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Sep 25, 2021 - 7:01:59 AM
3937 posts since 9/9/2010

Do you enjoy camping with an RV? We used to tent camp but have started staying at hotels. I miss staying at the festivals, but my husband has had enough of a tent. He wants an RV.

My research has shown that travel trailers of any brand are a nightmare filled with problems. What has your experience been?

I'm looking for something that can be towed with a Tesla Model Y (tow capacity 3500 lbs, tongue weight 350 lbs). We went to the Hershey RV show and the closest camper was this:
2780 lbs dry, 300 lbs hitch (guess we won't take propane tanks)

Have you felt an RV was worth it? I'm not looking to spend 70k on a pickup truck, so our towing vehicle is limited until Tesla sends over a Cybertruck (if and when that happens :)

Hope everyone has been well and staying safe!

Sep 25, 2021 - 7:25:28 AM
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2786 posts since 2/10/2013

I prefer RV's with aluminum frames. There are now lightweight RV's with "pull outs". That features provides more space. If a person looks around, they can find excellent deals on used RVs. Some people purchase them, don't like using them, and sell them a lower prices.
Having an RV at a festival provides comfort and conveniences. When purchasing an RV, it can be wise to look underneath for water damage. With one exception, all the RV's I purchased were not new and I never had a problem. If I were to purchase another RV, I would make sure I purchased a quality brand RV. The quality of the RV is very important.
Less chance of water leakage problems and electrical problems. I easily towed my last RV, a modest size RV, with a 6 cylinder Mazda van.

I live on the the gulf coast. Hurricane Ivan made my home unlivable for a while. My wife and I lived in our modest sized RV while our home was repaired. In fact, friends asked to use our shower.

Sep 25, 2021 - 7:28:45 AM
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9533 posts since 6/5/2011

We like our vintage [ha! ha!] SurfSide.*   [My wife will like it better if/when I make more of the cosmetic deficiencies less deficient.]  Dry weight guesses (?) I've found online range from 1000-1350 lbs. ... so I just "assume" a towing weight of 2000.  Our Trailblazer with 4 l.  in-line 6 [rated tow capacity of 5000 lbs.] handles it okay. I think that generally rated tow capacities  are 'way too generous for "comfortable" towing.   Whatever the actual weight, I estimate the gas mileage is reduced by 20-25%.

* = "vintage" combined with the "cute" factor.... Man, I tell ya, we're living the dream!!  wink We'll be giving it another short workout this weekend.... we've got a bit of unseasonably warm weather forecast.... opportunity too compensate somewhat for the summer, when oftentimes it seemed either too hot or the campgrounds were too crowded.

Have I felt an RV was worth it?   In a word, "No!" .... but apparently a l-o-t of people disagree with me.

Edit: Ooops...gotta back up a bit [pun intended].  Saw one similar to this one at a campground this summer. 

IUsed RVs 1976 FMC Motor Home for Sale For Sale by Ownernd found

I inquired and was told that it's over-all height being 2.5-3 feet less than those that one typically sees was due to it's "pusher" configuration.  So.... IF I was younger, and doing it over again, I might give one like it some consideration.... although I expect the nuisance factor in towing a small car would likely ixnay the idea.

Edited by - Owen on 09/25/2021 07:38:28

Sep 25, 2021 - 7:32:05 AM
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3937 posts since 9/9/2010

Thanks. We're not looking for anything extravagant. Used would be fine. I like the look of the fiberglass, but have heard that aluminum are easier to repair. The ones we saw that were lightweight were in the 20k-25k range new. A used RV is almost as much as a new one from what I have seen on RVtrader. Covid has also increased prices. We saw much better prices in '19 at Hershey. I have pictures from tags from back then. We have been throwing the idea around for a few years. That's great that you had the RV to stay in. Hope your home came out okay in the end.

Sep 25, 2021 - 7:33:02 AM
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1453 posts since 5/27/2006

My experience is going to be totally different than yours, we have a 1968 15' Kit camping trailer, I have no idea of what the tongue weight is, (although it's fairly heavy), but I also already had a fully paid for 1/2 ton pickup. I cannot go back to tent camping any more. I don't have to worry about forgetting some thing, as it's already in the camper. (cooking gear, wet weather gear, chairs, ect.). All I have to pack is food and my banjo. New camper prices are unreal, so we intend to keep our camper and keep fixing it as needed.

Sep 25, 2021 - 7:36:26 AM

3937 posts since 9/9/2010

That's a light weight RV, Owen! I've seen some super light weight RV. The smallest I'm okay with is the 20ft I posted a link to. My husband is okay with a pop up. I would prefer a tent at that point. We saw these A frame ones that were tiny. One had a bathroom in the middle of the camper, right in the open. Umm, no.


What is a surfside? I looked it up and am only seeing huge campers.


Wait, it's an Class A? (From the picture)

Edited by - JMalmsteen on 09/25/2021 07:44:59

Sep 25, 2021 - 7:41:07 AM

3937 posts since 9/9/2010

John, we don't have a truck. Your setup seems perfect.  I can't believe the trailer has lasted this long. Nice!

I have a Model Y Tesla and a Cybertruck on order. I can't see buying a pickup truck we would use for three weeks a year. The Tesla I would use on a day to day basis. Having a Prius since 2007 has made me too used to 50+ mpg gas mileage. With our Prius Prime, I can get 70 mpg in traffic on my commute home from work (2.5 hrs to go 60 miles, ah, NY). The Tesla gets about the same "gas mileage" as the Prius.  I was considering a Porsche Macan or Cayenne but gas mileage is low and repairs are high and frequent.  Tow capacity would be closer to 7500 lbs though.  Driving something that got 15 mpg would make me crazy. 

Edited by - JMalmsteen on 09/25/2021 07:43:17

Sep 25, 2021 - 7:48:26 AM
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9533 posts since 6/5/2011

Here ya go.... even the same color scheme as ours. 

1979 14ft Triple E Surfside. | Vintage trailers, Tiny trailers, Camping  trailer

We have the 14 footer, but that includes the hitch.   The little roof bump-up allows me [6'1"] to stand upright.... something that's not there with some other makes. The bathroom (?) is a port-a-potty, so ......... ???   Lots of pics by googling "surfside travel trailer" > images.   

Good luck in your search and camping/RVing/??? escapades.

Edited by - Owen on 09/25/2021 07:50:58

Sep 25, 2021 - 7:50:09 AM

3937 posts since 9/9/2010

Edited by - JMalmsteen on 09/25/2021 07:51:41

Sep 25, 2021 - 8:14:36 AM
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banjo bill-e


11563 posts since 2/22/2007

If you just want a real bed and no tent setup hassles check out the teardrop style. That will get you a weatherproof bed and a camp kitchen, perhaps a porta-potty. Pack Tesla with an easy-up shelter or screen room, lawn chairs, and call it good. Easy to tow, no set up.

Sep 25, 2021 - 9:00:55 AM
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Texasbanjo (Moderator)


26388 posts since 8/3/2003

Dave and I started camping 50 some odd years ago in one of those pop up tents. Easy to pull, but you had to set it up and put it down which was a pain at times. It had a portapotty, a sink, and a very small fridge. No a/c, no heating. It was okay, but we soon moved....

.... to a small tongue pull which was much better, easier to set up, more room, more amenities. Then to a bigger tongue pull that we pulled with a 1/2 ton pickup.

From there we went to a motorhome and during the next 40 plus years had 4 different ones, each bigger and better than the last.

We much preferred the motorhome for several reasons:
1. It had a power plant where we had electricity any time we needed it and didn't have to hook up to power.
2. It had 2 slide outs which gave us much more room.
3. It had all the amenities: a/c, heating, microwave, stove/oven, bathroom w/shower, 3TVs, outside cooking area, automatic awnings, automatic levelers.
4. For me: a bathroom I could use while traveling (G). Old folks need that!!
5. Great for sitting under the awning and jammin' or visiting.

Gee, I could go on and on.

We pulled a car behind us so we'd have transportation when the rig was parked. Not a problem to pull or to drive (If I can drive one and pull a car, anyone can).

As far as cars/trucks to pull tongue pulls, we started off with a dodge station wagon (yes, that many years ago), eventually went to a half ton pickup and then to a 3/4 ton one.

My son has a 40 foot 5th wheel which he pulls with a one ton diesel pickup and you're right: they're expensive. But they live in the RV, so he figured it was worth it.

Was it worth it? Oh, definitely yes. I have many fond memories of all our RVs and the fun times we had in them. I'd do it again in a minute.

Sep 25, 2021 - 9:01:29 AM
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1861 posts since 2/28/2003

We've used a nice 2003 Viking pop-up for the last year, about 4 weeks camping total. Here are my thoughts.

1. A pop-up involves a fair amount of setup, but so does a tent. But the end result is much more comfortable than any tent. We can pull into a site and have everything set up, including the awning, in about 30 minutes.
2. It's really nice to have air conditioning when you need it.
3. A bed with a foam mattress and eggshell topper is so much better than any air mattress
3. Pop-ups are much better when it rains.
4. Ours weighs around 1500-1800 lbs and pulls nicely behind our Honda Odyssey which also has a 3500 lb capacity. However, I've heard that towing with an electric vehicle will greatly reduce your range. I have no personal experience with this.

The main reason we are thinking about upgrading:
1. No bathroom - us older folks often need to get up in the middle of the night.
2. Having a refrigerator that you don't have to kneel on the floor to access.
3. Not having to crank up the top. Even a hard side RV requires some setup to use - leveling, water and electric hookup, etc. but it would be nice to be able to pull into a rest stop and climb in for a quick meal or nap.

We're going to keep our popup for a few more years, see how much we use it and if we still enjoy the RV life, upgrading to a small hard-side trailer.


Sep 25, 2021 - 10:45:06 AM
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Brian T


18692 posts since 6/5/2008

I see a lot of medium-sized RV here. Some 5th wheel pulls, some tongue pulls and some motor homes. Most are owned by "work-aways," people who have remote camp jobs. They can cost off the buggy as accommodation. Loggers, camp cooks, electricians, carpenters = trades people.

They all may have learned that very big and very little are poor choices for 6-8 weeks.
Of course the jobs always have time out so they can scoot back here to their house for a few nights.

The really big and really little ones are on the highway through town. Hell bent for some place better than they have ever seen.

Sep 25, 2021 - 12:20:32 PM
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banjo bill-e


11563 posts since 2/22/2007

I have always admired and lusted for an Airstream, so one year we rented one for a weekend. That sure took the luster off of the dream! Looked really cool but there was not one comfortable place to sit or lie down to be found anywhere!
We later rented a much larger Travel Trailer which had space and comfort and about as much style as fake wood paneling and shag carpet can deliver.
Those two rentals saved me a big wad of cash, as I no longer had any desire for a camper. If I had the bucks I might enjoy one of those highly modified vans but those are selling for the price of a starter home these days.

Sep 25, 2021 - 12:27:15 PM
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Brian T


18692 posts since 6/5/2008

Real wilderness isn't any more than 30 minutes from my door.
I just sneak home at dusk when all the lunch goodies have been eaten,
to spend time in my great big, heated wooden tent.

My Mom had a big camper thing on the back of her truck.
She had itchy feet and I never heard any complaints about that set-up for one person.

Sep 25, 2021 - 1:20:56 PM
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249 posts since 7/29/2011
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You won't be pulling that Gulf Stream with a Tesla Y.
It may weigh 2780 lbs but once it's loaded up with water, gear, food, etc. it will be over 3500 lbs. It's not a good idea to push any vehicle to it's maximum towing capacity.
You are also right that any RV will have a lot of maintenance issues. It's like owning a boat. You'll spend more time maintaining it than using it.
Camping also isn't the low cost entertainment it was 50 years ago. Campground prices can cost as much as a motel.
I can remember many times trying to set up or pack up a campsite in the rain, cold, or blazing heat and that's not fun either.
I gave up on camping a long time ago and just rent cabins. There are plenty of websites for finding them. It's less expensive, much easier and much less time consuming. I can have all of the fun stuff camping offers like fires, fishing, going into the woods, etc. and still have a roof, electricity, hot water, etc. at the end of the day.

Sep 25, 2021 - 5:28:51 PM
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34318 posts since 3/5/2008
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Pretty simple Jen....

If..youse guy are use to tents...
Then that should be palace....

They do get cramped quick tho...

Good luck..!

Sep 25, 2021 - 6:06:17 PM
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94 posts since 10/5/2019

Last year we got a travel trailer land have enjoyed having a camper so much. It saves a ton of money with hotels and is much more convenient to be able to stay right there on the festival campgrounds when they have hookups. Just last week we upgraded to a class A just for more storage and ease of driving as the vehicle we had for pulling the travel trailer wasn’t ideal. A camper is also a lot of fun just to go to state parks with for a short vacation. I’m sure you’d love one!

Sep 25, 2021 - 8:44:01 PM
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73 posts since 1/28/2017

we have a 1998 Sunnybrook trailer serves our needs. Get a used truck that will tow 8800 lbs. You can tow many trailers with ease with a pick up set up this way. A used truck and a used trailer and the cost would be less than the $70,000 you stated for a pickup. How often will you use the rv ? If not often used is the way to go. We had a van next us at the last festival we went to. It had shower, bath room ,beds, and kitchen area. It was chevy powered. They had bought it used. Only thing on those units once at campsite leaving to get groceries or site see you have to use it. A pickup with tow trailer gives you freedom to travel about. This is the same for a class A or C unless you pull the Tesla behind those vehicles. In my opinion you are wanting a Tesla to do something that it is not built to do. Going up a hill you had better have enough power to make the grade.
Good luck , happy camping.

Sep 25, 2021 - 10:46:18 PM
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483 posts since 10/18/2020

My wife and I spent the first two years in a 35 foot class a motor home on our off grid property we lived on, after two years of that I thought at one point we were going to kill each other,because of the cramped space and it also had two slide outs we quickly built a cabin and that was that, i would never live in a motor home again, if i was just looking for something to camp in occasionally i would just purchase a nice pop up with an AC, i think they even have them now with a small bathroom in them

Sep 26, 2021 - 5:44:11 AM

3937 posts since 9/9/2010

There are lighter fiberglass trailers like Casitas or Scamp trailers, but they are so small and have wet baths (not my idea of a good time).   

If I'm thinking we will pull with a Tesla, we might have to wait on a Cybertruck, or get one of those super light weight fiberglass options.

Edited by - JMalmsteen on 09/26/2021 05:47:33

Sep 26, 2021 - 5:56:06 AM
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banjo bill-e


11563 posts since 2/22/2007

Think about where you would use it. At a festival? For primitive camping you want small, light, maneuverable, self contained. You are not likely to have hookups. The bigger campers are best for campgrounds and you might want to investigate the reality of campgrounds right now. Many are crowded and expensive and the best have waiting lists.

Sep 26, 2021 - 6:38:19 AM
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6226 posts since 6/30/2020

Considering the initial cost of the camping trailer or RV, associated license fees, insurance costs, maintenance issues, reduced fuel mileage, campground fees including fresh and gray water handling, electricity, state park fees, and other hidden costs, as well as off season storage issues, etc, I feel it is more efficient and cost effective to drive my current daily driver and use hotel rooms, cabins, or rent a nice RV when needed.
When the math is done, all things point to renting rather than owning for the average person or family who may only use the vehicle for a few weeks a year.

It is also my feeling that pulling any type of trailer with a car or small vehicle is very hard on its transmission and overall drivetrain. 

Edited by - Pick-A-Lick on 09/26/2021 06:42:34

Sep 26, 2021 - 6:58:16 AM
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3328 posts since 12/30/2008

I doubt your going to pull any camper with your Tesla !!! The Mrs. and I have tent camped and roughed it for years, but this year she wanted a camper,small and used. Piece of cake right? Well, let me tell you, the camping world has changed. Drive down any street and every other house now has a camper. Prices on used campers are at a premium just like homes now. Finding one that isn’t sold within minutes or hours of listing is almost impossible. And now that all these idiots (including myself) bought a camper, there are no campsites available until the next millennium!!! Who knew???
Worst time ever to buy a camper!!! God’s Truth……..there is always a problem with a camper!!!
That said , we bought a small older hybrid camper that was in great shape for $5000.00
Didn’t know what a hybrid was, but if we ever buy another camper it will probably be a hybrid, as the beds ( both queen size) do not take up any floor space and in our tiny little  17 ft. camper  and we can actually sleep 6 comfortably if we had to. The  Fridg runs on electric or propane, stove is propane, water heater is propane, so we can go anywhere and don’t need power hookup. Yeah, power is nice for the air conditioner, microwave , tv, extra lights and pumps, but we have a battery for water pump and small lights.
The hybrids are a cross between a pop up and a conventional camper. Easier than a pop up, but still has that outdoorsy feeling that tent camping gives you and fast set up and take down. When and if you decide to buy, be sure to have cash ready and ready to pounce on a deal, as they sell sooooooo damn fast I couldn’t believe it.
We bought ours out of state , sight unseen ( well, pictures) with an online deposit to hold it after it was listed for just 18 minutes. Deals are out there, but must be patient and diligent!!! Good luck!!! Oh, did I mention all the hassle was worth it and no more sleeping on the ground is awesome!!!


Edited by - slammer on 09/26/2021 07:03:12

Sep 26, 2021 - 6:58:47 AM
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Players Union Member



20347 posts since 6/30/2015
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The Tesla doesn't have a transmission, so that shouldn't be an issue, but there are specs regarding the frame and other aspects of the car related to towing anything.

I, and several friends, have converted utility trailers that we camp in. I have tie downs for my motorcycle, when I roll the bike out I set up the bed frame where the bike was and put an inflatable mattress on that. Others have rigged up some kind of Murphy bed like setup that just folds down from the walls. If you have any carpentry skills at all you can make them quite nice. We carry a camp toilet sometimes, but mostly use the facilities at the campground. All my cooking and sleeping supplies are stored in the camper, along with an eazy up cover and a portable shower heater. We only use it between 1 and 5 times a year. If I camped more I would want something a bit larger.

Sep 26, 2021 - 7:35:09 AM
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3078 posts since 10/23/2004

It's not truly RV camping until you have the most luxurious RV....pulling a Jeep with kayaks and electric bikes strapped to it.

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