Should I invest in a travel trailer?
I get asked this question a lot. Would we recommend buying a travel rig of some sort? Is owning a travel trailer worth it? If we had to do it over again, would we still purchase the trailer? The short answer is yes, yes, a thousand times YES!
Our family has honestly enjoyed every moment we’ve spent camping in our travel trailer. My kids love to be outside, catching frogs in a creek, burying their toes in the sand, and playing card games into the wee hours of the morning. Purchasing the travel trailer was the best idea we ever had to spend fun, quality time together.
On the drive home from one camping trip I am often searching for our next adventure. In between trips we count the days and long to go on the next journey. Even our dog is ecstatic when she sees the trailer pull up to the house to be filled for the trip, and as we pack she sits majestically on the front door mat of the trailer observing her domain.
The kids have never complained that we are going yet again on another camping trip. In fact, the only complaint we ever get is that the trip ended too soon. They always want to spend more days in our travel trailer.
So, with the knowledge that I am slightly biased on whether or not you should invest in a travel trailer because we love ours, here is a list of Pros and Cons to consider before your purchase:
· Travel rigs allow you to get outdoors and really experience the location: Unlike a hotel where you are holed up inside with all the amenities, camping allows you to wake up and walk outside and truly be present in your surroundings.
· It allows you to get outdoors without leaving the comforts of home: Travel rigs are divine because you can experience the outdoors, but carry your running water, food, toys, etc. with you. And you can decide the level of comfort your family requires, for example we have A/C and a microwave.
· You do not have to repack for every trip: If you tent camp and backpack, you are my hero. But both take so much planning and packing before you go, and unpacking and storing when you return. Faced with the amount of effort required, we would just never go. I love my travel trailer because we have equipped it with all the kitchen supplies, linens, toiletries, tools, toys, etc. that we need and we do not have to repack it for every trip (see my helpful hints for a list of items to fill your rig for your first trip). The only items we need to pack each trip are food and clothing.
· You invest in a travel trailer, not all the camping gear: If you are going to backpack or tent camp, it is going to take some amount of investment in gear (tent, sleeping bags/mats/mattresses, campfire tools, cooking elements like a stove or griddle, cooking and eating utensils, storage bins to hold it all). We decided that we’d rather invest in a travel trailer than the requisite backpacking/tent camping gear.
· You get to see so many places for less than if you stayed in a hotel: Hotel costs can be high, especially once the taxes and service fees are added, plus you often have to eat many meals in restaurants. Camping sites can be comparatively quite a bit less expensive. If you go completely off the grid in a National Forest, the sites can be free. If you stay in a fully equipped RV park with all the amenities including full hook ups, pools, lodges, etc. the cost can be closer to over $100/night. The level of comfort and amenities you require will dictate where you stay, but it is completely up to you. And you can always cook all your meals in your rig.
· The rigs provide a level of safety from the elements and critters: We welcome rainy days when we’re camping. It provides us the opportunity to stay cozy in the rig, play games, read, eat snacks, and just have a “do nothing” day. The same can be said if it starts to snow. Plus, we’ve had a few bears and other critters visit our campsite during the night and we’ve always been thankful to have the level of protection that the travel rig offers us.
· It might provide a tax deduction: Check with your tax advisor, as you may be able to deduct the interest you pay on the loan you get to purchase the rig. If it is fully equipped with a bathroom it can be considered a second home, and provide tax deductions similar to any you take for the interest paid on your house mortgage.
· It is an investment of your money: Travel rigs range in cost from a nominal amount to the cost of a house depending on their size, type, and manufacturer. Fit the size and type of rig you need based on the needs of your family, and figure out the cost of the rig that fits into your budget.
· It is an investment of your time: Once you own the rig, you need to find time to use it. Finding time to take vacations has never been an issue for us, because traveling is important to us, but for some it requires effort to spend some time away.
· The rig will require maintenance: Your travel rig is essentially a house on wheels. So, similar to your home, it will require maintenance and repair now and then. This may include regular cleaning inside and out, re-caulking seams every other year, cleaning sink drains, checking the tires, etc.
· You will need somewhere to store the rig: If you do not have excess land or garage space where you can store the rig, you will need to rent a spot at a RV storage facility or similar. We’ve seen costs ranging for less than $100/month up much greater, but it will depend on where you live, the size of the spot, if the rig is stored inside or outside, covered or not, etc.
· You will require auto insurance and registration: These are probably not a huge surprise to you, but should be considered when you are figuring out your budget.
· It’s glamping: Yeah, maybe, but so what! To those who tent camp, RVing is probably sacrilegious. Just as RV camping gets you close to nature and bypasses the sterility of a hotel, tent camping will get you off the grid and away from civilization more than an RV or travel trailer ever will. However, if you’re traveling as a family, camping in an RV or travel trailer is just so much more pleasant.