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Camping Trailer Tips

Trailer Camping Intro

Do you enjoy tent camping but think it is time for the comfort of a camp trailer? Ready to wash-up and crawl into a comfortable bed after an evening around the campfire? Maybe you want to start your camping experience in comfort. Selecting a camping trailer involves many styles and considerations. Reading this article provides information you should think about when looking for that first camp trailer.

Camping under the stars or in a tent is great, but gets darn chilly in the spring and fall. Camper trailers offer many home comforts while you are enjoying the great outdoors. A furnace to take the morning chill off and air conditioning during a hot summer day are two appreciated conveniences. Under some circumstances, a trailer may even qualify as a second home for tax purposes.


Smell the aroma of fresh perked coffee while slowly waking up in the privacy of your own trailer. Trailers give you running water and electricity. At mealtime the refrigerator, sink, and propane stove come in handy. A private shower and toilet quickly become prized comforts of trailer living. For those that cannot get along without a television, many trailers have one with a satellite dish. A trailer just plain provides some privacy in a crowed campground. Besides, you can always roll a sleeping bag out under the stars when the mood grabs you.

What to Expect

Along with a light switch comes year round storage for your toys and camp gear. There are many camp trailer styles available. A common style is 24 feet long and typically sleeps up to six people. It will probably come with a queen size bed, bunk beds for two, and a dinette table that folds into a bed suitable for two young children.

Trailers come with leveling jacks so water flows through the plumbing correctly. Many parks have electricity, water, and sewer hookups; providing an endless supply of these modern day essentials. Trailers also have water tanks and batteries for camping in the wilderness.

Think about towing capacity. The favorite is a pickup truck but many SUVs handle the job. That economic high mileage car just isn’t going to get it done.

Differences from Tent Camping

Tent camping can be a little rough going, especially for those drawn to creature comforts. It is a great way to camp for many people but others like more privacy than a fabric wall. With a trailer, you will be comfortable in almost all weather conditions. Tent living and cooking outside can be a problem if flying bugs pester you. Tent living means hiking somewhere to use the bathroom. Unavoidable - but annoying in the middle of the night.

On the other hand, tents are less expensive than camp trailers. You can’t backpack five miles into the forest with a trailer. No doubt, sights and sounds of the camp are better from a tent. Especially the night sounds.

Setting up and taking down camp is easier with a trailer than a tent. Tents need to be unpacked and setup. Either air mattresses need blowing up or sleeping mats setup, and sleeping bags unrolled. Clothes bags, portable lighting, and other supplies need to be drug from the car into the tent. Setting up trailers is not work free either. The trailer may need backing into a small spot. Normally, the trailer is unhooked from the tow vehicle. The trailer must be leveled and utilities plugged in. Overall, deciding between tents and trailers is a personal choice.

How to Get Started

Renting is a good way to experience trailer camping the first time. You will likely need to make a deposit and reservation thirty days ahead of time. Make a reservation well in advance for summer camping. A credit card security deposit of $500 or more will be required when you pick up the trailer. Some companies deliver the trailer to the campsite if you do not have a tow vehicle. Typical U.S. costs are $350 for two nights or $800 for seven nights. Canadians can expect to pay $1000 per week.

Here are a few considerations before you rent or buy.

· How many days each year will you spend camping?
· How many people will typically sleep in the trailer?
· How much storage will you need?
· If wilderness camping, consider a large capacity water tank.
· In the wilderness, a solar panel or generator is a good investment.

Camping trailers have six general categories.

· Popup Trailer
· Pickup Camper
· Travel Trailer
· Class C – Mini Motor home
· Class B – Travel Van
· Class A – Motor home

Beginning campers often choose popup trailers, pickup campers, or travel trailers. None of my friends began camping in a class A motor home.

Mistakes to Avoid

Buy a bigger trailer than your current needs if your family is growing or you plan to camp more often. Make sure the tow vehicle has enough capacity. This is always important but critical if you will be towing over a mountain pass. If renting, either buy the rental company insurance or check with your insurance company about coverage. The security deposit is only enough to cover you if the kids have a water balloon fight in the trailer.

Practice towing and backing up before the big trip. Get a feel for the acceleration and braking performance when towing. Practice backing around a corner and into a driveway. Do it somewhere that you can pull forward if you have trouble. Backing a trailer is not an easy task. Husbands and wives often mumble under their breath trying to help each other get a trailer parked. Keep this in mind when pulling into gas stations so you don’t need to back out.

When wilderness camping, conserve water and batteries. Turn off the internal water pump so the kids don’t leave it running after filling the balloons.

Take care pulling the trailer out of camp. Make sure the utilities are unplugged. Double check the tow hitch, safety chains, and power plug connecting the trailer to the tow vehicle. Make sure the TV antenna is down and awning is properly stored. Some people make a checklist for leaving camp.

Helpful Towing Hints

The added weight can dramatically affect the performance of the tow vehicle. You will accelerate slower and take longer stopping. The trailer will likely have either one or two axels. Two axels help distribute the weight better and reduce the trailer’s ability to “fish tail”. That is when the trailer begins swaying from side to side while being pulled at high speed. This is more common with single axel trailers.

Perform a safety check before the trip. Check tire pressure. Check that the hitch is correctly mounted to the receiver. Check that the pin securing the ball mount to the receiver is in place. Safety chains should be secure and crossed in an “X” under the trailer tongue. This will hold the trailer tongue up off the road if it does come unhitched. Finally, double check the electrical plug, turn signals, and brake lights on the trailer.

A few people are good at backing up a trailer but most have trouble. That is because the trailer goes in the opposite direction of the tow vehicle. Turn the vehicle’s wheels to the right so the trailer goes to the left. Putting your hand at the bottom of the steering wheel is helpful. With your hand at the bottom, you turn the wheel in the direction you want the trailer to go.

Do not make dramatic steering changes. It will jackknife the trailer and can damage your vehicle and the trailer.

With the trailer basics taken care of, the only thing left is comparing a list of trailer Pros and Cons. You decide about your camping preference, just be sure to enjoy the outdoors.

1. Creature comforts
2. Shelter from the weather
3. Permanent storage for camping gear
4. Self contained
5. More spring and fall camping

1. Can not tow a boat when towing a trailer
2. Poorer gas mileage
3. Purchase cost
4. Insurance cost
5. Need for a tow vehicle

Contributed By Brian Kline

For more camping tips on how to prepare for your trip, refer to "The Beginner's Guide To Getting You Started With Comfortable Tent Camping In 12 Easy Affordable Steps"

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