I love to travel; the novelty of being somewhere new and seeing and experiencing the best a place has to offer. I love traveling so much that I have planned for future trips that I may or may not ever take. My travel planning and research skills have really come in handy especially as I am now traveling with three children and complete spontaneity doesn't really work for us.
When COVID hit we had a vacation planned up into Canada, the kids had passports and as we waited months into the pandemic hoping restrictions would lift, we realized that we would inevitably need to cancel the trip and adjust. After serious discussions one summer evening while on our “adjusted” vacation near Hot Springs, Arkansas we decided to make a big travel move and buy a travel trailer. We had our own personal reasons but also realized the benefit of having your own space while traveling.
My husband's family has camped their whole lives and because I have been with them over half my life I have been along for the ride for many of those camping experiences. We decided that our kids were at the prime age for the adventure and a new way to travel. Not to mention it would allow us to bring our dogs and have our own space during a time when shared spaces weren’t desirable. I will get into the research on the type of travel trailer we purchased and why at a later time, but wanted to share some considerations for anyone wondering if this method of travel would be a good fit for them. I didn't know everything going in, and I still don’t but I have learned a lot the last year since we purchased our camper.
Questions to Ask Yourself Before Buying a Camper
Are you willing to drive...a lot.
Do you have a vehicle that will be able to tow a camping unit? We knew our Ford F 150 would somewhat limit the trailer size and weight that we could ultimately tow.
Do you mind showering in campground bathrooms/showerhouses? A big misconception is that all campgrounds have water and sewer hook-ups. I am here to tell you that you don’t. Electric sites are pretty standard, but water and sewer are a luxury and you usually pay much more for those sites when campgrounds do have them. They also book up quicker too so all around they are hard to get. We tend to stay in state parks because we like the access to hiking and nature, and I believe we have only stayed in one state park to date that has had water, but still no sewer. So long story short, don’t forget your shower shoes.
Do you mind getting your hands dirty? Without the aforementioned sewer connection, you will need to empty your tanks at the campground dump station if they get full or before you leave. You won’t want to travel home with tanks full of gray and black water. Overall, this is not a fun experience, but It is however necessary.
Do you mind scheduling your vacations a year or more in advance? Camping is hot right now and each campground has different reservation windows. Some are 6 months in advance, some 12 months. If you plan to travel over any holiday or in the summer, you will need to make your reservation right when that reservation window opens. If you don’t, it is very likely that you won’t find a spot. I have often sat at my computer at 7:59 am waiting to hit the reserve button so that I can make sure and get a spot for a vacation 6+ months away.
These are what I would consider to be the top considerations for anyone interested in buying an camping unit. Yes, there are so many benefits to camping and my family absolutely loves it, but it definitely requires a little more than just buying the camper and showing up.