Introduction & Questions...

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Introduction & Questions...

Postby NJCamperDude » Sun Feb 25, 2018 11:27 am

Howdy, all! Great site, been reading a ton here. I am brand spanking new to the lifestyle, and will be purchasing a 4X8 towable trailer soon.

As I am nearing a separation from my longtime girlfriend, I will be living exclusively in my trailer for the foreseeable future, for both fiscal reasons (I'm broke), and lifestyle choices (minimalist adventurer at heart). As my trailer will be my new HOME, I am dead set certain on retaining certain creature comforts of a conventional abode; place to shower, to do my duty, etc. All of which I have solutions for.

However, I've hit a snag on a few points, which is what I need help with. Unfortunately, being on the east coast, there is very little (if any) BLM land or dispersed camping options available. Couple that with our extreme heat & humidity during the summer, and I will most certainly need an electrical hookup for an AC (which my trailer will have). Soooo, my only option is a month-to-month campground type deal, where I can stay throughout the year. Or, splitting my time between 2 or 3 campgrounds because of stay limits.

From all the reading I've done here, it seems that the majority of you are free spirits who mostly boondock or stay on BLM land out west. But for those of you with more campground type experience, can you recommend any tips/tricks to get the pricing down at these places?

Here in Northern NJ, monthly campground rates are in the $500 to $700 range, which excludes electric hookup due to going month-to-month. Cheaper than an apartment for sure, but still pricey. Paying in cash and in advance might get me a discounted rate, and is one of the things I'm thinking. Do you believe I'd be able to bargain more being that my trailer is very small, and I will only need an electrical hookup?

Any suggestions are greatly appreciated. If I could move out west I'd do so in a heartbeat, but my son is here, and I need to be within an hour or two so I can see him regularly. After figuring out my expenses, which will include the campground rent, child support for my son, etc., I'm looking at about $2,000 per month, which means I will definitely need to continue working, and have no problem doing.

But any stealth advice on dealing with campground owners on pricing would be great. Final two questions, and I'll make these short & sweet...

Does anyone else here full time/live in their camper? If so, please share your thoughts/advice.

What about general campground security? I obviously don't want to hitch my trailer to my car everyday to go to work, etc. What's the best way to prevent theft of goods, or the trailer itself, while I'm away all day? I'm asking because I will not be staying at luxury type facilities or KOA campgrounds. These are pretty much "average", middle of the road type places.

Anywho, sorry for being so long-winded, and thanks in advance for any help! As bad of a situation that I'm in, this has always been a dream of mine, and I promise to make the most of it, as it is a new adventure, and that is what life is all about :)

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Re: Introduction & Questions...

Postby mary and bob » Sun Feb 25, 2018 11:55 am

look into a work camper situation or camp host. Many campgrounds provide a free campsite in exchange for a set number of hours work. Duties range from grounds maintenance to office duties to cleaning the bath houses. We have a teardrop, a 13 foot Uhaul fiberglass camper and a 17 foot Casita fiberglass camper. I would not want anything smaller than the Casita to full time in. As it is, the most time we have spent in the Casita is 3 months, the majority of that in Florida in the winter. Most every campground we have been in has one or more work campers there helping to run it.
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Re: Introduction & Questions...

Postby mary and bob » Sun Feb 25, 2018 11:57 am

I believe there is one or more websites about work camping.
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Re: Introduction & Questions...

Postby NJCamperDude » Sun Feb 25, 2018 12:38 pm

mary and bob wrote:look into a work camper situation or camp host. Many campgrounds provide a free campsite in exchange for a set number of hours work. Duties range from grounds maintenance to office duties to cleaning the bath houses. We have a teardrop, a 13 foot Uhaul fiberglass camper and a 17 foot Casita fiberglass camper. I would not want anything smaller than the Casita to full time in. As it is, the most time we have spent in the Casita is 3 months, the majority of that in Florida in the winter. Most every campground we have been in has one or more work campers there helping to run it.


Thank you, for the terrific advice, Mary & Bob. Believe me, I've entertained the thought of going with a bigger rig on many occasions, however, my budget simply does not allow for anything other than a small towable...for now. Even if I had the money though, I believe I'd stay with a small towable anyway, as it's just easier to lug around, won't drastically increase my tow car's gas mileage, and will be more realistic for a newb like myself to upkeep and maintain. But, yes, being able to full-time in a larger rig would CERTAINLY be more comfortable.

I like your suggestion about a campground host, however, is that as common here in the northeast as it is out west? I would absolutely consider something like that, but not being very handy, I wouldn't have any maintenance skills to barter, though cleaning is doable, as are other tasks like digital marketing, website building, sales/customer service, etc. That's where the majority of my experience lies.

If you have the link to the site/s you mentioned, I would love to take a look :thumbsup:

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Re: Introduction & Questions...

Postby mary and bob » Sun Feb 25, 2018 1:19 pm

Do a google search for "work camping" or "workamping" and there will be several sites come up for you to check out. While we prefer fiberglass campers, they are generally more expensive and harder to find than a conventional stick built camper. One important issue you'll have to consider is the towing capacity of your vehicle. Not only tow rating, but load capacity which will be affected by the tongue weight of the trailer. Camping while using a small trailer we have found using a screen room greatly increases our living area. We have a 12 X 12 Eureka Northern Breeze that has flaps to close it in like a tent, or roll them up for screen use. You should be able to find a decent used camper for not too much.Although our Casita has a bathroom with shower we always use the campground showers.
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Re: Introduction & Questions...

Postby NJCamperDude » Sun Feb 25, 2018 1:31 pm

mary and bob wrote:Do a google search for "work camping" or "workamping" and there will be several sites come up for you to check out. While we prefer fiberglass campers, they are generally more expensive and harder to find than a conventional stick built camper. One important issue you'll have to consider is the towing capacity of your vehicle. Not only tow rating, but load capacity which will be affected by the tongue weight of the trailer. Camping while using a small trailer we have found using a screen room greatly increases our living area. We have a 12 X 12 Eureka Northern Breeze that has flaps to close it in like a tent, or roll them up for screen use. You should be able to find a decent used camper for not too much.Although our Casita has a bathroom with shower we always use the campground showers.


The towable I'm getting weighs in at about 750lbs. dry., and the tongue weight is a little over 100lbs. (if I remember correctly). Which from all I've researched and read up on, is easily towable by my Volvo sedan. I will not be keeping very much inside the camper itself, aside from some dry food goods, etc., so additional weight will be minimal.

I love the idea of the pop-up screen room, and have even looked at a few online! While most of my time will be spent outside of the camper (work, exploring, etc.), it would be a great option during the warmer months to expand my base a little :thumbsup:

I really, really appreciate your input, and I thank you for taking the time to share it with me, M & B!

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Re: Introduction & Questions...

Postby S. Heisley » Sun Feb 25, 2018 7:07 pm

Just a thought, here.... A trailer is nice; however, have you considered getting a cargo van and converting it? Have you googled VanDwellers? (Try both Van Dwellers and VanDwellers, with and without the space between words.) You may find a lot of help there and possibly a better solution. The van dwelling community is truly a growing revolution. In 3 to 5 years, depending on what happens, I may decide on a van myself! Unless you can stand up in your trailer, you are going to have a hard time living in it full time, especially in the winter! So, if you feel that a tiny trailer is your best way to go, try to build one that has an area where you can stand up inside to dress and possibly to cook in.
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Re: Introduction & Questions...

Postby NJCamperDude » Mon Feb 26, 2018 8:42 am

S. Heisley wrote:Just a thought, here.... A trailer is nice; however, have you considered getting a cargo van and converting it? Have you googled VanDwellers? (Try both Van Dwellers and VanDwellers, with and without the space between words.) You may find a lot of help there and possibly a better solution. The van dwelling community is truly a growing revolution. In 3 to 5 years, depending on what happens, I may decide on a van myself! Unless you can stand up in your trailer, you are going to have a hard time living in it full time, especially in the winter! So, if you feel that a tiny trailer is your best way to go, try to build one that has an area where you can stand up inside to dress and possibly to cook in.


Thanks for chiming in, S. Heisley! Yes, I've thought about cargo vans a LOT over the past year or so, especially after watching many of Bob Wells' videos, and another Youtuber named AdventureVanMan (I think that's his channel, lol).

The problem is, as my resources are EXTREMELY limited right now, purchasing a decent used van is out of the question. I've looked at many online, but for anything below $5,000 they all have LOTS of miles, which means the probability of breakdowns and other issues would be almost inevitable. I don't want to sink $$$ into a vehicle/home that isn't going to be reliable for at least a few years, minus the smaller, regular things like oil changes, etc. Also...

I am probably the LEAST handy man in the universe. Changing the oil in a car or putting air in a tire is about the extent of my abilities, unfortunately :lol: So, getting a van without being able to do any mods/fixes myself would be a huge drawback, right now. However...

My ultimate goal (3 or 4 years out) would be a cargo vehicle, as it is very stealth, gets decent gas mileage, and erases the need to tow anything around. They are also MUCH roomier, and are better able to traverse bad roads versus a car hauling a trailer.

Do you have a cargo van, yourself? If so, I'd love to see some pics for inspiration purposes!

I fully realize that a towable 4X8 trailer isn't the best set-up for full time living, but, unfortunately, that's all I can afford right now. It will be cumbersome, for sure, though I've heard about quite a few people living in trailers that size (or smaller) without any major issues.

For me, a bed is simply somewhere to put my head at night. As I will be out at work or busy exploring during the day, a simple place to get a good night's sleep, some privacy, and to stay out of the elements is all that's needed.

Thanks again for your info, and I'm glad there's another van lover like myself here :thumbsup:

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Re: Introduction & Questions...

Postby S. Heisley » Mon Feb 26, 2018 10:13 am

Hi, Dudeman:

I don't have a van. I just started researching them this month and will be continuing thus for some time before biting the bullet, so to speak. Meanwhile, my existing Jeep and trailer are still in very good shape and I am hoping to keep them for another 3 to 5 years, God willing....

From what you have written, I gather that you will be purchasing a Harbor Freight trailer 4x8' or something like that. Since your funds, time, and abilities may be limited, you would probably be best off by building a foamie or a hybrid foamie. (A hybrid foamie usually has plywood walls inside but foam walls outside.) Not only are they somewhat build skills and damage forgiving; but also, they are less expensive and would give you extra insulation to keep you warmer in the winter and cooler in the summer. Also, they seem to hold up well in the elements. If you can build out over the wheels, it would give you a little more storage space and more room to move about. Please consider the Wanderer. Even though it was designed with plywood in mind, I think it could easily be built with foam and I have no doubt that you would get help from the foamie community, here on tnttt. Built on a 4x8' trailer, I think it would best give you what you need to live in, full time.

http://tnttt.com/Design_Library/The%20W ... d%2010.htm
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Re: Introduction & Questions...

Postby NJCamperDude » Mon Feb 26, 2018 10:54 am

S. Heisley wrote:Hi, Dudeman:

I don't have a van. I just started researching them this month and will be continuing thus for some time before biting the bullet, so to speak. Meanwhile, my existing Jeep and trailer are still in very good shape and I am hoping to keep them for another 3 to 5 years, God willing....

From what you have written, I gather that you will be purchasing a Harbor Freight trailer 4x8' or something like that. Since your funds, time, and abilities may be limited, you would probably be best off by building a foamie or a hybrid foamie. (A hybrid foamie usually has plywood walls inside but foam walls outside.) Not only are they somewhat build skills and damage forgiving; but also, they are less expensive and would give you extra insulation to keep you warmer in the winter and cooler in the summer. Also, they seem to hold up well in the elements. If you can build out over the wheels, it would give you a little more storage space and more room to move about. Please consider the Wanderer. Even though it was designed with plywood in mind, I think it could easily be built with foam and I have no doubt that you would get help from the foamie community, here on tnttt. Built on a 4x8' trailer, I think it would best give you what you need to live in, full time.

http://tnttt.com/Design_Library/The%20W ... d%2010.htm


Those foamies are VERY cool!!! Have to admit, I was drooling over some of the builds I saw on here :shock: I'm very close to pulling the trigger on the the trailer in the photo (attached). Made by Runaway, which seems like a great, reputable company. Their trailers are some of the most affordable I've seen online, and more than suit my simple needs.

Here in the NE, it gets VERY hot & humid in the summer, so, A/C is mandatory for me, but the nice thing is that the trailer comes with one. In the winter, I can simply put the cover on and instead utilize a small ceramic heater to keep warm. Between the heater itself, my body heat, and a good wool blanket, the small confines of the trailer should offer more than enough warmth, even though it isn't winter insulated. The downside to all of that, is that I WILL need to pay for a hookup, which means spending a large sum of $$$ on campgrounds. If it wasn't for the hookup, I would GLADLY dry camp/boondock at state parks, rest stops, casinos, etc. to help save cash, but maintaining at least a small amount of comfort comes with added cost, unfortunately.

4X8 seems small (and it somewhat is), but after plotting out that area on my living room rug and laying down/sitting in the area, it is actually quite roomy. Most 4X8's can sleep two adults comfortably. Since it will only be myself, I would think that's more than enough room needed.

I thank you for the information you shared. Just gives me more options to consider, which is always nice, whether it's for now, or even in the future.

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Re: Introduction & Questions...

Postby mary and bob » Mon Feb 26, 2018 10:55 am

I think the winter camping is going to be a problem. On the fiberglass forum group there was a single guy in New Jersey trying to camp in a 17 foot Casita through the winter. Multiple problems he was trying to overcome and sorta managed to survive the winter. He recently relocated to Texas. Even us spending the winter in the south in our Casita where temperatures occasionally got into the 30's it was hard to maintain an even temperature in the trailer when the temps were low. Rather than building something, I would be looking for a low cost older small travel trailer that I could sit and stand up in. Just be careful of leaks and wood rot in those older trailers.
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Re: Introduction & Questions...

Postby NJCamperDude » Mon Feb 26, 2018 11:17 am

mary and bob wrote:I think the winter camping is going to be a problem. On the fiberglass forum group there was a single guy in New Jersey trying to camp in a 17 foot Casita through the winter. Multiple problems he was trying to overcome and sorta managed to survive the winter. He recently relocated to Texas. Even us spending the winter in the south in our Casita where temperatures occasionally got into the 30's it was hard to maintain an even temperature in the trailer when the temps were low. Rather than building something, I would be looking for a low cost older small travel trailer that I could sit and stand up in. Just be careful of leaks and wood rot in those older trailers.


M & B, I agree with your thoughts. Bear in mind, I know ZILCH about this lifestyle compared to most of you on here, but after carefully considering the situation, as you said, the main issue will be the NE winter. And again, I fully agree. Here's a few positives though, which I have on my side...

1. The trailer itself is small (see photo in post above). That is actually a plus, as it won't take much to cool it down or heat it up. The small A/C that comes with the unit is probably overkill, but would do the job nicely. In the winter, a tiny ceramic heater coupled with my body heat and a good wool blanket should offer more than enough warmth for even the briskest of nights.

2. The winters here in the NE usually aren't terribly cold. A very frigid night might be in the teens, which is cold enough, but we're not talking sub-zero or anything. With the set-up I mentioned above, I think I should be okay. Of course, if we ever have another polar outbreak like we did last January (which is EXTREMELY rare), and temps go down into the single digits, that would be another story. But teens/20's at night with highs in the low 30's seems doable in mind.

3. Being there's no plumbing in the trailer, that will give me one less thing to worry about, as there's nothing that can freeze up on me (aside from myself, maybe! :lol: ). So, pretty much my only worry is enduring the cold element come winter. But, as of now, on paper, it appears it's more than doable. At worst, it mightn't be toasty on the absolute coldest of nights, but definitely sleepable, which is my only concern.

4. For an added cost, if the cold is truly unbearable after trying it for one winter, I might even have the manufacturer (or myself) add another layer of insulation somehow. Whether that's an extra layer of plywood, or even something as simple as Reflectix, it would be another option at my disposal...if it should come to that.

I'm trying to look at this as an adventure, which it truly is. And it's also camping, at the end of the day. So, unless we have a larger rig with all of the amenities, we're pretty much going to be roughing it anyways, which is fine by me. That being said though, if I had the money, I would surely opt for something like a cargo van set-up, or maybe a TAB or Casita. Just not there yet, though.
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Re: Introduction & Questions...

Postby mary and bob » Mon Feb 26, 2018 1:58 pm

An electric blanket is nice to have too. We have two different sizes of Vornado heaters that we like. The small one has no thermostat and the large one does. Next problem, find a campground that is open all winter in the Northeast.
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Re: Introduction & Questions...

Postby NJCamperDude » Mon Feb 26, 2018 2:54 pm

mary and bob wrote:An electric blanket is nice to have too. We have two different sizes of Vornado heaters that we like. The small one has no thermostat and the large one does. Next problem, find a campground that is open all winter in the Northeast.


Thanks for the tip on the blanket, I never thought about an electric one! Yes, finding a CG that's open during the winter in the NE is a bear, but I've come up with a few options. Whether or not they turn out to be dumps, I have no way of knowing in advance, as I'm quickly learning that CG's are fond of using photos from 30 or 40 years ago on their websites. And they all make themselves out to be 5 star resorts akin to staying at the Plaza in NYC. To be candid, as I'm looking for cheap options, I don't need/want/expect luxury surroundings, however, I do demand a safe, well-run facility that's fairly clean. That's all I ask.

P.S. - Is the smaller Vornado a plug in that can go into a regular wall outlet?

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Re: Introdu ction & Questions...

Postby lee senn » Mon Feb 26, 2018 4:08 pm

Dudeman A few years ago my wife and I lived in a 29 foot fifthwheel in Santa Fe New Mexico for 7 years ( I had a really good job but the cost of housing would have eaten a major portion of our income ). The suggestion above about having something you can stand up in is a very valid one but ignore the advice to beware of wood rot etc. and please take a look at small fiberglass trailers at fiberglassrv.com. We currently have a teardrop and 3 of the fiberglass ones. A used older Scamp can come in within your budget , which appears to be around $4,000.00 , they are lightweight ( around 1800 lbs ) and will make a world of difference in your long term comfort. As to security for you the best and cheapest method we have found is to simply jack the trailer up remove one wheel and let it down on jacks , cinder blocks or whatever ( be sure to remove the spare from the trailer ) . You can buy all kinds of hitch locks etc. but this method is free and almost foolproof. Lee and Norma
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