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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: 08/29/19 10:13pm Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

Awesome feedback! Thank you all! I'm digesting the info - more later with fewer questions (maybe).

rbpru

North Central Indiana

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Posted: 08/29/19 10:31pm Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

While it is true that only you can determine the suitability of your van for pulling your rig. As indicated you will probably want to upgrade your tow vehicle.

As also mentioned the shell type TTs are an option but a bit more costly.

Here are the figures for our 8600 mile 58 day trip around AZ.

Total miles driven 8500, miles towing 5500. Average camp fee $27.00, average cost per day $89.00.

Our camping fees ranged from $45.00 plus, at full hook up parks to $10.00 for zero hookups in city parks etc. Out west we learned to keep our gas tank full and we carry and extra 5 gallons.

Our daily cost was for every thing, camping, groceries, gas, tourist attractions, souvenir, etc.

This was for two people and a large dog. When we retired we bought bought a 25ft. TT to tour the country. That was five years and 40,000 towing miles ago.

We come from a tent and wilderness canoeing background, so there is nothing in the RVing world that is much more than an inconvenience.

We found that after about 5 weeks on the road, it is about time to head for home.

Finally, you need to know how to change your TT and TV tires. You cannot depend on cell service to call Road Service in some part on the country.

Good luck.


Twenty six foot 2010 Dutchmen Lite pulled with a 2011 EcoBoost F-150 4x4.

Just right for Grandpa, Grandma and the dog.


drsteve

Michigan

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Posted: 08/30/19 07:00am Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

DutchmenSport wrote:



Public or open lands for open boondocking is very rare, if anything East of the Mississippi.


Just north of you, Michigan has hundreds of thousands of acres of state and national forest that are open to boondocking.


2006 Silverado 1500HD Crew Cab 2WD 6.0L 3.73 8600 GVWR
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rbpru

North Central Indiana

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Posted: 08/30/19 08:59am Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

2x on MI. We had a great time touring the upper peninsula. While we are not true boondockers, as we only stay a day or two before moving on to the next tourist area, it is a great camping option.

afidel

Cleveland

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Posted: 08/30/19 09:28am Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

There's also plenty of dispersed camping in the national forests in Ohio, WV, and PA. Basically any state with a national forest or grassland will have dispersed camping. You can click the state here and get a list of forests for the state and then click through to the forest for the specific regulations around dispersed camping in that forest.


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CFerguson

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Posted: 08/30/19 09:56am Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

Whew, that was exhausting just reading your list of questions. You might want to start a new thread for each couple of questions- I bet you get more responses. And certainly more thorough ones.

I will say that the Hawg Law is that you will get 'about' half your mileage when towing. And I agree with the others that youd be well served getting a heavier tow vehicle or a much lighter trailer.

happy2rv

Huntsville, AL, USA

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Posted: 08/30/19 08:26pm Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

Quote:

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.


There are many factors to consider other than just gross weight. You have to be comfortable with what you tow and many RV dealers will tell you what they think you want to hear. Spend some time educating yourself on all factors of towing and then decide if you really want to tow with your vehicle. Personally, I wouldn't tow with a caravan.

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We plan to live in our trailer year round, traveling about 18-25 days each month with some mountain traveling but flat land otherwise.


If you are going to be traveling that much, I would put serious thought into what you are towing with as well as what you are towing. Again, personally I REALLY wouldn't want to do ANY mountain towing with a Caravan.

Quote:

I’m expecting to get about 10 mpg? pulling my trailer.


This will depend on a lot of factors. Especially terrain involved and what is being towed. I average between 11-14 MPG with a RAM 1500 towing ~8000lb 35' travel trailer on relatively flat terrain.

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1. How much extra per year can I expect to pay for trailer vehicle expense? I’m with State Farm for the Caravan.


Assuming you're referring only to insurance here, usually trailer's liability insurance is covered under the towing vehicle's policy and I don't recall there being a premium increase for that liability coverage. We carry replacement coverage on the RV to cover the RV and its contents. Our auto carrier didn't offer coverage for travel trailers so we had to go through a different insurance company for that. The cost for full coverage will vary based on the purchase/replacement cost for the RV among other factors.

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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 …).


You're quite right it depends. It can vary from free to way over $100 per night. Typical full service campgrounds in non-touristy areas probably average around $30-35 per night on a nightly basis. This can be cut considerably in a number of ways.

First, if you are going to stay for weeks or months at a time, many campgrounds offer extended stay rates. Many campgrounds will switch from all inclusive to metered electric charged separately for extended stays.

Another method to reduce rates while still staying at full service campgrounds is to look into camping memberships. Passport America offers 1/2 price stays at numerous campgrounds with certain limitations. These limitations range from length of stay to no weekends to no holidays, etc... Passport America is around $50 / year. There are also the timeshare type memberships like NACO/Thousand trails where you purchase an expensive membership and get "free" or significantly reduced camping rates at their participating "resorts". For some people these make sense, but again you would have to do the research to determine if those are cost effective and/or available in the areas you want to visit. State parks offer some really beautiful and often cost effective campgrounds. Many small towns have city parks or fairgrounds that offer cost effective camping.

If you are willing to boondock (camping without hookups) you have many additional options. Many boondocking opportunities are only suited to a night or two. Again there are memberships like Harvest Host that I'm told have some really unique and truly worthwhile host sites. Many small towns have city parks that have free boondocking sites, often with limitations on how long you can stay and other rules. Especially in the west, there are boon docking opportunities on various federally owned lands.

Finally there's parking opportunities. Walmart, Cracker Barrel, Cabelas, or other parking lots that allow overnight parking where not prohibited by city ordinance. This isn't really camping, but is an option for getting sleep without having to pay for a campground while traveling from one destination to another.

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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?


Most commercial campgrounds have some form of internet available and included in their nightly rate. Many have cable TV but alot don't. The internet tends to be hit or miss with alot of miss. If you have a business need or any real requirement for reliable internet, get your own unlimited wireless data from a reliable cell carrier. Most current smart phones are capable of wifi tethering with the right cell plan.

Obviously any of the boon docking options would not have either available. Most state and city park campgrounds also don't offer cable or internet.

Quote:

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


Always check the power with some type of circuit validator before plugging in. The easiest way to do this is get a surge suppressor that has power validation built in and plug it in before plugging your RV in. Turn the breaker off when plugging in and then turn it back on after you plug in.

With respect to internet, see comments above. Make sure you maintain a good host based firewall and anti-malware/anti-virus suite.

Quote:

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


This isn't really RV specific. You should have a good cellular service now and I wouldn't expect it to be significantly more or less unless there are additional requirements while traveling. Make sure you carrier has coverage in the areas you intend to travel. A lot of state parks and federal lands won't have decent cellular coverage. If it's imperative to your business, you may need to have reliable coverage through multiple carriers.

Quote:

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.


I would not expect ANY campground internet service to support internet based telephony. If cellular isn't available, you're pretty much out of luck. Maybe satellite phone service, but that's going to get really expensive...

Quote:

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)


As already suggested, I don't think AT&T will be of much help here. You will have 12v available in your car for car chargers. Your RV has 12V battery(ies) for when you're boon docking and you could have a power outlet installed if one isn't already available. While in campgrounds you will have access to 110V. You can look to Amazon or other sources for solar powered chargers, but I don't think most of them would qualify as quick.

Quote:

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.


Most travel trailers don't have factory installed generators. You can get inverter generators from a number of sources but then you have to consider how you are going to haul it and how to handle gasoline or propane. Boon docking usually means going without AC power. This means running the lights off of the battery(ies) along with the furnace if needed and the refrigerator. It also means no air conditioning, microwave, or other AC powered appliances. Most traditional RV refrigerators work on gas and 12V controls. Some newer trailers come equipped with "residential" refrigerators that only work off of 110V. These are powered by an inverter while not plugged into shore power. But the inverters are power hungry and two deep cycle batteries will only keep the refrigerator going for maybe 8-10 hours. Solar power will let you extend boon docking by helping to keep the batteries charged. But there is a lot of research to understand what your requirements are and whether a Solar set up can meet your needs, especially in the size and weight constraints you have defined.

You need to understand the refrigerator technology that is installed in trailers you are considering. There are advantages to each type of technology. I have a residential refrigerator in my current trailer and don't think I will ever go back to a traditional RV refrigerator. But I don't boon dock.

Quote:

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


Any commercial campground should minimally provide water and electric. Filling your tanks should be considered normal usage. Most will provide sewer at each site, but some will have a centrally located dump station.

Again boon docking means no services. Many interstate rest areas provide sewer dump sites. Many Flying J truck stops offer dump stations. Many cabelas sporting goods stores also offer dump stations. Some offer potable (drinkable) water for fill ups as well. I'm not sure if cabelas charges or not but rest areas are free.

Quote:

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


As noted above, if you are staying at a commercial campground they should. If you aren't staying at the campground they may offer services at a fee or may not offer them at all.

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


Covered in answer to #2 above.

Quote:

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


Assuming you stay in commercial campground all the time, possibly. You can easily spend more on food and entertainment than campground fees. Also, depending on how long you stay put. You can definitely easily spend more on a day of fuel for your tow vehicle than the cost of a night Passport America campground. If you travel constantly, fuel and maintenance will probably be your biggest expense. If you stay put for long(ish) periods of time that balances out.

Quote:

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


Very location dependent and also cash dependent. It is next to impossible, unless you have a relative with land, to find free camping for 30 day stints. It is very easy in much of the country to find extended stay campgrounds that offer monthly rates. I would say it would be next to impossible to find a 30 day spot in New York City, but who would want to? Having said that, the more desirable the area, the harder to find cost effective extended stay campgrounds.

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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?


I would say extremely dependent on local laws. I think most areas would frown on multiple night street parking. However, as noted above, a lot of small towns and some big ones have parks or fairgrounds with free or low cost boon docking or even full service (not usually free) campgrounds.

Quote:

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 believe you will find far better deals from private sellers, but either way you really need to know what to look for in a used RV.

Quote:

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?


Do your research on what to look for. Signs of leaks, de-lamination, working appliances, etc... When you find one you're serious about consider having it inspected by a reputable RV tech.

Quote:

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


Our glass ware was boxed with cardboard inserts between them when we bought them. We keep these in between when traveling but I wouldn't be too worried about most things. If you want wine glasses, consider plastic or silicone instead of fragile crystal or thin glass. Corning ware plates and bowls hold up well.

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


No RV specific value here.

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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.


I wouldn't knowingly camp in a flash flood area. As others have suggested weather radio and phone apps for weather are a good idea.

Quote:

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).


Haven't camped in California. Maybe some day. Online reservations aren't usually a problem and may be preferred to telephone reservations in many circumstances. There is beauty in every region of the country and I hope to be able to see a lot more of it soon. I've camped in much of the east coast, south east, and various parts of Wyoming and South Dakota. Each area has unique sights and activities and each is worth exploring.

* This post was edited 08/31/19 02:12pm by happy2rv *


2018 Forrest River Salem Hemisphere 282RK - 2017 RAM 1500 TV

Previous RVs and TOADS
2004 Fleetwood Bounder 32W on WH W20
2000 Four Winds 5000 21RB
1986 27' Allegro
TOADS
2005 Ford Ranger XLT 2WD
2004 Suzuki Aerio
1988 Chevrolet Sprint

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