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NFT: Need travel trailer advice

Taggart : 3/17/2017 12:16 am
and what better place to come for it than BBI? I am strongly considering buying a travel trailer. I have never owned one, or any kind of camper for that matter. And I have virtually no experience towing stuff. But I live out west and really want to get on the road with my 2 kids and do some camping, natl park exploring,etc. Any guidance any of you could give on something like this would be appreciated. Here are a few of my thoughts:

1) I figure I should rent one first just to be sure I like the concept of hauling a camper around
2) Ive been looking at dealer websites and think something in the 24-25ft range would be ideal in terms of space. Am I crazy to consider pulling something that big if Im a novice at towing stuff?. (I have an F150 by the way)
3) what features are really useful, vs wastes of money? Eg, are the slideout exterior stove tops a waste (seems to me that they are a waste)? What about a second door that goes directly into the bathroom? This seems like it might be a very useful option.
4) does it make sense to buy used? I figure that is risky in terms of knowing the problems with them, plus a lot of the used ones I have seen online have some pretty frumpy decor (they look like grandmas house inside).
5). i dont need a toy hauler, i dont want something as big as a fifth wheeler, and my preference is for a trailer (vs class b, c) in order to keep cost down.
6) are they expensive or pain in the ass to maintain? I may think again if they are as problematic as owning a boat. Im already resigned (not re-signed) to the fact that i would have to park it at a storage lot (not enough driveway room, plus HOA wont allow it)
I would definitely look for a used one.  
BigBlue in Keys : 3/17/2017 1:43 am : link
Learn on a used one, like your first car. You can always upgrade in the future. Main things to go first are the floors and ceilings. Look for any signs of water damage or soft spots. Check in the backs of closets and cabinets as that is where water will often run.

A big tip I found for making for a much smoother ride on the highway is to add a set of towing stabilizer bars like pictured below. They take much of the swaying and hoping away going down the highway.(Pictured below) You will want to practice reversing a trailer. Maybe borrow a friend's empty boat trailer for an afternoon. It's very simple once you get it. Great way to get away for adventures, and a great place to stick company when they visit. Goodluck!
Your truck  
sometimeswrite : 3/17/2017 6:42 am : link
will need some upgrades , best 2 sources for info 1. Torklift 2. Tweetys . Yeh many would think Camping World or someone similar , I say no. While learning to tow please stay the hell off of the Interstates . As for the F250, great truck, but any 2500 series would be much better.
Sorry ...  
sometimeswrite : 3/17/2017 8:11 am : link
F150 great truck.
Absolutely recommend renting one first  
jcn56 : 3/17/2017 8:24 am : link
I don't own, but I've rented a few times. And there's a huge difference between different types.

I'd love to own one, but with the boat currently occupying a driveway I've run out of real estate for recreational vehicles.
My thoughts  
Bramton1 : 3/17/2017 10:43 am : link
If you use Facebook, look for any groups related to the kind of trailer you want. You might be able to find a group related to the area you live, which would be invaluable for suggestions about storage lots. Storing your camper somewhere can get pretty expensive. My county association manages a lot for RVs and trailers, and I pay monthly close to the amount a lot of commercial lots charge weekly. Connecting to a local group might help with ideas about a place that's cheap, but still secure and managed well.

Here is another agreement about getting the stabilizer package for your tow. I've never towed without it, but from what I've heard, you'll avoid a lot of headaches and worries.

With your tow vehicle, you shouldn't have much concern about tow weight, so the type of trailer is just what you are comfortable with. I have a popup trailer, but that's partially because my tow vehicle is a SUV. Since you probably don't want to go with anything too big at first (while possibly trying to keep costs down), you might want to look at hydrids. They have pop-out sections (generally beds) that are stored inside the camper when traveling, but extend outside the camper when at a site.

I personally believe that a second door to the bathroom would be a waste of money. You're not going to have a lot of people traveling with you (sounds like a total of 3-4 people, including you) and any camper bathroom that includes a separate door is probably going to be pretty big (meaning the camper itself is going to be pretty big.

Probably the best way to really get an idea of what you want is to check out some dealers. You should also look for RV shows in your area.
Do your homework on towing.  
Red Dog : 3/17/2017 12:15 pm : link
There's a whole lot more to it than most people think.

If your truck was not originally equipped to tow, you will be spending some serious money for a frame-mount hitch, electrical controller, maybe some load levelers, maybe some upgraded tires and wheels, and so on. I am assuming it's a V-8. If not, forget it and get a heavier duty truck.

Also watch out for the Gross Vehicle Weight issues. You probably won't get into trouble with an F-150 but you can easily do it with anything bigger. By trouble, I mean legal relating to combined weights, and every state is different about license requirements.

Ford does have some pretty good materials about towing that are available through dealers. If your dealer blows you off on this, get a new dealer.
Bought mine last year.  
x meadowlander : 3/17/2017 1:28 pm : link
Jayco Jayfeather. Family of 5, we pack in tight, but well worth it. Absolutely love the thing.

I needed something lightweight - didn't want to buy a proper tow vehicle, modded my 2009 Odyssey with a tranny cooler and heavy duty rotors. Pushes the listed weight limit, but the van handles it with no problem - I did add the weight distribution bars to the hitch.

To your questions:  
x meadowlander : 3/17/2017 1:37 pm : link
1) I figure I should rent one first just to be sure I like the concept of hauling a camper around
==> They aren't that expensive. It's a 12-year mortgage. Break out <$20,000 camper payments, it isn't that bad monthly, and you wouldn't take too big a hit if you need to unload it in a year or 2.

2) Ive been looking at dealer websites and think something in the 24-25ft range would be ideal in terms of space. Am I crazy to consider pulling something that big if Im a novice at towing stuff?. (I have an F150 by the way)
===> As others have said, pay CLOSE attention to the weights - not just GVWR, but AXLE ratings as well. When we bought ours, first trip was straight to the CAT Scales at a local truck stop.

3) what features are really useful, vs wastes of money? Eg, are the slideout exterior stove tops a waste (seems to me that they are a waste)? What about a second door that goes directly into the bathroom? This seems like it might be a very useful option.
==> With an F150, weight is going to factor. You're gonna want to bring a shitload of camping gear, bikes, etc. That has to be considered with the weight ratings. Extra's weigh and cost more. I do like the idea of a outdoor bathroom door.

4) does it make sense to buy used? I figure that is risky in terms of knowing the problems with them, plus a lot of the used ones I have seen online have some pretty frumpy decor (they look like grandmas house inside).
===> YES, but be CAREFUL. I bought from a reputable dealer, just in case, MANY good vid's on YouTube will educate how to search for damage, especially WATER DAMAGE.

5). i dont need a toy hauler, i dont want something as big as a fifth wheeler, and my preference is for a trailer (vs class b, c) in order to keep cost down.
===> Love my Jayco. Can't recommend enough.

6) are they expensive or pain in the ass to maintain? I may think again if they are as problematic as owning a boat. Im already resigned (not re-signed) to the fact that i would have to park it at a storage lot (not enough driveway room, plus HOA wont allow it)
==> Not so far. Closing procedure is a bit involved, draining plumbing system, re-filling it with glycol, etc - need to fix roof cracks twice a year. Pretty easy besides that...

Good luck!
Thanks so much for the comments everyone.  
Taggart : 3/17/2017 10:06 pm : link
I will probably have more questions as I get further down the path. I guess maybe the most important bit of advice I should have requested first is how to convince the wife that its a good use of money when she has no interest in partaking.

Buying used just scares the hell out of me. Trust is a huge factor - i dont want to go on the road with the kids and have to deal with a failed chassis/axle, or water leaks. It is worth it to me to pay a little more to reduce the risk of being that poor slob you see broke down on the side of the highway.
Buy a nice tent  
AnnapolisMike : 3/17/2017 10:21 pm : link
For $1000 you have yourself all the gear your going to need. If you love camping or the wife decides to join in you can get a camper down the line.

RE: Thanks so much for the comments everyone.  
x meadowlander : 3/20/2017 1:02 pm : link
In comment 13397715 Taggart said:
Quote:
I will probably have more questions as I get further down the path. I guess maybe the most important bit of advice I should have requested first is how to convince the wife that its a good use of money when she has no interest in partaking.

Buying used just scares the hell out of me. Trust is a huge factor - i dont want to go on the road with the kids and have to deal with a failed chassis/axle, or water leaks. It is worth it to me to pay a little more to reduce the risk of being that poor slob you see broke down on the side of the highway.


- My wife pushed ME into it. I had ZERO interest in a camper, or camping. I've taken to it like a fish to water. If you have kids, it's a no-brainer.

- New is obviously better than used, but if you buy one that's only a year or two old from a reputable dealer, you knock a nice chunk off the sticker and they'll take care of you if you have issues.
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