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What to Consider when Purchasing a Pop up Camper

Last time we talked, I shared my reasoning behind the camper cottage, today Im going to share with you all of the requirements we took into account to finally make the purchase. This particular renovation project did not occur without a lot of research and some insights that I wish I could have gotten my hands on before handing over hard cold cash. Here is what you will need to consider if you have ever imagined sleeping under the stars.

HARD TOP VS SOFT TOP ??

Our camper was not the first one we tried to buy. Through our trailer hunt we learned a lot and so did those who were selling. You see we all learned that tent trailers or pop up trailers or canvas trailers, or whatever you refer to them as, are special. And some potential sellers even changed their minds when selling their campers!

We learned that not only are tent trailers economical compared to their hard bodied relatives but they are also obviously easier to store and not so obviously easier to guarantee the most natural camp sites for your camping pleasure. Perplexed?? We were at first too.

Although I may have even taken a Rec and Leisure Course in College, I admittedly haven’t been camping since before we had children. I reasoned with babies always in tow, that camping would be too difficult for us, (all the avid campers are scoffing right now, and rightly so! ;)) So, we really have been out of the camping game. What we quickly got filled in on though is that if you are contemplating a purchase between a soft top and a hard top you have to be prepared to know that most camp grounds have limited site access for hard topped RVs. Because of their compact size tent trailers can have beach access and rustic sites that the big hard topped guys cant visit. Exclusivity? Suddenly the soft top was looking pretty good for us.

WHERE TO PURCHASE??

We originally started our camper search through a local online selling site. However certain dealers also advertise on those same sites. I found myself in a dealership, solo parenting with three crazy kids one hot summer day, sitting beneath the smug smiles of a sales man that thought he was meeting with a silly impressionable girl. He tried to sell me a trailer for double what it was worth and of cource, that didn’t happen.

TIP: Know your stuff if you choose to go that route.

In the end we left the dealership, I counteracted with an email indicating what I thought was a fair price in order for me to make a purchase and the sales man drastically budged on the price so he could make the sale. Now, this isn’t the way we ended up buying ours, but it almost happened. My point is that dealerships always want to make the sale. HOWEVER, the price sticker is negotiable! IF you are looking on your local buy and sell sites, it is worth checking out the dealerships listings and going in with a firm offer that you value as fair. Do not be afraid to walk away from a sale in order to pay exactly what you think a trailer is worth. After all, if you’ve found your way here today, I bet you are like us and you may just be thinking about renovating your little camper anyways. 😉 Paying a fair amount for your trailer will allow you a bigger reno budget. 

WHAT WILL YOU BE CHANGING??

Speaking of renovating, you need to know exactly what you are willing to take on, before you make your purchase. For example, personally, I knew we wanted to change almost every element within the trailer. However, that might not be the case for you. If you aren’t planning on switching out flooring or counters, remember to consider their aesthetic. It my sound silly, but if you are hoping for a pretty place you want to spend time in, you might regret settling for interior or exterior elements you cant change or that do not fit into your budget. Even if it just is a camper. 😉

WHAT ARE YOUR KITCHEN CAMPER NEEDS?

For us, I knew the trailer kitchen was going to be an important space within the camper. After all, if we wanted a rustic camping experience we would have been shopping for a tent, but for food lovers such as ourselves, we didn’t want to make do with a less than desirable kitchenette.

Some things to consider are:

  • Does the camper have a fridge?
  • Do you require a fridge or are you fine packing a cooler?
  • Do you plan on prepping food and meals inside the camper?
  • Do you have enough counter space to do so if required?
  • Are the counters water damaged and needing replaced? Is that in your budget?
  • Is the sink a good size for your needs?
  • Is there an immediate water hook up?
  • Is there a water container for easy water storage?
  • Does the faucet need replaced?
  • Does the camper come with a stove?
  • Has the camper been cooked in often?
  • Is the stove detachable or is it a built in?

Personally, we were looking for a camper that had optimal counter space as I plan to do prep work inside the trailer. I do not plan on using the detachable stove within the trailer because that makes me wonder about all the bedding smelling like our dinner, but to each his own. For us, we liked the fact that the camper hadn’t been extensively cooked in and didn’t show any signs of damage because of it.

Because we are a family that downs a lot of water, a water container was a great bonus for us. It simply hooks right up the plumbing to the kitchen sink but we can easily bring a long water from home. We also really required a working fridge, they can be difficult to replace but are such a bonus if you have an electrical site. Your fridge will be cool in no time and so will your drinks! Cheers! 😉

WHAT KIND OF TABLE ARRANGEMENTS DO YOU WANT?

It is great to consider how you are going to live in your trailer and if that requires you dining within it. If so, you might require a certain set up depending on the size of your family or how many will occupy it at one given time.

We loved the idea of having a booth like area for our indoor dining. The set up feels intimate and family style, but still allows two exits on either side of the “booth” for both parents to get up and assist children with more napkins, more food, more potty breaks. 😉 Campers have lots of different seating arrangements so shop around and consider how YOUR family will use your little getaway.

CAN YOUR INTERIOR LAYOUT BE MODIFIED?

Some trailers come equipped with showers and porta potties and lots of other fun upgrades. For us a bathroom wasn’t a must. But also, neither was the additional eating unit within our trailer.

As much as it is pretty cool to see this table fold down and watch as the whole area turns into an additional sleeping spot, it wasn’t needed by our family. Also, this layout crowded the entry of the trailer and needed to be modified.

Don’t be afraid to reimagine your trailer.

This little area will have it’s table easily folded and removed and will be replaced with a smaller table but I also am considering putting in a little pouff to turn this spot into a little sitting area or an entry if you will. A space to quickly sit to take off or put on shoes and one that doesn’t feel crowded. Think creatively when trailer shopping!

HOW MANY PEOPLE WILL YOU NEED TO SLEEP?

Beyond the kitchen area of our trailer you will see a bed. Both ends of our trailer have significant sized beds. One is a queen and one is a double.

Consider how many people your trailer needs to sleep and house before you go on your trailer hunt. This is crucial.

This is where you should always bring a measuring tape. For us, we knew with so many sleeping options we could make this particular trailer work for us, but we did however fail to measure the spaces. We were told one side was a king bed, but upon further investigating,  it is not.

This could however make or break your sleeping arrangements so be sure to measure it out and know the standard sizing for beds before viewing campers. Also consider if its in your budget to replace the bedding with sizes you don’t already known, if you’re not planning to sleep in sleeping bags and require sheets and comforters, this could get very costly.

HOW MUCH STORAGE SPACE DO YOU REQUIRE?

Camper storage is primarily hidden under seating. Typically, the tops of the seats flip up to reveal open space within the camper. This is where you will store everything you take with you on your trips and perhaps additional items like cookware and dishes that will always remain within the camper. Perhaps you are like us an and find trailer interiors to be stuffy? Perhaps you too want to take out some of the interior finishings to create more free space within your camper?

Here are some things to consider about the amount of seating your trailer has:

  • Will you store your kitchen items within the trailer? If so, the more seating the better!
  • Will you store your bedding within the trailer?
  • Will you be doing seasonal camping that requires lots of layering to be packed?
  • Are you taking pets with you camping? Their food bowls, food, bed, leashes and accessories will need stored.
  • Will you be recovering your cushions that accompany extra seating spaces? If so, what will the expense be, is that in your budget or should you consider a trailer who already has quality cushions that you are happy with?

I hope this post will help you and your family if you are considering purchasing a trailer or camper. There is much to consider before towing one home, so we hope this can help you!

Next we will be sharing with you how we took this ok trailer and personalized it with some sweat and elbow grease to make it feel like home. Stay tuned for more posts that share the budget breakdown of a trailer over hall, things to consider before renovating and things we learned while renovating!

I guess the adventure has begun and we haven’t even camped yet! 😉

Would you ever consider buying a pop up camper? If so, what would you add to my list? If anything? I’d love to hear!

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