Along with the questions I've been receiving about trip planning, I've also been asked why I selected the fiberglass trailer over pop-up trailers, or fixed "stickie" trailers or some other tow option. I hope this response (copied from an e-mail sent earlier today) answers some of those questions, and helps you pick your vacation home on wheels:
Hi J! I'm glad we found each other! Traveling with our children is just such a fabulous experience our family has made it a tradition for generations. Not sure if it began with my pioneering great-great grandparents or earlier generations, but we seem to have the "expeditionist" gene running here.
In your search for a trailer, have you tried Craigslist? That's where I found mine in an AMAZING string of luck! That might be a good place to look for used 'glass. Or watch the sales listed on this group. (You may want to subscribe to the list so you hear about each new posting ASAP.)
OK...what you might need: Do you camp much? That would bear a lot on the decision you make about your vehicle. I've been tent camping as long as I can remember, with some trailer camping available to me from the ages of 9 to 13, then back to the tent again up 'til 2008. I've gone without showers for weeks (but used lakes and streams to keep myself sane and relatively clean), pooped in the woods, on rocks, in the desert, in snow, and I'm not afraid to sleep under the stars without a tent at all. So, while I appreciate all the comforts of home, I'm not beholden to them when I travel.
IF YOU'VE NOT CAMPED A LOT, don't go cold turkey. DO get the potty, and the sink with the electric pump and water heater, the fridge and the good stove. If it has counter space, too, then BONUS! A heater might be nice. I've never needed A/C, but I'm pretty darned flexible when it comes to weather. If you've not camped, you'll want all the comforts you can afford to include, but remember...unless you've got $100 grand or more to buy one of those behemoth bus RVs we all (if we were honest) drool over, it's just NOT going to be as comfy as home. Just remember this, my cardinal rule of traveling (with AND without kids): "Blessed are the flexible, for they shall maintain their sanity."
I read the thread (on the fiberglass RV site) and the recommendations from others that you go fiberglass. I've only had mine for about 18 months now, and the folks on THIS list are a biased lot. But I have to agree with them that the fiberglass trailers do hold their value. (Mine's already increased in value because I've made some improvements,and before it's over, I plan for this baby to help pay for our kids' college education! OK...maybe that's reaching a bit high. But if we enjoy it for a few years and sell it for the same or more than OUR initial price - FANTASTIC!)
My little fiberglass trailer, a 1972 Compact Jr. made by a now defunct company previously in Southern California, has no bells and whistles (or even a potty). But considering we have always tent camped, and planned to do this trip ala tent up 'til just about the last minute, I don't find the lack of a potty a big deal. Indeed, the trailer, complete with sink and 16 gallons of water, a tiny counter, three-burner stove, closets, cupboards and an icebox I use as a pantry, is a HUGE step up from a tent!
It would be NICE to be able to use the potty in the middle of the night without leaving the trailer, but the trailer works for us on a number of other levels. First, our vehicle (a 2000 Toyota Sienna with tow package and 2,800 pound tow limit) can handle it WITH EASE even in snow and driving rain (both proven in our own "road tests"). Second, we were planning to camp at spots either with restrooms or ample foliage (and a shovel in our hands) anyhow, so not having the potty, again, isn't a big deal. OH SURE! It'd be nice. But for that $9,000 savings, I'd have to say I'm pretty happy with what we got!
Our old FG (fiberglass) trailer held up really well, even in terrible driving conditions and very rough roads (read the bit about Chaco on the blog). Because it was old (and I'm a bit rough on things) I didn't exactly baby it along, so I'd say if MY trailer survived, any of these new fiberglass trailers should do fine. Just batten down the hatches and hit the road.
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