Today, August 12, 2019, marks the one-year anniversary of our 3-week summer camping trip to New Mexico. We bought our travel camper in April of 2018, and drove it to nearby locations for practice runs. We visited South Padre Island, Goliad, and the central Texas Gulf Coast. Our dream was to drive it outside of Texas to escape the summer heat.
Our first stop was in Kerrville, Texas. As soon as you leave home, there is so much to see and discover like Kerrville’s River Trail; a beautiful place for a bicycle ride and just relaxing. During this trip we camped in Carlsbad NM, spend a whole week in Santa Fe, visited Georgia O’Keeffe’s home in Abiquiu, the Ghost Ranch, Taos, and Cloudcroft NM. The views in Bandelier Park, Carlsbad Caverns, the Chisos and Guadalupe mountains, Lincoln National Forest took our breath away. As expected, the weather was cool and welcoming. On the way back we stopped for a few days in Fort Davis to participate in their annual Hummingbird Celebration, Junction, and lastly, we visited family in Leander before heading back home. It was a dream trip and we thank God for His blessings.
Living in the Rio Grande Valley complicates camping trip a bit, for we are so far from everything and distance is money when it comes to camping trips.
If you have been thinking about buying a camper but you are not sure you will enjoy it, I have a few suggestions for you.
1 – It is recommended to rent an RV before buying one. We did not do this because, for three years, we had been thinking about all the possibilities, talking to friends who camp and watching tons of YouTube videos on the subject. Overall I think to rent one could be a good idea for a short trip near home. How much vacation time do you have available for camping trips? I work from home so camping (as long as there is good Wi-Fi) works for me.
2- Don’t get crazy with size. Buying an RV or travel trailer is like buying a home. The temptation is hard to resist when you see the amazing options out there. Outdoor kitchens, two separate bedrooms, kitchen with islands and so many bells and whistles. I cannot stress this enough. If this is your first experience camping, buy a smaller camper to increase the odds of having a positive experience. If and after a few trips you decide you do need a bigger camper, you can always trade it in for a new one. I recommend buying a camper that is 18 to 24 feet long especially if your plan is to travel without kids. If you’re empty nesters like we are and are looking for a more adult experience and plan to make about 4 -10 short trips a year (from a weekend to a 2-week trip), a smaller camper is ideal. Always make sure you have the right vehicle to tow your new camper.
3- Someone once told me that camping will bring couples closer together or will contribute to their marriage’s demise. This is a scary thought but very true. Are you willing to try? LOL! I hope the answer is yes because camping can be a lot of fun. You and your partner will see a lot of each other and will rely on each other to make these trips an enjoyable experience. Chores have to be shared or it will be overwhelming for one person. There are lots of things to do when hooking-up electric and cable cords, sewer duct, water hoses, leveling, backing the camper into parking spaces requires teamwork. Outdoor spaces have to be set up with rugs, chairs, and the like. While driving, the camper shakes significantly so items inside the camper have to be secured. Some campers have slideouts that have to be set up before the enjoyment begins. Have a cold drink ready for then.
4- Give your new camper a name for it will be an important part of your life. It is a second home. We named our camper Dorsey. It is a Surveyor by Forest River ( short video for full details) we bought at RV Station in Donna, Texas. They were helpful and extremely patient with us. We are grateful and recommend them. Ask for Cesar. With all the new travel trailers out there it is important for us that we do not regret our choice. We highly recommend this model.
5- Consider storage options and insurance costs before you buy. Do you have room for it at home or do you need to rent storage space? We pamper Dorsey with covered storage at La Feria’s Dixie RV & Boat Storage. We also purchased travel insurance through Forest River. It is about $120 per year and well worth the investment.
5- If this already sounds too complicated, you might want to rethink your plans. Also, camping trips are not cheaper than road trips staying at hotels or vacation rentals. They cost about the same. Camping is more about the outdoor experience. It is much more affordable to stay at a state or national park than staying at RV parks. These parks average $25 a night while some of the nicer RV parks can charge over $60 a night. It depends on the area and the time of the year. Gas prices make all the difference when pulling a trailer, for example, our truck guzzles 8 to 9 miles per gallon. For us, staying at parks is much better even if they don’t offer cable or, like in some cases, sewer hookups. All of them have clean and comfortable restrooms and showers. There is nothing better than to disconnect and enjoy the outdoors. That’s what camping is all about!
For me, this trip to New Mexico was beyond expectations to the point that when my husband decided to book us on a tour to Portugal instead of a camping trip to Colorado this summer, I was actually disappointed. Unbelievable!