Top 8 Books for the Small Camper / RV Lifestyle

 In no particular order, here are 8 books that focus on the small camper / RV lifestyle we really enjoyed and think will be very helpful to you:BOOK

Repair/Maintenance Category: RV Repair and Maintenance Manual (RV Repair & Maintenance Manual) by Bob Livingston. This is just a great resource to have with you on the road. It has step by step instructions with lots of pictures for trouble shooting any random mechanical issue you may encounter.

Frugal Camping Category10-Minute Tech, Volume 2: Over 600 Time and Money Saving Ideas from Fellow RVersThe title says it all. This is the camper’s hacking guide. Its full of truly great tips on frugal camping. A lot of the advice in this book I haven’t seen anywhere else.

Cooking CategoryThe Original VW Camper Cookbook: 80 Tasty Recipes Specially Composed for Cooking in a Camper by Lennart Hannu, Steve Rooker and Susanne Rooker It’s full of fantastic easy to use recipes, but this book is more than just an outdoor friendly cookbook, it’s total eye candy. It has tons of great photos of food and vintage campers.

Camper Living CategoryHow to Live in a Car, Van or RV–And Get Out of Debt, Travel and Find True Freedom by Robert Wells. The author has lived in his small camper for 10+ years and know his stuff. This book focuses primarily on the economics of living on the road and how to get the most bang for your buck.

Renting Campers CategoryRV Rentals: A Vacationer’s Guide by Kay Corby. This is a great book for people just starting out who are interested in getting a camper. You should always rent before you buy to make sure it’s a good fit for you and your family.

Beginner Category: Live Your Road Trip Dream: Travel for a Year for the Cost of Staying Home by Phil White and Carol White. This is probably the most thorough book I’ve seen on the process of planning and preparing for hitting the road. It’s also extemely well written.

Beginner Category: So, you want to be an RVer? by Kathy Huggins and John Huggins. Also owners of the “Living the RV Dream” podcast, Kathy and John are very knowledgable full-timers. This book covers all the basics of fulfilling the RV dream.

 

 

Truly Incredible Hand Built Custom Campers

Ladies and gentlemen, I present to you Jay Nelson‘s custom small campers:

1.  The 1986 Toyota Pick-up Truck Camper
Somehow he managed to give it a classic, yet futuristic look at the same time.
http://jaynelsonart.com/

http://jaynelsonart.com/

http://jaynelsonart.com/

http://jaynelsonart.com/

http://jaynelsonart.com/

2. The Honda Civic
I love the shape, it’s almost like being in the hull of a ship.
http://jaynelsonart.com/

http://jaynelsonart.com/

http://jaynelsonart.com/

http://jaynelsonart.com/

3. Last but not least, The Golden Gate:
This is an electric car that tops out at about 20 mph and gets about 10 miles per charge. It’s really got it all: sink, stove, toilet, and bed.
http://jaynelsonart.com/

http://jaynelsonart.com/

http://jaynelsonart.com/

http://jaynelsonart.com/

http://jaynelsonart.com/

http://jaynelsonart.com/

Want to know more? Got to: http://jaynelsonart.com/

Where to Find the Best Popup Camper Rental

Unlike small campers and RVs there is no nation wide company that offers popup camper rentals. So I’ve put together a list of good popup camper rental companies by region:

Palomino

Palomino

California: Tow Tally Camping

Colorado: Colorado Camper Rental

Florida: Family First Camper Rental

Georgia: Atlanta Rv Rental

Illinois: Art’s RV

Kansas: Midwest Camper Rentals

Kentucky: Louisville Greenwood RV Rentals

Maine: Destinations RV Maine

Michigan: HallMac RV Rentals

Missiouri: Byerly RV Center

New Hampshire: North East RV

New Jersey: 84 RV

North Carolina: Southern Pop Up Rentals

Pennsylvania: Freedom Rentals & Shady Maple RV

Texas: Campers 4 Rent & Austin Boat Camper

Wyoming: Adventure Camper

Pop Up Camper Bike Rack Options

If you’re towing a pop up camper, your bike rack options are unfortunately somewhat limited. No matter what kind of pop up bike rack you buy, DO NOT purchase one that requires you to drill holes in your camper. Having holes in you pop up will lead to many problems down the line. That being said, I recommend you go down one of these two avenues:

Option One:
ProRac Tent Trailer 2-Bike Carrier (or the 4-Bike version)
pplmotorhomes.com

pplmotorhomes.com

Why we like it? Unlike many of the other pop up camper bike racks, you don’t have to drill into your trailer or bummer. The rack is easy to install and even easier to load and unload the bikes. Because the rack attaches to the hitch, it will fit on just about any pop up camper. I really like the fork mount style bike racks, mainly because it gives you peace of mind knowing the bikes are very secure on the rack and you’re not checking to see if your bikes are still attached in the rear view mirror every 5 minutes.

Option Two:
Hollywood Racks F4 Heavy Duty 4-Bike Trunk Mount Rack
squidoo.com

squidoo.com

Although this style of rack is not as secure as option one, it has one simple advantage. The big advantage of this type of rack is you can still drive with the bikes after you detach the pop up trailer. The tent trailer is not needed to haul the bikes like it is in option one.

Motorcycle Campers 101

Though I’ve never used a motorcycle camper, I’ve seen many in my travels and I have to say they look pretty damn cool. Motorcycle Campers

For those of you who are not familiar with motorcycle campers, they’re essentially smaller popup campers that are light enough to be hauled by motorcycles.

I’ve also seen a few teardrop motorcycle campers as well.

go little guy

go little guy

Full-timing in a motorcycle camper is not common; these are more designed for smaller trips. Even though the motorcycle camper trailers are light, they still require a bike that has quite a bit of power. Most motorcycle pop up campers triple in size when set up and they still sleep a maximum of two people (and maybe a dog). Prices can range from $800 to about $5500.
There are many manufacturers, but from my research the top Motorcycle pop up camper makers are:
Time Out Trailers
Easy Rider
Canvasworks
Trailmasters
Lees-ure Lite Trailer 
SylvanSport

Hands Down, The 6 Best Road Trip Books.

Photo credit: fiddle oak / Foter / CC BY-NC-SA

Photo credit: fiddle oak / Foter / CC BY-NC-SA

Life is way too short to read bad books. Here are my 6 favorite road trip books, that really changed everything for me:

1. Travels with Charley: In Search of America by John Steinbeck

This is classified as a novel, but it’s really a memoir. The author wanders across America with Rocinaate, his custom made truck camper, to find out what the country and life is really all about. This book will undoubtedly change your view on what America really is and appreciating life.

2. Off the Leash: How My Dog Inspired Me to Quit My Job, Pack My Car, and Take a Road Trip Across America to Reclaim My Life by Jean Ellen Whatley

I have to admit this one is heart-wrenching. Jean has some serious issues in her life. She hits the road with her dog libby; not to run away from her problems, but to face them. As a reader you can’t help but learn and grow from the authors experiences during her epic journey.

3. On the Road by Jack Kerouac

This american classic was written in 11 days on a 120 foot scroll without a single break in the text. It’s fun and timeless story that you can read over and over again. An autobiographical novel of a cross country ride based in the early 50s that you will never forget.

4. Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance by Robert Pirsig

This book is one of a kind. It combines philosophy with driving cross-country, relationships and a little maintenance into a truly amazing story. This book will make you appreciate the journey a little more and not so much the destination.

5. Blue Highways: A Journey into America by William Least Heat Moon

William Least Heat Moon, age 38, loses his job and his wife. Not knowing what to do he hits the road with his camper van avoiding highways and interstates at all costs. He finds himself again, while traveling on the backroads throughout America. This is such a great ride.

6. The Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test by Tom Wolfe

I know by putting this book on the list it may start a little controversy, but this is truly a one of a kind adventure that should be read. America wasn’t ready for these three tripping hippies when they drove a psychedelic painted bus across the states. How could it not be a fun read when you mix drugs, hippies and a cross country adventure.

 

16 Questions to Ask RV Dealers That Will Insure You Don’t Get Ripped Off

When you step foot on the RV dealer’s lot make sure you are prepared with these 16 crucial questions so you don’t get taken to the cleaners.

1. Can you deliver the camper?

Photo credit: Alien Ted / Foter / CC BY-SA

Photo credit: Alien Ted / Foter / CC BY-SA

You’re giving them a lot of your hard earned money, take advantage of any services they provide like delivering the camper to your home. This can be a deal breaker if you are buying online.

2. What other fees will I be charged? OR What’s my out-the-door price?

Photo credit: bindermichi / Foter / CC BY-NC-SA

Photo credit: bindermichi / Foter / CC BY-NC-SA

The total cost to take the camper home is always more than the cost of just the camper. There is sales tax, documentation fees and registry costs. Other than these three listed, I would question any other add-ons. Make sure you aware of any extra expenses and fees that go along with buying the camper so you’re not surprised when the bill comes. Yes, the documentation fee can sometimes be negotiable.

3. What is the cost if I pay for the camper in cash?

Photo credit: Neil Melville-Kenney / Foter / CC BY-NC-SA

Photo credit: Neil Melville-Kenney / Foter / CC BY-NC-SA

Most RV dealers will make money off you financing, but it’s a lot less paper work for them if you pay with the green stuff. Expect to get close to a 5% discount by paying in cold hard cash.

4. Is there any equipment that comes as part of the purchase?

Photo credit: Jon Delorey / Foter / CC BY-NC-SA

Photo credit: Jon Delorey / Foter / CC BY-NC-SA

If the camper need new tires, mud flaps, touch-up, wipers, etc. See if you can get the dealer to throw them in as part of the deal.
5. What is the Term of the Loan and What is my Interest Rate?If you going down the financing road, thats fine, but do not sign anything until you completely 100% understand the details of the loan.
6. Has the Camper Been Used as a Demo or Rental?

Photo credit: elstro_88 / Foter / CC BY-NC-ND

Photo credit: elstro_88 / Foter / CC BY-NC-ND

You don’t want to buy the camper thats been rented and abused 100 of times at tailgate parties.

7. Do You Have The Repair History For This Camper?
Photo credit: Timitrius / Foter / CC BY-SA

Photo credit: Timitrius / Foter / CC BY-SA

If the camper is used, the dealership should be able to provide you with a record of any professional repairs that were done on the camper from an RV dealership’s garage. While it may not include all repairs It will help you get a good idea of what you’re buying.
8. Where Is The Buyers Guide?
According to federal law, every used camper with a motor must have some sort of “Buyers Guide” available. The Buyers Guide tells you things like if the dealer is selling the camper as is and if there is a warranty. The Buyers Guide will also tell you what the warranty will cover and how much money the dealership is responsible for contributing to repair costs. If  they say there is no Buyer’s Guide, I would walk away.
9. What Is Your Return Policy?

Photo credit: Slideshow Bruce / Foter / CC BY

Photo credit: Slideshow Bruce / Foter / CC BY

Believe it or not a lot of dealerships will except you returning your camper. You should ask so you know what your options are. If you feel like you got sold a total lemon, some states have lemon laws for used vehicles.
10. Can I See The Camper’s Title?
Title’s sometimes have a lot of information. In some states, a vehicle’s title must include if the camper was a salvage, a lemon buyback, or a rebuilt vehicle.
11. Will You Put That In Writing?
A dealer who is eager to sell, will sometimes say whatever it takes to get you to agree. Putting things in writing will make sure you get what you are promised.
12. Can You Confirm The Odometer Reading is Correct?

Photo credit: Jack Snell. / Foter / CC BY-NC-SA

Photo credit: Jack Snell. / Foter / CC BY-NC-SA

Unfortunately, Odometers are easy to tamper with and it happens all the time. If the dealer compares the recorded milage with the date of past repairs they can usually tell if everything is on the up and up.
13. Is There An Unexpired Manufacturer’s Warranty On This Vehicle?
If the camper is on the new side, it may still be covered under the original warranty without them even realizing it. It can’t hurt to ask.
14. Is that the best you can do? (watch the tone on this one)Some people are negotiating than others, this is a important question to make sure you are getting the best possible price.
15. Can I have a test drive?

Photo credit: s_mestdagh / Foter / CC BY-SA

Photo credit: s_mestdagh / Foter / CC BY-SA

Much like buying a car, you have every right to see how the camper sounds, steers, takes bumps, etc. before buying

16. Does this camper make me happy?

Photo credit: Owen's / Foter / CC BY-NC

Photo credit: Owen’s / Foter / CC BY-NC

Last question. And this one is for yourself. Weather you admit it or not, hopping for campers is an emotional task. In the heat of the moment you can forget what brought you there in the first place. Make sure you are buying a camper hat is right for you and is going to fulfill your needs.

Top 5 Camper Essentials I Wouldn’t Hit the Road Without

There are endless camper products out there. If I had to choose five that I wouldn’t hit the road without these would be them:

Photo credit: spieri_sf / Foter / CC BY-NC-ND

1. An Easy to Wash Collapsible Campsite Trash Can: It’s such a simple item, but it makes all the difference in the world. These make “leaving no trace” a lot easier; they set-up in seconds and are easy to haul.

2. Remote Battery Starter: No matter how careful you are at some point your battery will run out of juice on you. Make sure you have a remote starter like Jump-N-Carry that can get any size battery going.

3. An Easy to Set-up and Clean Portable Gas Grill: To me, half the fun of camping is the cooking & eating part. You want to find a small grill that is easy to set-up, clean and most of all, one that is going to last several years. I’ve had my Weber Portable Gas Grill for close to six years now.

4. A Comprehensive First Aid Kit: Whether we want to admit it or not, sometimes bad things happen. My first aid kit has saved my bacon a couple times already. I got Nitro-Pak’s Comprehensive Plus Kit a couple years ago after a medic friend recommended it. Not all first aid kits are created equal, invest in a complete kit so you don’t regret it when it matters.

5. A Good Bike Rack: In my opinion biking is really the best way to get around after you’ve set up camp. It’s really nice to get the blood moving after a long drive somewhere. There are tons of different options out there. I really like the 2-Bike Hitch Mount Rack. I’ve had it for years with no problems.

Eight Steps For Buying A Used Small Camper Without Getting Screwed!

1. Make a budget and stick to it.  Know your financial limit before you start looking and don’t go over it. It’s very easy to get excited in the moment and spend more than you had planned.

Photo credit: hz536n/George Thomas / Foter / CC BY-NC-ND

Photo credit: hz536n/George Thomas / Foter / CC BY-NC-ND

2. Research the camper model. It really pays to do your homework. Find out common complaints, typical repairs and price points. The internet is your friend on this one.

Photo credit: pixelroiber / Foter / CC BY-NC-ND

Photo credit: pixelroiber / Foter / CC BY-NC-ND

3. Get on the forums. Learn from other people’s experiences. It’s one of the few places you can find unbiased opinions. Good place to start: http://www.rv.net/forum/
http://www.irv2.com/
http://www.rvnetwork.com/
Photo credit: Stewf / Foter / CC BY-NC-SA

Photo credit: Stewf / Foter / CC BY-NC-SA

4. NEVER BUY ON IMPULSE! Don’t let the excitment of a possibly good deal make you make an impulse buy. Research and a through inspection always pays off in the end.

Photo credit: Barry Yanowitz / Foter / CC BY-NC

Photo credit: Barry Yanowitz / Foter / CC BY-NC

5. Use your own mechanic  Trust me, you’d rather spend an extra hour taking the camper to your own mechanic then spending the next few years in and out of the shop.

Photo credit: dave_7 / Foter / CC BY

Photo credit: dave_7 / Foter / CC BY

6. Inspect the owner, as well as the camper. Don’t buy a camper from someone you don’t trust. Would they tell you about something wrong with the camper without you asking? If it doesn’t feel right, walk away.

Photo credit: Curtis Gregory Perry / Foter / CC BY-NC-SA

Photo credit: Curtis Gregory Perry / Foter / CC BY-NC-SA

7. Be careful about financing with the RV dealer. Check all options before signing up for a payment plan with any RV dealership.

Photo credit: Monster. / Foter / CC BY-NC-ND

Photo credit: Monster. / Foter / CC BY-NC-ND

8. Be ready to walk away. Don’t feel obligated to make a purchase you’re not sure about. There are always more small campers out there.

Photo credit: MSVG / Foter / CC BY

Photo credit: MSVG / Foter / CC BY

Top 9 Camper and RV Manufacturers

Based on our experience and research we have made a list of the top 9 Camper and RV Manufacturers.

Airstream: You will probably find Airstream close to the top of every one’s  list. This 80 year old company makes rounded aluminum travel trailers of all sizes. They are luxurious, but at the same time built for functionality. Airstream hasn’t really changed their design over the years, but they have been keeping up with improvements and technology.
airstream.com

Arctic Fox by Northwood Manufacturing: Arctic Fox, built by Northwood Manufacturing has great ratings and reviews in just about all categories. The 20 year old company has made their mark in the industry, becoming one of the the biggest manufacturers out there. They specialize travel trailers, fifth wheels and truck campers.
northwoodmfg.com/arctic/

Fleetwood: Fleetwood RV is a large company that builds homes, as well as a large variety of RVs, from small campers to large motorhomes.Their best know brands are probably Discovery and Bounder. Their customer reviews are generally are good, but not at the top. Their strong points being overall quality, comfort and appearance.
fleetwoodrv.com

JaycoJayco, Inc. has been around for 45 years and has been making a great product the whole way through. They make a lot of different kinds of  RVs, from small campers to big motorhomes.Owner ratings are high and many compliment their customer service and quality.
jayco.com

Newell Coach: Newell Coach Is highly rated all around, but the owners pay for it. Doing almost all custom interiors, they are one of the most luxerious and pricey manufacturers on the list.
newellcoach.com
Newmar: Newmar Corporation makes a variety of RVs, but mostly large fifth wheels toy haulers, and motorhomes. Ratings are high overall, but their strong points are definitely comfort and design. They’re on the pricer side, but the craftsmanship of the interiors is hard to beat. Newmar is run by Amish, based upon Amish principles.
newmarcorp.com

Nu Wa: Nu Wa specializes in fifth wheels. With Nu Wa is known for their customer service. Customers can even buy straight from the factory. Reviews are outstanding in all areas.
nuwa.com

Tiffin Motorhomes: Tiffin Motorhomes is a family-run business that specializes in mid and high level campers and RVs. Owner reviews are high in most areas. The Allegro and the Zephyr are their two most popular brands. They’re know for great customer service and building long lasting relationships with customers.
tiffinmotorhomes.com

Winnebago: Winnebago Industries is one of the most well known brands in the industry. When buying from them you get the perks of a big company like long warranties and 24-hr road side assistance.The make all types of campers and RVs. Customer reviews are generally good, but not at the top.
winnebagoind.com

These other pages may be helpful to you: Camper Types, Buying a Camper GuideRatings of Camper and RV Manufacturers and Camper Manufacturers List