The Making And Life Of A World Traveler: Well Almost–Chapter Fifteen–Trailer Travel

Travel trailers for the most part require a fairly substantial vehicle to pull them. There are smaller trailers designed to be pulled by smaller cars, however, you will pay a premium price for these niche trailers. If you have the vehicle to pull it, a full-sized trailer is a much better bargain. You are now at the point where you are no longer staying at a motel any longer. You may be at the point where you are also eating most of your meals in your trailer. Though you may still eat your lunch at a restaurant to save time for travel. You also are limited to where you can park when you are sightseeing and you now have to either stay at a campsite or a truck stop when you are traveling. Since you need a larger and more powerful vehicle to pull your large trailer, you will be spending more money on gas.

To prepare for the trip you not only have to make sure your towing vehicle is ready you now have to make sure your trailer is also road worthy. That includes two to four tires plus another spare tire. The trailer has an air conditioner and a generator which you have to maintain, plus a gas/electric refrigerator which is quite expensive to repair if it breaks down. Like in your van, if you have a bathroom and holding tanks you need to empty them after each trip. Travel has become much more complicated and expensive, and thusly you are less likely to just take off on a spur of the moment road trip. Planning times have increased. Since the trailer is bigger you may not have room to store it at your domicile and thus may require a rental place to store it. You are getting to the point where you really must like taking road trips. Because you have so much money tied up, your are now less likely to partake in international travel.

One positive is that when you are on a road trip, you can leave the trailer at the campsite and now you can go exploring. This way you can leave everything all set up which works out well for a multi-day stop. If you are just staying at a campsite overnight, you don’t have to disconnect the trailer from your car/truck, all you have to do is lower the hand crank so it is level for your refrigerator.

I would like to include a little story about my brother’s experiences with trailer travel and also traveling with a pet. I hope you will find it illuminating.

You have to give my brother credit he had this trip all planned out. He had a travel trailer with every amenity known to man. His SUV had plenty of power to do the job but that is not the only thing that a vehicle needs to have to do this type of job. My brother had an old Chevy Blazer that weighed over 5,000 lbs. The problem arose in that it had virtually no wheel base and this provided for an incredibly bumpy ride, one that even broke the hitch. The only thing that saved the trailer were the trailer chains. They were quite lucky also in the location that it broke because there was a trailer and hitch repair shop not too far away. After a few hours, they were able to get their hitch welded and straightened out. The rest of the first day went without a hitch…haha as did a few more days as well. Unfortunately, the good luck did not continue. After stopping for lunch on the side of the road and as luck would have it, they forgot to lock the trailer door. As they were gaining speed they hit a pothole in the road, no “biggy”, right? Well, thanks to dumb luck, if not for it, it could have been even worse. They had to quickly make a right hand turn after they hit the pothole, and it just so happened that Ann Marie looked out of her side window and saw a big dog running across the field. Ricky shouts, “That’s our dog.” So immediately Ronnie pulls off the road and the two boys go running after the dog. They finally catch him after crossing two county lines and bring him back to the trailer where they make sure to lock the trailer door this time.

They continued on their trip for a few more weeks but the thrill has long since faded with each bounce of the truck. So after a consensus was reached, they shortened the trip and returned home before they had reached their planned upon destination. When Ronnie got home he promptly put his trailer up for sale.

Another thing you have to develop is a skill in backing up a rather long trailer. Because you can’t always find campsites that have pull through sites, you have to be able to back your trailer up. You also have to make sure you know how to make wide turns. I don’t know how many tires I blew out and rims I bent by hitting curbs with my pontoon boat. Pulling a large trailer or boat certainly has a learning curve. Another thing of note is that you need oversized mirrors on your towing vehicle so that you can see to back up and to change lanes. I was lucky my pickup truck had mirrors that extended out further. If your vehicle doesn’t have them, you have to buy them which means you have to do a little work and strap them onto your vehicle. In some states, these mirrors are required by law. So it is better to be safe than sorry, just get them. They really don’t cost that much money.

Some of the biggest issues with a trailer is those of making sharp turns and backing up. When you turn like I stated previously, you can clip the curb or hit other items even parked vehicles. Always make broad sweeping turns, of course, look both ways before doing this maneuver. When you are backing up everything is reversed. While I have a back up camera in my van, I still find it easier to turn around and look behind me when I back up. I am not sure why this is but it just seems to be this way. It really doesn’t matter which way you do it, as long as it works for you. Be careful with the angle of the turns you make in backing up your trailer. You can jack-knife your trailer which can actually break your hitch and snap the ball right off as well. You can also damage not only your vehicle but the trailer as well. So it pays to have a person outside helping you back up.

While I have included this story a few times in my books, I want to just take a couple of sentences from it because it is certainly germane to my conversation on backing up…. now we had a problem how to turn around. It seemed like there were sheer cliffs on 3 of the 4 sides. So I had my wife get out of the Trooper so she could direct me and keep our vehicle from falling into a chasm. Well, I was backing up and the next thing my ear drums were shattered by this bloodcurdling scream. One tire was off the cliff and half the other tire was also off the cliff. If the other tire had completely slipped off, the weight of the trailer would have pulled my truck over into the abyss.

I am sure you know why I found the need to repeat this again, take heed to my exhortations and get help when backing up.