I have a confession to make! My husband approached me this winter about buying a camper and I thought he had flipped his lid! I KNOW, I KNOW…I love it SO MUCH now that it’s hard to imagine why I wasn’t sure I wanted one!
I know he’s wanted one for quite some time. In fact, we had a pop-up camper when the kids were little, but we tired of cranking it up and down as well as CONSTANT repairs and upkeep on it. Sadly, we outgrew it and we sold it. That one had WAY more cons than pros to me, but I’ll be fair and say it was an old one when we bought it and it was probably the late 1990’s when we bought it used. We did enjoy that old thing, though! Lots of fun memories!!!
The camper we finally ended up with had a lot to do with a lot of items on our checklist. We financed ours, but we wanted the bottom line to be reasonable so that we can pay it off ASAP. I don’t care about how much down and how much per month, I care about HOW MUCH? Around $10,000 was our price. We also knew that without getting a new car, my 2009 Pathfinder could only pull up to 6,000 lbs. of dry weight, so we wanted to keep the weight well under that…that pretty severely limited the size. We went to a local RV show and one of the dealers had a deal going on with their 21 foot travel trailers, and the salesman said they ran them at that price year round. We ended up buying from that dealer several months later. What did we buy? A 2017 Keystone Hideout 177 LHS. It was light enough for our SUV, cheap enough that we could reasonably pay it off early, and had all of our essentials (bed, bathroom, shower, kitchen, and dining room that doubles as a living room and office!
We’ve been out in it 7 or 8 weekends this summer, so we’ve learned a lot! I know this list won’t be extensive, but let me give you a few opinions about campers!
Pros and Cons of Owning a Camper
Pros of camper ownership:
You ALWAYS have a bathroom nearby! Need I say more? 🙂
- You ALWAYS have a bed nearby…this comes in handy on long trips as all you need is a WalMart parking lot or an RV campground.
- The bed you sleep in is YOURS and no one else’s. You don’t have to worry about bedbugs or anyone else’s nasty habits and whether or not the hotel cleaned it. If it’s not clean, it’s your funk that’s in there…clean it!
- Packing is easy as you only need to take perishable items out of the camper when you’re done camping. We leave several outfits (including shoes, undergarments and PJs) and towels in our camper. We also leave non-perishable food items (sealed bags of chips, mason jars of coffee, etc.) and toiletries in the camper. Sometimes we decide in the morning that we will go camping that evening. Keeping the camper “packed” makes this possible.
- No need to eat out! Meals can be as fancy as you want them, or low key. You can save a TON of money just by eating in!
Campgrounds are usually CHEAP! Most state parks in Arkansas are around $20/night. We’ve gone to destination cities like Dauphin Island and Gulf Shores, Alabama…they were a little more expensive at around $50/night, but THE VIEWS!!! Most even have nice bathrooms in case you want to keep the shower in your camper clean.
- BOONDOCKING (AKA dry camping)! A lot of campers are made so that you can carry in everything you need and “live off the land.” No need to have sewer and water hookups as long as you plan ahead and fill up your water tank, charge your battery, and bring enough groceries. You can camp ANYWHERE (as long as it’s legal…I’m guessing Area 51 won’t let you in!). You could also use your camper as a base camp for hiking into a remote location by boondocking.
- More STUFF fits in a camper! Ok girls, you know this is true! I like the outdoors, but I can bring my hair dryer, makeup, dress up clothes in case we go out, and even heels if I want a pretty decoration! Camper camping is WAY different than tent camping…I always pack SUPER light for tent camping.
- It’s easier to get out of town since the camper is cheap and ready.
Heating and air…obviously, this is opposed to tent or hammock camping. You have the comforts of home, away from home.
- Making new friends, or getting reacquainted with old friends. We’ve been camping a lot with some old friends that distance and busy-ness have kept us apart. We’ve also made new friends in our various locations.
- CHANGE OF SCENERY! There is so much cool and funny stuff in the world…why not see as much as possible?
- You can get into an overbooked area if you know a local! We were able to go see the eclipse this year even though Nashville was WAY overbooked for the weekend. My cousin had some property, so we pulled our camper there and enjoyed a nice, quite place to watch the eclipse because of the camper (…and the generous cousin!).
- SO. MUCH. FUN!!! Everyone thinks you’re living the high life, but it’s really just easy to chill and get away if you make it a point to when you have a camper. Both my husband and I relax better when camping because we are not at home where our worries live. It just seems so peaceful to sit around in our camp chairs and listen to the birds sing and bugs chirp!
Cons for camper ownership:
- The up front cost. I HATE spending money!!! Well, that’s not true, but I want to have fun when I do spend it! It feels so expensive to have a camper…and we have a cheap one! The funny thing is, our brand new camper is costing us less each year than our entire 12 day vacation to Puerto Rico last fall!
- Setup costs. I used to work for The Container Store. There are just some organizational things you will need to set up your camper. There are also tools and equipment you will need for your camper. Heaven forbid you get to your campsite and don’t have a sewer hose! Not cool!!!
- Maintenance costs. I don’t know this because of this particular camper yet, but our last one…it was a doosey! You have to stay on top of the “honey-do” list with campers because if you don’t fix it quickly (whatever IT is), problems multiply.
- Added fuel costs. Again, campers are LOTS of fun, but this is an extra cost to factor in. Your vehicle will not get the same gas mileage with one of these bad boys behind it.
- Your “honey-do” list at home NEVER gets done (exaggeration here, but things just don’t get done as quickly when you’re not home). I have to be honest here, out of the roughly 12 weeks of summer, we were gone almost 3 whole weeks, and a total of 8 weekends, most of which were at least 3 day weekends. We’ve GOT to figure this thing out because we’re still trying to remodel the bathrooms!
- PARKING!!! Oh my goodness!!! Parking this thing is insane! There is a learning curve, for sure. My husband is getting the hang of it, but I’m scared to death to try! *Think…broken rain gutters here…not joking!
- Storage. Where will you keep it when it’s not in use? We keep ours beside our house. The neighbors don’t seem to mind (I’m not really worried if they do…it’s our property!), but I know some people store them on a storage lot. That’s an added cost to consider.
- You have to make your own bed and wash your own dishes. I don’t mind this, but it’s not a hotel room…no room service here.
- COMING BACK TO REALITY! Alas, at some point you have to go back home! This is the worst part of most camping trips, but you’ve gotta go back to work to make more CAMPING MONEY!
This is by no means an exhaustive list. It’s just what we’ve found to be true in our camping experience both now and previously. Would you add to this list? Do you HATE camping, or love it like me?2