Hey guys, I hope this is the right place for this! My wife and I recently finished our epic move from Oklahoma to Alaska, pulling a trailer (195RB) for the first time in my life...around 3800 miles! I was pretty scared/nervous when picking a trailer and before staring out, but this forum was a huge help before our epic journey, so I wanted to return the favor by answering some of the MANY questions I had before/during the trip to hopefully save someone who is having the same questions. So...here are my many lessons learned (and a bunch of rambling), addressed in order of what terrified me along the way. All are my humble opinions only
First, some background. I'm in the military, and we got orders around 3 months ago to move to Alaska. My wife and I have 2 Golden Retrievers, so flying and taking the ferry weren't for us. We quickly decided to buy a travel trailer and make the drive up the Alaskan Highway. We drove the whole trip in 10 days, through Kansas, Nebraska, South Dakota, North Dakota, Saskatchewan, Alberta, British Columbia, The Yukon, and eventually Alaska. It was an epic trip and is something I recommend everyone do once in their life! It was bucket-list cool. For real.
After we decided to buy a travel trailer, we very quickly zero'd in on Jayco because of the quality and the comparatively cheap cost. Initially, I was sold on the 154BH...mostly because it was super light, the cheapest thing available, and I have never pulled anything before in my life, let alone the thing we would be living in for 10 days driving across the entire continent...so yea, terrified. Thankfully, the Camping World in Oklahoma City had a ton of smaller Jayco trailers to choose from and we quickly decided that the 154BH and 184BH were too small for the two of us and our 2 dogs. Besides, who wants to sleep in (pretty uncomfortable) bunk beds? We checked out the 195RB and were instantly sold on it. This brings me to my first, most important lesson learned: I'm telling you, if you're stuck between the 154/184BH and the 195RB...just get the 195RB, TRUST ME!!
We paid an extra 1500 bucks, and after having made the trip, I would have paid an extra 3-4 grand 100 times out of 100. The queen bed, (almost) double floor space for the dogs, bigger black/grey tanks, bigger storage areas, on and on...the thing sells itself. The extra 3 feet is NOTHING when pulling it or backing up, you won't notice it. I swear.
This is coming from the guy who had never pulled anything before. Buy the 195RB! We paid $11,900 out the door. I thought we stole the thing. If you love your BH, cool
After the first terrifying ordeal was over (buying it)...I moved on to being terrified about "sway" because of the many discussions I've read online. Just to caveat everything I'm about to say: I drive a 2001 F-150 4x4, 5.4L V8 w/ towing package...and it has 140,000 miles on it. Camping World ended up setting us up with a trailer brake controller and Reese 2" drop hitch w/ no sway control...that's it...even after I told them we were DRIVING to Alaska. I asked at least 5 employees and the installation division supervisor and they all said the same thing: a $500+ WDH/sway control system was completely unnecessary for this light trailer.
I even went back the next week and asked 2 different guys again...same answer. After test-pulling it in Oklahoma a few times and after the 3,800 mile epic journey...I'm living proof: they were right! I pulled that thing through the Canadian Rockies, up 2-lane treacherously windy mountain roads, passed at least 800 semi's going both ways at probably 100mph, and still, they were right. Yea, your whole rig is going to whip in the wind and at times when you get blown-by, but I never felt scared once because of sway.
I kept a tight hold on the wheel, never went too fast (68mph avg), and everything was fine. If you've got the $ and want the peace of mind, go ahead and spend the extra on the big-daddy WDH/sway system. But if you'd rather not spend the money, in my humble opinion, it's not necessary with these small trailers. If you love your WDH/sway system, cool
The next thing that slightly terrified me was the humming, pretty "jerk-y" trailer brakes. Yes, its normal. I called Camping World and asked, brought the trailer back in before we moved, and everything is normal. They're magnetic brakes, they hum, and it feels pretty jerk-y when you're coming to a stop. 3,800 miles says you're good .
As far as gear for the trailer, I've got 2 words for you. Rhino and Camco. The standard black and orange Rhino poop-hose was clutch. Everything else, we bought from Camco on Amazon. They have water hoses, a water filter, wheel chocks, doggy-poop-bag holders, jack-stand drill-bits...I bought it all man. And it worked great. In addition, in my experience, if you're bringing a sweet blonde girl with you...you should invest in an over-the-door organizer. Bottom line: if you think you'll need it, get it. If you don't, then don't...I spent $150 total on "gear" and we made it just fine.
Propane!! How much should I bring?? We used the hot water heater every day for a few hours, cooked on the stove 5 times, and used the propane-option on the fridge when we were driving every day (8 hours avg), for 10 days (btw, that Norcold fridge/freezer works great). Well, this moron brought 2 extra 20gal tanks, and didn't need either of them. The same 20gal tank that came with the trailer still has propane in it. How much? No idea...but it lasted the whole trip.
I basically brought 2 full 20gal propane tanks across the continent and won't have to buy propane for my grill any time soon...and propane is cheap in Alaska, whoops.
This last part is Canada/Alaskan Highway specific, so feel free to skip past it if you're not interested. First and foremost, invest in The Milepost...that thing is worth its weight in gold. Before starting out, I was thinking we'd be driving for days without seeing another soul, but it couldn't be farther from the truth. There are PLENTY of RV parks, hotels, cabins, restaurants, grocery stores, auto repair shops, tire repair shops, and gas stations along the entire route, in every city and town. As far as gas goes, I brought 10 gallons with us just in case, and it was completely unnecessary (granted, it was summer...winter is a whole different beast). The farthest I ever drove without filling up was 180 miles. The roads were 99% great!! The 1% was between Whitehorse, YT and Tok, AK. Miles and miles of frost-heaves and gravel roads. By far the most miserable (and remote) part of the trip.
Random lessons learned that I don't have stories to go with...
- Camping World will price match Internet prices, as long as they're in the same state! This saved us like 2500 bucks.
- If you have the option, stay at a KOA. Every KOA we stayed at was markedly nicer than the non-branded or Good Sam parks we stayed at.
- Gas mileage: 2001 F-150 4x4, 5.4L V8 w/ towing package...normally get 15-16mpg on the hwy, got 9-10mpg pulling the trailer. Yikes.
- If you have a choice, get the ceiling mounted AC option (I think its 14.5K BTUs vs 8K wall-mounted). You could hang meat in the trailer when that thing is on full-blast. Love it.
- It takes the hot water heater around 15-20 minutes to get you a nice, warm 10-15 minute shower.
- Wipe down the walls in the shower after each use to prevent mold/mildew/rotting/whatever...I was surprised, but there isn't really a "shower stall"...it looks like the same walls as everywhere else in the trailer.
- If you don't NEED the Baja for the oversized tanks, don't get it. I pulled the standard 195RB over some of the roughest terrain on earth, over foot-high frost-heaves in the Yukon, and never needed the extra height.
- Leave your black/grey tanks closed until you need to empty them. Do the blank tank first, then the grey tank (to clear out the nastyness).
- Buy some Nitrile gloves to use when emptying your poop-tank. Trust me. I use: https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B0...?ie=UTF8&psc=1
I think that's about it guys. Thanks again for all the help you unknowingly provided us on our trip! If you have any additional questions, I'm here to help! Again, everything stated above is in my humble opinion only. If you don't agree, cool