Thank you to Bob for asking me to contribute a guest post to his blog.
In May (2014) I retired from my career as a pharmacist. In June I purchased a 2015 T@b teardrop trailer to be pulled by my 4 door Jeep Wrangler and set out as a full-timer. To not confuse this teardrop with the classic teardrop trailers, I have standing room in this trailer. The inside height is 5’9” at the tallest point which is perfect for my height of 5’4”. I call my trailer a tall teardrop.
This purchase was not an overnight decision! I attended the January 2012 RTR and was trying to decide at that time what rig would be best for my adventures. I had previously owned larger travel trailers and was not sure if I wanted to return to towing or to try a small RV or van for my next home on wheels. The biggest catch was not wanting to get rid of my Jeep since it was paid for and I love driving it. Jeeps are limited by their towing capacity and are not known to be stellar tow vehicles. The tow capacity of my Jeep is 3500 pounds and the recommendations are to stay somewhere within 70% to 80% of that number. It is a 2010 3.8 Liter/Automatic 4 door Wrangler Unlimited. Jeeps tend to love fuel and mine gets around 17 to 21 miles per gallon not towing; towing it ranges from 14 to 17 depending on the terrain.
While Jeeps are not known for towing, I have been pleasantly surprised at how well it tows this little trailer. It does slow down on hills maybe 10 miles an hour or so, but otherwise I would not know the trailer is back there without checking the mirror. Because it’s a 4-door, it has a large back area has become a handy storage unit for those things I don’t have room to carry in the trailer
I believe I may have looked at every small travel trailer over the year and a half before purchasing the T@b. There are many great little trailers out there and each one has pros and cons to it, as does every other RV. The T@b won out for me due to its weight of 1670 pounds, its aerodynamic profile and the amenities inside such a little trailer. My trailer, much to everyone’s surprise, has:
- A sitting and sleeping area: I leave the back folded down as a twin-size bed
- A sink, 2 burner stovetop, and a 3-way fridge (all inside as this is not a clamshell model)
- A TV, radio, CD, and DVD player
- A heat/hot water system and an air conditioner
- A wet bath with toilet and shower: Tiny, but functional
- Plenty of windows for light and ventilation, including a Fantastic Fan
I purchased mine in southern California (American RV Company); however, the CA sales tax is a big hit and if you live in or claim residence somewhere else, it will save you a lot of money! The trailer sells for anywhere from $15,000 to $18,000 depending on where you buy it and any additional add-ons you may want such as a tent-room addition, various awnings, or different window configurations. I saved up for this purchase and it was my retirement gift to myself. Here is the page with their current inventory: http://www.americanrvcompany.net/TB_c_76.html
I certainly found with small trailers that they tend to be as much or more expensive than larger trailers. It is a trade-off as to what you want and how you will use it. I wanted a new, fully contained trailer that was small and easy to handle. I actually love and prefer it’s smallness because it makes me get out and do things. Also, while it is fine for one rainy day, it would be confining for continued bad weather and that is a good reason to follow the sun and be outdoors more than inside.
It did take me a couple of weeks to “adjust” to being in a tiny trailer after I left my rental unit in California. Now it is cozy and comfortable. Cooking inside is easy and fast. The bed is a good size but I do plan to switch out the cushions for a different mattress. The bathroom is a great addition for a late night necessity and the shower is quite adequate with 6 gallons of hot water available. This unit would not be as comfortable for a tall person since the scale is small. That said, I see couples camping in teardrop trailers often so it is just a matter of working out the details. It also depends on how long you plan to be in a teardrop. This trailer will serve me well for years to come where a couple may want a larger unit or only use it for weekend camping.
It is proving to be a wonderful tiny home for me and my two Chihuahuas as we travel. I do enjoy being able to set up the trailer and then take off to explore the nearby areas where I’m camped. At this writing, I am on the Oregon Coast and there are plenty of beautiful places to visit and the coastal climate is perfect.
While I enjoy hook-ups for the trailer, it would be possible to boondock with it. It is already set up to attach a solar panel to the battery. You may need more battery power for the fridge or switch to a cooler. The lights are all LED and will work great on battery/solar. The holding tanks are small with 19gal grey, 6gal black, and 6gal fresh water. The great thing is that the trailer is so easy to hitch up and move that emptying the tanks is a breeze. Also, if boondocking, you may want to change how you use the tanks and use a solar shower instead. You could also use a generator if you wish. I do not plan to use one since I can work around the need for it.
After living in my trailer for the last two months I can say that I did get the right one for me. It fits my new lifestyle for a small, non-fussy unit with just enough comfortable extras to make life easy. It is also attracts a small parade of visitors wanting to see it. At one rest stop while traveling, an entire tour bus of Chinese tourists came out to take pictures of it. I imagine I am in a collection of photo albums in China following their vacation trip. I will be happy to give tours at the next RTR. Life on the road is wonderful and I am glad to be out here enjoying every day.
In the Fall, I’ll be heading down California to visit friends and family on my way to Arizona for the Winter in Quartzsite. I am looking forward to the RTR in January. After Quartzsite, I am planning a cross-country trip to see all of the places I have always wanted to see. Some of the definite advantages of towing a small trailer are being able to fit into any size campsite and the loss of mpg is not as great as driving or towing a large unit.
There is a great unit for everyone who wants this adventurous lifestyle. The most important thing is to find the one that resonates with you, get it, and simply Go!