What's your RV style? (Part 2: campervans and towables)
In Part 1 of your RV style guide, we looked at motorhomes – motorized vehicles with all of your amenities onboard. Part 2 of this guide looks at campervans and towables, ranging from fully equipped to fairly spartan. So, questions to ask yourself: can I drive a vehicle towing another vehicle? Do I own a pickup truck? Is an outdoor shower something I can handle? Do I know how to cook ramen on a camp stove?
We’re here to help – have a read over some more great options for embracing the RV lifestyle, and hopefully we’ll see you out there someday soon!
If you’re on Instagram and you’re an RVer, we’d say it’s pretty dang impossible for you to have missed the hashtag #vanlife. If you haven’t seen it, first: HOW? And second: search for it, and you’ll find a multitude of inspirational travelers who’ve sold it all for life on the road in small campervans – from newer models like Mercedes Sprinters, to the retro beauty of VW Westfalias.
Van life is about minimizing, simplifying, and seeking out the incredible experiences that driving adventures provide. This means that your quarters will be rather small, but they can also be perfectly formed (again, #vanlife delivers some incredible campervan interiors). Most vans will have a minuscule slide-out or in-van kitchen and a bed area/platform, and some have pop-up roofs for extra space when parked. There’s no bathroom and no living area, but what you lose in amenities you gain in lifestyle. Pack your guitar, camera, a travel stove and a broad mind, and you, too, can be part of #vanlife.
Pull your weight
Favored by those who like to park their rig and then gallivant, unfettered, around their new neighborhood, the travel trailer is a non-motorized home on wheels that can be towed by mid-size vehicles. Travel trailers offer your essentials, like a kitchen, dining space, bathroom and lounge area, so you can cook, eat, wash and chill. Of course, sleeping arrangements are also included, so you can sleep, too (what luck!).
Remember, you need to match the loaded weight of your trailer to the towing capacity of your vehicle, otherwise there’s a chance your towable will become a separate entity somewhere along the highway.
Four wheels? That’s not enough!
You want lots of space? A stable towable? A bedroom area that makes you feel like you’re loft-living in San Francisco? (OK, that’s a stretch.) Well, fifth wheelers offer you most of the above. They have a raised section at the front for the master bedroom, which is coupled in over your towing truck bed (you will need a one-ton pickup). Getting the bedroom out of the main area affords more space for you to put in some recliners, a bespoke coffee table made from redwood by that guy you met in California, and maybe a nice big plasma.
Many people prefer towing a fifth wheel to a conventional travel trailer, as the hitch is located in the bed of your pickup over the back axel, giving it more stability and better traction.
If you’re someone who likes a bit of the luxe lifestyle while RVing, there are some models of fifth wheel that offer washer/dryers, on-board generators and ceiling fans, on top of your stock-standard inclusions. Prices can easily get up to over $100,000, so keep that in mind when shopping.
For lovers of origami
The folding camping trailer, also known as a pop-up or tent trailer, is kind of like a jack-in-the-box. While you’re towing one of these genius contraptions, it’s a low-profile box on wheels. Pull up to your camp spot, and with a few flicks of the wrist and a snap of the fingers, your tent on wheels will emerge.
This is a great option for those who love the outdoors feel of being in a tent, but also appreciate being elevated (we mean in a physical sense, but spiritual works, too). They’re also great for anyone not wanting to shell out a bagful o’ cash – prices are anywhere up to around 30,000, typically.
Load up the pickup
Do you love carrying large items in the bed of your pickup truck? YES? Fantastic! This might be the camper for you. Much like the fifth wheeler, truck campers require you to have your own pickup. With that taken care of, choose some digs that you can slide into the truck bed, fasten the camper down, drive to your destination and slide the camper out onto its sturdy legs. These days, truck campers come fully equipped, with kitchens, microwaves, bathrooms – the works! Slides can also be included for more space.
This option can also be very budget-friendly (depending, of course, on the model and manufacturer). In addition, you have a smallish RV that will shimmy itself into smaller spots than your regular motorhome RVs, and if your truck happens to be an off-roader, you can head down those sandy tracks to the beachside spots, leaving larger RVs in your wake.
Take your toys!
Are there any RVers out there who love the outdoors? Anyone? Ha, just kidding. We know you’re all gaga for what’s outside. Those of you who like to get out and about on motorcycles, ATVs, dirt bikes or other outdoor toys will love the sport utility RV. It has all of the usual features – kitchen, dining, bathroom, lounge and sleeping, but it also has a built-in garage! Drop the back of the trailer down to form a ramp, wheel in your goodies, and then hit the road to your adventure destination.
The sport utility RV, or toy hauler, is essentially a travel trailer with a bit of interior space turned over to the toys. Be doubly sure to check your towing capacity, because when you’re towing a trailer full of motorized vehicles, you can be certain that your load will be heavier than most. But your wallet will be lighter, with the super-blingin’ versions of these vehicles reaching up to $200,000.