Did you trade up from a tent? - Fiberglass RV

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Old 06-22-2011, 02:08 PM   #1
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Did you trade up from a tent?

I'm an aspiring egg owner (why I joined this forum) and a freelance writer. I am working on an assignment for USA Today about tent campers who trade up to some sort of RV. If you'd be willing to be quoted in my story, please tell me about your experience: Why did you trade up from a tent? How did you decide what to buy? What do you like about having a travel trailer? How and where do you like to camp? Feel free to respond here or send me a private message. Thanks so much!

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Old 06-22-2011, 04:14 PM   #2
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First off, I didn't trade up from a tent, I traded up from the back of my truck.

For me, the reason is simple: a baby. We want to take our 5 month old daughter camping, and camping in the truck or in a tent with her -- not to mention 2 large dogs -- would be impossible. So we bought an old Scamp. Currently fixing it up, haven't even used it, but will sometime in the next month.

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Old 06-22-2011, 04:28 PM   #3
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Oh, that sounds like a fun assignment.

It never ever occurred to me to own an RV until just last fall. I'd never even slept in one until then in all my 42 years. But in October I did a month long, 475 mile pack trip across Pennsylvania from Philadelphia to Pittsburgh (me walking, horse carrying a pack). I spent a lot of nights sleeping on the ground in a tent or on barn floors, after hard 15-20 mile days on the road. When a couple of my overnight hosts put me up in their RVs, I was instantly charmed and couldn't get over the idea of having a fun outdoorsy day with a soft bed at the end of it. (I also have a number of long scooter trips under my belt that involved driving the scooter all day long and sleeping in a tent at night - fun but not the most awesome thing for the tired ache you get driving a scooter all day long.)

Anyway, during the pack trip I started doing research on what I could pull behind my Subaru - I considered older canned hams but then bumped into information about fiberglass eggs and was sold. Within a month after the trip was over I'd gotten my mitts on a 1980 Burro, driving from Philadelphia to Minneapolis to get it.

How I landed on a Burro specifically, well, I figured the various older/used models were all more or less similar in quality at the budget level I was working with, so the thing that made me go in the Burro direction was, quite honestly, the awesome angry-burro graphic. I harbor a love of donkeys and so it was kind of irresistible.
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Old 06-22-2011, 04:50 PM   #4
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My sister and I have shared a love of campers for as long as we can remember - our Dad used to borrow my uncle's pop-up camper and take the family on extended camping vacations in the 1960's. We learned the value of a hard sided camper in Yellowstone when a grizzly visited the campground one evening and we huddled in the tent camper trying to project go away vibes.

The breaking point was after two annual trips to a big Land Rover meet in Virginia that I attend every year. These two years we suffered torrential downpours of the 8-9 inches of rain in 24 hours variety. The first year I took a tent that the rain fly didn't extend all the way down the sides of the tent - fine if the rain is coming straight down. Sideways? - not so good - everything got soaked. The next year - back with a better tent - mother nature wins again when the impromptu creek runs under the floor of the tent - same results - everything wet.

I decided I'd get a hard shell and some elevation off the ground before the next event so I bought a Boler - the next year it didn't rain a drop all weekend.....
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Old 06-22-2011, 05:35 PM   #5
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for us it was a summer filled with rains everytime we were tenting..up till then it didnt seem so bad but that year was horrific.
few months later grabbed a uhaul in Mich and haven't looked back.
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Old 06-22-2011, 05:52 PM   #6
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Originally I went to rvs because I had children. We actually down graded our rv to a Play Pac. This worked for us because I am a photographer and can put my equipment and work in the camper and use it as a trailer when we aren't camping. I currently enjoy the tow behind because I can have a vehicle to drive while camp is set up. I love my little Play Pac and can't wait to spend a summer driving cross country again and being able to go anywhere to take a picture.
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Old 06-22-2011, 06:23 PM   #7
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For many years a tent was all we could afford. It was better than nothing, for it enabled us to travel farther and longer than we could have otherwise (by sleeping in motels). But the bed was never very comfy. It took time to set up and tear down camp, and the tent got dirt into the vehicle. Sometimes the tent would be wet from rain, too. If it rained when we wanted to leave, we got wet ourselves as we packed everything away. One time a tent pole split while we were erecting the tent; what a mess that was!

Finally I scraped together enough money to buy a pop-up trailer. The bed felt much better, but rain could still be a problem. I would get slivers from the plywood platforms as I pulled them out or pushed them in, and sometimes they would get cockeyed and jam. The way the wind flapped the pop-up's canvas made us feel like we were still in a glorified tent. Worse still, on our first vacation with the pop-up we drove through Wyoming bear country, and my wife hardly slept for fear of a bear tearing through the canvas and biting her. She was sure she could hear one just outside our pop-up! So after just a few months we sold it; fortunately we lost very little money on the resale.

Now we have a hardside 16' travel trailer. Comfortable bed, bathroom with shower, refrigerator/freezer unit, hot water heater, closets, cabinets, and air conditioning. What's not to like about that? It's terrific! The trailer is to a tent what the Taj Mahal is to a bungalow.

The trailer lets me vacation farther, longer, and more luxuriously than the tent ever could. I can pull my Highlander SUV over to the side of the road almost any time for a cold drink out of the fridge, a restroom break, or lunch. No tent will allow that. I can park a thousand miles from my house, walk into the trailer, and instantly partake of all the comforts of home. I have water, gas, and 12 volt electricity, all without hooking up a single thing. There's no tent to erect, no air mattress to blow up, and no unpacking. Plus I'm eating and sleeping off the ground, away from most bugs and protected from the elements.
In the '60s, people took LSD to make the world seem weird.
Now the world is weird, and people take Prozac to make it seem normal.
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Old 06-22-2011, 08:23 PM   #8
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My partner Robert & I have an Oscar/Felix kind of relationship. We used to tent camp in KOA's during cross country road trips. Robert didn't sleep well, and would usually be up at sunrise, wide awake. I on the other hand, can sleep almost anywhere, under almost any conditions. It would take me a lot of time to become conscious in the morning for I need to ease into the shock of another day. I usually greet it whining "Need Coffee!"

One morning around 5:30 AM I arose, threw on my pants, and went to the campground bathroom. After finishing my business, I looked forward to another hour-and-a-half of sack time. However when I got back to our campsite, I found that Robert had packed everything up and was sitting in the car, ready to GO.

The trailer is my self-defense that my bed will still be there when I want it. It's bathroom is mere steps from the bed, and I don't have to get dressed to use it. Robert can actually sleep because the bed feels familiar, and like Goldilocks found, made just right.
Frederick - The Scaleman
1978 Fiber Stream 16 named "Eggstasy" & 1971 Compact Jr. named "Boomerang"
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Old 06-22-2011, 08:46 PM   #9
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First, I tried camping in a variety of vehicles including full sized- and minivans, a Chevy Suburban and an S-10 Blazer, but I go to various shooting events (N-SSA, ASSRA, etc) as well as to other activities that involve the great out of doors. I was gifted a hulk of an aluminum camper (that was on its last stages of self destruction) and knew the first night I had to find a little egg. My '83 Burro 13 footer was a natural progression for me.

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Old 06-22-2011, 10:54 PM   #10
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Yes my wife and I have tented for many years mostly while motorcycle touring. The addition of a baby girl and a cross country move that we intended to camp and rotten wether, an extreme amount of blackflies and three dogs going " Cujo" from being cooped up in a car for 10 hours turned the intended camping into a string of hotel rooms. That was three years ago but we are doing the drive home this year to show off the baby lol. Even though the dogs are staying home we will still have all the baby gear to drag with us so the decision to get a small rv has been made. We've decided a fiberglass one will provide better structural integrity, lighter weight and better value for our dollar over a canned ham type. We're looking at a 13' Ventura this weekend.
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Old 06-23-2011, 12:43 AM   #11
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Hi:TinaL...We only ever tent camped once!!! Maybe that's why we're still married after 40 yrs. Tried pop up trailering once with young children in a violent stormy season...to many trips to the laundry mat to dry out!!! Childen grown... so we bought a Boler our tug could handle...my bed, my fridge, my cooking and my style of camping.
Upgraded to the 5.0 to add a bathroom, bigger fridge, bigger bed, and bigger space to lay down in and a better tow to boot!!!
Alf S. North shore of Lake Erie
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Old 06-23-2011, 08:24 AM   #12
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I traded both up from a tent and down from a hotel. I was using a tent to camp at agility trials with my corgis but in the winter I was paying a lot for hotel rooms. The agility facility where I trialed has beautiful RV sites and so I started thinking of a trailer for winter. Of course, once I had it it replaced the tent, too.
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Old 06-23-2011, 09:06 AM   #13
Name: Kathie
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I allways tent camped growing up and into my early 50's. Then on a trip to the shore I said "NEVER MORE". The insects in the evening sent us inside but the heat made me sticky and all night the sand stuck to me. I woke my husband up at 3:00 AM and said that I was out of there! That was the LAST tent camping trip.
I then bought a nice 30 ft. Prowler but I kept having to replace things on our truck like engins and transmissions when on a trip. Which lead me here for something more realistic and affordable.
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Old 06-23-2011, 09:27 AM   #14
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Been camping for 50+ years
1 Tent
2 Big popup tent trailer (to big for car)
3 Back to Tent (to much work)
4 Small popup tent trailer (not big enough for 4)
5 Big popup tent trailer ( nice but kids grown up)
6 Tent again ( Wife & I to old to be on ground)
7 13' Scamp (The best yet for wife and I)
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Old 06-23-2011, 10:18 AM   #15
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Originally Posted by kbeale NY View Post
I allways tent camped growing up and into my early 50's. Then on a trip to the shore I said "NEVER MORE". The insects in the evening sent us inside but the heat made me sticky and all night the sand stuck to me. I woke my husband up at 3:00 AM and said that I was out of there! That was the LAST tent camping trip.
I then bought a nice 30 ft. Prowler but I kept having to replace things on our truck like engins and transmissions when on a trip. Which lead me here for something more realistic and affordable.

I hear ya on the bugs. On our cross country move they were so bad in Northern Ontario that the dogs didn't even want to be outside for more than two minutes.
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Old 06-23-2011, 06:21 PM   #16
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Started out backpacking with a small tent - the ground was always too hard and too cold - and getting dressed and packed in the rain was no fun (and it rains a lot in the Pacific NW).
Then I did a lot of kayak camping - the sand was a lot softer, but it still rained a lot - Keeping anything dry several days into a trip was just not possible.
Then I did some car camping - bigger tent, air mattress - still raining.
Then I got a camper van - and the bed was soft and the van was warm, but the canvas pop-up still got wet (in the ever present rain of the NW) and moldy.
Then I got my 17 foot fiberglass trailer - warm, DRY, and no more long slogs in the middle of the night to the restroom (usually in the rain). Morning coffee in my snug little trailer still in my PJ's. . . . . . perfect!
Anne H and Fay Wray, the cat | Portland, OR
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Old 06-23-2011, 07:17 PM   #17
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I grew up camping....tent....open sky....brush shelters...once even a garbage bag opened at both ends. Mr. and I hooked up 7 years ago and he had NO interest in camping until we took up kayaking.

Started in an old family tent, graduated to a 20 year old pop-up minus its kitchen, then a wonderful tent on wheels (also no kitchen). We started talking about "full time camping" and thought we needed a house on wheels. (and big arse diesel dually)

Gradually dawned on us we were thinking toooooo big and we began looking at smaller "stickies" (stick built trailers). A Thanksgiving camping trip on the SC coast found me fascinated by a 16 foot Casita that rolled by and we began thinking REALLLLLY small.

This last December we found a 16' Scamp in good shape at a fair price. Mr. drove 8 hours to Virginia Beach, VA, picked her up and towed her home. We began camping as soon as the weather allowed and the rest remains unwritten.

We still intend to become full time campers in the not too distant future.

Meant to add that we are both 60 and emptying out to open up the tent camper in the dark was getting tiresome...with Li'l Scamp we can park it, move a few boxes, go to bed and set the rest of our stuff up next day...or not depending on length of stay.

"Not all those who wander are lost." (J.R.R. Tolkein from Lord of the Rings..."Strider's Poem")
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Old 06-23-2011, 07:43 PM   #18
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My partner and I spent many years back country camping and kayak camping on the west coast. My partner still does back country ski camping trips in the middle of winter. After one very rainy trip to the Bella Bella area that we went from island to island for 10 days without seeing a single other person we were in the ferry line up waiting to come home when I saw a small fiberglass trailer. I suggested that now that we were both in our 50's perhaps the time for one of those - he didnt buy into that idea at the time. A year or so later while purchasing a new car I noticed it had a pretty high towing cap so I started to look around at small trailer options. I wanted very much to have a bathroom in it as I had way to many scary nights involving not so human friendly animals camping out with tents. It also had to be towed with the same car I use in the city everyday - no way partner would buy into owing a truck or SUV either. Discovered the Scamp 16' fit the bill. Search Craigs list for months until one came up within a day and half drive - purchased it sight unseen and spent a long week-end picking up. Still do wilderness kayaking trips for a week or so once a year but I am much happier at night in the trailer. :-)
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Old 06-24-2011, 09:20 PM   #19
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What great stories! Thank you to everyone who responded to my post. I wish I could include all these anecdotes! I am working on the story this weekend and will figure out what fits in best (we need to juggle mix of geographical areas and so on). I will send a private message to those of you I'd like to quote directly.

Oh, and another thing: in my personal camper quest, I'm a bit intimidated about pulling a trailer around here--very windy and lots of rough roads where I like to camp. Any thoughts/advice for me? You guys are great!!
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Old 06-24-2011, 09:33 PM   #20
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My wife and I tent camped for years. The occasional bad weather days were easy to take. The last year we tented we spent a week (late June) in Glacier where it rained every day we were there. So we finally gave up and moved down to Yellowstone--where it snowed. We decided that cooking out in the rain was no longer part of our lifestyle.

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