once we had a system for packing and a set of camping meals that I didn't have to think too hard about preparing.

We camp as a family of four in a Honda Fit, so I can't imagine you'd need anything additional to transport the camping gear.  We have a RoofBag roof top cargo bag that takes the bulk of the equipment.

I personally find the idea of a truck and trailer to be WAY more ownership and maintenance that I can imagine justifying.  Our car camping setup basically had positive ROI after three or four nights of forgone hotels/AirBnBs.

use2betrix

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We have a 17’ Casita trailer. Brand new they are around $24k, we got ours 3 years old for about $17.5k. They are insanely hard to find used and we got a killer deal.

It’s the perfect trailer for us. It can be easily towed by a vehicle with a 5000 lb capacity, the trailers max weight is about 3500lb, but loaded, most are around 3200lb.

We took ours to a state park last weekend and were set up right next to a family that had an identical trailer that they bought brand new in 2006 and have been using religiously ever since. My parents liked ours so much, they just ordered a Casita they’re picking up in January for very extensive use when they retire in the next year or two.

It depends on the financial situation of someone. The impact of these items really varies person to person. To some, that might be two years savings, others, it might be two months.

I lived full time in a 42’ fifth wheel for 5 years as well, and we’ve also had a smaller trailer than we have now, so I’m pretty well versed. I will say that most of the “standard” big box trailers you buy are complete POS and will depreciate faster than you can imagine.

A pop up tent may be another really good option.

Just Joe

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https://www.thepopupprincess.com

Popups were not on my radar until recently. A good blend between cheap, comfortable, and weight. Can pull with smallish V6 vehicle depending on how you pack.

Also a coworker has one of this:  2017 Starcraft Satellite. Pulls it with a V6 as well.

 

AMandM

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I think you need to figure out, as a family, what kind of trip you are looking for. You want quiet getaway; do the rest of your family? You could do a pretty glamorous level of tent camping with a U-haul trailer on a minivan. Doe the prospect of setting up a tent, not having a roof you can stand under, living outdoors, etc. appeal to the rest of your family? Or is that work to them rather than pleasure? For example, some people really like cooking over an open fire; for others, having to prepare meals under more primitive conditions than usual is not a vacation, it's drudgery.

Other kinds of family trips: rent a cottage by a lake, or stay in a cabin or yurt in a state park, or rent a house near a beach.

Linea_Norway

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We have always gone on car/tent vacations, with an occasional renting of a camping cabin in bad weather. I did however sometimes miss the comfort of a place you can stand up in, or sit on a chair inside. Now we have a bigger tent that is so high that I can stand up inside. And we can use chairs in the front tent. Feels pretty comfortable.
With kids, I would bring an extra smaller tent for them, so that they can sleep independently from parents.

MilesTeg

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So we are looking for ways to do more family adventures.  We have more time off and have some $ to spend on it.

It seems that what everyone else around here does is buy a truck and trailer.  A few years ago we borrowed a friends' trailer and the in-law's truck a few times and had some good luck at a few great spots, but also a few bad experiences with crowded campgrounds.  It wasn't exactly the off-grid, quiet time I was looking for.  (And both the truck and trailer are no longer owned by those parties so this isn't an option now). But now some other friends are getting set up with a truck and trailer after doing a 2 week RV rental trip that they loved and are hoping we will join them for some trips next year.

We would love to do it, but I'm torn.

The value of the family time is self-evident.  While it isn't the back country experience I usually look for, I do my hard core trips with my buddies that scratches that itch.  So this is just easy living relaxing time.

But, the expense of this would be substantial (even though we can totally afford it) and it rubs up against my environmental beliefs and my usual preference of doing things differently than what the crowd is doing.  On the other hand, sometimes the reason the crowd is doing something is because it is, in fact, awesome, and they have all figured something out that I haven't, and the substantial expense could be the best money we ever spent. 

Still, I would like to weigh my options and was hoping for some advice or suggestions of options that  perhaps I haven't considered.

So, the goal is to explore natural areas, unplug from life, and escape our suburban prison, even for a few weeks at a time.  I have 5 to 7 weeks of vacation time a year, and wife's schedule is very flexible and we have no reservations about taking the kid out of school for a few weeks at a time...they really don't do that much anyway.  So, we do have a significant amount of time each year to do this.  Kid is pre-teen and I'm sure their interest in hanging out with us will be waning.  Or maybe not if we can find something to do together.

The constraints are that the family has somewhat finicky needs....zero chance of getting them in a canoe, kayak or hiking overnight anywhere.  It's just not their thing, and I do that with my buddies anyway.   So as far as I can tell we are left with doing a glamping car-camping set up, or doing Airbnbs, or the truck/trailer thing.  There isn't anyone that rents trucks you can tow with around here.  Motorhome rentals are a few hundred bucks a day plus fuel and campsite fees.  Trailer rentals are around $100 a night, but neither of my vehicles can tow anything.  A car camping set up that would be sufficient for the preferences of my family would probably run at least several hundred dollars (nice air mattresses, a big enough tent that we can stand up in it [seems to be a significant complaint]) though we do have the vast majority of everything else we would need.  We have nowhere to store a trailer so that would be an added expense (about $100 a month here).  Airbnbs around here run between $150 and $250 a night it seems.

I'd really love to avoid the trailer...but cannot deny that the trips we did with one were awesome.  Sooooo much more comfortable than a tent, which really does get old after a few days especially if there is crappy weather.  So maybe the truck trailer thing would be just the best money I've ever spent.   But whenever I see everyone else doing something I try to avoid it since I feel like it's just a trap.

Would love to hear some suggestions.   

What about a popup camper. That's what we had when I was growing up. A popup towed with an S10 blazer. They are a good middle ground between RV/large camper and a tent.

Can get one used for a couple grand and can be stored in a garage. Doesn't require a large tow vehicle (they aren't very heavy).

LovinPSDs

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What type of vehicle do you have now? That's a pretty good factor. 

Coming from someone that has and F350 and HAD a 5th wheel looking to downsize significantly, what primary vehicles do you have?  We're looking to make vehicle situation a lot more budget friendly while still incorporating camping.  I think we have a plan, but interested in where you sit currently.

RetireAbroadAt35

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There is a spectrum at play here. 

On one end you have simple freewheeling.  Travel light.  Have the freedom to improvise.  You may have to sacrifice some comfort.  Tent camping from your bike/car.

On the other end you have 5th wheels, campers and motorhomes.  You increase your complexity, limit your flexibility to places where your rig can go, but you get some additional comfort and predictability.

In the middle is the van.

Are you a van man?

The Fake Cheap

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It sounds like we are in the same sport @red_pill.  You may want to see my post, I didn't want to take over this post, I have read the replies here with great interest. 

One thing I suggest in order to improve your tent camping is to purhcase a screen tent.  We bought one a few years ago to supplement our tent camping and it has been amazing.  Ours is 10x10 and is an easy set up and we do all our cooking in there.  It is a great place to escape the bugs as well, we mostly hang out in there when at the camp site.


red_pill

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What type of vehicle do you have now? That's a pretty good factor. 

Coming from someone that has and F350 and HAD a 5th wheel looking to downsize significantly, what primary vehicles do you have?  We're looking to make vehicle situation a lot more budget friendly while still incorporating camping.  I think we have a plan, but interested in where you sit currently.

Right now we are rocking a Hyundai SUV that has 130,000 km on it that my spouse has expressed concerns with. She doesn't want to invest any money into the inevitable repairs that are coming, feeling it is a waste of money.   I had a previous thread on that on how to increase her confidence in what she sees as a higher mileage vehicle.   Given the age of the vehicle I wouldn't tow with it - I can't get a transmission cooler for that vehicles (I checked).  I suspect the truck acquisition is another aspect of the same discussion.

Ultimately what we decided to do was to sock away $ in her RRSP's (she has lots of room as we prioritized our mortgage and TFSAs over RRSPS), and then use the tax refund in the spring for a vehicle acquisition.... so we have delayed any implementation for the next few months at least.

red_pill

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There is a spectrum at play here. 

On one end you have simple freewheeling.  Travel light.  Have the freedom to improvise.  You may have to sacrifice some comfort.  Tent camping from your bike/car.

On the other end you have 5th wheels, campers and motorhomes.  You increase your complexity, limit your flexibility to places where your rig can go, but you get some additional comfort and predictability.

In the middle is the van.

Are you a van man?

Haha, I am most definitely NOT a van man.  Really SUVs are just vans with a bit better ground clearance, but there is a certain je ne sais quoi about vans that I just can't do.  lol

RetireAbroadAt35

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I dunno, some vans are goofy, but I could see driving an e350 Sportsmobile.

GreenEggs

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Harbor Freight sells a trailer that folds up so it doesn't take up much space.   Less than $300.    You can tote a lot of camping supplies on it.


You can pull a small trailer like this behind even the smallest car.  They can haul all kinds of camping & adventure gear, depending on what your adventure happens to be that trip.  Tents, coolers, bikes, small boats, hammocks, etc.


You said your family isn't into canoes or kayaks, but small motor boats are a lot of fun without the all the effort of paddling.  We recently bought an 12' inflatable boat (like a Zodiac) & small outboard motor, to carry along in our travel van (Vans are Cool ;) ).  It packs small, 2'x4'x16".   You can use it to camp on islands.  :)


I really enjoy riding motorcycles, but DW & DD aren't into it.  I've wondered about trying E-bikes with them.  Similar, but more user friendly.  I don't know if they're allowed on bike trails?  Might be a fun family idea. 


A small trailer is really handy to have for hauling all kinds of other things, that you would otherwise need a truck for. 

STEMorbust

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Anecdote: we camped more when we had our Subaru Outback than we do now with a $60k Sprinter conversion.

Second anecdote: I couldn’t stand getting dragged out to the local state campgrounds as a kid in foggy 50 degree weather, but I’m grateful for the experience a few decades later.

I would focus less on gear and more on getting the fam comfortable with less. Easier said than done!


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red_pill

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Anecdote: we camped more when we had our Subaru Outback than we do now with a $60k Sprinter conversion.

Second anecdote: I couldn’t stand getting dragged out to the local state campgrounds as a kid in foggy 50 degree weather, but I’m grateful for the experience a few decades later.

I would focus less on gear and more on getting the fam comfortable with less. Easier said than done!


Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk

This is very interesting - much appreciated. 

Sibley

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Your wife is uncomfortable with a fairly low mileage vehicle. How is she going to be comfortable with any truck, camper, RV, etc that is reasonably priced? It would probably be older than your existing vehicle. So you'd be taking someone who isn't much into the outdoorsey lifestyle, putting her in an element she's not entirely confident in, with vehicle/equipment that is going to amplify her unease. This is a recipe for disaster. Unless you buy really expensive stuff of course.

Your family is working from a different baseline than you are. Stop trying to plan a vacation that only you will enjoy and the rest will tolerate. Figure out what your family as a whole can enjoy, and do that. When you want to go camping, go with your buddies.

trollwithamustache

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I'll vote for car camping or car camping with a small trailer like the Harbor Crap suggestion.

If the kid is a waning preteen, that is the perfect age to start upping responsibilities at the camp site, ie set up their own tent, do the dinner or breakfast dishes ect. Car camping got super more fun once set up wasn't a S$%t show, and the chore load got spread so it felt super easy.

ericrugiero

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One option is to get a really nice tent.  Something like a Kodiak Canvas Tent will be way cheaper than a trailer and tow vehicle while being more weather proof and allowing you to stand up inside. 

I'm a red panda

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Even when the nightly rate to rent an RV or an AirBNB seems really high, it is likely WAY less than ownership of an RV or trailer would be.  Most people just do not use them anywhere near as much as they envision when they buy them. 

mntnmn117

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I would look at your camping experience to date. Add up total nights "car/van camping", "camping where a 5th wheel or trailer would've worked", "backpacking". I'm finding that as the kids age and the campgrounds are getting crazy popular that we are planning a lot more of the backpacking trips. Real numbers on how much you actually camp is enlightening.  Without a doubt I camp more than anyone I know and we are going to be at 10 nts- car camping, 8 nts- backpacking.

Anyhow I'm definitely fighting the sprinter van lust and that's what I tell myself, it would only make half the camping more comfortable. It would take many years of ownership to get under 100$/nt.

Just Joe

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Harbor Freight sells a trailer that folds up so it doesn't take up much space.   Less than $300.    You can tote a lot of camping supplies on it.


You can pull a small trailer like this behind even the smallest car.  They can haul all kinds of camping & adventure gear, depending on what your adventure happens to be that trip.  Tents, coolers, bikes, small boats, hammocks, etc.


You said your family isn't into canoes or kayaks, but small motor boats are a lot of fun without the all the effort of paddling.  We recently bought an 12' inflatable boat (like a Zodiac) & small outboard motor, to carry along in our travel van (Vans are Cool ;) ).  It packs small, 2'x4'x16".   You can use it to camp on islands.  :)


I really enjoy riding motorcycles, but DW & DD aren't into it.  I've wondered about trying E-bikes with them.  Similar, but more user friendly.  I don't know if they're allowed on bike trails?  Might be a fun family idea. 


A small trailer is really handy to have for hauling all kinds of other things, that you would otherwise need a truck for.

https://www.youtube.com/results?search_query=diy+camper+trailer+roof+top+tent

We have a neighbor that built one of these. Very tidy and professional looking. Trailer is a series of cabinets for their gear. Room for their bikes or kayaks. On top is a rooftop tent generally installed on SUV roofs. They drive up, fold out the tent, set out some chairs and they are ready to camp. Pulls it with a smallish SUV/crossover aka tall station wagon. Could be towed with an ordinary car too.

Recently purchased a used 1980s poptop from a friend. Its garage kept when it wasn't being used since new so its in good condition. $700. Will take $400 to clean it, replace the tires/wheels, and make a couple of DIY repairs like a new wiring pigtail on the trailer tongue (just plugs in, $50). ~1200 lbs and very easy for our V6 SUV to tow. Rated to carry 1000 lbs of extra gear but we'll likely carry bikes, cooler, clothes and food. WAY under what our crossover SUV is rated to tow. A/C works (!) and I'll test the gas furnace soon. Takes 10-15 minutes to fold out.

I'd start cheap with a tent and then maybe a tent trailer. Ensure that your family actually likes to camp before investing much money into this kind of adventure. I don't want to spend $10K+ to send a few weekends a year in the woods.
« Last Edit: August 11, 2020, 08:01:25 AM by Just Joe »

rivendale

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Anecdote: we camped more when we had our Subaru Outback than we do now with a $60k Sprinter conversion.


Why do you suppose this is?