No trip today… we’re just going over some websites trying to choose a campsite for next weekend… Columbus Day weekend. That’s a trip that will likely be the last before we put the trailer up for the winter. (It was…. Bit)

I have an answer to some email I got since I put this page up, and thought I’d post the answer publicly. The author of the letter was concerned about the costs of fuel, and wondered if I’d not be better off with a smaller car and taking a hotel instead of towing around a heavy camper, with what amounts to a heavy truck.

The answer is, no. First of all, I won’t drive the tinfoil boxes they’re passing off as ‘fuel efficient’, these days. They’re simply not safe, in my opinion. I’ve seen too many freinds die in them, thank you.

Beyond that admittedly caustic point, I’m sure there are many who think the purchase of a trailer of this size… (Indeed, the vehicle required to haul such a trailer)… when gas is running at just under $3.00 a gallon, to be something of a financial extravagance. Well, with all respect, I disagree. The fact is that the trailer is still by far, the cheapest way to travel, particularly with kids, as opposed to doing the Hotel and Restaurant thing.

Think about it;

I have at my disposal with this rig, a complete galley in which I can create any kind of meal you like, and in which I have a refrigerator that will carry food from home. A gas stove, microwave, etc. This is far more important to the bottom line than one might think… in this way;

We have in our family, four people. Myself, my wife, and the two boys. These four people eat between $30.00 and $50.00 worth of food each time they sit down, depending on the eatery we stop at. Or, if you’d like to stop McDonald’s three meals a day, we might be able to get that cost down a bit to $25.00 total per meal. (Sarcasm=Level 3) And of course, the benefits of road food are well known. (/sarcasm)

In the trailer on the other hand, we bring all our food from home. What we eat while on the road is exactly the same thing we would have been eating had we stayed home. Therefore, it doesn’t cost anything extra, food wise, to travel. This amounts to in truth about $50 to $100 worth of savings per day while on the road. This savings alone offsets the added cost in fuel that the truck and trailer might consume over a day’s travel.  The savings are even higher if you’re going to stay in an area for a day or three.

Trailing also saves money when stopping for the night. Consider the amount of money involved in most hotels. A reasonable minimum would be $70.00 to $80.00 per night a family of four. The highest price I’ve ever played on a per night bases to park my trailer is $40.00 and that was during the festival, and included full hookups. $20.00 per night through $38.00 a night for the higher price spreads like KOA for example, are pretty much the norm. The State Parks are cheaper, and so are the usual stops, if we can help it.

When you get to where you’re going at the end of the day’s travels, your living quarters are right there with him along with all your close and personal items.

Of course there are some advantages too, depending on the kind of trailer you’ve got. With our trailer we can stop just about anywhere whgen we’re on the road… a parking lot, even… and cook a meal for lunch. Can’t do that with a popup.

But regardless of the current a camper that you have, there is one advantage that any trailer can provide that no hotel motel or what have you can provide; the outdoors. There is nothing on the face of this planet that can match the outdoors for getting people to sleep at night and get them up in the morning. Nothing like the feeling you get out among the stars at night. The freshness of the early morning air being filled with the sounds of birds, or of the ocean waves, as you wake up.

Yes, there is the added investment in a tow vehicle; not every vehicle is able to tow a camper… particularly one of the size we have… and there is the added investment in the trailer itself. Usually this ends up being a moderate cost approximately the cost of a new vehicle. Whwn our Kiwi was new, It ran for around $20,000.00. Thing is, that cost was split over ten to twenty years. You can do that and thereby come up with lower monthly payments because it’s a dwelling. In our case the monthlies are around $120.00 a month for the trailer. That’s a figure you can easily blow out of the water with one night stay in a hotel.

There’s one additional advantage to having a camping trailer that many people will overlook. It’s cheap insurance. In this way;

The recent storms Rita and Katrina show us a serious advantage in having mobile emergency shelter. The best defense I can think of for family against catastrophic events is the ability to “drop hitch”, and go. With our trailer and truck, combo, a tank of fuel will put us about 400 miles from home within seven hours. Now granted, we are in western New York, and the chances of us coming up with a hurricane here are nigh on nil. Then again, fire, flood, and a nuclear power plant screwup are not out of the question. Regardless of the problem, I can get my family out of the way. And because I’m carrying my own food my family’s good on that for about a week or so.

You begin to understand, I think, why I consider a travel trailer to be something less of an extravagance than some people might.