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What exactly is a Travel Trailer and why are they called “Pull Behinds, Caravans and Bumper Pulls?”

So you have given it some thought and you want to live a full-time RV life. A lot of people say it, but you’re actually seriously thinking of doing it. You’re an RVer at heart. This is a good thing, you and I are a lot alike. I’m sure you, like me thinking about starting small with a towable. When I was considering purchasing a Travel Trailer for going full-time in an RV several questions jumped out at me – Should I buy one and which one should I buy? What exactly is a Travel Trailer and why do they call it a “Pull Behind, Caravans or Bumper Pull?”

A Travel Trailer or Camper Trailer, also known as a Caravan is a tiny home on wheels that provides a protected place to sleep. This is a towable unit attached to the bumper via a “hitch” of the towing vehicle, a truck, SUV or car that is capable of pulling the weight of the pull behind trailer legally. Travel Trailers have several uses as a home on a journey or a vacation allowing people to stay in different sites rather than relying on a motel or hotel.  Most are built set-up for electricity, plumbing, propane gas, and air-conditioning. The more luxurious travel trailers offer the creature comforts of home with separate rooms, furniture, furnishings, kitchens, and bathrooms. 

 In this guide, we plan to help you figure out what to look for in a travel trailer, whether you’re hitting the open road on your own or you need to provide enough room for the entire family.

What To Look For In A Pull Behind Travel Trailer

First, you need to ask yourself what you need and want in your trailer.

If you’re going to be living an RV lifestyle, you’ll need to make this vehicle feel like home.

Here are the main features to consider when buying a travel trailer.

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Price

This is a big one. You don’t want to spend more than you have access to, whether you’re paying in cash or finding a lending solution.

So to help you negotiate your way to a fairly priced RV, here are some tips to put in your negotiating toolbox.

    • Keep an open mind and don’t convince yourself that you need a specific type of RV or a certain brand. Normally the campers you hear about the most also have a huge marketing budget which the manufacturer must recoup.  This advertising expense could affect pricing.
    • Look at the rates for RV financing from several different banks and dealers — talk with lenders who have the terms you understand with rates you can afford, Be patient — the information you gather here will speak volumes when you find yourself at the RV dealership.
    • Attend local and regional RV shows to see if you can find special deals while viewing all of the different models.
      Become friends with your salesperson — you will not regret this
    • Buy your RV at the end of travel trailer season — sales will be slower and prices will be lower. This period normally runs through June, July, and August. Though the pricing doesn’t change drastically most dealers will offer special incentives or packages with extra accessories. Don’t be afraid to ask for a better deal.
    • Consider buying a used RV in good condition. These deals can be found in trade magazines and websites. Be careful though, rarely do pre-owned units come with any existing manufacturers warranty.
  • Maybe think about buying an RV that you can fix up or completely redo. I personally would not attempt this but there is a chance you have that special relationship with someone handy in this arena.

Implementing these tips can lead to you saving a lot of money while also getting the perfect RV for your new on-the-road lifestyle.

Weight

Newbie RVers often overlook the importance of RV weight. There must be a match between the weight of the travel trailer and the weight your tow vehicle can legally pull.

One of the two required stickers that must be on every RV in the United States is the Weight Sticker. This shows all of the weight ratings and limits.

Most Weight Stickers are located on the RV’s door frame or on the front right side and include the following info about the RV:

  • GAWR – (Gross Axle Weight Rating): the most weight that the axles can hold
  • GVWR – (Gross Vehicle Weight Rating): the most weight the axles and/or tires can hold
  • UVW – (Unloaded Vehicle Weight): the weight of the trailer when the dealer received it.
  • NCC – (Net Carrying Capacity): the amount of cargo that can be onboard the RV
  • GCWR – (Gross Combined Weight Rating): the weight of the RV plus any vehicle being towed Hitch Weight: the most weight the hitch can hold

Dry Axle Weight: the total weight of the vehicle when the RV is hooked up to the hitch

Also, keep in mind that most RV dealership employees refer to the Unloaded Vehicle Weight as the Dry Weight.

These are all very important ratings to be aware of when purchasing an RV, whether you’re looking at lightweight campers or those from a bigger family of trailers.

You should also know that some of these measures may not be on every RV Weight Sticker and some stickers may have additional ratings listed.

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Convenience And Comfort

People who don’t RV think that it’s just one long inconvenient camping trip. But that couldn’t be further from the truth.

When you become a full-time RVer, the trailer becomes your home and you treat it as any person would treat their home. You make it homie. You make it as convenient as possible for yourself.

So you’ll want to find an RV that will provide that convenience. And here are a handful of features you should look for in an RV that will make the whole living-in-an-RV thing more convenient and comfortable.

Storage

This travel trailer will become your home, so it’s important that it provides enough storage for you and anyone else living with you. RVs manufacturers are typically creative when it comes to the placement of storage. Most travel trailers with a front bedroom have outside pass-through storage which utilizes the space under the bed. Occasionally the bed may be hinged to lift up with storage underneath. The dining room booth is also a good place to check to look under the cushions for storage.

A monitoring system for your holding tank

It’s super important to know how much waste and fresh water are in your freshwater and grey/black holding tanks. Most campers have gauges displaying the levels of fresh water, grey water, and black water. Too little freshwater and you can’t drink or shower. You should also educate yourself on how to check the levels on your propane tanks.

Lighting

Living somewhere with bad lighting can really put a damper on your mood and overall quality of life. So you’ll want to make sure the lighting in the RV you buy is acceptable with your comfort level.

The soft light from LED energy efficient lights are my personal favorite.

Wifi

Everything nowadays is done online — banking, communicating, paying your bills. That’s why wifi is now a necessity. So instead of relying on campgrounds with WIFI, you might talk with your cell phone provider about a WIFI hotspot. If you plan on performing any business while on the open road look into Cell signal and WIFI boosters as well.

Think of this way: as you walk through, in and around an RV you’re considering buying, think about these three questions:

    1. “Will I be comfortable living here?”
    1. “Will it be a completely convenient place to live?”
  1. “Does this RV have everything I need?”
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Luxury

After you’ve decided on the perfect travel trailer that is both comfortable and convenient, you may want to consider the level of luxury the RV provides. I know this is camping, but things have changed.

<<<Here are just a few tips for making your RV more luxurious:>>>

    • Use real dishes: this will make it feel homier, after all, eating is a luxury.
    • Install new flooring: vinyl flooring is relatively easy to install and maintain, and it will give you that beautiful new wood floor look. It is also easy to clean.
    • Use peel-and-stick tile: this can make your bathroom or kitchen feel like they’ve been plucked right out of a magazine about the best mansions.
    • Install a new shower head: this is small but important — get a shower head that is similar to the one you have at home so you can shower with luxury. These are easy to install and the water pressure is usually the same.
    • Reupholster the cushions: add your favorite upholster design to the cushions in the RV to make relaxing feel fancy. I have seen some really nice pillow covers as well.
  • Install a TV mount: whether you have a WIFI TV or you just want a screen for watching movies, putting in an articulating TV mount can make the RV atmosphere like that of an entertainment room.

Now you can take all this knowledge and all these tips and find the best RV for your new lifestyle.

You’ve earned the right to relax, why not enjoy it.

Good luck and Safe Travels!

Full Time RV Life, AC DC