Buying a travel trailer can be a confusing task. There’s a lot to learn about RVing and travel trailers and finding the right one. There are many important concepts that you need to know about before buying a travel trailer, the most important of which is that the price of a travel trailer varies. The cost of travel trailers differ depending on many factors including the type, condition, size, and extra features. Also, you have to know about the hitch and tow capacity of your vehicle before buying a travel trailer.
When purchasing a travel trailer, it is essential to know that it may have to be insured and taxes have to be paid on it. There are several other things that you also need to keep in mind. They include:
- Weight of a travel trailer
- Trip expenses
- Parking your trailer
- When to buy a travel trailer
- Conducting a walkthrough of your travel trailer
- Maintenance costs
- Safe towing
- Safeguarding your travel trailer from theft
- Buying a vintage travel trailer
- Powering your RV
- Setting up your RV
- Using your RV's water system
At this point, you are probably thinking that there are too many things to consider before buying a travel trailer. Relax! Take a deep calming breath. I have done all of the hard work for you. Essentially, everything you need to know about buying a travel trailer is contained in the list below. Keep reading to see what we mean. Ticking off Your Travel Trailer Checklist. Before buying a travel trailer, there are several concepts that you need to get familiar with. They include:
Factors that affect the price of a travel trailer
Typically, a new travel trailer can cost between $8,000 and $50,000 depending on several factors. The price of your travel trailer can go up depending on its size, layout, weight, material and most importantly, the amenities present in it. At the very least, a travel trailer contains a bed, a designated area for food preparation, a table which sometimes converts to a bed and a storage area. Travel trailers with these amenities are often cheaper.
However, more expensive models come outfitted with a galley kitchenette, a small toilet stall, a bathroom, and a master bedroom. Sometimes, they may even come with a full kitchen and a living room. All of these extra features account for an increase in size and a corresponding increase in price.
How to know the towing capacity of your vehicle
Travel trailers are not driven. Instead, they are towed around by a vehicle. Therefore, before you buy a travel trailer, it is essential to know the exact towing capacity of your tow vehicle. You can do this by consulting your vehicle owner's manual. If you no longer have access to your owner's manual, you can download copies from the manufacturer's website. It wouldn't do for you to buy a travel trailer that your vehicle can't tow without exceeding weight specifications.
How to know the weight of your travel trailer
Most of the time, auto dealers will give you the empty weight of your travel trailer. However, this is not a fair assessment of the weight of your trailer, after all, you won't be towing it around while it is empty.
Typically, your RV hitch and couple adds to the weight of your travel trailer. You also have to calculate the weight of water that you will be carrying about using the standard 8-pounds per gallon metric. Don't forget to add a couple of hundred pounds for food items as well as your fridge. Another 100-250 pounds should also be factored in for clothes and beddings. Finally, take into account the weight of folding chairs, tools, hoses, tables, generators and other miscellaneous items that you will have crammed into your storage compartments.
This is the only way to make a correct, accurate assessment of the estimated weight of your trailer and compare it to your vehicle's tow capacity.
How to know if your travel trailer needs insurance
Most states do not require you to have insurance for your travel trailers. This is a fact that you will have to confirm by yourself with a little research. However, if you buy your travel trailer via a loan, the lending institution may require you to take out full coverage insurance on your vehicle.
Additionally, if your travel trailer is bought for use during weekend trips and vacations, then it is advisable for you to get additional liability coverage on it. This is recommended especially if you own a new travel trailer. That way, there is zero chance of you losing your investment.
What are the expenses I might incur during a trip?
Your travel trailer will not be parked all the time. You are buying it to go on trips, and these trips cost money. There are some expenses that you are going to incur while vacationing with a travel trailer.
Apart from the obvious food, clothing and entertainment expenses, the main expenses include gas for your tow vehicle, campground fees, and gas for your generators. Gasoline and other fuel costs are cheaper in different parts of the country. Therefore you should try as much as possible to travel through areas that sell fuel at cheaper rates. Additionally, campground fees range from free to as much as $200 per night. It would be a bonus for you to check out park rates ahead of time and plan accordingly.
The cost of parking and storing your travel trailer
Unless your property is legally zoned to park RVs and is presumably spacious enough for a travel trailer, you have to find a safe space to park your travel trailer while it is not in use. You can't just park your vehicle anywhere as you have to consider the safety and maintenance of your vehicle. This means that you will have to pay for secure and long term parking.
Depending on the location, some RV parks may charge as much as $300 every month. Even if you have the money, it may be cumbersome for you to find a park due to strict zoning regulations. However, make sure that you find a suitable establishment to park your vehicle. Also, consider the fact that you will be paying for a parking space whether your travel trailer is parked there or not
Travel trailers depreciate faster when you park them in direct sunlight. Therefore, buy a cover to protect your trailer when it is not in use is a good idea, or even get covered parking.
When is the right time to buy a travel trailer?
Like other vehicles, travel trailers also have peak and low seasons. This ultimately affects how expensive they will be. To get the best deals, I would advise you to buy travel trailers at the beginning of the camping season. The demand for travel trailers would be low leading to a corresponding decline in price.
Also, this is the period when new models start getting on the market. If you buy around this time, you will be able to get a good deal on models for previous years.
Things to look out for during a walk through of a travel trailer
Before buying a travel trailer, walking through a trailer whether used or new is a great way to assess its condition. During a walkthrough, you should check for the comfort and state of the seats in the trailer. Try out the recliners to determine how comfortable they are. Don't forget to check out whether the space for beds are to your liking. Also, check for rusty metal, water damage as well as rot. You don't want to be stuck with a vehicle with fast depreciating parts. The best option is to use a checklist to make sure you have checked the entire trailer before you pull out the checkbook.
Factor in the cost of maintaining a travel trailer
Before buying a travel trailer, it is crucial for you to get to grips with the cost of maintaining one. Maintaining a travel trailer can be a costly expenditure if you want it done right. At the very least, you will need to set aside $2,000 - $3,000 for general maintenance and repairs annually.
Inspection of windows, moldings, doors, as well as hatches, need to be done seasonally. Other maintenance costs that need to be taken care of include brakes, bushings, gas lines as well as general wear and tear maintenance.
Buy a vintage travel trailer and save
Consider a vintage travel trailer. A well cared for and maintained trailer can have many years left in the life of the trailer. Once the full depreciation of the trailer has set in, the trailer continues to decrease in value unless it has been renovated. In which case there can be an appreciation of the trailer.
Also, if you don't plan to go camping over long distances, vintage travel trailers are perfect for short distance camping. They also come outfitted with appliances such as a stove, that you may otherwise have to buy if you opt for a new rig.
Tips on safely towing your travel trailer
Towing your travel trailer can be a dangerous proposition if mishandled. However, there are a few tips that can make your towing experience ten times safer. They include:
- Pack as light as possible
- Always drive nice and easy
- Avoid speeding
- Never slam on the brakes
- Use your trainer's electronic brakes if you have to brake suddenly
Keeping your travel trailer safe from theft
Trailers are an attractive prospect for thieves and other vagabonds. Therefore it is your responsibility to secure your vehicle from theft. Start by turning your trailer around and putting the hitch away from regular access. This will deter thieves as they would need to turn it before stealing it. You can do this with a regular jockey wheel.
Also, lock your doors and windows with locks that go around the kingpin. You can opt to go with a security padlock or a cylinder lock. Some of these locking mechanisms also come with locks that can't be duplicated, so you should look into that. As much as possible, always try to camp around other people. The safety in numbers automatically means that there will always be someone around your trailer.
Setting up your travel trailer when camping
When camping, always pack your travel trailer on a flat expanse of space. If you park on an incline, you risk damaging your fridge and offsetting your balance while walking in it. Additionally, unhook your vehicle before setting up. If you do this, your stabilizers will be easier to set up while your tow vehicle will be free for other expeditions.
Stabilizers keep your travel trailer from bouncing around when someone is moving in it. Make sure that you put them up no matter how flat the parking surface looks. Doing all of this will ensure that you have a safe, enjoyable camping expedition.
Using your travel trailer's water system
Most trailers come with three different tanks for your liquids usage: the fresh water tank, the black tank, and the grey water tank. The freshwater tank stores the water that you fill up your tank with before leaving your home. The grey tank stores water from the shower and kitchen area while the black water tank is for toilet deposits. Trailers come with different water capacity tanks.
To save water, I recommend that you buy packs of bottled water before you go on trips. That way, you can save the water you would normally drink from your fresh water tank. Additionally, hand sanitizers will also help you cut down on water usage. By using hand sanitizers, you only need water for showers and cooking. Before going on a trip, know the water capacity of your travel trailer and plan for it accordingly.
Powering your RV
The power in your travel trailer works a little differently. Most of the time, the battery in your travel trailer is good for the lights, heater fans, a television, ceiling vents, and powered jacks. Other extra devices such as a microwave, electric oven and an air conditioner will have to be powered by a generator.
Of course, this all depends on the strength of your battery. More expensive travel trailers may offer you batteries with more capacity. However, it is cost effective to buy a generator as you will also need it to charge your trailer's battery.
When buying a generator, try to buy one that is rated to power an air conditioner together with other appliances. Also, a quiet generator will make your camping trip more comfortable.
Time to Hit The Road With Your Travel Trailer
Camping is one of the simple pleasures of life. There is no doubt that with a travel trailer, your camping experience can be as comfortable and exciting as possible. You can easily camp with your friends and other loved ones. Take note of all the tips listed above, and you will have an enjoyable trip.
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