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Old 05-26-2020, 12:29 PM   #1
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How much vacation?

First off, I donít own a travel trailer, but have gone back and forth between owning one. I have a wife and three young kids. My wife used to work full time but is taking off to devote more time to raise our boys. I work full time, often with a fair amount of weekend work. Starting soon, I will have three weeks paid vacation, in addition to 12 paid holidays throughout the year. My question is, at what point did yíall decide it was worth getting a travel trailer? How much, on average, vacation do you guys have at your disposal, and is the headache of travel trailer ownership worth it? Looking forward, Iíd like to have a family-friendly hobby the whole family can enjoy, and that will keep us close as a family.

Thoughts?

Thanks in advance,

Jed
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Old 05-26-2020, 12:34 PM   #2
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.........Looking forward, I’d like to have a family-friendly hobby the whole family can enjoy, and that will keep us close as a family.

Thoughts?

Thanks in advance,

Jed
This is the only sentence in your post that is needed to justify RV ownership. The time that you spend with your kids in RV travel is worth every cent that you invest in it. It doesn't matter if you are able to travel for a long weekend to a local campground or a multi-month trip across the country, it is the best family time that you will ever spend.
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Old 05-26-2020, 12:37 PM   #3
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I started camping a couple years after I started my main career with only 1 week a year. we simply couldn't afford a new child, house, etc. and take a cruise or hotel and meals out. It was a decision based on dollars available. And we never looked back. When I got up to 3 weeks and 3 kids we went to Yellowstone and surrounding area, next year Grand Canyon, as the years went by we hit Disney world, circumnavigated the great lakes. To this day no regrets from the kids or us.

Start with a small, used camper and work up as your needs, time and money allow and just have fun.
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Old 05-26-2020, 12:52 PM   #4
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Welcome aboard!

It is a great hobby, we consider our HTT, our traveling cabin. We use to tent camp, but it is a LOT of work. Popup (PU) still a lot of work, especially if it is raining. Then there is the whole setup, tear down, find a home for everything. Loading it with the top down.

Currently we have a Hybrid. It is similar to a fully enclosed TT, but with the bunk ends like a Popup. Not a lot of work, but a little more than an enclosed TT, with dedicated beds.

The nice thing about TTs and HTTs, pending on the model, you can full pack it in the spring, and be ready to go almost immediately after work. We used traditional bedding, after the campout it goes in the house, washed and put back in the TT. Jackets, boots, cooking items, basic food just stays there all year, just like if it was a cabin.

A few days before we leave, we turn on the frig, go grocery shopping, toss in a few cloths and away we go. Excluding grocery shopping I suspect it takes us an hour to get ready for a trip. Setup, at camp maybe 20-30 minutes. Everyone, including the kids have a job, and they are expected to do it. Pack up at the end, maybe 2 hours, but we tend to putz at the work. At home afterwords, maybe an hour, Removing any perishable foods, wipe down, and excluding laundry, which we put back in as it gets done and sorted.

With the TT/HTT we get out a lot more than we ever did renting or tenting. The main thing that holds us home now is kid's activities on the weekends.


What we like is a new view, and new activities everywhere, every-time we go. We sleep in our own beds, and cook our own food.

If you are thinking about it, try renting a TT, or a MH if you do not have a big enough tow vehicle (TV)
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Old 05-26-2020, 12:53 PM   #5
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Books could be written . . .

My wife and I love nature, to travel, to be together. I was a devoted backpacker and still prefer to pack a bag and get away from the crowds and congestion. I loved my tenting days and occasionally long for the simplicity of primitive camping.

Then "base camp" in a campground and day hikes found their way into the mix.

Then base camp became a bit more plush with bigger stoves, ice chests, air mattresses . . .

Then the tent grew wheels and we had a pop up. The AC in Texas was really nice. We could camp closer to home for most of the year.

Then a motorcycle totaled the pop up and we went to the dark side, a TT. We keep it simpler with no slide, something smallish at 25'.

If roughing it means going to Vegas without reservations, this isn't for you.
If you will need to have everything repaired by a dealer, it will get expensive. Basic plumbing, electrical, and DIY skills really help.

How about telling us your favorite vacations and we can explain them in RV terms.

Also, how many weekends would you have free?
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Old 05-26-2020, 01:04 PM   #6
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This is the only sentence in your post that is needed to justify RV ownership. The time that you spend with your kids in RV travel is worth every cent that you invest in it. It doesn't matter if you are able to travel for a long weekend to a local campground or a multi-month trip across the country, it is the best family time that you will ever spend.
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Old 05-26-2020, 01:21 PM   #7
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Originally Posted by Midnightmoon View Post
This is the only sentence in your post that is needed to justify RV ownership. The time that you spend with your kids in RV travel is worth every cent that you invest in it. It doesn't matter if you are able to travel for a long weekend to a local campground or a multi-month trip across the country, it is the best family time that you will ever spend.
All true.

When we were a young family we didn't make a lot of money. We couldn't afford a vacation in a motel let alone any kind of resort. We borrowed a tent and other equipment and went camping. I had already done so as a kid but it was a new experience for my wife. She loved it. We tented for a lot years but as we got a little older we didn't want to sleep in the ground anymore so we got a pop-up. Eventually that led to a hybrid trailer, then the current hybrid.

All that said, if you have never camped before go and rent one, whether that be a motor home or a having an RV rental shop drop a travel trailer on a site somewhere, it does not matter. It's not everyone's cup of tea. Too many people buy a trailer or a motor home only to find out they don't like it and sell a year later, and take a huge loss.

All that said we love the lifestyle and spend most of our time outdoors. For many years the majority of our trips were 2 or 3 night weekends. As I got more vacation we expanded our trips. Always finding things to do that the whole family would enjoy, not just one person. We always let our daughter pick things to do. As an adult she and her husband love camping and love going with us when they can.

Point being, it's up to you what you make out of it. As long as it's memorable.
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Old 05-26-2020, 02:23 PM   #8
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You also asked how often we use it. At a minimum a weekend a month and three weeks over the summer. Most years we can also do a week at the end of the year. If you do a cost analysis we could stay in budget hotels for less or close.
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Old 05-26-2020, 03:04 PM   #9
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My first thought is don't try to justify the cost of a camper/TT by thinking if it cost $XX therefore I need to use it this many times a year (arbitrary #). I don't think you can justify it that way. That's not to say go spend a bunch of $$$$ on something you can't afford or enjoy. Start small and work your way up. We started in a tent, went to a pop-up, then 5th wheel (which we had for 16 years) and are on the second 5er. By the time we got the pop-up the kids are in HS so it was the wife and I. It's all part of the journey.

Over the years we rarely used vacation to camp, that was used to visit our family. We would occasionally do a long weekend (Sunday night at the campground is great). As we have gotten older we still do the weekend thing but will also do some week trip with the grandkids.

Over time you will figure out what works best for you. That's all part of the journey. Just always remember the trip where it rained all weekend and almost everything went wrong will be the trip you will remember the most and will be the one you laugh about the hardest.
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Old 05-26-2020, 03:41 PM   #10
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Don’t worry about how much vacation time you can take. Short trips make great memories too and the kids will enjoy the camping experience even if it’s just for two nights at time on your weekend. You’ll find places close to your home that your family will enjoy.

The RV is the best way to travel for us. I can’t imagine having to confine my crazy kids to a hotel room. One of my favorite camping memories was a trip last year when it was rainy all weekend. My wife and I were dry under the awning sipping on our beer and wine while our twins were digging in the mud. We live in the desert so rain and mud are a real treat for them. That memory wouldn’t have happened if we were in a hotel room. If you like being outdoors your family will enjoy the RV experience and it will be more than worth it.
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Old 05-26-2020, 04:36 PM   #11
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A couple of times we camped locally. She drove her car and I pulled the camper. Monday I drove in the 50 miles to work. She and the kids hiked, playgrounded and swam. When I got back we ate dinner and played dominoes till bedtime, rinse and repeat. So much better than sitting at home.
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Old 05-26-2020, 04:57 PM   #12
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Camping has been part of my family since I was a kid. We always were going someplace and that carried on with us and our daughters. It started in tents and progressed through four different RVs. We still camp as a family and that is what the youngest daughter wants to do every year for her birthday. It becomes a tradition.

My days off were always something other than weekends which turned out great during summer months. We did not have to fight crowds. There are lots of family memories with my parents, our kids and us camping and fishing the mountains of New Mexico and Arizona.

Before you spring for a RV, try tent camping or rent a cabin someplace away from the crowds. You won't drop thousands into a RV or gear and you may find someone in the family hates it but at least you know before you have an almost new RV that you have to sell.
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Old 05-26-2020, 05:15 PM   #13
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Iíve had 4 weeks vaca plus 2 weeks personal time.. now with the current situation.. Iíll be working from my seasonal site all summer.
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Old 05-27-2020, 10:35 PM   #14
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Thanks everyone for all of the replies!!! I agree buying a tt is not something that is not necessarily a cheaper alternative to a hotel, but is better quality time with family. I do think making weekend trips is doable during the camping season. I am encouraged by your responses. A little more info: I do currently own a Ram 1500 Ecodiesel properly equipped to tow up to 9,300 lbs according to the Ram website after I entered my vin number. Also the payload is 1,528 lbs. I want to stay comfortably under the max tow rating. I like the Jayflight 26BH, Max GVWR of 7,000 lbs. with around 80 gallons of freshwater capacity. With that being said, are large holding tanks necessary? Again, we’re a family of five, with close access to state parks. How big of a deal are the size of the holding tanks? There are some Jayco tts I really like with a slide-out and similar GVWR, but the holding tanks are almost half the size. Which is more desirable, larger holding tanks, or slides? What have been your experiences?

Again, thank you for all of your input!

Jed
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Old 05-28-2020, 02:12 AM   #15
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Don’t buy a trailer based off your tow capacity. Your payload is the most important number. And also don’t go off the dry weight of the trailer to figure out how it affects the payload, use the gross weight. You’ll run out of payload way before your tow capacity.
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Old 05-28-2020, 05:40 AM   #16
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Three tanks to think about.

Fresh water. Drinking, cooking, cleaning, showering but only an issue if the campsite doesn't have water. Most state parks have water and electric hookups.

Black water. That's only the toilet. Even a small 35 gallon tank will be good for thirty to fifty or more flushes. In thirty years I've only heard of one person needing a bigger tank.

Gray water. Sink and shower. Thank can be an issue. Navy showers, use the shower to get wet, turn off the water to lather, then back on to rinse.

I'm going on a tangent regarding the slide question. Floorplan is king. We found the floor plan we love which didn't have a slide. It's just two of us and we enjoy the minimalist plan. Your mileage may vary (YMMV) as they say.

Slides add precious square footage to an already small space. I believe whether everyone is inside sharing real quality time you will appreciate room to stretch and walk by without squeezing. I'd vote square feet of living space over square feet of tank space everytime.

Happy shopping!

By the way, I would also involve the kids. As you listen to them plan how they will use the space and camp you'll know you are making the correct decision.
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Old 05-28-2020, 03:35 PM   #17
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[QUOTE=TaftCoach;85928By the way, I would also involve the kids.[/QUOTE]

Very good point.
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Old 06-04-2020, 01:54 AM   #18
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I never looked at "how much time justifies buying a trailer"

Using a camp trailer is different than buying into a time share, different than travelling and paying for hotels, it is an adventure that has no bearing on cost of investment, it has memories that are made, whether it is a total of 3 weeks of vacation a year, or whether it is taking off on Friday night and returning on Sunday evening, just to go back to work Monday.

If I based it off of my vacation time, I would have never purchased a trailer, rather I base it on the experiences I have gained, the weekends I have jumped on the opportunity, the memories that I have acquired, the campfires that I have sat around, the smore's, the mosquito bites, RED ANTS, the thunder storms I have taken shelter under the awning or inside the trailer, and the vast number of stars I have seen when all the lights of the city are far away, and now the grandkids that get to sleep on the bunk beds!

Camping is so much more than being able to justify the purchase!

If I were to quantify cost of vacation, I could easily justify hotels as being the cheaper alternative, but really, there is no comparison in the quality of experience and memories I have acquired by having my camp trailer.

Today, my truck is paid off, my trailer is paid off, it took a few years for each, but meanwhile, the memories have NEVER faded away, my adult kids cherish the memories they shared when growing up, I still cherish the memories of when my parents took me camping, I still remember waking up to a snow covered Apache pop trailer over Easter weekend in the Uinta mountains (Flaming Gorge) in Utah when I was 14 years old as being one of my all time favorite camp trips.

I cannot recall any trips where my parents took me in motels/hotels, even though there were many as I grew up (such as Disneyland, I remember Disneyland, but not the hotel), but I remember so many of the camp trips, rain/thunderstorms, lightning strikes to the trees within a few yards of the camper, exploring the mountains, hiking trails, catching fish out of a small stream with bare hands, aunts and uncles, cousins, all around the same campfire roasting marshmallows...

All.... as they say, PRICELESS!
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Old 06-04-2020, 05:11 AM   #19
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Great feedback here. The DW and I always tent camped and planned to own and RV after kids and retirement. My daughters (2 of the 3) started playing regional and national level travel softball and we were traveling almost 25-30 weekends a year on a slow year at about $750-1000/weekend for hotels/meals/etc. we decided it would be a good investment to pull the trigger now.

As mentioned above, there is a ton of convenience with having a TT prepped and ready to go on short notice. It great increases your ability get out there. Camping doesn't always have to be a lengthy trip over several days. We've had a ton of fun on just a Friday/Saturday stay within a 3-4 hour drive as we've had traveling 100's of miles away. So, a long weekend can easily become a mini-vacation without ever using your PTO necessarily.

If you don't have a specific agenda with the RV, then renting one is a GREAT idea. It's probably the simplest way to camp as you'll likely have every thing you need and not have to worry about all the bells & whistles you may not have picked up yet so you can focus on the experience. You'll get a good idea quickly if it's for you or not.

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Old 06-04-2020, 10:33 PM   #20
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I never thought having a tt could actually be easier/quicker getting out for a weekend rather than packing for a hotel. It makes sense though. I’d like to involve the kids somewhat. Although I’m not sure how helpful that would be. The oldest is 7, the middle one is 5, and the youngest is due 9/18/20. I really appreciate everyone’s insight on their personal experiences. It’s encouraging and helpful. I’ve found there to be a ton of useful info on this forum. And obviously a lot of helpful folks.
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