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Old 06-15-2003, 05:03 PM   #1
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Question Some Advice Please

Hi Guys,

This is my first post on the site but I've lurked on and off for a few weeks learning all I can about the Airstream culture. I don't have an Aistream ... yet but need some advice as I can't decide which way to go.

My girlfriend wants a trailer but I'm leaning more towards a motorhome.

We live in Santa Monica, CA and currently paying through the nose for rent and thought that maybe a life on the road is the way to go.

Therefore, do we go and buy a trailer and truck to pull it or just get a motorhome and a compact car (for doing the local running around).

As this would be our home we'd have to buy a large trailer and that means something large to pull it. My own concerns of towing a trailer are fishtailing and that we need to park it somewhere. I'm originally from the UK and therefore don't know much about the US camping and caravan ground infrastructure. Is there a large list of sites somewhere and is it pretty easy to exist in these places just hopping from campground to campground.

I also thought that buying a motorhome and small car may be cheaper than a trailer and big truck.

I just wondered if anybody had any experience or advice they could share and help to guide me towards a decision.

Thanks.
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Old 06-15-2003, 07:42 PM   #2
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I think its pretty much your call and what you think may work for you. As far as a place to park your unit, they are in everyone of the 48 contiguous (did I spell that right?), ok the continental United States.I'm about to retire and I'm thinking the best way to go is with the trailer. I've got a decent van to do the towing with, and with a proper hitch setup, sway and "fishtailing" should be minimal. My logic is why worry about 2 drivetrains? If I have a decent tow vehicle and even if it breaks down, I should be able to get it repaired within a day or two. A motorhome could take a long while, especially if it is warranty work.

Why live in a drivetrain? If it'll be parked for any length of time, I should think the extra $$$ for the MH would be better spent in a nice tow vehicle. I know I've read a few comments on the strain that towing puts on the toad. Enough so that some either tow a trailer and load the toad with four on the floor or some even split up and drive both vehicles from one location to another.

But, its your choice in the end. My 2cents don't mean much because right now, I'm just a wannabee. You can tell I'm leaning toward the trailer and a good tow vehicle.

ya gotta love it...............
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Old 06-15-2003, 08:45 PM   #3
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There is a line of thought that says if you are moving around rather a lot, a motorhome is the way to go. If you tend to stay put in one area for weeks/months at a time then a trailer (fifth wheel or pull behind) is better. Obviously, there are untold numbers of people who violate this concept regularly.

Virtually all pull behind trailers such as, oh, Airstream for example, can be pulled by a standard pickup truck - half, 3/4, or one ton, depending upon the trailer. Or you can chose an appropriately rated van, or SUV, or even a car in some cases. Most fifth wheels take a 3/4 ton minimum, more commonly a one ton dually, and many require a medium duty (Freightliner) truck.

A pull behind trailer does require some careful selection and setup of the hitch, but there is no reason to be paranoid about keeping one under control. Motorhomes are also more of a problem to keep under control (large, heavy, long stopping distances, poor cornering) than many people like to believe, so you have control issues whatever you do. The best solution is to learn about whatever you end up with, and then drive as if my life depended upon it - which it does.

Where to stay? It is estimated that on any given winter night there are one million people camping on public lands in the southwest US. There are federal lands, state lands, and thousands upon thousands of private campgrounds with nighly, weekly, and monthly rental rates.

Mark
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Old 06-15-2003, 10:10 PM   #4
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I agree, it's pretty much a judgement call based on your lifestyle.

From the sounds of it, a motorhome might be your best bet, but again, your lifestyle, etc should dictate what is the best way to go.

Mark is right. There are literally hundreds if not thousands of places to camp year round. One thing to think about is that some places have max stay limits which mean that after let's say 14 days for example you have to go someplace else for a day before you can return. Not all places are like that, but a bunch of the state and federal places we've been have a max stay limit rule.

Eric
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Old 06-15-2003, 10:14 PM   #5
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Hello, Mark,

We're kinda new at this trailer thing, but here's my 2 cents...

I can't tell what kind of job you have that lets you (and your girlfriend) have so much freedom to move around, but I would think your job(s) would help to dictate how long at a stretch you'd be staying put. We just have a 19' Bambi A/S because there's just the two of us, and that's all we really need. Ours is recreational, so we don't have the considerations you have.

If you plan on a family, you will of course want to look into a larger trailer. A motorhome simply would not be practical, either space-wise or expense-wise. Motorhomes are extremely expensive. Most the motorhome folks I've talked to say they'd pick a trailer next time around because of the convenience of being able to unhitch and go. Also, as others have pointed out, if something goes wrong with your transmission, wheel assembly, engine, etc., you're pretty much screwed (excuse the expression) if you need repairs.

Our Bambi is only 19' long, and pulls like it isn't even there. But most A/S trailers are pretty easy to pull and handle, if you have the necessary vehicle, etc. I'd strongly suggest that you and your girlfriend rent or borrow a motorhome and then a large trailer for a week or two and see if you and she think you could get used to living on a daily basis in such small quarters. It all seems like fun now, but that's a huge investment to make without being really sure what you're getting into.

Good luck, whatever you decide!

Cherie
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Old 06-16-2003, 03:29 PM   #6
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Motorhome vs trailer

Truck and trailer = 8 spark plugs, 5 qts of oil, 1 set of filters, one transmission, one rear axle. Trailer running gear is cheaper to operate and maintain.

Motorhome and small car = 12 to 16 spark plugs, 10 to 13 qts of oil, 2 sets of filters, 2 transmissions. Just more things to break and maintain. Labor rate for a Motorhome is higher, or if you DIY it's just harder to work on them. Parts are more expensive too.


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Old 06-16-2003, 03:33 PM   #7
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Don't forget the insurance burdan is probably higher dependent upon the value of the vehicle. Most motor homes with mechanical problems suffer from lack of use. They fail far faster than trailers in low use situations.

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Old 06-16-2003, 08:22 PM   #8
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Thanks for all your informative replies.

I'm kind of retired, even though I'll have to come out of retirement in a few years time. I'm 33 at the moment, my girlfriend is 37 and I tend to do a lot of web design, which is the main consumer of my time and I hope will eventually develop into an income stream. In the meantime, I get to travel and enjoy spending the money I made as a freelance computer consultant.

Therefore, anywhere I can get online can be home and as long as I can keep my laptops charged there isn't a problem and I remain happy. My girlfriend does a mixture of small jobs but all based around the Santa Monica, CA area. Therefore, we may have to move from campground to campground to keep in the same area but I'm sure that's possible.

She already has a 20' Itasca Phasar motorhome but it's 17 years old and has more problems and quirks than working parts. She also has a small Neon that she uses to drive around the local area from the small apartment we live in.

Therefore, I'm just trying to work out what fits into our lifestyles and works together given what we have and where we want to be. The Phasar is too problematic to take any distance, which defeats the whole purpose of having it.

It sounds like having a trailer and truck is the way to go, although I'll have to see if I can find a SUV instead that can pull a 34' Airstream. I don't want to buy new but I believe the Toyota LandCruisers are deemed "acceptable" by my girlfriend so I'll check if they can pull these things.

Is there a list of campgrounds somewhere online? Or how would I go about getting a list for say, California?
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Old 06-16-2003, 08:31 PM   #9
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I read somewhere that there are about 49,500 campgrounds in the US. I know that within a 200 mile radius of my area, (Cleveland) there are more campgrounds than I can visit in a decade. A good place to start is KOA Campgrounds although some folks don't like KOA. Some other RV sites: rv.net , irv2.com , Escapees will get you started.
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Old 06-16-2003, 08:51 PM   #10
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I'm one of those KOA avoiders...it just seems so commerical like a Hoiday Inn or the likes.....

It's always good to look at a few and get a feel and draw your own conclusions, but I myself tend to prefer the state and/or national parks.

Eric
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Old 06-16-2003, 09:16 PM   #11
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Quote:
Originally posted by Silvertwinkie
It's always good to look at a few and get a feel and draw your own conclusions, but I myself tend to prefer the state and/or national parks.
Apologies for sounding like a complete moron, feel free to blame my 33 years spent in the UK though, but how do I find a state or national park?

Are they marked on maps? Do you have state tourist information centres that give this sort of information out?
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Old 06-16-2003, 09:24 PM   #12
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Paulus, go up Topanga about 3.5-4 miles from PCH and there is a cozy little trailer park..on a little street called Ozark way, maybe they have empty space.. seems to be long term
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Old 06-16-2003, 09:25 PM   #13
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You are not at all a moron, just asking the right questions.....I'll bet I can ask dumber questions than you can. I'm Polish.

Here on the East Coast you can stop at a visitors center or Tourist info center and pick up a map for free. It will list the state parks. Connecticut has no national parks. We also have a Campground guide book, available free of charge at a lot of convience stores, and at alsmost every RV Sales center. Other books available would be Woodalls, again available at an RV store.

The West Coast is probably different. What am I saying? Of course its different. Have a ball with it.
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Old 06-16-2003, 09:27 PM   #14
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Quote:
Originally posted by Pick
I read somewhere that there are about 49,500 campgrounds in the US. I know that within a 200 mile radius of my area, (Cleveland) there are more campgrounds than I can visit in a decade. A good place to start is KOA Campgrounds although some folks don't like KOA. Some other RV sites: rv.net , irv2.com , Escapees will get you started.
Thanks for the sites, I've had a quick look and it looks like a few more hours will be surfed away researching this solution.

I just discovered that Toyota SUVs can't pull 10,000lb Airstream trailers so it looks like I'm into the truck category - yuk! They're not as easy to scoot around town and they've got all that extra payload space that I don't think I'd use. Maybe I can find a stronger SUV out there. *carries on looking*
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