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SELLING EVERYTHING & buying a travel trailer. HELP!


GGsAdventure

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First of all, welcome to the Escapee's forums! Helping other people is one of the primary reasons that the club and the website exist. Our group has many members of different ages, marital status's, and lifestyles so there should be many here who can assist and advise you.

 

Let me say first that there are very few trailers of any kind which will never exceed the towing weight limit of 3500#. Remember that this is the maximum that it should ever weigh and most experienced travel trailer owners will agree that for best handling one should stay at or below 80% of that margin under normal circumstances. Since you are concerned about your ability to drive the rig while towing I believe that handling will be a very important thing to consider. I currently tow a travel trailer that has a GVWR (maximum allowable weight) of 3500# and do so with an SUV that is rated to tow 5000#. Although I have towed many travel trailers of both greater and lesser weights over the years with many different tow vehicles, I can tell you that when we downsized to the present RV after having traveled in motorhomes for more than 20 years, it still took quite a bit of travel to get experienced again towing to be really comfortable in doing so under most conditions. No matter what you choose to tow, there is going to be a learning curve with it and the better that you match the weight of trailer to the ability of the tow vehicle, the less difficult that experience will be.

 

To aid in this adjustment period you will need to have a good set of larger towing mirrors on your tow vehicle as the ability to see what is behind and beside you is of critical importance. The better that you are able to see, the less difficult it will be to adjust. Those little fiberglass egg shaped trailers are very well built and low in maintenance, but they also weigh much more for the size than do more conventionally built trailers. We looked at the Casita and even visited the factory and their 13' model when loaded weighed nearly as much as our present 19' Sportsman from KZ. Be very careful of the weights and ignore the listed dry weight as that is what the base model weighs if it has no optional equipment and nothing at all inside but remains totally empty. Most people find that personal belongings, dishes, food, and all of the necessary things of life will weigh at least 1000# per person. You may be able to get by with less, but this is a good place to start. If you are shopping used RVs, as them to take it to a scale so that you can get an actual weight before you buy it.

 

For camping in remote areas for extended periods you need to have a large water tank and larger holding tanks as you won't want to be going for water and dumping waste every other day. Water weighs 8.4#/gallon, so if you carry 20 gallons of water it means 168# more and most people use at least 10 gallons per day. Experienced dry campers often cut that down pretty dramatically and we used to manage with our three sons to spend a weekend using only 10 gallons, but that meant no showers, and using the campground's outhouse to save water. If you plan to do much of this style of travel you should start now to practice water conservation as that is vital to your success in a small RV. Solar can be very effective but the installation of such a system is not inexpensive. It also requres space on the roof as the amount of surface area determines how much electricity can be generated each day. Additionally, those tiny trailers all come with only one battery and no inverter so you would need to add batteries, which are very heavy and expensive. There are lithium batteries that weigh much less but they also cost far more.

 

The storage issue with the tiny trailers is a challenge, but it is important to remember that part of the reason that they have so little storage is that they do not have the cargo weight capacity for one to put much into storage so a safety conscious designer must limit the ability of the buyers to load things into them. The size of an RV is also limiting since all sizes must have pretty much the same equipment inside for basic necessities and as you make the RV smaller, the first thing to go is the storage space. You can not put 50# of potatoes into a 20# sack and this applies to the small RV just as much as it does to groceries. Many of the larger RVs have so much storage space compared to the available cargo carrying capacity that owners tend to exceed the safe weight limits of the RV. Those small trailers are self limiting in that area and that is a good thing.

 

With a budget of $30K, there are trailers out there that could work for you, but you need to watch the weight limits very carefully unless you are also considering upgrading your tow vehicle. But do not be discouraged as this is something that can be done if you want it badly enough. What you should do is to learn what the limits are of available RV combinations that you could use and then adjust your lifestyle to fit into them. RV living in any version is a matter of downsizing and minimalist living and even the largest of RVs can not carry the accumulation of "stuff" that most people have in a stick home. The key is to find a way to live happily and comfortable with the amount that you will be able to take with you. If people can live for weeks at a time out of a backpack that they carry on their back, you can learn to live with what will fit into one of the smaller RVs, if you want it badly enough.

 

Just about anything is possible for someone. The key is to find the way that fits for you, or to adjust your needs and lifestyle to fit into what you can afford and want. The thing to be careful of is to make sure that you adjust so that this will be enjoyable and not jump so quickly that it becomes a case of only surviving. :D

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I suggest before going much further you also read Sue Rogers blog especially her first entries regarding how she came to acquire a 17ft Casita and her tow vehicle. Her blog is at rvsueandcrew.net Perhaps opening a dialog with her will give you some insight into going solo and what works/doesn't work.

 

Kirk gave you some excellent starter points as well and if you look back into some of the older topics you'll find hidden gems all over. The Escapee forum is the one that started us on the full time lifestyle and for sure prevented numerous mistakes along the way.

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I was going to refer you to RV Sue but Dennis beat me to it. Another one that might interest you is http://travelswithmiranda.blogspot.com, the original blog of a young woman who took to the road using her computer skills to pay her way.

 

If you can find jobs that don't require your current working wardrobe you will be way ahead of the game. Especially if your current wardrobe can be sold through consignment. Reducing the cost of living is one way to make RVing affordable.

 

Linda Sand

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If I was single and had $30K to spend I would do this:

 

1. Trade in your ride, or sell it outright and get a larger, more suitable TV. About 2 years ago we found the TV we will use to pull our FT TT, a 2008 F250 LB 6.4l diesel. It had 109K miles on the clock, was well maintained (other than a few cosmetic dings and scratches in the body) for only $11K. It was a real bargain and still has more miles remaining than a brand new 1/2 ton (not to mention more towing capacity) at 1/3rd. the price. I don't know want you're driving now, but 3,500lbs of towing capacity is not adequate for full timing. Even a 1/2 ton would be much better, and I'm sure you can pick up a good used one for less than I paid for mine. Let's say you use $10K of your savings and whatever you get for your current vehicle to get a good used 1/2 ton with at least 7,500 lbs of towing capacity.

 

2. Then I'd look for a good used Oliver (the Cadillac of the fiberglass egg campers) or something roughly equivalent with the $20k I had left. That is assuming you don't want to go bigger. I'd be sure to holds back a couple grand for a good solar/genny/boondocking system, a quality hitch and other mods you may want.

 

We're budgeting around $15K for a good used TT and another $5-6k for a big solar/battery off grid electrical system for boondocking. Of course, being a couple, we're looking for a little bigger, heavier TT than you are, hence the 3/4 ton TV. Were planning to avoid cold weather like the plague, but if you need a 4 season rig then they will be a little heavier and pricier than a milder weather TT that we're planning on getting.

 

Good luck in your new adventure!

 

Chip

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It looks impressive, but they are mighty proud of it! I have a trailer that is 2' longer and which cost me half as much also new. And I was completely unable to locate any weights or weight ratings? I did find a couple of reviews that indicate that it weighs 2000# dry weight so probably has a GVWR that is under the 3500# max that you are dealing with. From what they say there have been none produced yet but prototypes. It does look impressive.

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There's a lot of good advice already. I will add my $0.02

Warning, warning Will Robinson! (From Lost In Space) When you are in a bad situation, everything else looks better and it's very easy to jump into something that might be better, but is not something you will be happy with long term. Be careful not to commit to big things that cost a lot of your resources and will be difficult to get your money out of, if you find you aren't happy with them.

 

One thing to consider is that it doesn't cost much to have your trailer moved someplace. For under $10,000 you could get a trailer large enough that you won't feel cramped later on. Get it moved where you want it, depending on your new job. Then take your time locating a TV and get some training on towing a trailer. Practice in a vacant lot for a while before taking to the road. As your economy allows, add solar and other expensive things that will let you boondock comfortably after your life is back under control.

 

A lot of people even rent a trailer for a weekend or week and see how it would be to live in it, before committing.

 

FWIW, downsizing from a big house to full timing in a trailer was one of the best things that has happened to me. I love it.

 

Good luck

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If I had my druthers, I'd stick to fishing spots, streams, rivers, gorgeous lakes or mountains, forests, desert & BEACHES. NO COLD period. Can't I just kind of hook up with a caravan of RVers who travel with the warm summery weather so I'm safe?

 

Alright I'll stay focused. Now about a composting toilet..... how does this work? I'd like to know.

Maybe I'll make the goal, that the Travel Trailer I fell in love with, I will wait until I "retire" to get it. They should have all the bugs out by then & who knows, maybe by then I can buy the one I want for way less used....

solar setup if you are out working? So many questions.....

deeep breath..... hope is a good thing....... at moments like this I wish I was married.

Reading your latest post makes me believe that you are not ready to start shopping for an RV. You need to slow down and first learn about how RV folks live and travel and then spend far more time in learning about RVs. Reading of the things that you presently have makes me wonder if you understand just how small a space you are considering to live in? An RV that is 8' wide and less than 20' long has similar space to most living rooms, but it will seem much smaller since it has some area cut off for the bathroom and for storage. You may want to try putting everything you own into your bedroom and live there for a few days, only using the bedroom and bathroom and perhaps a little bit of time outside. You mention composting toilets but those are not an option in any RV which I have seen because they are not practicle for most users. If you had one, what would you then do with the resulting compost material? Do you realize that RV toilets and sinks drain into waste tanks which must be emptied into a sanitary facility on a regular basis? Most of the small RVs you are considering have very small tanks so need to be emptied frequently and they also carry a very small supply of water. To shower as you do now you will need to be in an RV park with full utility connections. Solar is of little value unless you spend time out in areas where there are no utility connections, but then you still have the problem of water and of waste. Weather is no more problem for those who know about it than are earthquakes for you. It is just one more thing that you need to learn about as part of preparation for a move to an RV.

 

What concerns me most in reading your posts is that I do not believe that you are ready to plan for RV living and certainly you are not ready to buy one. Most people who jump into this as unprepared as you are now do not enjoy the lifestyle and most do not stay for long. Moving into an RV will not make any of the problems that you have now disappear. I do not think that you have yet begun to understand what fulltimers really live like, but are seeing only the glamorous parts of the life and not the things which go with it. We want to help you make this a success but you will have to work with us and take the time to learn the things which people are trying to teach. Buying any RV before you understand them and grasp what you must do to make things work could be a financial disaster!

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I know what you are feeling. I worked in an industry that could be volatile and every time things got to be too much for me to handle, my husband would find me online at the computer at 2 AM "shopping" for RVs and reading Escapees. That was 15 or so years ago. We'll actually go fulltime if all goes well in 2017.

 

So, can I suggest a couple baby steps first?

 

You say your current vehicle can tow 3500#s. Play with that for the moment. A small pop-up should be under that weight and in this area it Is possible to rent pop-ups. If you have a trailer hitch on your vehicle, see if you can rent a pop-up in your area for a long weekend (not a holiday weekend, just take a couple extra vacation days). I know that you aren't thinking pop-ups right now, but they are simple, lightweight and will give you a taste of trailer camping as an adult where you have to handle the logistics. If you don't have a hitch, then go straight to my second step suggestion and rent a small C class for a long weekend. Find a campground within 10ish miles of where you rent the vehicle and just go try it out. I'd keep it simple at this point. Look for a full hook up campground that doesn't have too many activities. State parks may be the answer, if you give an area someone on here likely can suggest something. If that weekend goes well, then in a month or so repeat the exercise with a small Class C camper. This likely will have a few more things to work with, like hookups.

 

That will give you at least the first idea of what it's like to live in a camper. If you survive (which I'm sure you will) and love it, then continue to try variations of this while you prepare for a lifestyle change. Visit an RV show in your area. Hang out in your favorite trailers and think about what it would be like to,live in that one. Talk to everyone who passes through, they will have ideas and experience that I guarantee they will want to share (we're mostly a friendly crowd and we *all* have opinions on RVs). It's great fun and will teach you a lot more about what you actually want than websites.

 

Meanwhile back at home, it sounds like you need to downsize no matter what. We're clearing out rapidly here. Some of that you can do now, some will have to wait until you decide how you plan to live. Start hauling all your stuff out of closets and cupboards and be really hard on yourself. If you really love something, keep it. But realize that to have that thing is likely going to mean giving up something else. There's just not likely going to be enough space for everything. And donate, sell, consign, toss everything at once. No point deciding three times about the same thing.

 

Begin to ask yourself what you want from this lifestyle. Sit quietly with a piece of paper and begin to write. If you are just running away from your problems, then I hate to say it but unless you resolve the issues first they are likely to follow you. Or are you running to a new way to live? What do you think that new way to live looks like? What are your expectations? What do you want your day to look like when you get up in the morning? My husband and I spent a lot of time in this daydreaming and research phase. Frankly, it is a lot of fun and can help you see where the critical questions are. It's not a simpler way to live necessarily, but it can be a much more rewarding life if you are sure it's for you and you are prepared.

 

Does some of that help?

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You're dreaming.

Think about four days of steady rain and having a full gray tank and empty fresh water tank.

Yeah. . .they never talk about stuff like that!

 

Your childhood summer trailer is just that; a dream - one that someone provided for you.

 

You need more than "just getting by". Once you paint yourself into that corner, your stuck!

Your vehicle is undersized, you won't have enough fresh water, gray water capacity or battery capacity.

 

If you're going to do this, do it right, do it once.

Otherwise, you will run out of money, time and health.

And the next ten years will quickly pass. . .leaving you where?

In a cramped tiny worn out trailer?

 

Get over your traumatic love experience and DO NOT jump into an alternate life style as if that would make things better.

You need to be better prepared and better planned.

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First, I don't know the current costs of you living situation, but RVing is NOT necessarily cheaper than living in an apartment. And you will not only have to give up your walk-in closet, you will have to give up almost all closets! If you try to buy a small trailer, which the size you mentioned is, you will not have room for ANY gorgeous dresses or boots!

 

Second, small trailers are meant primary for weekend or a week or two of travel per year, so they do not have the same storage space as does a larger motorhome or 5th wheel trailer. I live in a 32 foot motorhome and have rows of storage bins underneath on both sides. You will not have that in a small trailer. Underneath my motorhome, I have a vacuum cleaner, bike bags, air compressor, hoses and hookup equipment, tools and spare parts for things that break often, stuff for cooking outside, extra paper products, a box of legal documents and warranty and instruction manuals, a suitcase for travel, winter coat, and semi-dressy work clothing if I have to go to a business meeting. And there is a lot more than that. I have a large wardrobe inside where my shorts, long pans, and t-shirts are stored along with my other daily clothing.

 

What I think you need to do is go to visit some RV shows or dealerships and try to imagine where you would put your clothing and household stuff like pots and pans and kitchen stuff, to say nothing of paper products and food. Where will you put a small vacuum cleaner? What about the extra paper towel? You need to get away from choosing something because it is "cute" because you can't live comfortably in cute. Much more important than something looking cute are the mechanicals and how much storage you will have for things like water and sewage, and how easy things are to hook up.

 

I think once you do that and mentally make a list of what you need and where you will put it, you will see that unless you are willing to live very, very simply, a small trailer is not going to work for you.

 

Also, you mention work camping. Are you aware how much this pays? Usually these jobs are minimum wage or even volunteer in return for a camping spot. You need some savings for repairs and maintenance, and I can guarantee these will be higher than you think they are.

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Like others have suggested, it would probably be better to not "jump" into full time solo traveling, but since you asked if it is possible with a 3500 lb tow vehicle, I thought I'd let you know what I'm doing. I travel to take photographs & see the country. I don't have to work camp; I'm living on a pension & SS and can afford to keep a small house in my home town.

 

First, I'm not full timing, but I take long trips - 111 days, 138 days, 304 days, and currently on day 63 of a trip to Alaska and more.

 

I tow and Escape 17B ( a fiberglass "egg" made in Chilliwack, BC) with a 2010 RAV4 V6 with tow package rated at 3500/350 lbs. The trailer, packed for most of these trips weighed 3010 lbs, although my current one is a bit heavier at 3100 lbs. I've towed over 68.000 miles with the combination, mostly on secondary roads, and mostly at 57MPH or less. I've towed the mountains of the East & West with no problems, other than living with the fact that I may have to slow down for the worst of the passes. I average 15MPG towing.

 

I converted the 4 person dinette to a permanent bed, still have a 2 person dinette for eating, etc. The trailer has a wet bath, furnace, AC, stove, etc and 195 watts of solar on the roof with an additional 160 watt folding panel I carry for when I'm parked in the shade. Combined with a pair of 6V batteries, I have no problem running the trailer (except, of course, the air conditioner) indefinitely as far as electricity goes. With careful management, I can go 2 weeks on the fresh, gray & black tanks.

 

So, yes, it can be done, however I agree with those that suggest you think about how you plan to handle days in a row of wet weather, freezing or excessive temperatures, and all the other things that come along that make you wish you had a home to go to. I love the lifestyle, but unless you ease into it, you may find you have bitten off more than you really want to.

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You're dreaming.

Think about four days of steady rain and having a full gray tank and empty fresh water tank.

Yeah. . .they never talk about stuff like that!

 

Your childhood summer trailer is just that; a dream - one that someone provided for you.

 

You need more than "just getting by". Once you paint yourself into that corner, your stuck!

Your vehicle is undersized, you won't have enough fresh water, gray water capacity or battery capacity.

 

If you're going to do this, do it right, do it once.

Otherwise, you will run out of money, time and health.

And the next ten years will quickly pass. . .leaving you where?

In a cramped tiny worn out trailer?

 

Get over your traumatic love experience and DO NOT jump into an alternate life style as if that would make things better.

You need to be better prepared and better planned.

 

 

 

Perfect

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You cannot move into a house smaller than your current closet and expect to get everything you want into it. Can you live with less? Here's some things you can play with to help you decide that:

 

Do you own a couch long enough to sleep on and a small table (card table?) and chairs. If so, move those things into your dining room and live there for at least a week doing your food prep, eating, and desk work all at that same table. As you use things in your kitchen, leave them out on the counter to get a feel for how much of it you use. (Utensils and pantry ingredients) Also turn all the clothes hangers in your closet backwards and only turn correctly those of clothes you wear during that week while setting aside footwear and other things that don't hang. Buy a bucket toilet (Luggable Loo is one brand) and use it exclusively so you learn what it means to have to dump tanks. Also learn how to and practice taking Navy showers. If you can live in that space with minimal things for a week and can see them all fitting into a tiny trailer, then see about renting a trailer for another week. Once you have a more realistic sense of what tiny house living is like you might be ready to look at which units you think might work for you.

 

Linda Sand

 

Note: We did all except the bucket toilet which was a mistake because we had no concept as to how often we would have to dump the tiny black tank in our first motorhome.

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You're learning, and as usual, Kirk has some great advice. Before you pick your full-time RV, you need to figure out what your full-time life will be like. What will be your source(s) of income? Are you planning on staying in one place for months at a time, or will you be moving at least monthly? Will you have any pets? Do you have any mobility issues or health issues?

 

The clothing question is something that will need to be addressed, but it is a function of your lifestyle. If you are going to stay in temperate areas (some people call it "chasing 70 degrees") and don't need dress clothing, you can get by with pretty little. If you are going to be living in hot or cold areas and need dress clothing you may have a space issue.

 

Cooking for yourself is cheaper than going out to eat, but will require some cooking equipment and the dishes on which to eat the resulting food. A couple of plates, some everyday flatware, a couple of mugs and maybe a soup bowl or two will be sufficient. The cooking equipment, though, depends on your cooking skill and desires.

 

What equipment, if any, will you need for income?

 

I'd suggest that you start visiting RV dealers and shows within driving distance of your current location. At this point you are only looking at floorplans, not specific rigs. You mention small trailers, but take a look at larger motor homes, too. Driving is a skill, and skills can be learned. What you are looking for is what sort of RV will let you live inside of it in a manner that won't make you feel uncomfortable. Don't worry about price, either. You are only looking at floor plans. Spend some time in each one, pretending to do all of the things you will have to do in whatever RV you eventually buy. A small RV may have the dinette or couch double as a bed. That means that each evening you will have to turn that dinette or couch into a bed, and then the next morning you will have to turn it back into whatever it was for the day. Doing that day after day after day can get old for some people while others don't mind it in the least. You may think that you will spend much of your nonworking time outdoors, and you may. What will you do when you have a solid week of rain? What about two weeks of rain?

 

If you are going to be spending time where it it very hot or very cold you will want to be concerned about insulation. Cheaper rigs sometimes skimp on this. Higher end coaches usually don't, but if you are going to be looking at a 20-25 year old coach it is possible that the insulation is not as good as it once was.

 

I mentioned motor homes above, because a MH can tow a small, fuel-efficient vehicle for the daily running around. We thought we wouldn't want a MH because they only get about 7 mpg (or less, for some). Then we figured out that it could tow a small car, and the MH would really only be driven from one campground to another. Suddenly, a MH was a much more attractive option.

 

A fifth wheel, aka 5'er, is the most home-like RV, according to some. They have lots of room, but require a pickup for a tow vehicle. Those higher end coaches are fairly heavy, which means that a larger PU is needed for safely towing them.

 

Once you figure out what will and won't work for you as far as floor plans are concerned you can move on to researching brands. Don't be afraid to buy a used coach and car or truck. You will save a ton of money that way.

 

Ask lots of questions here, and we'll help you figure out what you need.

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