How to trailer camp - Fiberglass RV


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Old 10-26-2015, 10:11 AM   #1
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Name: K
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How to trailer camp

How do you use your small camper?

This weekend we purchased a 1975 Trillium 1300. This is our first camper and I need your input on how to use the trailer (pack, cook, storage ...) and maximize our camping pleasure.

We're a family of four with two young children. We bought the trailer to streamline and upgrade our car camping experience. We already have all the car camping gear. The vintage Trillium is just large enough to store our gear and provide beds. The trailer has a small stove and sink, but no fridge. We don't plan to cook in the trailer. We want to keep our camper and camping experience lightweight, fast and simple. We're three season campers in the southwest of the US. Most of our trips will be 2 or 3 nights.


A few questions:

- Do you cook out doors? If so, where do you store your stove and pots? In the small kitchen storage areas? In the larger under-seat storage? In a large Rubbermaid bin that lives on the floor of the trailer when it's not in use? Or in a plastic bin attached to the outside of the trailer?

- If you cook outdoors, do you have an fold away table to cook on? What kind of table is it? Where do you store this table?

- If you don't have a fridge, where do you keep your cooler when your on the road and in camp? Is a fridge worth the $700 investment? Is a high end cooler (Yeti?) worth the $350+ investment?

Thank you very much for your help.
Any other trailer camping workflow tips would be appreciated.

Trill in SLC.
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Old 10-26-2015, 10:43 AM   #2
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There are several schools of thought on FGRV use. Basically, we don't subscribe to bringing along two complete kitchens when one will do. We make full use of the cook-top, on-board water (hot and cold), loo and a 3 way refrigerator. We also carry a cooler for in vehicle use and try to refresh that with Block Ice (not cubes) as needed.


There is a set of utensils that are permanently assigned to the trailer, as well as a checklist basic of non-perishables (spices, packaged and canned foods etc) that keep our rig "ready to go" There are also some clothes and camping/hiking gear, that are only for RV'ing times, that stay on board as well.


Rather that springing $700+ for a new refrigerator, you might follow the Craigslist ads for a used one. Smaller ones, as used in pop-up and slide in campers seem to come up often in the $100 range. (But be sure it works before buying!)


But, all that said, we are often on the road and don't want to waste the time and expense of staying in campgrounds for single night stays.


Everyone's needs are different and, what we do, in no way, governs what is right for you family.
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Old 10-26-2015, 11:11 AM   #3
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Welcome, K!
Congratulations on your purchase....I am certain it will change (positively!!) your camping experiences completely. We, too, used to tent camp and moved up to a tent trailer (pop-up). Having our trailer is the absolute best.

When we camp, we always have a couple of small tables, with folding legs, that we use for cooking on. Inside, I will do food prep, boil water in the kettle and do the dishes but generally do not cook.
I always bring an electric frying pan, which we do the majority of our cooking in...when we have hydro, of course. We often bring a cooler with us (to supplement the little fridge in the trailer) and we keep it out of the sun, covered with a homemade cover using reflectix, and at night, we snug it under the picnic table bench to stop any critters from being able to flip the lid. When we travelled with 2 kids and bunkbeds, we kept the pots and pans under one of the front bench seats (the bunkbed seat) and had no difficulty accessing it as needed. If your camp stove gets hot underneath it, you'll naturally not want to place it on a plastic table...but nothing stops you from using one end of the picnic table for it and your portable table for the rest of your kitchen stuff.
There are camp kitchens sold, which house the stove, dishpan etc. Although they can be bulky and somewhat costly, if you were going to invest $ into a table, perhaps the kitchen, on sale, might not be that much more costly.
As to your comment regarding use of a large Rubbermaid storage container, perhaps simply hauling it out to your table during your stay and leaving it there would work best, if you are doing all of your cooking etc. outside anyway.
Will you be leaving the dinette set up as a bed during the daytime or will you need to make it up daily to allow for the 4 of you to use the table during the daytime? If you leave the table down as a bed, there of course is that storage area under the bed/table to utilize.

We also have used one of those electric coolers but honestly, we didn't find it all that wonderful. Others may have different experiences but to us, it didn't keep things cool enough to justify it's cost or the inconvenience of needing to have it sit close to an outlet in the car to keep it plugged in. Especially with the kids being in the backseat, it might be a pain more than a blessing.

In the end, you'll figure out what works for you but perhaps trial and error is the best teacher. For us, not travelling with kids anymore, our needs are less for snacks, cold drinks etc. These days, as long as I have a kettle to boil water for tea, I'm good.
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Old 10-26-2015, 11:35 AM   #4
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If I am on the road and doing a quick stop I often cook inside. If I am all set up for camping and the weather is decent I cook outside. I do keep all my pots, pans, dishes and cutlery stored in the trailer in the small area under the stove.

I have a couple of Ozark Trail Aluminum Folding tables from Walmart that work well for holding a portable BQ or camp stove. They also make great side tables for cocktails when sitting around a campfire. They fold up flat - fast and easy. Everything I need for camping (other than food, drinks and clothing) is stored in the trailer when traveling or when it is parked at home..... that way I avoid forgetting to pack something.

I also have a larger roll up Aluminum table from Camping World that I use when camping in an area that does not have a table.

Re the Yeti - is it worth it?. Thats a very subjective guestion but those who own them would suggest they are very much worth it.

I have a fridge in my trailer for perishable food items such as dairy/meats etc but I also have a cooler that is primarily used for carrying drinks and the overflow bulky fridge items such as fruits. The cooler I use is not a Yeti (but wish it was) and I made a special cover out of reflex reflective insulation that helps a lot in really hot weather to keep the ice from melting to fast in the cooler.
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Old 10-26-2015, 12:15 PM   #5
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We're also a family of four, and we love our 13' Scamp. Like you we take mostly short trips within the state, and one longer beach trip to CA each summer. For us, trailer camping is not that much different than tent camping, but less loading and packing, more comfortable beds, and a whole lot nicer on a windy, rainy day. In fair weather our kids sometimes set up their own small tent, so my wife and I get the trailer to ourselves.

We cook outside because we like to grill and fry bacon and eggs in the morning. My rule is no greasy cooking inside. The Coleman stove rides under the dinette & everything else stores in the cabinets. Like Bob we have lightweight cookware and dishes permanently stored in the trailer. To me that's the beauty of a trailer- everything but clothes and perishables ready to boogie. If we're staying at one place for a while, we disconnect the LP tank and use it to fuel the outdoor kitchen. For shorter stays, we use disposables.

For a family of four, I suspect you'll find the tiny fridge or icebox in the camper too small. We have an icebox in ours and we use it, sans ice, for storage of dry foods (bread, crackers, chips,…). We bought a Coleman Xtreme 70 quart ice chest for cold storage. It's one of the best I've ever used, roomy enough for a family of four (who like fresh meats, veggies, and fruit every day), and ice lasts 3-4 days. Hint- freeze meat ahead of time and use it as it thaws. The ice chest rides on the floor of the camper. We have a second, smaller cooler for beverages so the big one doesn't get opened as often. It rides in the car for snacking en route.

Personally, I wouldn't invest a bunch of money in a fancy new fridge until you've used the trailer a few times. Your experience will guide you whether it's something you really need.

We don't use the on-board water system. We bring a 6-gallon water jug (the square blue ones with a built-in tap from Walmart). We keep a jug of water inside for nighttime use. One thing to be aware of regarding water… many places now discourage or forbid dumping grey water onto the ground. Rules and accommodations for tent campers and non-self-contained RVs vary, but the trend is toward more restrictions, so it's something to check when you make your reservations.

Depending on where we're going I might bring a folding table, but usually not. Our favorite places are state parks that have picnic tables. For longer stays in one spot, I bring our First-Up awning to shade the outdoor kitchen. It rides on the front sofa, along with our folding chairs (which we are never without).

We love our little Mini-Weber charcoal grill, and we always bring fire starters for a campfire. Firewood should be purchased locally (due to wood-borne invasive insects). But it's often junk wood that can be hard to get started. Oh... and a set of wire marshmallow toasting sticks. They're also good for hot dogs and sausages. Kids love to cook their own food.

That's our style, but as said, everyone's different. Start simple and close to home/town and you'll discover your own style!

EDIT: A trick I learned on this forum... At 45", the dinette bed in many smaller eggs is pretty narrow for two people. Head-to-toe sleeping (heads at opposite ends) makes it work better for us.
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Old 10-26-2015, 12:58 PM   #6
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As many camping styles are there are campers. Plus you can and probably will change over time. Beware those who represent that they have the "one true camping philosophy".

You can always sneak up on your style. Buy nothing and see what you miss. Have fun experimenting close to home. Others have tried back yard camping. I think you have to really stay in the camper for the weekend to properly learn from the experience but you can do that in the backyard.
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Old 10-26-2015, 02:56 PM   #7
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If you have been tent camping, just consider adapting your current camping style to the trailer. Over time you can make adjustments to fit your needs.

What we did after 30 years of tent camping was to consider our trailer as a hard sided tent. Very little changed in the way we camped. After all, we go camping to be outdoors, right?

The trailer provides us a dry windproof, place to sleep. The Porta Potti is there for night time excursions. We have quick access to water from the sink and drinks from the fridge. We use the stove for morning coffee and tea. The LED lighting makes for easy bedtime reading.

Most everything else, especially cooking and eating is done under a 12 X 12 canopy we carry in the trailer.

As to storage, it all depends on the trailer you have and how it is arranged. In ours, most things are placed in latching poly boxes which we bought after carefully measuring our under seat access doors and storage area. Our seat storage is top access. The boxes are labeled as to contents(Kitchen 1, Kitchen 2, Misc 1, etc) and packed in reverse order of use, ie commonly used camp items packed last, which in our case means on top and closer to the door, for easy access. Things we use infrequently are packed first, on the bottom and away from the door. Overhead cabinets are used for everyday, in trailer use, ie, cloths, coffee and pots, books, etc.

Over time you will find works best for you. It's all part of the adventure.
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Old 10-26-2015, 03:09 PM   #8
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With a small trailer and a family of four be careful on how you load your trailer. Too much weight behind the axle is going to give you trouble. keep the heaviest weight over the axle or in the back of your tug. The camping trailer is not a utility trailer where you can pack it to the gills. They are built very light weight and the balance of the trailer is crucial. As far as cooking inside the trailer we just don't do it except to boil water or to use our very clean New Wave oven when we have 120 volt hook-up. This means we carry more stuff like a portable stove and grill. I also use a folding camp table for out side the trailer to put the stove or grill on leaving the picnic table free.

I really like my Igloo sportsman ice chest I got from Sams Club. Its cheaper than a yetti and some others. But really holds the ice well.
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Old 10-26-2015, 05:32 PM   #9
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Think of your trailer as a hard topped tent and pack accordingly. Additional items will dictate themselves. Take what ever you think that you will use and if it isn't, remove it from your list. Enjoy the experience.
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Old 10-26-2015, 06:48 PM   #10
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Regarding the coolers, I have a Yeti Roadie and a Pelican 45. They work great but they are expensive, bulky and very heavy. The 45 is unmanageable for me, normal 45s aren't a problem.

I would suggest the Coleman Extreme and save the extra $ for ice. Your biggest problem will be kids opening the cooler. I've had good luck with a storage cooler that is only opened for meals or to refill the and a snack cooler for drinks. The AO coolers (soft sided)are great for a second or third cooler.

If possible, pre cool your cooler at home the night before then load it with cold items. You'll be surprised how long your ice lasts. Warm items waste ice.
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Old 10-26-2015, 07:10 PM   #11
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And, read the instruction manual that comes with your Coleman Extreme.
Yes, instruction manual.
It tells you not to drain the water from melted ice ( that's sending money out the drain ). Get plastic containers for stuff you don't want to get wet.
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Old 10-26-2015, 08:02 PM   #12
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...which is one reason built-in iceboxes are less efficient, as a drain lets all that nice, cold water run out. The other is the front opening door. Cold air sinks, so it flows right out every time you open the door.

Plastic tubs are great to keep butter and cheese out of the water.
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Old 10-26-2015, 08:40 PM   #13
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Originally Posted by Jon in AZ View Post
...which is one reason built-in iceboxes are less efficient, as a drain lets all that nice, cold water run out. The other is the front opening door. Cold air sinks, so it flows right out every time you open the door.

Plastic tubs are great to keep butter and cheese out of the water.
I haven't investigated the possibility of installing an ice box like this one in a Palomino a pop-up tent trailer I rebuilt for my son, in an FGRV, but it opens on the top and has a clamp on the drain to keep the cold water in place.

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Old 10-26-2015, 09:01 PM   #14
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I haven't investigated the possibility of installing an ice box like this one in a Palomino a pop-up tent trailer I rebuilt for my son, in an FGRV, but it opens on the top and has a clamp on the drain to keep the cold water in place.
The concept makes a lot of sense. I've never seen a top-opening built-in before. Can't think of an an obvious place to put one in the typical 13' egg. The one in your picture still looks too small for a whole family. Or maybe we just bring too much food! We usually eat better when we're camping than at home.
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