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Linda Winter

To TOAD or Scooter

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Hello, I became a full-timer in July and am about to head southwest in a couple of weeks. I drive a 32 ft Class A and have a Toyota Camry. I am trying to decide if I leave my car in cold and snowy WI and purchase a Moped type scooter or if I purchase the dolly to tow my car. May I please have opinions as to the pros and cons of each? Thanks!

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Back during what I now refer to fondly as my 'Massively Misspent Youth', there were a couple of years when I didn't own a car at all, just a motorcycle, which I road seven days a week, to and from work, shopping for groceries, etc., rain or shine.

If you get a moped instead of a toad, do you really want to break camp and drive the RV every time you need to go shopping or go to a laundromat?

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Welcome to the Escapee forums. 

Like the "miss spent youth" member, I think that you would be far better served if you take the car with you, Even if you do buy a moped or something similar you still need to add some way to carry it and the usefulness is pretty limited. 

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A front wheel drive car on a tow dolly would be convenient and is common behind many RVs.  Traveling by yourself there would be some extra work involved but it would be doable.  

There would be some negatives and positives if all you took along was a scooter or small motorcycle.  If you were considering a Vespa for example.  They are versatile and would be easy to possibly haul on some type of hitch assembly.  As far as doing laundry and getting groceries you would always have to work around some of those things.   For example, plan ahead while traveling and make a stop while driving your RV at Walmart.  Stock up as much as possible especially on large items.  As far as laundry goes, you would just have to plan stays at CGs that have laundry facilities.  They make nice fold up carts for hauling bags of laundry so you would have to investigate that.  

I guess you just have to weigh the pros and cons of not having a car with you while traveling.  

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I'd hate the thought of having to deal with a tow dolly, seems it would cut down possibilities of spots you could stay in, etc.  My guess is with a good set of saddle bags you could get most of what you need on a scooter if that is something you enjoy riding.  If I decided I wanted to drag a car I'd spend the money that you would have spent on a dolly and put it in getting something you can tow 4 down.  Just one person's opinion, you're sure to get a lot.

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2 hours ago, jpcoll01 said:

If I decided I wanted to drag a car I'd spend the money that you would have spent on a dolly and put it in getting something you can tow 4 down.

Me, too. BUT. I doubt you can buy a car for the price of a dolly and your trade-in. Maybe you can buy a car for the price of a scooter plus your trade in? Either way, budget has to be part of the equation.

Linda Sand

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2 hours ago, jpcoll01 said:

I'd hate the thought of having to deal with a tow dolly, seems it would cut down possibilities of spots you could stay in, etc.  

There are a lot of people out there who use a dolly and some do for many years. While I prefer to tow 4 down, the use of a dolly greatly expands your choices of vehicles and she would not be the first lady to do so. I would probably look for a used dolly to save a few bucks but they aren't a major problem. She could buy a new one for between $1000 and $1500 which isn't a lot different than the cost of setting up a car to be towed. 

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I couldn't imagine siteseeing and possibly some on gravel roads without a car.  We thought nothing of traveling 50 miles or so one-way to see the sights.  What about inclement weather?  I highly suggest you take your car.  A scooter would be great for some occasional fun - in addition to - a car.

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We tow a Honda CR-V 4 down with our bikes stowed inside (I removed the bigger rear seat). Although I am an enthusiastic biker, there are many times the CRV is useful (as others have pointed out). Many areas are not bicycle (or scooter)friendly. Safety is a factor. Example, we camp at Lake and Shore near Sea Isle City...it is 5 miles from the campground to the beach. It is not a safe bike route.

I don't know what we are going to do when our 2002 CRV needs to be replaced. New Hondas cannot be towed 4 down. No tow dolly for us.

Edited by ToddF

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I've been thru a similar decision as we wanted to take our motorcycle along but in the end we decided against it just for the practical reason of needing to be able to use it in bad weather and having the ability to carry larger loads in a car. We decided that flat towing was for us but do keep I mind that to put in a tow bracket and do the wiring and auxiliary brake system is going to be close to 5 thousand dollars on top of the price of the car you are going to have to buy. We also took note of a friend who tows his car with a dolly and rightly says he saved $3000 when he went the dolly route and will get the price of the dolly back when he sells it. Unless you pay to get the tow bracket removed and sell it you won't get a nickel back if you sell the car. Next time we buy a car we will go the dolly way.

Another friend of ours decided to buy a scooter and use that as his solo transport. That lasted a couple of months and he became  frustrated with how limited he was by it so he sold it and bought a car to tow but got one already converted for  down.

So it's your choice and I hope you have found some things to consider to make your choice easier.

BnB

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11 hours ago, ToddF said:

I don't know what we are going to do when our 2002 CRV needs to be replaced. New Hondas cannot be towed 4 down. No tow dolly for us.

Maybe by then we'll be ready to sell our 2010 CRV that already has a base plate installed? And the under the hood portion of an air brake system? You just never know what the future might bring.

Linda Sand

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On 9/27/2018 at 12:14 PM, Optimistic Paranoid said:

If you get a moped instead of a toad, do you really want to break camp and drive the RV every time you need to go shopping or go to a laundromat?

Hello again, John. It's great to hear from someone who has done it. I take it you are a fan of the car vs the scooter?

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On 9/27/2018 at 12:25 PM, Kirk Wood said:

I think that you would be far better served if you take the car with you, Even if you do buy a moped or something similar you still need to add some way to carry it and the usefulness is pretty limited. 

I think you are among the majority and appreciate your thoughts on both options. Tho towing is scary, riding along the side of a road on a little scooter scare's me even more! Thanks for sharing!!

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On 9/27/2018 at 1:04 PM, FL-JOE said:

I guess you just have to weigh the pros and cons of not having a car with you while traveling.  

Thanks Joe/Cindy! That thought was the main reason for my decision to dolly. After all, I was terrified to drive this 98 Tiffin and though I  have and still have some mishaps, I am sure I will get used to towing - or at least I will learn another skill! :)

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On 9/27/2018 at 2:04 PM, jpcoll01 said:

I'd hate the thought of having to deal with a tow dolly, seems it would cut down possibilities of spots you could stay in, etc.  My guess is with a good set of saddle bags you could get most of what you need on a scooter if that is something you enjoy riding.  If I decided I wanted to drag a car I'd spend the money that you would have spent on a dolly and put it in getting something you can tow 4 down.  Just one person's opinion, you're sure to get a lot.

I have to say that I agree completely! Your comment about the joy of riding a scooter is what helped the most. I was a biker chic in my youth and found myself feeling less comfortable on 2 wheels as I've aged. Since I LOVE my Camry, I will keep it for now but I am leaving my thoughts open to getting a 4 down if I feel hindered on my 2018/19 travels. Thanks so much for sharing your thoughts!

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On 9/27/2018 at 4:09 PM, sandsys said:

Me, too. BUT. I doubt you can buy a car for the price of a dolly and your trade-in. Maybe you can buy a car for the price of a scooter plus your trade in? Either way, budget has to be part of the equation.

Linda Sand

I agree, Linda. I think the main factor for my decision will be that the reason for me to live this live is to not have the restrictions of 'normal' live. I feel that if my only mode of transportation were a moped, I would always have to consider the weather, the distance, the carrying capacity, etc. and that would defeat the purpose of feeling free!  Thanks for sharing!

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On 9/27/2018 at 4:28 PM, Kirk Wood said:

There are a lot of people out there who use a dolly and some do for many years. While I prefer to tow 4 down, the use of a dolly greatly expands your choices of vehicles and she would not be the first lady to do so. I would probably look for a used dolly to save a few bucks but they aren't a major problem. She could buy a new one for between $1000 and $1500 which isn't a lot different than the cost of setting up a car to be towed. 

Thanks Kirk! You sound like you know your stuff! I found a great deal on a new Master Tow but while setting it up, there seems to be an issue with being able to ratchet the tire straps up with the low front end clearance. That doesn't make sense to me since my Camry isn't any lower than most other front drive cars are. Thanks for sharing!

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On 9/27/2018 at 9:42 PM, 2gypsies said:

I couldn't imagine siteseeing and possibly some on gravel roads without a car.  We thought nothing of traveling 50 miles or so one-way to see the sights.  What about inclement weather?  I highly suggest you take your car.  A scooter would be great for some occasional fun - in addition to - a car.

Very insightful and so much appreciated! I'm going to go for it!!!! Thanks!

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On 9/28/2018 at 4:21 AM, ToddF said:

No tow dolly for us. 

I so get it! Although I am fearful of dolly towing, that will happen fewer times than exploring my surroundings feeling safe. First goal - getting out there! Second goal - finding a way to explore. Third goal - Find people to share it with!

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On 9/28/2018 at 7:03 AM, scouserl41 said:

I've been thru a similar decision as we wanted to take our motorcycle along but in the end we decided against it just for the practical reason of needing to be able to use it in bad weather and having the ability to carry larger loads in a car. We decided that flat towing was for us but do keep I mind that to put in a tow bracket and do the wiring and auxiliary brake system is going to be close to 5 thousand dollars on top of the price of the car you are going to have to buy. We also took note of a friend who tows his car with a dolly and rightly says he saved $3000 when he went the dolly route and will get the price of the dolly back when he sells it. Unless you pay to get the tow bracket removed and sell it you won't get a nickel back if you sell the car. Next time we buy a car we will go the dolly way.

Another friend of ours decided to buy a scooter and use that as his solo transport. That lasted a couple of months and he became  frustrated with how limited he was by it so he sold it and bought a car to tow but got one already converted for  down.

So it's your choice and I hope you have found some things to consider to make your choice easier.

BnB

So appreciate both experienced views! I had no idea that it would be that much more expensive to flat tow! I'll be a newbie directionally challenged dolly tower - and if I can do it.....  :)

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On 9/28/2018 at 3:31 PM, sandsys said:

You just never know what the future might bring.

And isn't that what we are so afraid of - and yet what we are so looking forward to?

Thanks for sharing!

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On 9/28/2018 at 7:03 AM, scouserl41 said:

We decided that flat towing was for us but do keep I mind that to put in a tow bracket and do the wiring and auxiliary brake system is going to be close to 5 thousand dollars on top of the price of the car you are going to have to buy.

RV mounted tow-bar from Blue Ox     $720

Tail light wiring kit...                                   65

Typical baseplate Blue Ox                      495

Blue Ox brake system..                         1470

Total for parts..........     $2750

While it has been some years since I last set up a vehicle to tow, I just got those prices from the Blue Ox website and since the Patriot brake has no install that the operator can't easily do, the remaining $2250 for labor seems pretty high to me. If I remember correctly, when we set up our last CR-V it cost me about $500 for the base-plate install and I did the wiring myself in about 2 hours time. I have no doubt that it would be more now since that was more than 10 years ago now. But no question it will cost more than it does to buy a dolly as you can get a good dolly with brakes for $1500 to $2000, although you can spend nearly $5000 if you want the very best from Demco.

On your hesitance to tow, the most difficult part of towing either on a dolly or 4 down is the mental part. I have not forgotten my first trip towing and the sweaty palms for a time. But it was something that very quickly faded away with experience. I believe that if you use a quality dolly that has brakes, you will soon reach a point that the most difficult part is loading and unloading and that too gets easy with a little practice. 

Edited by Kirk Wood

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2 hours ago, Linda Winter said:

Hello again, John. It's great to hear from someone who has done it. I take it you are a fan of the car vs the scooter?

I loved the freedom I felt when riding a bike, but the practicality of owning ONLY a bike leaves a lot to be desired.

Are you in this for the long haul? How many miles are on your car?  What kind of shape is it in? 

The advantage of owning a tow dolly is that:

It's easy to carry different cars on it.  If you convert one car for flat towing, and have to replace it, you are out the cost of the baseplate and labor to install it, and must spend a similar amount to equip the new car.

Plus you can probably get most of your money back when you sell the tow dolly.

Take a look at this DVD.  It was pretty good.  And if you buy the USED one through Amazon, it is stupid cheap . . .

RV EDUCATION 101: Towing Behind Your Motorhome

Good Luck!

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One of the things that made us more comfortable towing was a rear view camera on the motorhome that let us see the toad. Always nice to be reassured it is following properly.

Linda Sand

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