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Howdy. I would like to start a topic for the smaller RVs - 25 foot and under. I know this is done in Aframes, Class B's and other mini RVs. These rigs do not give the space for storage, the larger holding tanks, etc. of the average RV "house" of many full time folks so I thought a place to share experiences and ideas might be nice.

 

Hubby and I are hoping to be part of the mid-year 2017 grad class. We want small. The largest RV we've owned was a 24' Winnebago and never enjoyed driving that as much as towing our Aframe or driving our Class B. True, we were not full timing so small wasn't really an issue as most trips were a week or less. Our longest was a month following a state move.

 

For awhile we were following the "Tiny House" movement but have no desire to haul a heavy structure around and what we want is mobility. We were looking for a short while at a KZ 19' toy hauler but the the storage is very little and a lot of it under the folding bench seats that serve as the bed as well as dining area.

 

We were going to do this in our Class B which we've been restoring since 2009 but the work car broke down and we ended up buying a new (as in new) work car. So we now have a 4-wheel drive and have decided to add a trailer because we have a long warranty on the new car and because it'll be better for snow and mud issues. We are very limited in our choice of tow vehicles so good thing we like small. I am glad we are taking more time looking for our perfect trailer then we did looking for our perfect car. (We do love the Xterra though).

 

Yes, I know the insulation is not there, these trailers are not "4 season" so we will likely be in Arizona during the winters, getting hookups as well.

 

I'd love to hear from any of you doing the small RV or planning to.

 

Christine / Colorado

 

 

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I'm planning to over-winter (Nov-Apr) in a 16' TT with a small dog and three birds (budgie, cockatiel, pionus and their portable aviary) towing with a Silverado with a tonneau cover. Local camping this summer is the 'dry run' re: what is necessary to take. So far, it appears doable.

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We downsized from the 36' motorhome we lived in for 12 years to our present 20' travel trailer that we are in at this very moment. We have lived in this one for as long as 5 consecutive months, but there are some major limitations to it, such as storage that is far too little to be able to carry clothing needed for four seasons, and all of our assorted other personal belongings. My best guess is that we can carry about 30% as much in this trailer as we did in our 36' motorhome, at the very most.

 

This is also very much a warm weather RV and even the AZ desert can get quite cold, especially at night. And it also can be very confining if weather is bad for long. We completely enjoy seasonal use of this RV, but would never recommend it as a full-time living RV.

 

There are a few of the very small trailers that are sold enough for fulltimeing, such as the Casita or the Scamp, but those are so small that most owners have some type of storage in their tow vehicles. It can be done by some people, but the issue is whether or not you are two of those people? Pam & I live pretty small, but we do not believe that we could live happily in any of the RVs that we have seen of must under 30' in length. Of course, if you have slides that will go a long way toward improving the odds of your doing this happily.

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Take it from the folks who have done it... if you already have the tiny living mentality, then I think you're great candidates for something small — whether it be 25ft or less motorhome or 18ft or less TT. We are insanely jealous of the #VanLife and tiny travel trailer folks... but we don't regret our decision to do a 26-foot Class A because of all the extra storage (especially when you don't have a pull/tow vehicle).

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Yes, the Scamp and Casitas are too small, sure of that. We are hoping to do without a side out as we are trying to travel as light as possible and we want to avoid any problems with them down the road. We did find one travel trailer that seems perfect. It has bed + dinette + 2 bunks and storage under the bed (with outside access) and some cupboards. The bunks give the dogs their own bed on the bottom and suitcases on top. The CCC is acceptable.

 

Since we thought the last one was perfect and then changed our minds, we aren't rushing to buy as we have one year to go. I'm a little worried about the cold AZ winter nights but if we have hookups you don't think that'll be enough to keep us warm?

 

Christine

Colorado

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I'm planning to over-winter (Nov-Apr) in a 16' TT with a small dog and three birds (budgie, cockatiel, pionus and their portable aviary) towing with a Silverado with a tonneau cover. Local camping this summer is the 'dry run' re: what is necessary to take. So far, it appears doable.

Are you planning on winter hookups?

 

Christine

Colorado

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What is the towing capacity for the Exterra? What are the weights of the RV you're considering? Add in the weight of everything that will be carried in that RV. Those are the numbers you need to figure carefully.

 

We know a full-timer who was comfortable in a Casita and also one in a cargo van so it can be done. Really think it out though as for the storage and bad weather. Double pane windows help a lot in both winter and summer as does an enclosed underbelly.

 

Good luck!

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What is the towing capacity for the Exterra? What are the weights of the RV you're considering? Add in the weight of everything that will be carried in that RV. Those are the numbers you need to figure carefully.

 

We know a full-timer who was comfortable in a Casita and also one in a cargo van so it can be done. Really think it out though as for the storage and bad weather. Double pane windows help a lot in both winter and summer as does an enclosed underbelly.

 

Good luck!

We do have all those things figured into the plan. We have a 5k towing capacity and 500 hitch wt. as long as we use weight distribution hitch. I have been weighing things for 6 months and have been downsizing for years. Using the tiny house mentality, almost everything must have two functions/uses. I have given up a lot. Another reason we want a storage unit - even things like crochet pattern books or art books I have to pick one or two I can take. My good sewing machine will be stored but I have a tiny one that weighs about 5 pounds and I can operate it electric or battery - at least it'll sew a hem!

 

We won't have an enclosed under belly because in our weight class we are left with almost no CCC if we go that way. We are going to insulate with carpet on the floor and removable reflex on the windows. We bought a Mr. Buddy in case the electricity goes out or we run out of trailer propane. We are taking our mummy sleeping bags in case it's a really cold night. We have found that memory foam keeps us pretty warm as well. We will be packing a pair of ski pants each and taking one really warm jacket each.

 

All in all I will still feel better when I hear from more folks who have done this in AZ winters in trailers.

 

Christine

Colorado

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I have been weighing things for 6 months and have been downsizing for years. Using the tiny house mentality, almost everything must have two functions/uses. I have given up a lot. Another reason we want a storage unit - even things like crochet pattern books or art books I have to pick one or two I can take.

You are moving in the right direction with the selection of what to bring. While most of us do discover a few things not taken that we later wished that we had, I think more of us find that we took things not really needed, once on the road for a time. But it is also important to think in terms of a permanent move, rather than a vacation since this will be far different from other RVing experiences. Planning for an extended vacation rather than a permanent lifestyle change is a pretty common mistake. Pam says to seriously consider finding a place for your sewing machine as it can be a very helpful thing to have. She has always carried her Viking and continues to do so. Some things are too important to leave behind, even if they must ride in the tow vehicle!

 

We won't have an enclosed under belly because in our weight class we are left with almost no CCC if we go that way.

This is the most limiting factor that we have found in our current travel trailer. But it also means that some of your water lines will be outside in the cold and that means that they freeze very quickly on cold nights! You could lower the usable temperature range for your trailer by insulating those water lines but you will then also need to find a way to prevent moisture from collecting in that insulation or between it and the floor of the RV. In addition, the floors will be very barefoot unfriendly on cold nights! Waste tanks can also freeze but they are not as quick to do so as the fresh water lines and you could put heating pads on the bottom of the waste tanks to make them usable to a lower temperature.

 

Warm weather winters will be of major importance to your comfort level so plan your stops carefully. Pay close attention to the altitudes of the AZ places that you go as that has a major role in nighttime temperatures. The warmest winters that we experienced were in south FL so don't overlook that part of the country.

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Our first year as fulltimers was in a 24' travel trailer. We really loved that rig but found we needed more space. We moved up to a 36' fifth wheel which we used for 12 years. With the larger rig we were really comfortable but missed out on some of the smaller rv spots that we could not fit into. Now that we have a home base again we have downsized to another 24' travel trailer. We are currently in our first 4 month long trip and so far everything is going very well.

 

Safe Travels...

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Are you planning on winter hookups?

 

Christine

Colorado

This being my first over-winter in a camper, I'm probably going to use an RV park for Nov-Dec while I adjust to the small life, after that it depends on weather and the availability of leasing a horse, riding and relative warmth are the deciding factors on where/how long I stay anywhere. I can boondock as I have solar and it generally meets my needs now in summer, but heat will be driver of my plans, I don't like running my LP furnace at night.

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Helpful information.

 

Yes on the winter hookups for the first year at least: Because this is a lifestyle change at least for now, I do want to ease into it and not try to boondock in winter.

 

We won't have bare floors, I am now experience at carpet install. We had been planning on using a 1989 Dodge 350 Class B high top camper we bought for that reason in 2007 and have been restoring. In that one I removed all the vinyl on the floor, made a pattern out of that cheap carpet that cuts easily (good thing because getting it right the first time, including bolt hole cutouts, is not easy. I then altered that pattern fit using tape and paper to get a darn good fit. I left the cheap carpet under the other new carpet as extra padding. I am amazed that I got such a good fit for the carpet that shows. I will probably repeat this for the new trailer when we get it. The amount of dirt and decayed carpet under that was at least two cups. Everything got steam cleaned.

 

For the water system in the Dodge, we bought a new pump and new water lines (who wants to use water lines that have been around for decades? I've been on various RV lists since they began and the one thing that I really listened to was info passed on through the Chalet Aframe list was quoted from a man who lived full time in a little Chalet on a friend's property. He said the one thing he would change was the permanent water tank because it took up so much valuable space and he could store water outside. So that tidbit stayed in my mind some 25 years.

 

All the tanks in the Dodge were cracked from Oregon winter when we bought it except for the toilet which we managed to crack because we did not know anything about winterizing RVs (and apparently neither did the previous owner) (hey - southern California winters are mild and we didn't know snow until Colorado). We bring our water in 5 gallon jugs (and one insulated lockable water container on wheels which is handy). There was a 15 gallon tank under the bed area so there is storage there. In warm weather the water all goes outside and there is extra space then for "stuff" while camped in that spot.

 

I have a stainless steel washing machine drain on one end of the pump - the weight of that keeps it in my "water pot" which I pour water into. Then I have a very long water grade tubing on the other end of the pump with a shower head at the end. I wash my dishes outside but can also wash them inside, where ever I want. I can heat the water pot on the stove if I want warm or hot water. I like to rinse my dishes using a solar shower if the weather is good, outside because it is amazing how much water you save using that to rinse dishes. Or I can use the larger shower head.

 

We always took a porta potty and PP TP so we could use that inside or out. I used the toilet/shower room as storage, including where the water cooler on wheels traveled. We were in the process of determining if we were going to replace the toilet and tank or remove it and put in a porta potty because you can dump those in a house toilet or campsite out house. We have not done anything there yet because we could not make up our minds yet so we worked on other things.

 

But that was the Dodge plans. Now I have to figure out the trailer plans. It is different when everything is new vs. when you are rebuilding/restoring.

 

This is the right forum in which to move forward. Thank you all for the help.

 

Christine / Colorado

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While not for everyone, there are a number of people that full time in 17' fiberglass trailers. I don't full time, but do what I call "long time" - the last trip I spent 194 days on the road, including Winter at the LTVA in Quartzsite, AZ.

 

There were a number of small trailers & Class C RVs that survived the winter without hookups, and for many, without generators.

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Our first year as fulltimers was in a 24' travel trailer. We really loved that rig but found we needed more space. We moved up to a 36' fifth wheel which we used for 12 years. With the larger rig we were really comfortable but missed out on some of the smaller rv spots that we could not fit into. Now that we have a home base again we have downsized to another 24' travel trailer. We are currently in our first 4 month long trip and so far everything is going very well.

This is helpful and encouraging. Yes, we want the small spots. We want to say hey - let's go up there or over there. I want the 7 foot wide and not the 8 foot wide because we want to check out a lot of cities and not just camping areas. Your 24' will still be 4' of storage area more than the trailer we are looking at. Since we are limited in CCC we simply will not be taking everything we can or want but plan on stopping by storage twice a year and exchanging things. If we don't want to make that trip we will deal with what we have.

 

Christine / Colorado

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While not for everyone, there are a number of people that full time in 17' fiberglass trailers. I don't full time, but do what I call "long time" - the last trip I spent 194 days on the road, including Winter at the LTVA in Quartzsite, AZ.

 

There were a number of small trailers & Class C RVs that survived the winter without hookups, and for many, without generators.

We have a portable Honda generator we will take with so we will have that ability to recharge the house battery. We can't carry a lot of heavy solar panels but we do have some pretty good light weight portable ones - two that can recharge a car or truck something like 7 times before needing to be recharged itself (or so it is claimed) and they are pretty small and weigh almost nothing. When we are in good weather we plan to boondock a week and then spend a couple days hooked up and recharging, then repeat. Winter we won't know until we do it. Good thing we are used to cold winters, I am way more tough then when I was a southern California girl.

 

Christine / Colorado

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This being my first over-winter in a camper, I'm probably going to use an RV park for Nov-Dec while I adjust to the small life, after that it depends on weather and the availability of leasing a horse, riding and relative warmth are the deciding factors on where/how long I stay anywhere. I can boondock as I have solar and it generally meets my needs now in summer, but heat will be driver of my plans, I don't like running my LP furnace at night.

Are you planning on Arizona for the winter? Maybe we'll be neighbors.

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We downsized from the 36' motorhome we lived in for 12 years to our present 20' travel trailer that we are in at this very moment. We have lived in this one for as long as 5 consecutive months, but there are some major limitations to it, such as storage that is far too little to be able to carry clothing needed for four seasons, and all of our assorted other personal belongings. My best guess is that we can carry about 30% as much in this trailer as we did in our 36' motorhome, at the very most.

 

This is also very much a warm weather RV and even the AZ desert can get quite cold, especially at night. And it also can be very confining if weather is bad for long. We completely enjoy seasonal use of this RV, but would never recommend it as a full-time living RV.

 

There are a few of the very small trailers that are sold enough for fulltimeing, such as the Casita or the Scamp, but those are so small that most owners have some type of storage in their tow vehicles. It can be done by some people, but the issue is whether or not you are two of those people? Pam & I live pretty small, but we do not believe that we could live happily in any of the RVs that we have seen of must under 30' in length. Of course, if you have slides that will go a long way toward improving the odds of your doing this happily.

We carry a tent and in the summer put the cots in it, bring the fan in (if we are hooked up) and the dogs get to run around without their leashes in a bigger area. Not sure yet how we will handle the winter but from what I've read about Quartzsite there are a lot of things to do in order to get one out of the camper and moving around. Trust me, we will be checking out the winter mountain areas of Colorado looking for really good jackets. And as I said, we will each have at least one pair of ski pants should it turn really cold. We don't ski.

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"Pam says to seriously consider finding a place for your sewing machine as it can be a very helpful thing to have. She has always carried her Viking and continues to do so. Some things are too important to leave behind, even if they must ride in the tow vehicle!"

 

I will seriously think about this. As it is set up now on my dining table (because I am making new van seats) I walked over and lifted it up and realized it is not that heavy at all. So if I can justify the space I might. Thing is, I don't plan to sew and was bringing the machine in case I needed to mend/patch something. The most important goal is to have what we need, leave what we don't and keep the inside as clutter free as possible because it is tiny. It's like a tiny Tiny House. For years I've wanted to paint and learn to draw so I'd rather have those to occupy my time then sewing.

 

I bought several blank composition books and one of them I use for ideas for things to do when we are camping. I didn't list sewing but thought about it. I think year two will be different wants then year one.

 

Christine/Colorado

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Maybe you should . It's an excellent heat source . ;)

Re skiing - I've got two replaced hips both of which I am trying to keep and not have to replace those later :-)

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Are you planning on Arizona for the winter? Maybe we'll be neighbors.

Yes and it seems like everyone else is too from my preliminary info gathering into parks, wait lists for sites already!

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Yes, I heard you need to reserve a year in advance sometimes if you want the good hookup sites. Our winter will not be until winter 2017 so I am researching places to stay now. Are you wintering 2016?

 

Speaking of that - anyone here have any recommendations for hookup sites that would not be one trailer on top of the other? Or will they all be like that? If they are on top of each other I think I'll figure out how to boondock in the winter after all.

 

I was thinking about being close neighbors but I am not sure how my dogs would deal with the birds. Probably not a good idea, I'd be terrified they would want to "play" with them. I wanted to get a parakeet but did not for this reason.

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