New, pondering options for road trip - Fiberglass RV


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Old 08-22-2015, 07:06 AM   #1
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Name: Carrie
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New, pondering options for road trip

Hi!
Next summer, my husband and I are going to take the kids (who will be 8 and 11) on a big road trip from the East Coast to Alaska (and back). We are backpackers, and have done a lot of tent camping with the kids. We are trying to decide whether we want to tent camp the whole way, or pull a trailer of some sort. We have thought about a pop-up, and that would be easier to find used and probably cheaper, but I'm intrigued by the fiberglass option. We have a Ford Flex.

Reasons we want a trailer: comfort-sleeping on the bed rather than on the ground for 8 weeks, minimal set up, can park in relatives and friends driveways essentially bringing along our own guest room, kids would think it was cool, would feel like we have a "home," hard sided so no anxiety in bear country. Maybe we could bring the dog easier?

Reasons we might just tent: cost, could visit cities easier, could stay in hotels occasionally with the cost savings, cheaper campsites (and we won't make many reservations), sometimes the tent only sites seem better (?), love feeling the air at night.

If we get a trailer, we will only use it for that trip. I guess we would probably have to buy one and then sell it at the end of the summer. (Unless someone in Alaska needs a delivery??)

Since this is a tent alternative for us, I'm wondering if we would be ok in a 13'. We do not want a bathroom or a bunch of amenities. We basically just want a place to sleep and hang out in the rain. I'm wondering if we should look for a used one or order new and resell after the one trip? If we did buy a new one, would it make more sense to get some of the amenities we don't want in order to resell better?

A few questions too: Do they get hot at night? Is there any cross ventilation with windows open? Could you leave the dog in it and, say, go to dinner at a restaurant? Could we somehow take all four of our bikes?

Thanks for any thoughts!
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Old 08-22-2015, 07:26 AM   #2
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Your eight weeks across the country sounds wonderful! What a great opportunity! I can't speak to everything, but we are a family of four with kids 11 and 13, and the 13 foot Scamp with front bunk option has been more than spacious for us during our travels this summer. After tent camping for years, we bought one for the same reasons you listed, sleeping, rain and a "home" on longer trips. I can also tell you that ours with the crank out windows, gets incredible cross breezes at night. Because of the way they crank out, we've also been able to leave them open when it rains, so it really cools down. Good luck in your search and hope you find what you are looking for!

Edited to add that we also have a screen door, which we LOVE. It REALLY opens up the space and brings in the breezes!
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Old 08-22-2015, 07:47 AM   #3
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New, pondering options for road trip

Welcome, Carrie!

We are four, kids ages 9 and 12, and a Scamp 13 with front bunks works for us. Biggest issue is the dinette bed, which is only 45" wide. My wife feels cramped with both of us in it. We solved the problem by rearranging. I share the front bunks with the older, and she shares the dinette bed with the younger, sleeping head-to-toe.

Given the possibilities of wildlife and variable weather on your trip, I would go for the fiberglass trailer over a pop-up, even though it would be tighter on space. There are a few places that require hard-sided campers.

Fiberglass trailers have excellent resale value, especially the 13'ers, so if you buy a used one at a fair price this fall (when prices tend to come down a bit) and sell in the spring after your adventure, there's a very good chance you could break even or even come out ahead on the transaction. (Mine is worth about 40% more that I paid just 3 years ago.) On the other hand, you may fall in love with it and decide to keep it!

A 13'er, fully loaded for four people, can weigh close to 2000 pounds. Make sure your vehicle is up to the challenge. One drawback of towing over the tent option is that you will need to travel at a slower speed. Around 60-65 is the maximum safe speed for towing.

As to visiting cities, I would find a campground (or even occasionally a motel) near the outskirts of the city and drive in with just the tug.
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Old 08-22-2015, 08:03 AM   #4
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Carrying bicycles has been a problem for us. There are a lot of threads on the subject (a Google site search will bring them up) and no easy answers. In my opinion, a good roof-mounted rack system on the tow vehicle is the best bet. For sure, four on the back of a 13' trailer is a no-go.
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Old 08-22-2015, 08:45 AM   #5
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I did go back and read some of the bike threads. I think maybe we would put the two adult bikes on top of our tow vehicle, and the two kids bikes in the trailer. The kids would want to use them every time we stop, and the adults won't.

We live in the city with on street parking, so we really would rather buy a trailer just before our trip and sell it just after (or even sell it on the way home). (I could only prevail upon my brother for his driveway for a few months). This timing window might limit us buying used if the right thing wasn't available when we need it (and where, as we're in New England where there don't seem to be as many). If we bought new, how much of our value would we recoup if we sold it just a few months later? Picking up a new trailer from the manufacturer would limit us as well. Anything made in the eastern US? How much are shipping rates?
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Old 08-22-2015, 09:09 AM   #6
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And now for a different opinion.

You are talking about spending 2 months in the trailer and I'd bet that most families of 4 + 1 would find a 13' very cramped after not very long. Because of your mentioned current vacationing life style, I'd suggest considering a Tent Trailer. You will get lots more room, have a much smaller rig to tow, have a lower purchase price, and they can be much, much simpler than an FGRV to maintain. While there are a few areas closed to tents and tent trailers, they are few and far between. Besides that, one of your options was tents...


About Fido or Sport or Whoever:
Taking a pet on that long of a trip will result in many, if not most of your decisions revolving around the pet and not the human members of your family. It's a constant issue to deal with and, as you have already asked about leaving a pet in an FGRV you are aware of just one of the issues you will have to deal with on almost a daily basis. I love pets, but just like mother-in-laws, I don't take them on vacations with me....

Here are some pics and a link to both FGRV's and Tent trailers that I have rebuilt. My son and his wife prefer the Tent trailers because of the extra room and smaller load they have to tow and it, as they say, is "More like real camping" which is important to them.

This is our 1988 Palomino, less than $1500 invested: Here's a link to more pics:
1988 Palomino Pop-Up Trailer by Robert Miller | Photobucket





This (was) our 1998 Lil BigFoot, Typical of 13' Eggs: More pics here:
The Best 13 Ft RV On The Planet by Robert Miller | Photobucket






Feel free to browse the other FGRV's in the Album Listings



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Old 08-22-2015, 09:15 AM   #7
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When shopping for a used trailer don't forget to look north of the border in Canada. You will find lots of fiberglass trailers there that would suit your needs. And they are currently 30% cheaper than the asking price, due to the US/CAD exchange rate.

You'll find Scamps as well as older Trillium and Boler trailers. Search Kijiji which Canadians use more than Craigslist.
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Old 08-22-2015, 09:21 AM   #8
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To add to ClareM"s post. Shopping for a trailer in Canada has it's own risks when importing. Be sure to under stand those regulations before even starting a search up north. It can range from easy-peasy for older (over 25 y.o.) units to a genuine PITA for some less than 25 y.o. units that may be orphaned (including pre-bk BigFoot)



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Old 08-22-2015, 10:12 AM   #9
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If you are spending at least 3-5 days at a time on each stop then a pop-up would be OK (not great, but OK). The pop-up became such a pain for me I sold it for a Scamp. If you are traveling most everyday then no way would I suggest a pop-up. For the Scamps, I found the 13 a little small for just one person (with K-9) but if you are used to tent camping and will be outdoors most of the time then YMMV.
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Old 08-22-2015, 10:21 AM   #10
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New, pondering options for road trip

Carrie, I'll have to say, lack of off-street parking is a huge obstacle. Buying new, paying shipping & taxes, and immediately reselling in the fall is going to cost a bundle. Buying used often involves a search lasting weeks or even months. You can't just wait until a few weeks before you leave to look for a used FG trailer.

I'm more inclined now to agree with Bob... used tent trailers are much easier to find. But you still have to park it somewhere. Maybe just stick with the tent???
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Old 08-22-2015, 10:45 AM   #11
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I think that they are planning for next summer....



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Old 08-22-2015, 10:45 AM   #12
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I can park something at my brother's house for at least a few months. Maybe I can just keep my eye out on the used market next spring, and let fate decide whether we tent, pop-up, or trailer.

Do you pop-ups weigh less than fiberglass? Can you put bikes on top?

I do think, as much as I love the dog, that he will stay home with family. Too many limitations.
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Old 08-22-2015, 10:48 AM   #13
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Some, Pop-Ups can support a bike rack that bridges the entire top and anchors onto the sides of the top itself. But they have to come off when putting the top up each day.


The market will start going back up in mid to late March, look before then, pickings will be slimmer, but prices will be lower.



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Old 08-22-2015, 10:57 AM   #14
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Pop-ups are so readily available that I fear we couldn't get rid of it when we need to.
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Old 08-22-2015, 01:14 PM   #15
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Did a grand adventure trip with our children that covered just about every national park and significant sight west of the Mississippi River starting from coastal Connecticut.
It took an action packed 6 weeks and a lot of planning! Because we would be in Brown Bear country and because we value our comfort as well as safety we of course used a 24 foot hard sided Travel Trailer....might suggest you do the same and remember to bring along at least 2 spare tires for the Travel Trailer as well as at least one for the tow vehicle!

Watch craigslist every week for used hard sided Travel Trailers and you will find a deal on one with little use. I see them all the time in upstate NY and western Mass. Don't limit your search to fiberglass units or you will be looking for years because used fiberglass units are few and far between.

Travel trailers are easy to set up as you travel. Once you have established a checklist for arrival and departure it only takes a few minutes once you get used to it.

Have fun...be prepared for any any all emergencies...Happy Camping!
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Old 08-22-2015, 04:56 PM   #16
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You're in Bear Country

I've traveled throughout British Columbia and Alaska, tent camping, kayak camping, and RVing.
Some serious considerations:

Rain - on one trip, heavy rain for one week - bad for tent camping, stuck in motel trying to dry out. While kayak camping in Glacier Bay, Alaska, it rained for a solid week - so hard I had to wear rubber rain gear over my Gortex drysuit! Be sure to take an extra tarp(s), rain boots.

Bears - hard-sided trailers more safe than canvas. Bears are attracted to food odors and human conditioned bears are dangerous, so keep your campsites clean, food properly stored to avoid food odors. see:
Safety: bears and you Alaska Bear Safety | Avoid Bear Conflicts Fishing, Hiking & Camping

Dogs - Bears don't like dogs, will chase dog back into camp and your family. Always keep your dog on leash; keep bear spray handy at camp and while hiking/fishing. No guns! Take a small emergency airhorn - that'll scare em.
Remember, you can't leave your dog in your camper or vehicle, a consideration whether to take or board while you're traveling.

Mosquitoes & deer flies - be prepared - they're big and plentiful. Also to treat your dog.

Double bed too small? Try sleeping head to toe - worked well for 2 adults and a 50 lb dog on one bed in a 13footer.

You might consider renting a small RV, camper or tent-camper instead of buying. If you do, check to be sure you are able to drive on gravel roads, put freshly caught fish in refrig.

Whether you buy or rent a tow vehicle, or an RV, make sure you have an exta tire for the towed vehicle with you.

Enjoy this magnificent country - Do visit Denali Nat, Park and take the bus tour; great campgrounds at Nancy Lakes State Park (between Talkeetna and Denali) for loons, canoeing. Enjoy and keep us posted.
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Old 08-22-2015, 05:06 PM   #17
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Thanks! My family did this same trip when I was 11- I'm excited to relive it with my kids. I have family in Anchorage to be our tour guides.

Is it possible to rent a trailer or rv for 8 weeks? I thought it would be cheaper to buy and resell. When we went as kids, my parents bought a small rv, sold it in Alaska, and we flew home.
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Old 08-22-2015, 05:10 PM   #18
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With the suggestion to look at a sticky the Elephant in the room makes it's appearance. What is the towing capacity of the OP's Ford Flex.


Although it is frequently posted "as high as 4500 lbs when properly equipped" it's basic towing capacity may be as low as 2000 lbs., which can have a major bearing on the choices.


The 4500 lb tow package apparently includes the following: (See note at the bottom)


Class III Trailer Tow Package – 4,500 lbs Tow Capacity

The Class III Trailer Tow package is available on either the SEL or Limited Trim levels, and with either the 3.5L Ti-VCT V6 engine or the 3.5L EcoBoost engine. This package increases the maximum tow capacity of the 2014 Ford Flex up to 4,500 pounds. With the trailer Tow package, the Flex comes equipped with a 2″ Class III receiver hitch, a wiring harness with 4- and 7-pin connectors, and the addition of Trailer Sway Control to the Traction Control System of the vehicle. In addition, on the 3.5L Ti-VCT V6, an Engine Oil Cooling system is added, to help keep the engine from overheating while towing a heavy load.


NOTE: As always, the Owners Manual for the specific vehicle must be consulted before making any decisions concerning towing capability.



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Old 08-22-2015, 05:41 PM   #19
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I do have the factory tow package- my owners manual says maximum trailer weight is 4500 lbs. I do want to stay well under that.
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Old 08-22-2015, 06:02 PM   #20
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Just to verify, and that's with the 2" hitch receiver installed? If so, sounds great.



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