help a noob?? - Fiberglass RV

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Old 12-30-2012, 01:21 AM   #1
Junior Member
Name: Olivia
Trailer: still searching
Posts: 5
help a noob??

Hello everyone!

Well I'm just going to throw everything on out if that's okay:

I'm young and about to be done with college, so i want to travel around for a while (I'm an interpreter so it's possible to work while traveling) and I've been doing lots of research on living full time in a trailer/camper/RV but would really appreciate some straight up hard truths if anyone has any they'd like to share!

I have a 2 door 2003 Volkswagon Golf, so my first concern is if I'll even be able to tow anything. Nothing big, just a little guy, maybe around 13' (give or take a little).

Also, when one lives full time in a very small trailer with no shower, where do you typically clean!? I imagine lakes (at least that's how we do it in Northern MN when the weather permits) but what about when it's too cold out??

Also let me clarify, I will be somewhere warm and am not worrying about winterizing anything right now.

Are there any campers out there that I'd be able to tow with my Golf that do indeed have a shower?? Or a stove??

Also let me clarify another thing, I'M POOR and am not looking to spend an arm and a leg.

Does anyone have any advice on the best places to park overnight?? Is it difficult and terrible to move around lots or does it get boring when you stay in one place too long?

Any eating/food advice?? I imagine it would be hard to cook much especially if there's no stove!

Any preferences on which trailers are nice or which are not so nice?? I'm kinda tall, so I realize living in a small camper may get a little annoying but I'm not planning on being inside too terribly much.

Is it hard to live with a pet?? I have a (big) dog and a lizard. If I can manage I'd like to bring one or both of my boys.

ANY other tips or advice would be so appreciated! I'm hoping to start traveling around summertime 2014 so I have some time to save a little money and prepare and such.

Thanks a lot to everyone!

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Old 12-30-2012, 02:18 AM   #2
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David Tilston's Avatar
Name: Dave W
Trailer: Trillium 4500 - 1977, 1978 (2), 1300 - 1977, 1973, and a 1972
Posts: 5,826
There are a number of questions that you are asking, and I can only address a few.
Let me say up front that I have never lived full time in a trailer, so take anything I tell you with a grain of salt.
Your owners manual should have tow ratings for your car, but etrailer sells a hitch that they say is good for 2000lb.
Volkswagen Golf Trailer Hitch - 2003 |
If so, most any 13' trailer would work. There are some 13' trailers that have a bath room/shower up front:
Scamp Travel Trailers: 13 Foot Floor Plans
So, if it is just you and a dog, you may still have room for a shower, and a stove. since you are on a budget, I suspect that you will be looking at second hand trailers. The fibreglass trailers tend to age very gracefully. I am partial to the Trillium brand, but you are more likely to find a Boler where you live. If you shop for quite some time, it is possible to purchase a usable trailer for $2000. It will require work, anything that is more then 10 years old will. I own four Trilliums, and the youngest two are 1978 models. They were both usable when I bought them, but I have a long list of plans to fix them up.
Over night parking is a matter of how adventurous you are. Truth is, if you don't disconnect the trailer from your tow vehicle, any rest stop, Walmart, or side street would work. This way, moving often is best. There are people who frequent this site often, who actually spend most months on the road. Yes I am talking about you Norm and Ginny:
Their posts are a cornucopia of information on full timing and relationship maintenance.

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Old 12-30-2012, 07:16 AM   #3
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Bob Miller's Avatar
Name: Bob
Trailer: 1973 Hunter Compact II
Posts: 7,912
First, aftermarket hitch ratings are standardized and DO NOT mean that the vehicle can tow that weight. I doubt if the U.S. Spec'ed 2003 VW Golf is rated to tow much more than about 1500 lbs. and may be less, or even have a "Do Not Tow Anything" rating. Hitch sellers are known to offer hitches rated well over the vehicles towing limit and usually carry the warning to not exceed mfgs stated limits.

You need to check your VW owners manual for it's max. towing limit before taking another step, a different TV may be in your future.

That out of the way, most 13 foot FGRV's, such as the Scamp & Trillium wil come in well over 1500 lbs ready to go. About the only FGRV that is even close to 1200 lbs might be a Campster or a Hunter pop-up, and all of those are at least 39 years old.

Those $2000 rigs are usually "Fixers". You will need to be very, very lucky or good at rebuilding a trailer to get on the road for anything less than twice that amount.

Your average 13'er is not a hotel room on wheels. All will have basics, a stove and some sort of water storage, a bed and usually a porta-potty. Very few will have a real bathroom, even fewer a shower. Even stepping up to 15' will result in a huge increase in weight as well as price.

The are websites for finding free overnight parking space, such as at "Some" WalMarts. But, especially on the west coast and around bigger cities, free parking is getting harder to find and many WalMarts no longer allow overnight parking.

As you have a lot of time to plan, I suggest that you do a lot of research before you buy anything. You can do want you want to do, but it will take a lot of planning and preparation.

BTW: There are also web sites that cater to single women full timing alone as well....

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Old 12-30-2012, 08:31 AM   #4
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Name: Kinga DeRode
Trailer: For Sale Or Rent
Rooms to Let 50 Cents
Posts: 5,102
When I was 20, I did one lap of America in an old van. Stayed in public camp grounds, cooked on a propane stove, took lots of sponge baths (or snuck into parks with showers). My budget was about $50 a day (adjusted for inflation from 1972). Travel stay was predicated on budget and local sights. I hit most of the national parks, but I dodged the big cities and expressways. It was a great experience and gave me a lot of self confidence and practical knowledge.
UHaul and Burro owners, join the UHaul Campers on Facebook.
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Old 12-30-2012, 08:45 AM   #5
Pam Garlow's Avatar
Name: Pam
Trailer: U-Haul 1985
Posts: 3,276
If you switch 'up' to a small SUV or a Minivan, you should be fine. Most cars are limited tow capacity (100lbs). Look up tow capacity for your car on the web.

You should go to a rally where you can actually step inside and see how the space will work for you. And most 'free' locations are for overnight stays only, not for 'living' in them. So you willl want to find a low-cost alternative for long term stays.

Does your lizard have a cage with heat light? You need to make sure you have electric, or a good quality battery/solar charge setup. And its not recommended to leave your dog in the camper for extended periods of time.

Make sure that you explore around the full-timing section of this forum. There are many experienced FT's in there.

Since you're just starting to explore your future lifestyle, then this is a great time to test the waters! Good luck and keep us in the loop on your adventure!
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Old 12-30-2012, 10:44 PM   #6
Junior Member
Name: Olivia
Trailer: still searching
Posts: 5
thanks to everyone, very much for all this advice, i really do appreciate it!

just to clarify, i totally don't mind living in a teeny tiny space with nothing in it-i'm a camper and totally used to it. my family used to have a scamp and now that i'm older and can adventure i'm terribly sad we don't have it anymore!

buuuut, you guys are right, i didn't think much about repairs; would you mind explaining a bit about what kind of problems could pop up?? i guess i've been doing more research on RV's and that's kind of why i started leaning more in this direction-fewer repairs. is that still true??

my lizard does use electricity, but probably by far less than what i use now. i was planning on having electricity, but will live without a stove or shower. i think i want to do something more along the lines of what it sounds like thomas did, and lots of time outside, but probably for longer than a year so i'd prefer a small camper instead of a van.

and the doggy would be with me as much as possible. i'm not a lets stay inside with this glorious weather kinda person!

again, thanks everyone. i love this site! very friendly and helpful and i'll be sure to keep looking around!
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Old 12-30-2012, 11:26 PM   #7
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Name: Bob
Trailer: 1973 Hunter Compact II
Posts: 7,912
A major consideration with buying many older FGRV's is the axle. Many use a torsion axle rather than conventional leaf springs and they tend to start sagging after 10 or more years. Unfortunately replacement can be a tad expensive. If the wheels look to far up in the wheelwell, a new axle may be in your future.
Other big expenses can include refrigerator replacement, new tires (they are aged out at 5 years) electrical wiring, plumbing and water leak repairs.

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Old 12-30-2012, 11:44 PM   #8
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Name: Bobbie
Trailer: 2011 Escape 15A
Posts: 3,289
One option is a teardrop trailer. Basically you sleep inside, but cook outside. No shower. It has the advantage over a tent of being ready to use when you stop, little setup, and having a galley (how that's equipped varies) and an enclosed, dry bed. Usually no room to stand up inside so you can't be claustrophobic. But certainly room for you and the dog to sleep. Some have some shelves inside; you might be able to set up a lizard spot, or perhaps leave him in the car.
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Old 12-31-2012, 06:42 AM   #9
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Name: Dex
Trailer: Casita 17' 2000 Dodge Dakota 3.9L
Posts: 107
Originally Posted by oliviamarie View Post

Also let me clarify another thing, I'M POOR and am not looking to spend an arm and a leg.
It would be helpful to know how much $ you have to spend to purchase and outfit a trailer.

Also, how much $ do you have in total or per day to spend on everthing from gas, food, etc.
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Old 12-31-2012, 07:37 AM   #10
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Name: Bob
Trailer: 1973 Hunter Compact II
Posts: 7,912
Unless you have the necessary tools, skills, space and time to do repairs (not to mention a certain enjoyment of pain) usually buying the very best trailer you can afford up front is less costly than buying a "Fixer".

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Old 12-31-2012, 08:11 AM   #11
Junior Member
Name: Olivia
Trailer: still searching
Posts: 5
I guess I'm looking to spend less than 5,000 but preferably the cheaper, the better, ya know?? but i also don't want a hunk of junk that's just going to be a money pit! I'll do more research on these kinds of repairs and stuff, thanks Bob!

As for a daily budget, I'm not planned that far ahead yet. And I do like the teardrop trailers! A bit small, but I suppose I'll really just be sleeping in there. Are electrical repairs very difficult in a trailer??
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Old 12-31-2012, 10:05 AM   #12
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Name: Carol
Trailer: 22' Airstream Formerly 16' Scamp
British Columbia
Posts: 11,731
Olivia, the problem you mayl have with traveling with the lizard is it may push your daily camping costs up more than you want. There are lots of great spots to camp that are dont have power but using them is a great way to keep your daily costs down. I lot of us have a small solar panel to keep our battery charged up and allow us to use of 12Volt fans and lights daily. If your planning on camping during the summer months as you indicated you may find that your daily camping costs go up due to the need for power as they are always in high demand and often priced accordingly.

In regards to the stove, most of us have small stove tops in the trailer but in the summer months it pretty common for people to carry with them a small portable stove they use to cook outside with.
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Old 12-31-2012, 08:52 PM   #13
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Name: Joel
Trailer: Cloud
Posts: 61
Olivia, because of where you live, you might keep your eyes open for a Cloud. They were manufactured in St Cloud, MN. The headroom is good, and their empty weight is less than 1000 lbs. I'm towing mine with a Prius.
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Old 12-31-2012, 10:36 PM   #14
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Name: Bob
Trailer: 1973 Hunter Compact II
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I strongly sugest that you get your Cloud weighed.... I think you are in for a big surprise.....


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