After moving into our trailer over two years ago we have strived to make it feel more like home. The first step was replacing pretty much all the furniture with IKEA stuff, yes even the mattress. Then we had a friend redo our valances. We ripped up the carpet and put in vinyl flooring last year.
If you have ever been in a trailer you have seen the accordion/privacy blinds that work on string tension. Besides our’s looking like paper plates folded up they can get dirty and then the strings start to suck. Once the strings go you pretty much have a window with a permanent blind. In the case of our back window the accordion never worked well and the best we could do was get it about halfway up. We knew that we wanted to replace the blinds with regular curtains but didn’t have a sewing machine.
In September we stopped by Kate’s parents home to do some dry docking. Besides installing electric fan roof vents Roger also made custom curtains. Kate’s dad, Bill, is a good handyman and taught Roger how to use the sewing machine.
Technically he re-taught me how to use a sewing machine. In 5th grade home-economics class I made a killer football pillow.
We bought cloth at Jo-Anne’s and curtain rods from Lowe’s. Roger watched the following video for the pattern:
Roger went with the beer pattern cause he’s so classy. This is next to where he sits during work hours. He got some leeway with the mancave-ness with all the sewing n stuff. Since the material was so thin we also put a pair of blackout curtains behind the beer ones. We used a double curtain rod setup inside of the valence. This blocks the sun during workdays and improves the insulation of the window a lot.
Kate took over in the “pattern selection” department for the rest of the windows. She spends most of her day working in the slide, as you can see with her computer screen in the photo below. To offset the tacky-ness of Roger’s beer curtains she went classy and subdued.
The two bedroom windows got a single curtain each since they are narrower. Since the valances have a different look here we went with a different fabric. These are about 85% blackout and make sleeping to 8am pleasant.
The effect that changing these windows has on the feel of the trailer is pretty remarkable. They look great but just as important they work better than the blinds that came with the trailer.
When Kate and I first met we went car camping and backpacking. We would carry our car camping equipment and our backpacking equipment as they each have their own uses and benefits.
Car Camping is a unique beast. You don’t have to get high end equipment as weight isn’t a huge deal. Also temperatures aren’t as important as you can just goto a hotel if it begins to snow. So instead of worrying about grams and insulation you should be thinking about comfort and cost.
Car Camping Shelter Options
When you think of camping the first item to consider is the tent. This is your shelter away from home. You will primarily use it to sleep in. You will also use it to change clothes in and hide from the rain.
You will not need to carry it very far so weight should not be too much of a concern. You will also not sleep in it if there is snow or the forecast is for temperatures below 20 degrees.
Basic 6 person Tent – Coleman 6 Person
We settled on a Coleman 6 person tent as it was under $100 and was plenty roomy for us and our two dogs. It is pretty simple to setup with two main rods that criss cross in the middle and lift the dome of the tent up. Be careful of the sleeves that the rods pass through; they can rip and tear if you aren’t careful. There is a rainfly which seems a bit small but does the job as intended.
If I recall the bag that comes with the tent for travel is just big enough to fit everything. This counts on your origami skills when rolling the tent up. I purchased an additional duffle bag that easily fit the tent, bedding, and air mattress. If you value your sanity I recommend this upgrade immediately.
Savvy 6 person Tent – Coleman WeatherMaster 6-Person Screened Tent
If you want to spend more money I would look at this 6 person tent from coleman. The screened in porch will be nice if you are in an area with bugs. It also looks a bit cooler which counts for campground popularity contests.
We have had a couple of Coleman canopies and they have been great. This one has screens you can add on which is what you will want. There is plenty of room here to put it over a picnic table or setup your own table and cook meals or have happy hour.
Sleeping when Car Camping
Whether you are car camping or backpacking you are sleeping on the ground. This means you want to have an air mattress of some kind. Once again for car camping you are not concerned with buying the lightest air mattress. Comfort is king.
One issue with a larger air mattress is that you need an electric pump if you ever want to sleep in it. Many mattresses only work with the pump they came with, that can suck when the pump breaks. Other pumps are battery powered but you need to take care of recharging them.
The Coleman Queen Airbed Cot is a solid cot lifting you off the ground with a queen size air mattress. The pump is battery powered so you might want to upgrade to a better pump. I like the rechargeable option since you might not be camping next to your car.
While an air mattress is a lot more comfortable than a foam pad it is still a firm surface compared to your home mattress. Kate got a three inch thick foam mattress topper that made camping into a luxury activity. Sure it was heavy and bulky but it was like sleeping on a cloud.
Part of camping is the enjoyment of cooking food in the woods and under the stars. From making coffee in the morning to sautéing in the evening you want a stable and consistent kitchen setup.
Cooking over a campfire is good for marshmallows and not much else. For actual cooking you want a gas two burner stove so you can make coffee and pancakes at the same time.
Some campsites don’t have tables or the ones they have may be in disrepair. Having a folding table can mean the difference between standing or squatting while making breakfast. I prefer to stand thank you very much. If you have the space in your car grabbing a dedicated cooking table helps keep things organized.
If you have a larger vehicle and want to cook up a large pot of chili or brew beer I recommend the Camp Chef Explorer. It comes with legs so you can set it up anywhere and cook with commanding power at 33,000 BTU’s for each burner. Yehaw! (You will need to get a big bottle of propane for this so be sure to have a large vehicle.)
Camping stoves generally bear the brunt of criticism when your pancakes are overdone, but what about the pot you are cooking with? We always had the cheap camping cookware because they stacked together to save space.
The problem is that they are made of thin aluminum which is light but also terrible at conducting heat in a dispersed method. This Magma 10 piece set not only has MAGMA sand blasted in the side but is also triple clad ensuring your confectionary masterpiece is always the best.
Recently purchased the DJI Phantom 3 Pro 4K flying camera and took it on its first flight. It is a lot of fun to fly and really easy to take boring video with. This short edit has more spinning shots that I prefer but this is how we learn, right? If you have a 4K tv be sure to crank the resolution up and let me know what you think.
The links on this page to amazon.com are affiliate links. If you click on one and make a purchase amazon may pay us a small percentage at no additional cost to you. While we aren’t going to retire on these proceeds it does help us spend more time sharing content you might like to see on this site.
Ever wondered how we stay for fresh and so clean? We shower with fresh water of course! The problem is that we only have a 40 gallon tank and we average about 7 gallons per day between the two of us. So at best we are only gonna make it a little over 5 days before we need more water. Rather than hook the trailer up once a week we fill our 7 gallon water jugs and pour them into the tank. After 6 months on the road we have a pretty good system for pouring it in.
Made a short video of Aeropress Instructions in our travel trailer:
You can buy them on Amazon: Aeropress Coffee and Espresso Maker
Aeropress Instructions are as varied as the weather. The basic instructions do a good job but we have found that stirring the grounds a bit more makes for a better cup of coffee.
We love our dogs and we love to exercise. However we have been trying to train our dogs to be better on the leash and it can get very tiring when walking them.
Recently we had a great training session with a local Orlando dog trainer, Heather of Think Alpha Dog … Contact Heather … 407.922.0285
. One of the devices she recommended was the Bike Tow Leash which simply attaches to your bike and lets you exercise your dog while riding your bike. You can buy these on Amazon – Bike Tow Leash (Disclosure – If you click this link we may get paid some change by Amazon).
As you can see in the video the dogs love running with them and bike handling is very solid.
Roger put together a quick overview of how we setup our trailer for living in it full time. If you have any questions or want more detail let us know. We love talking about our trailer!
I wanted to do a quick tour of the trailer. We’ve been on the road now 4 months and I keep promising to show people what we did to the trailer to make it full timeable. I shot some different videos inside and around the trailer to show you some different stuff that we’ve done, and I hope you enjoy it. Here we go.
Here’s the roof of the trailer, and these are our 320 watt solar panels that we installed for a total of 640 watts of power. Cables run down through the refrigerator.
This is the heart of the solar generation setup. I showed you before that the solar panels were up on the roof. The solar panels come down and they go into our solar charged controller. This is a TriStar MPPT controller 60, so it’s capable of up to 60 amps.
This thing is awesome. It generates its own web page that we can have go to a wireless router, and we can actually see what our solar panels are generating at any time, and it records it for 120 days. This is really cool. This comes in. This sends power into the batteries. It regulates between different types of charge cycles charging up the batteries depending on how full the batteries are of electrical charge. Does it really smart so they last a long time, and it’s great. That comes in. That comes out, and it feeds either the 12V system all the time, or we have this pure sine wave inverter from Go Power. This is the 200 watt model. Went to with this for a number of reasons, first of all it’s pure sine waves, so when you’re running it, it’s not going to give off any weird noises, high pitch frequencies, and things like that.
The other reason is from everything I’ve read, this is the best pure sine wave inverter on the market at 200 watts without going and spending even more money then this one costs. This one is not the cheapest, but it works very, very well. It powers all of our devices. It can power our Vitamix, it can power our Cuisinart, so we can do everything we need to do with this inverter, and that’s awesome. That’s really it for the battery side of things. We have a shunt bag there and that feeds into the battery monitor that we have inside, and we’ll look at that in a second. This is a regular battery charger. This is by Go Power as well. This is connected to the sure power connection. When we’re plugged into regular power at an RV park or something, that power is not only feeding 120 in the trailer, but it also comes in, it hits this battery charger, and then this charges up our batteries.
We have 2 different battery chargers basically here. One for doing solar with, and the other for coming off of sure. That right there with the solar panels, and then the batteries, are what make this a solar powered trailer. We’ve got our screen 2 tacos door happening. Come on in, and here we are in Chateau d’Rolling with Grass. This is the living room, and we’ve done a couple of modifications in here. Our good friends Pam and Willie from back in Phoenix helped reupholster our valances, and the headboards above the doors, and then there was also a 6 inch sticker that went all the way around the perimeter of this room that somebody at J-Co thought was a nice design to have. The only image I could think of is it made it so that when there’s a bunch of shit on your walls it didn’t look as bad, or something.
We had that removed. We pulled that off, and then Kate spent a whole bunch of time with Goo Gone getting these huge boogers of glue off of the walls, and so now they’re perfect. They’re in great conditions. You see these valances, they’re absolutely gorgeous. We’ll cruise in here into the bedroom. Queen sized bed. They re-did the headboard in that lovely grey. We did the valances a little bit different in the bedroom to give it a little bit different look and feel, and the headboard was done also with the different design in here. That right there made this a while new trailer, and we love it a ton. The next major change we did is we pulled out … There was a Lazy Boy back here that came with the trailer. We pulled that out and got rid of it.
It looked nasty, and we don’t really like Lazy Boys. We had these 2 Ikea chairs already, and we got new covers for them. Those fit in here perfectly. I generally work out of this one, and it does a great job. It’s super comfortable. That probably dropped the weight of our trailer by, I don’t know, at least 50 lbs or so. I mean, that chair was not super lightweight. Then what we did was it came with a couch that was a pull out couch. You had a pull out bed going on, but it had that same design as the sticker that went around the walls. It was too horrendous to have, and it wasn’t very comfortable either. We chucked that out, and got this Ikea couch, and put that in. That’s been really nice. We have a nice couch to sit on, and once again, that probably dropped the weight of the trailer by at least another 50 lbs, if not more.
Also, our friends Pam and Willie came in, and they painted, and reupholstered these chairs so they look much nicer then the way they were painted before. We’ve got some great artwork from my friend Melissa [Sherowski 06:02] back here to brighten everything up. That’s really the living room, working area. Kate spends a lot of time working at the table. Her dad, Mr. Bill Grass created this table for us. This thing’s pretty awesome. Before this, the big issue we were having was if I’m sitting in this chair, what do I do with my drink when I want to put it down, because otherwise I’ve got to sit here and drink all the time. We were thinking, ah, maybe we’ll put a bicycle mount, or something in here. Bicycle bottle holder. Put that in. We got to Williamsburg, Virginia and Bill was like, “No. I got this.”
We went out, and he bought a chair from Goodwill, and he turned the chair into this table. This table’s pretty sweet. Not only can I put my drink on it, I can put maybe some snacks, or an iPad or something on it. Then he also built this holder on the back that fits a wine bottle, and we’ve got these wine bottles that are growing these plants out of them, and he thought, “That will be pretty cool for you guys to have,” so he put that in there gratis. That’s really cool, and another thing that’s made it home, and made it much nicer to live in. That’s the living room. Let’s go look at the kitchen. Right here on the other side of everything is our sink, or stove top, oven, microwave oven, freezer, and then refrigerator.
This is where everything gets done. We’ve got a ton of storage room. We’ve got storage room up here for our food, plates, all the pots, and Vitamix, and Cuisinart are down here. We’ve got all our drawers. These, we’ve got some nice little latches on them so they don’t slide open when we’re cruising down the roadway. Keep our knives. Kate found this awesome knife block so we can keep all our knives in here. They’re not clattering around getting dull. Three burner stove. Got some cabbage getting read to get cooked later on. Microwave, also a storage compartment, and then our oven. Oven’s a little small, but hey, it gets the job done. Come over here we’ve got an ample size freezer full of goodies, and a nice size refrigerator with some champagne that we failed to drink on New Year’s Eve, but we’ll have that soon enough.
Plenty of beer fits in there, plenty of good food. We’ve got our pantry in here, so we’ve got some storage stuff, we’ve got our liquor cabinet, our sprouts are growing, condiments, spices, teas, all that stuff. Kate came up with this great idea of hanging spoons inside of the door, or in this case a ladle, and our potato masher, which we use frequently enough, but not enough to have them in the drawer taking up so much space. Then she puts some Velcro tape across them so that when we’re driving down the roadside, they’re not binging around smashing things up. That’s the kitchen. Kitchen’s pretty sweet. We’ve got a nice double sink, a little window, plenty of lights, fan, and light. Very, very good. We’ve been making some really great meals in here.
We’ve come up with the ability to actually both of us be cooking in here at the same time, and making that happen without it getting nasty at all. Going very, very nice. Underneath the refrigerator we have our hot water tank. I’ve got the WiFi setup in here on to that solar charge controller I was talking about earlier, so this will broadcast a web page of what the solar charge controller’s producing for us in real time. That’s pretty cool. I want to figure out a way to get that broadcast sent on the Internet, but haven’t quite figured that out yet without it endangering the security of the system. That’s all another issue. Up her above the pantry we’ve got the solar charge controller information. We’ve got the battery monitor here that comes off of that shunt.
This shows us in real time right now we’re at -0.5 amps. We’ve got a fan running, we’ve got the inverter running. This is the inverter remote control switch. I can turn it on, or off from here. It’ll let me know if there’s any issues. Now the sun came back out of the clouds. Now we’re producing 6.9 amps of power. We come over here, we’re at 99% full on the batteries, and currently we’re at 13.2 volts. Pretty cool stuff. Throughout the day we’ll come through here and check on where things at. Since we’re at 99% power, everything’s honky dory. We’ve got fans running, we’ve got the laptops plugged in charging up. We’re producing plenty of energy. Then later on at night we’ll keep an eye on this. It’s neat to have. We’ve got more storage here.
This is where our bookshelf’s at. This is where we keep our box of wine. We got the BIG JAMBOX from Jawbone as a blue tooth speaker, and it works great. It puts out enough sound. We can play it off either or iPhones, or our iPads, what have you, and it can go with us wherever we want. If we do end up driving down … Staying on maybe a 92 foot yacht, we can take that speaker with us and always have our own music with us. It’s nice to have. I recommend getting one no matter what you’re doing, but especially for camping it’s great. We don’t have to run any wires for speakers. As you can see I’ve walked into our bathroom area. We’ve got a nice simple sink. Kate’s dad once again replaced the faucet for us so this one’s much more usable.
The one that came with it, I think the nozzle was here, so worthless. Jayco if you’re paying attention. Bill Grass can help design your trailer much better. We’ve got our medicine cabinet. Not going to show you what’s inside of that. We’ve got our shower. Separate toilet area from the rest of the bathroom. Very useful to have. It’s a really simple toilet. Lid, your flush and valve opener. The original owner built this box in her. Nice little place. We’re able to store a lot of things. The paper roll goes in there, so it’s pretty cool to have, and then our laundry basket. Then we dry the towels in here. That’s the crapper. Last but not least is the bedroom. It’s here at the very front of the trailer. We’ve got the Queen sized bed, door, second door.
Very nice to have. A couple of windows. We have a closet here. We have 2 hanging closets on the side. They’re shorter closets, but you can hang stuff in those. Then we’ve got our cabinets up above to keep the rest of our clothes. What you see here is all of the space that we have for all of our clothing now. So far it’s worked out pretty well. We’ve been down to 22 degree weather in North Carolina. It’s not 80 plus degrees weather, and the clothes we’ve got with us, it gets done. We’ve got some fancy stuff if we need to get fancy. That’s the bedroom. We did replace this mattress with an Ikea firmer mattress, and it’s made all the difference. We sleep here with both dogs. It’s very cramped, but so far we’re making it work. We adjust to what the dogs want to be at, and there you have it.
One thing to point out that we did [inaudible 13:56]. Bill Grass, once again, the awesome guy that he is, installed these marine USB plugs for us. These are 12V power plugs, and what this gives us is the ability to charge our iPhone, and our iPods at night with the inverter off. We’ve always got our phones next to us, because those are our alarm clocks. The cool thing with this one. You can get this off of the Amazon, is it has a 2.1 amp, and a 1 amp plug. The 2.1 amp is what you want to have for your iPad. It will help that charge a lot faster. That’s very nice to have. We also put one of those in at the very back of the trailer, and I’ll show you what’s there here. It’s always nice to have as many plugs as possible, so we put another one of those 12V marine plugs back here, but then we also had Bill help us out changing out our regular electrical outlets to ones with USB plugs in them.
Once again it’s really a nice thing to have if you need to charge something that’s on USB, you can plug it into there. You don’t have to have a whole bunch of USB adapters, and things like that so that you can keep plugging more stuff in. The last thing I want to show you here is our water pump. When we’re not plugged into city water there’s no pressure to the water, so we have to have a pump to be able to get it to out all the faucets, and the shower. Back here is where Jayco decided to put their pumps. We’ve got our shoreline cable here which is not in use right now, but then here’s our pump. This basically pumps all the water out. It’s a little bit noisy, but it’s not too bad. Bill, once again, helped us refashion this. When we got this little pump house here, this did not have a hinge, so the only way to get in here was to bust out this side door.
It was really sloppy. Bill came in, created a nice hinge for it. It works really nicely if we need to access in to there for anything. Works great. There you go. That’s the inside of the trailer. All right. Quick tour of the outside. This is our awning. Twenty foot. Pretty easy to setup. Shade, and water, it’s all great. We do a little carpeting action with some tarp, so we’ve got an outdoor little patio. Camp chairs, bikes are setup ready to go. We have a camp table. On the back here, the really cool thing with this trailer is the original owner put in this shelf on the back. The really cool part about it is that it has a generator mount with a locking bar on it that fits the type of generator that we wanted. We have a Honda 3000i, and it’s a very good generator, pretty quiet, and it fits perfectly into this.
The feet mounts go right in the bottom, and then it’s got this locking bar on it, because it’s a pretty useful item to have, and other people would like to take that, so we’ve got that locked up. We’ve got one of our 2, 7 gallon water jugs back here. I use this to keep filling up the dogs water bowl when they’re outside. We’ve got a pickaxe, and a shovel. Shovel’s really mostly used for filling in the holes that the dogs dig up. Here’s our other water jug, and then we’ll use that at some point. We’ve got a gasoline tank for the generator. We have a whole container for all of our sewage hoses. When we’re either at an RV park, or a dump station, we need to dump our black tank, and grey tank, that’s all the equipment. It’s nice, and into one piece, and it straps on back here in the back, so keep all that shit literally separated from everything else.
We’ve got a bicycle rack that mounts onto the ladder. We put our 2 bikes on there, so keep our bikes with us when we cruise around wherever we head off to. Our spare tire. You’ll notice the spare tire has got its own mount. That was built by our good buddy Eric in Loveland, Colorado. He’s a master welder. You can check out these welds. Real clean. He made that for us the week we were in Loveland, Colorado. Thanks again Eric. It’s very useful to have. We’ve got our slides. This trailer’s got a nice … I don’t know. Is that 12 feet? Twelve foot long slide, maybe longer. That’s where the dining room tables at. That was the couch was at when we were looking at the inside. We’ve got our leveler jacks. There’s one back there, and then one over here.
That’s less for leveling, and more for stability. Then we’ve got our sewage right here. This is our black water guy. When I pull that, all the black water comes out. Then this is our grey water guy right here. That’s all that fun stuff. We’ve got a little garage in the front. That’s where I keep the hitch. When we’re rolling, this is where I put in all of our tire chocks, and the leveling blocks. Batteries, propane. We’ve got 2, 7 gallon tanks. That’s the outside of the trailer. That was the trailer. That’s what we have converted in to being able to live full time in. If you’ve got questions about it, please let me know. I’m happy to go into more detail. If you’ve got any suggestions, or tips, or advice, please, we’re brand new doing this.
We’d love to learn more stuff. We’re always learning more things from people who have been doing it longer, and maybe better. Anything to make it a more enjoyable experience, we’d love to hear from you. Maybe we’ll implement it. Maybe we won’t. We’re not looking to spend a whole lot of money. Let us know. Have a great day.