If you hate camping, but feel guilty about not camping, you’re not alone. A travel trailer could be the answer to your summer camping woes—especially if you want to sleep in a reasonable facsimile of a bed, escape the rain, and not make midnight journeys to the scariest public toilets in the world. But there are things to consider...
1) YOU NEED A VEHICLE THAT CAN PULL IT. If you have an SUV or truck, check your owner’s manual to see how much weight your rear axle can bear. The trailer will have a small attached plate that says how much it weighs. If it’s too heavy, find something lighter—like a pop-up trailer! Those are great, too.
2) VINTAGE TRAILERS ARE GREAT, BUT THEY’RE OLD. When checking out that cute retro Airstream or Shasta, look for water damage, floor/wall rot, or leak marks on the ceiling. While fridges and stoves can be swapped out fairly easily, they’re still expensive, so make sure they work. Also check for rusted or cracked frames, frayed electrical wires, and that the brake/running lights and propane systems are all in good working order.
3) INVEST IN TRAILER BRAKES. They are awesome for protecting the transmission of your vehicle (which tends to overheat when pulling a trailer), and safely stopping the two-ton hunk of metal that’s right behind your rear window and going as fast as you.
4) MAKE SURE YOU HAVE A PLACE TO PARK IT. You won’t be using it for 90 percent of the year, so if you’re parking it on the street, you might want to clear it with your neighbors first.
5) RESEARCH! Just like buying a used car, don’t purchase the first one you see. Check out a few to figure out what you like, and then research them to spot potential problems. Buyer checklists can be found online, and will help you purchase the perfect trailer with confidence (so you can finally... FINALLY... throw away those tents)!