Camping, Travel

How Are You Going to Use it? Buying a Trailer Series Part 1

Hello and welcome back! If you missed last week’s post introducing this new series where I’m going to look at some of the things I think you should consider if you’re looking to purchase a trailer, you can check it out here. This week I want you to consider why you are buying a trailer and how you are going to use it. And I’m looking for more than “because I want one” or “to camp…” How you answer this question will greatly impact the type of trailer you decide to get, and many of the things we’re going to discuss in the next few weeks hinge on the answers you give to this question.

Question 1: What do you like and dislike about your current setup?

Woman enjoying a cup of coffee camping
Image by Free-Photos from Pixabay

How you begin to answer this question will depend on whether or not you are currently a camper. Before you start looking into trailer options, I suggest that you think about the way you currently camp. If you haven’t camped for awhile then consider the way you have camped in the past. If you are not currently a camper, then I want you to think about why you would like to start camping, and why you want to start with trailer camping specifically.

If you are currently a camper, then I want you to think about and list the things that you love about your current setup and the way that you currently camp. Even if you want to change how you camp, you still want to pick out a trailer that fits your camping style. For example, if you love everything about tenting but are tired of sleeping in a tent, you may find that a 20’ luxury camper would be too drastic a change and would take all the joy out of camping. Your equipment shouldn’t take away from what you love about camping.

Once you have completed this list, think about all the things you don’t like about camping or your current setup. Is your current set up too big or too small for your needs or wants? Do you really wish that you didn’t need to walk to the washroom first thing every morning? Do you despise cooking in the rain? Write everything down.

In this stage you’re not considering features that you want in depth, that will come later. You just want to identify your likes and dislikes to give you a baseline for the type and size of trailer that you will be looking for. You don’t want your new trailer to ruin camping for you, but you also want to try and eliminate some of the things you don’t like about your current setup.

If you aren’t a camper, I still want you to go through this likes/dislikes exercise. I want you to consider what you think you will like and dislike about trailer camping. What are the things you look forward to and dream about when you picture yourself with your new trailer? What are the things that have kept you from camping up to this point?

There are many objections to camping that you can overcome by picking the right trailer. But there are many that you won’t be able to overcome. So pay attention to any of the “big things” that appear on this list. I don’t want to turn you away from camping, but I also don’t want you to buy a trailer on a whim and then regret it.

I don’t want to discourage you from taking up trailer camping, or suggest that you shouldn’t purchase a trailer. But I do want to make sure that you’ve thought it through. Trailer camping isn’t for everyone and it may be a good idea to dip your toes in the water of camping prior to making such a big purchase. Many parks have roofed accommodation options that fall somewhere between a tent or trailer and cabins, have you considered staying in one of these? Depending on where you go these accommodations provide more or less equipment, but there are options available to rent the necessary equipment so that you don’t need to purchase everything right away.

oTentik Picture
An oTentik at Thousand Islands National Park

These options aren’t going to give you the same experience as trailer camping, but I think they can help you get an idea of whether or not you will enjoy camping. Another option to consider would be renting a trailer for one or two trips, though I don’t know much about the logistics of this option.

Question 2: What is your time line?

This may seem like an odd consideration, but I have learned that it is a valuable one. Are you looking to purchase your new trailer immediately, or do you have some wiggle room? What would happen if you were told that you needed to wait 6 months? What about 1 year or 2 years? Would that turn you off the trailer completely?

You might be tempted to skip this question – because of course, you want the trailer as soon as possible. But I encourage you to take the time to think past that. I spent years thinking about and researching trailers to figure out what I wanted. I know that many people aren’t going to do this, but it’s important to note that I could take my time because I didn’t need the trailer right away.

We had a couple trips planned that we didn’t need a trailer for, so we could take things slow to get an idea of what we wanted. We also still owned our old trailer for most of that time so it was there if we needed it. Once we made the final decision to switch to a new trailer, we sold the old one in the spring, and then had picked out our new trailer by September of that same year.

And then we were told that there was a 2 year wait list for the trailer we wanted. Most trailers don’t have this length of wait list, but our trailer is being custom built at a small, family owned company and they can only produce so many trailers a year. We could have changed our minds and decided to look for something else similar, but we knew what we wanted, and we knew our time line. And because of that we were able to go ahead with it.

You may still think that this doesn’t apply to you because you aren’t looking to buy a custom trailer. But don’t brush it off. There are many smaller trailer companies that may also have waiting periods. Not to mention that many companies saw a surge in interest this year and sold through more inventory than in a typical year. In addition to high demand, there were closures that led to lumber and parts shortages. And these are sure to cause production schedule delays. If you find the perfect trailer but the supply is low and you need to wait for it, is that something you are willing to do? It’s okay if your answer is no, but you should know going in.

You should also know your time line if you are looking to buy used. The used trailer hunt can be short and sweet, or it can be tedious, time consuming and lengthy. There are often a lot of people selling trailers but they won’t necessarily meet your needs or you’ll find that the perfect ones seem to be scooped up before they even come across your screen. Even trailer companies that sell used trailers can only sell you what’s on the lot, and if none of those trailers match your needs, then you’ll need to keep looking, or change what you’re looking for.

Question 3: How do you plan to use it?

Image by Mike Goad from Pixabay

Yes, I know. You’re planning on using it for camping. What I mean is, in general, are you looking to park it our travel with it? Many trailers can be parked or traveled with, but there are some better suited to each type of use. This question will come up again next week when we talk about size, but it is useful to consider in this step as well. It also may not be something you have considered before this point.

There are many people who buy trailers to park and leave in one place. For people who can’t afford or don’t want the additional expenses and responsibilities of a cottage, a trailer in a nice park can be a great alternative. If this is how you intend to use your trailer, you might want to consider something a bit bigger and you also won’t need to be as concerned about the trailer weight. I’m not saying that you need to go crazy or that you can’t park a small trailer. But if you’re going to spend a lot of time at the trailer you may want a bit more space or a few more creature comforts. If this is your plan, it is also worth considering trailers that are already located at your chosen park.

On the other hand, it is easier to travel with a smaller trailer. It is possible to travel with a giant trailer, and I am sure you have seen any number of them traveling down the highway. But the bigger the trailer the more unwieldy it will become to drive and park. Not to mention you’ll use more gas, need a bigger vehicle, and put more wear and tear on that vehicle the bigger you go. I’m not saying that you need to buy one of those little tear drop trailers if you plan on taking road trips. But I am saying that you should take some time to think about what size of trailer will best meet your specific needs. Because, as we’re going to see next week, bigger doesn’t necessarily mean better.

I hope that you have found these considerations helpful. There are so many different styles and sizes of trailers available in the market that it can be overwhelming if you don’t have some idea of what you are looking for and what you need. The more you can know about your wants and needs going into the search, the better prepared you will be to quickly eliminate the ones that don’t meet those needs. Do you know your camping style? Let me know one thing that you can’t live without from your current setup in the comments below!

Until Next Time,

Meaghan Signature

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