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Old 02-19-2011, 10:25 AM   #1
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How do you deal with your trailer while exploring?

My wife and I currently own an Itasca Navion, a 23' motorhome that we can take just about anywhere. We've driven it everywhere from downtowns of major cities, to up dirt mountain roads, as we drive from one stop to the next. An element we appreciate is the flexibility this affords us: we never worry about getting stuck or unable to turn around. This is important because we are fairly serious birders, so we never know where we'll end up in the course of a trip.

For various reasons, we are considering selling the Navion and getting a 25' Airstream. This will be our first experience with travel trailers. Our tow vehicle will be a diesel Ford F250.

Question for you current AS owners: how do you deal with your trailer while on the go? Of course, if you're just exploring near your camp, you would leave the trailer in camp, but what if you're traveling from Point A to Point B? If you want to go into a big city, do you just drop your trailer somewhere like a mall parking lot and come back for it later? If there is a scary but interesting-looking dirt road ahead, do you unhitch and leave your trailer on the side of the road while you drive ahead to scout?

Or, do you always just explore using a campground as your home base? Thanks in advance for your advice.

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Old 02-19-2011, 10:37 AM   #2
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2005 19' Safari
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We only drop our Bambi in approved campgrounds or at boondocking (dispersed) camping sites. It is likely to get towed from a mall parking lot, or stolen if left alongside a road. Some consideration is given to not destroying our home-away-from-home by dragging it down a logging road or into similar off-road conditions. However, at only 19-feet, our Bambi will go just about anywhere our pickup will.

Unfortunately, San Franciso is the exception. "The City by the Bay" isn't RV friendly, and our Bambi stays home on these trips. We welcome any info on RV campgrounds, resorts and/or parking in or near the City, as we have been unsuccessful in finding convenient, safe parking for our Bambi. Also, news this past year seems to indicate that the RV resort in Pacifica may soon be slowly dropping off into the ocean.

By the way, when we drop our trailer, besides a tongue lock, we use one of these (so far, so good):


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Old 02-19-2011, 10:45 AM   #3
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Our previous RV was a truck camper, and was much more 'big city friendly' when we were on the road - we could usually find a place to park, explore for a few hours, etc, then hit the road again without having to find an RV Park...

Having a TT as your RV changes your routine, as unhooking and leaving the TT means you have to have a secure place to leave it - That usually means an RV park, campground, etc., before you set out to explore...

I would NEVER leave the trailer in a parking lot, etc., unless for a special limited situation, and then hopefully someone could be left behind to keep it secure...

As you're probably aware, there are places that allow limited, o'night parking of RV's when you're on the road - some Wal-Marts, Truck fueling stations, rest stops, etc. - but your TT would have to remain attached to your RV in most of these places...

We use a combination of the o'night stops on the road (when trying to get from pt A to pt B), and an RV park or Campground when we want to 'explore' in the immediate area...

Happy Trails...
Ray & Pat; Morada, CA
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Old 02-19-2011, 11:19 AM   #4
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I usually disconnect the trailer at campground and explore from there. Depending on traffic conditions I explore out as much as a hundred miles from camp. In fact I like campsites which are somewhat centrally located. I often stay at Lake Cachuma, drive into Santa Barbara, north in to Santa Ynez valley, and even make a day trip to Pismo Beach.

En route there can be sufficient side street parking, or large parking lots where you can stop the whole rig for a while and look around. Example Solvang has a day parking lot you can stop your rig and explore the little town.
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Old 02-19-2011, 11:52 AM   #5
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1962 22' Safari
1957 22' Custom
1963 16' Bambi
Vacationland , Maine
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they bend in the middle.

We have never gotten "stuck" .....well, only one time in 90k miles of trailering. In a bank parking lot that was one way and fenced on all sides. I had to unhook the trailer and reset the truck. Which taught me it is almost impossible to be trapped even if it comes to an enclosed space.

I have travelled many one lane dead end dirt roads and there is always away to back in to a pull off and turn around.

And this is what many non trailering people do not consider.....the length of your truck may be over fifty feet, but it bends in the middle. (A really great feature when you think about it!)

So travelling with the trailer and exploring works well. Sometimes scenic pull offs and commercial areas can be tricky in high traffic areas.....but we are usually heading in the other direction.

And finally getting to your destination setting up camp and heading out without the trailer is a big plus also.

good Luck!
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Old 02-19-2011, 11:56 AM   #6
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Originally Posted by mikescha View Post
...If you want to go into a big city, do you just drop your trailer somewhere like a mall parking lot and come back for it later?
If there is a scary but interesting-looking dirt road ahead, do you unhitch and leave your trailer on the side of the road while you drive ahead to scout?...
the nice thing about aluminum tubes is, they fold up and fit in yer pocket.

that sure makes dealing with the...

"which scary looking road should i randomly leave my 50-100,000$ dollar shinny silver house on wheels" question...

easy to manage.

mall parking lots ?

aren't those the places where parents just deposit their kids for a few daze?

it's a great way to teach geocaching to the young'nz...

all of the true things that i am about to tell you are shameless lies. l.b.j.

we are here on earth to fart around. don't let anybody tell you any different. k.v.
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Old 02-19-2011, 06:31 PM   #7
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My wife and I did a five week trip from Omaha out to San Diego and then up the coast to Washington and then back in 2010. We took the easy way out, we always found a campground and then did day trips from there. We have been very lucky so far in that we have never experienced any "unwanted invasion" of our campsite.
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Old 02-20-2011, 10:42 AM   #8
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That's the same with us. Even a 60 mile excursion leaving the AS at a campground is no big deal, plus you can enjoy the day knowing your AS is safe back at the campground. I still alsways put a lock on the trailer bar hitch. It would look a little suspicious if you saw someone with a hacksaw trying to cut the lock off.
2008 F-250 4X4 Lariat V-10
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Old 02-20-2011, 11:36 AM   #9
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We like to set up our home base and then go exploring. We have occasionally seen something that needed investigating while towing, and luckily my husband is an expert backer-upper, and has gotten out of tight spots. But I'll admit we don't explore much with the trailer behind us.

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Old 02-20-2011, 12:07 PM   #10
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Grand Junction , Colorado
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We have friends with a 24' MoHo and it is a good size for limited exploring (still not good for 4WD roads). They sometimes take a toad. Since MoHo's keep getting bigger, 23' and 24' ones are harder to find, but if we were looking for a MoHo, that's the size.

A trailer does have a limiting effect. Parking in some towns and cities can be difficult. We sometimes want to stop at a special restaurant for lunch and that can be a challenge. With some experience, we have figured out how to spot spaces—sometimes it's using two meters, sometimes a side street has plenty of parking. You have to make sure you have room to get in and get out. Also, curbside parking can mean the trailer is tilted way off camber and the refrigerator is not going to like that. We keep some frozen gel packs in the freezer, so the fridge could be turned off for a hour or so without a problem. We haven't gone down the dead end street with the missing sign yet, but it could happen. A couple of times we have had to use gas stations with no way out, so I backed out and didn't crush anything or anyone. Exploring inviting roads is less possible unless you know where they go—they may have overhanging trees, get narrow or impassible—but some do and some don't take the chance.

If you use GPS, there are stories about being taken to dead end streets or really bad roads by the computer. Maps can be wrong too, so being alert and smart is the best solution.

A couple of times we have been stopped because there was an accident ahead and while cars could turn around, it is often impossible for longer vehicles. When they close the road for hours and hours this is difficult.

When we go to a destination it usually means we are staying the night, so we just unhitch and go. There are locks available for the ball receiver, the latch and the wheels. Since you already have an RV, you know many destinations have RV parking. Since they may not, we check ahead to make sure. And, sometimes you can park across a bunch of car spaces. A few times someone has parked right in front of us, but I've always gotten out without a problem.

I would not leave the trailer at a mall, truck stop or elsewhere without checking with the management.

And shopping can be a challenge. Smaller malls have narrow access, trees overhanging, poor parking, but we have not been trapped yet, though some we pass up. Trader Joe's almost always have that type of parking, but we manage, but I'm glad I haven't brought the trailer to the one in Santa Fe.

And some cities should be avoided—downtown Santa Fe (besides the Trader Joe's parking lot), much of NYC, for example.

It can be done, but some adjustments are necessary.

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Old 02-20-2011, 12:17 PM   #11
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One more variable to consider - the maneuverability of the tow vehicle + trailer combo is affected by the length of both. Towing a 25' AS with a F-250 is less maneuverable than, say, towing a 20' Flying Cloud with a Grand Cherokee.

We like our current combo because it fits in a 2-deep parking spot without overhanging at the ends. It can also be turned around in a fairly tight spot, important when the GPS sends you the wrong way...

Like others have said, we usually have the trailer at a campground and then explore from there. I admit to using Google maps satellite view to see if parking lots are big enough/have easy access...

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Old 02-20-2011, 01:46 PM   #12
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I think that the main advantage of truck campers, B-vans, and to a lesser extent smaller As and Cs is that it is practical to take them places where a larger RV would be at risk of damage or pose compliance problems (particularly with parking).

Like other posters, I do not unhitch my trailer except in an area where that sort of thing is specifically welcomed and security and compliance aren't a problem. In general that means campgrounds and public lands where boondocking is permitted.

I have done a fair amount of off-roading in trucks and jeeps and would not pull my Airstream anywhere off road without first ascertaining vertical and horizontal clearance, availability of a turn around, and acceptable traction. The 8'6" width and the ground clearance and approach and departure angle problems are quite limiting with the longer trailers.

I continue to look for the right deal on an Avion C-11 pickup camper to have in reserve for trips that have an offroad component.

I like to know the area I'm in and when camping somewhere usually look at other campsites and possible boondocking locations with the truck alone while the trailer is parked. I've identified several locations this way for future use.
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Old 02-20-2011, 03:41 PM   #13
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Originally Posted by mutcth View Post
We like our current combo because it fits in a 2-deep parking spot without overhanging at the ends. It can also be turned around in a fairly tight spot, important when the GPS sends you the wrong way...
Ours is the same, and the main reason why my husband has no interest in getting a bigger trailer. I admit it is very nice to know we can usually stop in any decent sized parking lot and fit into two spaces. If our trailer was any bigger, stopping to load up on groceries or for lunch stops while on the road could get a bit more complex.

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Old 02-20-2011, 04:16 PM   #14
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I pull a 25 footer. The way I deal with big cities is I just do not go into them with the intent of stopping. I worry about tight roads and am cautious. Sometimes not enough. I have had to back a ways and to turn in some spots I did not think I could. Have worried about the trailer sliding down a bank or tipping on a couple of occasions. For me the trailer does limit what I do. On our last caravan one trailer had to get a fellowcaravaner to cut a small tree so she could get out of a dead end that just had to go through to the beach. I heavy metro areas with the trailer hooked up I stop at Walmart a lot, Cracker barrel a lot, and in small towns that still have parking alongside the road. Would not unhook and leave it unless it was in a campsite. But I have seen them in Walmart unhooked fairly often.

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