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 > My first post - I'm new to trailers and need some input

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atexintx

El Paso Texas

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Posted: 08/28/19 11:10pm Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

I need some help on estimating travel expenses and more -
I’m a bean counter by profession and cash flow projections are my expertise and, yet, I need some input for estimating some expenses based upon the assumptions below:
Assumptions:
I’ll be pulling a 16’-17’’ trailer with my 2014 Dodge Grand Caravan, GTW=3,600 lbs.
This limits me to a trailer empty weight of about 2,900 lbs.
I plan to travel alone except for my Chihuahua.
We plan to live in our trailer year round, traveling about 18-25 days each month with some mountain traveling but flat land otherwise.
My Caravan normally gets about 28 mpg on the road; otherwise about 18 mpg around town.
I’m expecting to get about 10 mpg? pulling my trailer.
Questions:
(I know the answer to most of these may be “it depends” in which case just assume “a little bit of this and a little bit of that” (if this makes any sense).
1. How much extra per year can I expect to pay for trailer vehicle expense? I’m with State Farm for the Caravan.
2. What can I expect to pay per night on average for overnight camping while traveling our great highways and byways (Remember – I know “it depends” – but …).
3. Where and how would I find cable and Internet connections – (1) most every camping spot, (2) some camping spots, (3) a few camping spots?
4. Are there any “best practices” when it comes to being on the electric/Internet grid as we travel?
5. How much can I expect to pay per month for cable and Internet (I have a telephone and Internet-based business)?
6. If I’m in an area with spotty cell phone reception, would a phone system like OOMA be a good option? Otherwise, I use Skype.
7. Would AT&T help me with options for doing quick charges on my cell phone that does not require electricity (or is there any such thing).
8. Will I be using a generator for my electricity if I don’t have a hook up? I understand that solar panels may be a smart way to go.
9. Are fresh water fill-ups included in the cost of overnight camping?
10. Do most camping spots have fresh water fill ups?
11. Is the cost of electricity included in the cost of overnight camping?
12. It appears to me that overnight hookup charges may be the biggest expense while traveling 80% of the time on the road. Correct?
13. Is it difficult to find camping spots where one can camp for 30 days or so?
14. Is it realistic to think that if I’m in a town or city I can park on a side street for several nights. Would this be a matter of knowing local city laws?
15. Is the best way to buy a used trailer (if one becomes available) only from a dealer or would buying from an individual be okay too?
16. If I purchase a used trailer from an individual, what due diligence should I do over and above what I’d do with a dealer?
17. What would be the best type of dunnage (packing cushion to protect dishes, supplies, etc. while moving?)
18. Is there any value in having a short wave radio? What would that be?
19. I’m concerned about camping in a flash flood area and want to know which is the best way to be alerted on this.
20. I might do some camping in California some day and I understand they only provide an online reservation system. Is it a hassle to camp in CA?
21. I do plan to travel the Great Plains and Mountain West, the Midwest and maybe the Deep South – Any particular region better than the other? (As a kid, we tent camped in Jackson Hole, Colorado, Rapid City, Nebraska, Iowa, Wisconsin, Minnesota).

First one to answer most of these will get either a six pack of Bud Light or 3 pints of Hagen Daz ice cream emailed to them (if I can).

John
[email protected]
El Paso Texas

afidel

Cleveland

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Posted: 08/29/19 12:15am Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

You will NOT enjoy pulling a hard sided trailer with your minivan unless it is something ultra light like a fiberglass 'egg' or a no slide 14' unit. I've been there, done that, as has a former coworker. He did it for 2 years locally (within about 100 relatively flat miles from home), I noped out after towing the trailer in my signature home. In theory the numbers work, in reality the soft rear suspension makes for an absolutely terrible towing experience.


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cavie

Port Charlotte Fl/ Hindsdale MA

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Posted: 08/29/19 05:12am Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

WHY too many questions for one post.


2011 Keystone Sprinter 323BHS. Retired Master Electrician. Retired Building Inspector.

All Motor Homes are RV's. All RV's are not Motor Homes.

Jebby14

Windsor Ontario

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Posted: 08/29/19 05:26am Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

good luck.

1. How much extra per year can I expect to pay for trailer vehicle expense? I’m with State Farm for the Caravan. A lot, trailers need constant maintenance and you will be stressing your van. How handy are you?
2. What can I expect to pay per night on average for overnight camping while traveling our great highways and byways (Remember – I know “it depends” – but …). 10-100 bucks. plan for 50
3. Where and how would I find cable and Internet connections – (1) most every camping spot, (2) some camping spots, (3) a few camping spots? 3 if any
4. Are there any “best practices” when it comes to being on the electric/Internet grid as we travel? don't know I don't travel I camp so we don't have it when we go
5. How much can I expect to pay per month for cable and Internet (I have a telephone and Internet-based business)? don't know
6. If I’m in an area with spotty cell phone reception, would a phone system like OOMA be a good option? Otherwise, I use Skype. don't know, I seldom don't have cell coverage
7. Would AT&T help me with options for doing quick charges on my cell phone that does not require electricity (or is there any such thing). solar or generator or inverter off your house battery or charge via the car. pick what you want to do and plan accordingly
8. Will I be using a generator for my electricity if I don’t have a hook up? I understand that solar panels may be a smart way to go. depends on your needs and what you have. don't camp next to me and run a genny constantly please.
9. Are fresh water fill-ups included in the cost of overnight camping? yes if available
10. Do most camping spots have fresh water fill ups? yes
11. Is the cost of electricity included in the cost of overnight camping? if its a serviced site
12. It appears to me that overnight hookup charges may be the biggest expense while traveling 80% of the time on the road. Correct? until you break stuff
13. Is it difficult to find camping spots where one can camp for 30 days or so? in busy areas yes but it can be done
14. Is it realistic to think that if I’m in a town or city I can park on a side street for several nights. Would this be a matter of knowing local city laws? don't count on it
15. Is the best way to buy a used trailer (if one becomes available) only from a dealer or would buying from an individual be okay too? I prefer privet sale. dealers have overhead to cover and need to be profitable
16. If I purchase a used trailer from an individual, what due diligence should I do over and above what I’d do with a dealer? privet inspection since you have limited experience/knowledge
17. What would be the best type of dunnage (packing cushion to protect dishes, supplies, etc. while moving?) we use platic, paper and correl, it stays in cupboard just like at home
18. Is there any value in having a short wave radio? What would that be? not to me
19. I’m concerned about camping in a flash flood area and want to know which is the best way to be alerted on this. no idea my phone is all I have
20. I might do some camping in California some day and I understand they only provide an online reservation system. Is it a hassle to camp in CA? no idea
21. I do plan to travel the Great Plains and Mountain West, the Midwest and maybe the Deep South – Any particular region better than the other? (As a kid, we tent camped in Jackson Hole, Colorado, Rapid City, Nebraska, Iowa, Wisconsin, Minnesota). Canada eh

DutchmenSport

Indiana

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Posted: 08/29/19 06:27am Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

I'll answer #21. The USA is a fantastic country with diversity as wide as the sky. That's the great joy of RVing, traveling to areas that are completely different than your "home" which takes you out of your "comfort zone." A bit overwhelming, scary, and very uncertain at first? yes. But the more you travel, the more the adventure grows on you, and then you actually begin to look forward traveling to a new location you are not familiar with.

Every geographical area in the country is different, unique, and diverse. Even the same location, city to country can be worlds apart. Personally, I like driving secondary roads, not interstate. We enjoy the local culture and not the tourist areas. But many folks enjoy the tourist areas. Personally, I like solitude, but other enjoy the fast hustle-and-bustle. Some travel with kids and look for high activity destination points. Some are now empty nesters, retired, older, who enjoy vegetating around a campfire for days on end.

There is no answer to this question. Wherever ANYONE calls "home"... "home" is probably the best location on earth.

(Personally, I have no desire to travel in Chicago, New York City, or LosAngeles), but I would throughly enjoy traveling through Illinois, New York State, or California.)

brant_c

midwest

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Posted: 08/29/19 07:47am Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

Buy a used trailer and start camping close to home for the first year. Work out all the bugs. You'll be glad you did.

You're right...lots of the answers you'll get will be "It depends".


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2012Coleman

Florida

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Posted: 08/29/19 08:50am Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

brant_c wrote:

Buy a used trailer and start camping close to home for the first year. Work out all the bugs. You'll be glad you did.

You're right...lots of the answers you'll get will be "It depends".
This is the best response you can hope to get - because it's true - no one can give you the answers to all these questions - and you can't email ice cream or beer.

One area you could put more beans into is your tow vehicle. Or - put more in your budget for repairs. Minivans are grocery getters - not tow vehicles.

That caravan is going to severely limit the size of the trailer which will in turn limit your planned use of living in it full time.

Plans for the winter? Didn't see a line item in there for propane.

Stick to the advice I quoted - buy the trailer, tow it to a spot and camp in it. Learn from those shorter experiences. You can't expect to succeed by going at it full throttle by asking 20 plus questions that have too many variable answers for anyone to consider trying to cover in a reply.

Good luck - and feel free to ask about a specific situation as they come up. Start with your Caravan - that's the most limiting factor in your entire plan.


Experience without good judgment is worthless; good judgment without experience is still good judgment!

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DutchmenSport

Indiana

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Posted: 08/29/19 09:21am Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

#20. On-line-reservation? (California).
Honestly cannot answer for California, we've never camper there (yet). But rest assured, there are also private campgrounds, State and Federal Forests, Army Corps of Engineer campgrounds, State Recreation Areas, State Parks as well. Every state will have a variety of campground opportunities. Searching the internet is a good start. Just type in the name of any city-state in the USA followed by the word "campgrounds", and you'll get hits. The harder decision will be to select only 1, because they ALL seem to be so inviting, private and public.

One thing to keep in mind, open land camping (boondocking) is much more prevalent West of the Mississippi River than East of it. Public or open lands for open boondocking is very rare, if anything East of the Mississippi. But established campgrounds of all sorts are prevalent everywhere.

After you have been camping a short while, you will kind of naturally fall into a "style" of campground you are looking for. Some navigate to exclusively boondocking in isolated places, others navigate to State Parks, others my even settle in a private campground long term (seasonal). But, in a little time, you will also find what fits your lifestyle the most.

And yes, there is wide variety of amenities at every campground. No two are the same. If traveling full time, you need to be prepared for complete primitive with absolutely no connection to any grid, all the way to full hook-up with everything provided.

pianotuna

Regina, SK, Canada

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Posted: 08/29/19 09:42am Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

atexintx wrote:


Assumptions:
I’ll be pulling a 16’-17’’ trailer with my 2014 Dodge Grand Caravan, GTW=3,600 lbs.
This limits me to a trailer empty weight of about 2,900 lbs.


The numbers, in theory, work. In practise you are pushing the envelope.

atexintx wrote:

I plan to travel alone except for my Chihuahua.


Some campgrounds do not allow pets.

atexintx wrote:

My Caravan normally gets about 28 mpg on the road; otherwise about 18 mpg around town.
I’m expecting to get about 10 mpg? pulling my trailer.


That may be too optimistic. Towing occasionally is one thing. Doing it every couple of days requires "more vehicle" than you have.

atexintx wrote:

2. What can I expect to pay per night on average for overnight camping while traveling our great highways and byways (Remember – I know “it depends” – but …).


Anywhere from free, with services (electricity etc) to $100 per night.

atexintx wrote:

3. Where and how would I find cable and Internet connections – (1) most every camping spot, (2) some camping spots, (3) a few camping spots?


Cable may be rare, internet is some times available but may be so slow as to be unusable. Many of us now use our cell phones for data (internet access). I'd suggest getting both Verizon and AT&T.

atexintx wrote:

4. Are there any “best practices” when it comes to being on the electric/Internet grid as we travel?


Yes. Always check polarity and voltage under load. If the RV has a 50 amp service an add on "top of the line" energy management system (surge protector) may be a wise addition.

atexintx wrote:

5. How much can I expect to pay per month for cable and Internet (I have a telephone and Internet-based business)?


If you need drop dead service and unlimited data over $100 per month. However it is, in your case, a business expense.


atexintx wrote:

6. If I’m in an area with spotty cell phone reception, would a phone system like OOMA be a good option? Otherwise, I use Skype.


Ooma and other similar products rely on high speed data. You may not find that at campgrounds. I'd suggest investing in a top quality antenna and signal booster. About $600.00 one time cost.


atexintx wrote:

7. Would AT&T help me with options for doing quick charges on my cell phone that does not require electricity (or is there any such thing).


Most devices may be charged on the 12 volt system of the RV, with the proper adapter. No need to get AT&T involved.

atexintx wrote:

8. Will I be using a generator for my electricity if I don’t have a hook up? I understand that solar panels may be a smart way to go.


Using a generator may "eat your lunch". A good solar installation is a one time cost and 600 watts may cover all your needs, other than running the roof air. https://freecampsites.net/adding-solar/ may help. It may be cheaper to go to an inexpensive campground than to run a generator.

atexintx wrote:

9. Are fresh water fill-ups included in the cost of overnight camping?

10. Do most camping spots have fresh water fill ups?


Sometimes


atexintx wrote:

11. Is the cost of electricity included in the cost of overnight camping?


Yes, but long term stay locations may have power meters where you would pay monthly for the power consumed.


atexintx wrote:

12. It appears to me that overnight hookup charges may be the biggest expense while traveling 80% of the time on the road. Correct?


I boondock a great deal, and travel long distances, so fuel is my number one expense. Maintenance I allot $0.10 per mile.

atexintx wrote:

13. Is it difficult to find camping spots where one can camp for 30 days or so?


That depends on the time of year and the location. For example nearby me there is only one campground open in the winter. At -30 I need to have their services. They know they have a monopoly and they charge accordingly. For example, if not camping at their facility they charge $40 to dump the waste tanks.

atexintx wrote:

14. Is it realistic to think that if I’m in a town or city I can park on a side street for several nights. Would this be a matter of knowing local city laws?


It may be best to not stay more than 2 nights in any one location. Big box stores may allow overnight parking if you ask. But I never stayed more than 3 nights in any location--I moved on to another spot.

atexintx wrote:

15. Is the best way to buy a used trailer (if one becomes available) only from a dealer or would buying from an individual be okay too?


Buying from a dealer would not be my first choice. They have to mark up the price, after all they are not a charity.

atexintx wrote:

16. If I purchase a used trailer from an individual, what due diligence should I do over and above what I’d do with a dealer?


Pay a mobile RV technician to inspect the RV.


atexintx wrote:

17. What would be the best type of dunnage (packing cushion to protect dishes, supplies, etc. while moving?)


This has never been an issue for me. Open cupboards slowly after any move, in case items have shifted.

atexintx wrote:

18. Is there any value in having a short wave radio? What would that be?


Unless it is your hobby, no.

atexintx wrote:

19. I’m concerned about camping in a flash flood area and want to know which is the best way to be alerted on this.


Get a weather radio, or an app for a cell phone that sends warnings.

atexintx wrote:

20. I might do some camping in California some day and I understand they only provide an online reservation system. Is it a hassle to camp in CA?


Private campgrounds have their own customer service--not government run. Popular destinations do require reservations, sometimes months in advance. But--I mainly boondock.

atexintx wrote:

21. I do plan to travel the Great Plains and Mountain West, the Midwest and maybe the Deep South – Any particular region better than the other? (As a kid, we tent camped in Jackson Hole, Colorado, Rapid City, Nebraska, Iowa, Wisconsin, Minnesota).


That depends on the time of year. Camping in freezing conditions require lots of upgrades, modifications, and good reliable power systems.


Regards, Don
My ride is a 28 foot Class C, 256 watts solar, 556 amp hours of AGM in two battery banks 12 volt batteries, 3000 watt Magnum hybrid inverter, Sola Basic Autoformer, Microair Easy Start.

bob213

Fresno, CA

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Posted: 08/29/19 01:22pm Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

As 2012coleman stated, your tow vehicle will be you biggest limiting factor. If you are determined to stay with your van I would consider finding a used "fiberglass shell" trailer like a Casita.
Casita


You can avoid reality, but you cannot avoid the consequences of avoiding reality – Ayn Rand


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