Do research before you start looking for a travel trailer

There are few things as enjoyable as falling asleep beneath a star-lit sky with nothing between you and the stars. It tends to put life into perspective.

Others enjoy seeing the stars but prefer to fall asleep inside some type of shelter. The reason doesn’t really matter, but something simple can sometimes mean the difference between a long night of fitful sleep and one that’s truly restful.

For most, that shelter is usually a simple tent, but an increasing number of outdoor types are turning to travel trailers in all their varieties and the comforts they provide.

Admittedly, there is something to be said about sleeping within walls that don’t snap loudly when the wind blows hard or sitting around a table and watching episodes of “Duck Dynasty” while eating ice cream. A soft bed off the ground doesn’t hurt, either.

There was a time when camping in a travel trailer was viewed as something for mature folks who have aged out of the tent phase, but that is no longer the case. Today it is not uncommon to see young people who have chosen to pass by the tent phase altogether and go directly to the travel trailer stage of outdoor living.

If you are contemplating the jump from a tent to a travel trailer, you need to consider some things before visiting the dealership and perhaps even before you start looking online.

“People today are pretty smart, pretty sharp, well educated,” said C.J. Klimer, a recreational vehicle consultant at Blue Dog RV in Henderson. “The internet helps out a lot, but we have many people come in here and say, ‘I’m looking for this.’ Then they see something else. And probably 70 or 80 percent of the time, the coach they came in and thought they wanted is not the one they picked.”

Klimer said that happens because what they thought they wanted isn’t what they were really looking for. If people buy a coach that doesn’t match their plans for its use, they will be back in a few months looking for something different. So he recommends having a frank conversation with your salesman and making sure they understand how you plan to use a trailer.

Someone who plans to use a trailer for weekend here and there needs something different from one who plans to camp for several weeks during the year. Then there is the question of whether you want something you can pull with a receiver hitch or a fifth wheel. The answer will determine, at least in part, whether you can get by with a half-ton pickup or if you need something heavier.

How you plan to use your trailer includes where you plan to take it. Take the time to consider the places where you like to hunt or fish. Consider the terrain, the roads and what it takes to get there. Then ask yourself if that 40-foot trailer with washer and dryer hookups and enough storage for a six-month supply of groceries will realistically make it where you want to go.

Maybe something a little smaller with more clearance would be more appropriate for your needs. Or perhaps you need somewhere to strap down a four-wheeler.

Another important consideration is the number of people sleeping in your trailer. Trailers come in a variety of floor plans, and length alone does not determine how many people they can sleep. Keep in mind that not all “beds” are created equal.

And what about storing the trailer? Perhaps it goes without saying, but that 30-foot driveway next to your house isn’t going to accommodate a 40-foot fifth wheel.

And finally, determine your budget before you go to buy. That will help your salesman stay within your target price point.

Freelance writer Doug Nielsen is a conservation educator for the Nevada Department of Wildlife. His “In the Outdoors” column, published Thursday in the Las Vegas Review-Journal, is not affiliated with or endorsed by the NDOW. Any opinions are his own. Find him on Facebook at @dougwritesoutdoors. He can be reached at

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