The Good, The Bad & The Ugly

Every time someone asks us about our campers I almost always say how much I love them both and then immediately jump into what I would do differently combined with a lot about what I’m glad we got right.  Recently someone asked us for the long and short of it, such as things we love & hate about camper life, things that seem silly in a camper but are worth it, things that seem like a good idea but turn out not to be needed and what we’d do different with a new camper purchase.  The timing couldn’t have been better because I have been keeping lists galore and just recently finished organizing them.  I’ve added a new menu item titled “Lists” that you can find here and it encompasses a massive list of items that I made of things I bought or wanted over the last 3 years.  Then I made lists that tell you how much we use each of these items.  These can be great “starter” lists for you, but keep in mind you don’t need all these things and that’s even more true if you’re only going camping a handful of time each year.  But still feel free to start with this list and and change it to meet your needs.

Putting aside the “things” I want to get into the nitty gritty.  LOL  What we love about camper life in general is being outdoors, seeing new things and even seeing the same things over and over again.  If we’re doing it with loved ones or alone together we’re happy.  We’ve gained appreciation for all things just from experiencing/observing new things and we’ve found that documenting it all through video, photos and blogs makes every experience appreciate in value.  We had no idea all the things we were missing before we started documenting our antics.  Now when we review photos and videos we come across things we had totally forgotten about that only happened two weeks ago, but the fact is when you’re experiencing new things, especially a lot of things over the course of just a few days, you WILL forget about things that were awesome.

What we hate is easy – we’re not full timers and that means we still have a house, which we have no plans of giving up any time soon, and this means that our work is duplicated and with two campers it often feels triplicated.  LOL  We both actually work from home, but our work doesn’t allow for us to be moving around all over the place with our current work from home agreements.  This means we can’t really work from the little travel trailer and that is our end goal eventually.  Someday we’ll buy a little bit bigger camper and work and travel full time, but we haven’t figured out how to make this work yet.  We have to be hardlined to the internet and we have to be at our agreed upon address to conduct work so we currently have internet at our home and also in our camper at the lake so we’re able to work out of either one of those.  Aside from that hate is strong word and what I dislike about each camper is significantly different because of how they’re used.  My list of dislikes for the big camper at the lake life is longer because it’s like having another house.  There’s mowing and weedeating to do, along with just general upkeep of our deck and shed.  Plus you have neighbors that are close to you which creates a community and that’s great if that’s what you’re looking for.  We’ve been extremely lucky and our neighbor whose deck faces ours have become very good friends of ours.  But lake life would be rough if you didn’t like your neighbor since campers usually sit pretty close to one another and you can see and hear everything your neighbors do.  My list of dislikes for Turtle (our little travel trailer) ended with “I can’t live in it”.  HAHA

When looking for a camper for yourself I can’t stress enough that you should literally look at and walk through every camper you can.  Many camper lots in our area unlock them all at the start of the day so you can leisurely walk through each model at your own pace without sales people bugging you.  I strongly encourage you to touch everything.  Touch the walls.  Heck.  Push on them a little so you start to get a feel for what a camper is made out of.  And you’ll also start to notice that some walls flex more than others or seem more flimsy than others which will help you to determine quality in the long run.  Stand in the shower and sit on everything.  The chairs.  The couch.  The bed.  The toilet.  Yes! The toilet!  Everyone should sit on the toilet.  The space these things are mounted in are typically small and it’s important to know how this is going to feel when you’re camping.  Also lean over the sinks – is washing dishes going to be comfortable in the kitchen and is washing your face in the bathroom going to work or does your forward smack into the mirror?  When you’re looking for a camper you’re getting in and out of a comfy, air conditioned car and you’ve probably recently showered and put on makeup, etc.  In other words, you’re put together.  When you’re camping you tend to be outside more, hiking, swimming, sweating and for me if we’re not comfortable in the bathroom (in the shower or on the toilet or just being able to wash our face), then I become unhappy quickly.  For many people the bathroom isn’t of concern and they will use public facilities more than what’s in their camper, but for us the bathroom is important.  We even made sure to get ceramic/porcelain toilets instead of the plastic ones.  For one because they’re more comfortable but also just for the cleanliness factors.  You’re not supposed to use toilet brushes on them because it can scratch the surface.  Plastic is porous and I’ll let you’re imagination wander from there.  We haven’t had a single regret with non-plastic toilets.

We were lucky that we started with an old camper (1988 Prowler) that was stationary.  We got to learn about campers and what happens when things in campers get old without learning how to pull them at the same time.  This gave us an advantage when we finally bought one to pull because we’d already been staying in and maintaining campers for a couple years so we only had to learn the ins and outs of moving one.  We had our family stay with us in the Prowler and that helped us learn the importance of slides, comfortable bathrooms and comfortable furniture.  At first we thought who cares if the couch is comfy.  But, as it turns out, even though we don’t spend much time on it, it does wind up being important.  If you start removing things in your camper that aren’t functional for you, you will wind up with an empty box you’re pulling.  So make sure everything in it works for YOU.

I’ve had two regrets with the purchase of Turtle and probably things we’d rectify if we made a new purchase in the future.  One is an outdoor kitchen.  I thought it was dumb.  Why do I need two stove tops?  Why do I need two fridges?  It’s space that can be used for something else.  Turns out now we’re always packing a giant cooler because the fridge inside the camper isn’t big enough for all our food for a week AND drinks.  Also, I TOTALLY GET THE OUTDOOR BURNERS NOW – cooking over a propane flame inside the camper makes the camper very hot!  The other is storage space.  There are rigs out there that are as small as ours but have more undercarriage storage than what we have.  The bed of our truck winds up completely full which isn’t the worse thing but it would be nice to have all the camping stuff housed in the camper.

And my silliest complaint about both campers???  Décor.  I am a really creative person and most campers look the same décor-wise and I just don’t like that.  LOL  There’s even a term for it amongst the RVing community called “embrace the brown” because so much is neutral tans and browns.  HAHA  Drives Jeff crazy that I’m always talking about changing things, but I really like to make things my own.  He likes the way they look when they’re new.

I hope you all enjoy the lists I’ve put together.  I made small notes next to some items to try to explain why we use it or why we don’t.  And please, please, please let me know if you have items that are essential for you but aren’t on my list.  This doesn’t have to be MY list.  I want it to be a good starter list for everyone that can then be personalized.

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