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Travel Trailer or Another Timeshare

mtngal

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I'm planning on retiring in a year and have started planning/thinking about it. My plans are to take at least 1 long road trip, probably more since all of the places I want to go would most likely take at least a year or 2 to do in a relatively leisurely manner, and I don't want to be a full-time RVer. So I imagine I'll take a number of trips, being gone for several months at a time. I would be traveling alone for the most part, maybe with a dog.

If I were to get the travel trailer, it would give me the freedom to go wherever I wanted, such as Moab Utah - one of the first places I want to visit. I'd have my own bathroom and small kitchen, otherwise I'd stay in a motel and have to eat alone at restaurants, which I hate doing and which is a lot more expensive than fixing my own.

If I went with another timeshare, I'd either buy more WorldMark points or else buy a Wyndham points account, both of which would give me the flexibility I would want.

Both a timeshare and a trailer would require a certain amount of up-front cost, more than just doing the motel bit completely. The timeshare would most likely have a lower acquisition cost, and potentially (but not guaranteed) a greater resale value.

Both would require additional annual maintenance fees - the trailer (if not allowed to sit for an extended time) would be cheaper than the timeshare.

If I were to stay primarily at private campgrounds there would be additional nightly fees, though I imagine I would overnight/dry camp on a fairly regular basis. If I were to stay at timeshares I would have to stay at motels fairly often, while going from one place to another and when I want to visit places like Moab. So I suspect that the overall nightly cost would be cheaper with the travel trailer, at least at first since I am planning on some long road trips where there aren't any/many timeshares.

Cost of gas would be higher with the trailer, and whether towing a trailer would bother me or not is something I don't really know (it's been years since I towed a horse trailer, and then I didn't do it often - either a friend or my husband drove mostly). I don't remember it being a burden or a problem, just something that had different rules and things that required attention. I'm looking at a trailer that's 20 feet or under, something I can tow with the same vehicle I'd be driving to timeshares (a Grand Cherokee).

If it were your decision, which way would you go and why? Is there something I haven't considered that might make the decision more obvious? There's always intangibles, are there any others someone might have that I haven't thought of?

Any ideas, thoughts and experiences with such things would be much appreciated!
 

moonstone

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We have been camping (tent then trailer) for a lot longer than we've owned a timeshare (30+ yrs). We find that sometimes timeshares are not where we'd like to visit. For instance a few years ago we wanted to see Boston. I didn't have anything left to exchange (we are often last minute planners) and there was nothing in RCI Extra Vacations. I found a MA state park just outside of Boston. When we added up the cost of the extra gas (to take the van & tow the trailer as opposed to taking the little car) and the campsite we were less than what an Extra Vac would have cost if there had been one available.

We often find that timeshares don't have as nice of a view as some campgrounds (state parks) and often there aren't as many people around. Between the cost of campgrounds & gas we don't camp as much as we used to.

One advantage of a trailer is that you can stay longer in 1 place if desired and you don't need to unpack & repack each week. We also use our trailer to visit out of town family & friends who have small houses/condos.

~Diane
 

Passepartout

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At least some of the decision (about an RV) should be about your mechanical aptitude, comfort with, and ability to 'problem solve', familiarity with stuff like plumbing, electrical, use of various leveling devices, etc. Doing some simple every-day tasks alone is a PITA- like just hooking up and setting up to 'camp'. It seems like there is always 'something' to deal with on an RV, and you can't always have a handy dealer or shop to fix it. You will find it necessary to have a better-than average tool box. Where with timeshares, the maintenance crew is a phone call away.

We do both, having 3 TSs and a 32 ft. 5th wheel, so I know some of what I speak.

Jim

Added: you should also be comfortable with at least the concept of- if not the practice- of backing a trailer. It doesn't come naturally for some.
 
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DaveNV

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I've done what you're thinking of. When I first retired from the Navy, I traveled for a year in a motorhome, towing a car. I visited thirteen western USA states over the course of a year, staying for a single night or up to three weeks in the same location. I even wrote an article I sold online, titled "How To Live In A Motorhome." Here are a few quick thoughts:

I'd suggest trying the trailer first, but don't buy one right off. Just as with a timeshare, it's easier to get into one than get out of one. Trailers anymore come in all types and varieties, and at every quality and price point. You likely won't know what features you want until you've tried a few. You aren't even sure if you'll like the experience.

Rent or borrow one, and test it out. Short trips at first - weekends at locations close to your home - even at an RV park in your own town. You can even try camping in your own driveway. Distance from home doesn't matter - the trailer camping experience does. This will quickly tell you whether you like the idea, and whether it's a practical choice for you to make. You can learn what to pack or not, and how well you like the idea of staying in that confined space.

Keep in mind with timesharing, you arrive, check in, and you're good to go. The vacation is mostly about the "being there" part. With a trailer, "being there" is important, but the "getting there" part is HUGE. You have to enjoy the drive, with that 20 foot house behind you the whole way. If you don't enjoy the "getting there" part, a big part of trailer traveling will be lost for you and you're certain to dislike the overall experience.

Once you feel you're ready for a longer trailer trip, then make your trip to Moab (where there are no timeshares) and see what you think of the experience. You can gauge how well your Cherokee handles towing it, what happens with your gas mileage, and learn first-hand other details that can only be learned by doing it.

Some things to consider about a trailer: Set up and break down requires a certain amount of planning and effort, every time you move it. Things like sewer hoses and dump tanks and trailer leveling are things to think about. Power requirements, storage of the necessities you want to take with you, and general maintenance of the trailer are all factors to consider. Weather (good or bad, hot or cold) will be a factor. What routes you take when traveling. Safety and security for you and your possessions.

Where will you stay? I'd suggest you look into a membership camping club like Thousand Trails. There are several others. It reduces the cost of commercial campgrounds considerably. Dry camping is an option, but availability of locations is limited (unless you're thinking of overnighting in a WalMart parking lot and similar.) Commercial campgrounds like KOA charge a lot. (I just checked the Moab KOA, and for a weekend in September for a 20 foot trailer they want $47.95 per night. Pet fees are extra.)

Your health: What if you get sick, and are across the country with your car, trailer, and dog? Is there someone you can send to retrieve it for you?

Compared to timesharing it: As you know, there aren't enough timeshares in certain areas, and availability can be limited. Moab is one. So you'd still be staying at a motel there, if you didn't have a trailer. With a trailer you'd have your independence, a familiar bed, and your own space. But in a timeshare, none of the above applies. You turn in the keys and walk away.

Lots of things to consider. Good luck!

Dave
 
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WinniWoman

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Although I do not have the experience with a travel trailer, I agree with Dave and Jim. I personally don't like the idea of a travel trailer at all- just not my style- everyone is different-I like freedom and I feel like a trailer would be a burden and a hassle. Not to mention what Jim said about all the work and upkeep.

I think, as dave said, the idea of renting one for your Moab Utah trip is a great one after you have rented one for some short trips to get used to it. I definitely wouldn't buy one ever.

I think acquiring some free or resale points to add to your timeshare experiences is a better idea. You will surely be able to visit some resorts near some of the national parks- even if there is an hour or so drive to the.

As Dave said- staying at campgrounds/cabins is an option, or joining a camping club membership.

Retirement should be about freedom and less stuff is the way I see it. Travel trailers don't fall into those categories. Enjoy no matter what you decide!
 

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Thanks for all these answers, and especially for the idea of renting/borrowing a trailer. I once looked around for some place that rented trailers and couldn't find one. However, I do know someone who has a trailer that's the size I'm thinking of and I'm sure he would be happy to give me a couple of lessons in towing one. That would be huge toward making the decision - the towing is the biggest "unknown" for me.

I'm not as concerned about the mechanical systems - I'm reasonably handy and have a basic understanding of the plumbing and mechanical part of it (as well as some idea of lousy workmanship - saw one trailer that was so poorly built it looked like it would fall apart the first time it was taken out). The electrical is new to me but I'm picking up a lot of knowledge on-line about power sources, battery management and the various advantages/disadvantages of generators and solar panels. I have lots of time to learn more between now and when I would probably leave on a long trip. I'd be happy to have a more complete tool box (good suggestion - get what you need BEFORE you need it!). I don't know anything about leveling a trailer but assume I can learn how to do that without too much problem.

I've been a tent camper on and off most of my adult life (also did a little van camping a number of years ago). I do know all about testing your new equipment/set-up at home or locally, and how useful it is to go on several short trips before a long one (the first short trip you always take 3 times the amount of stuff you need, the second you forget something critical and the third one is just about right).

The comment about camping in my driveway almost got me to go out today to buy one - it's been a long, hot summer this year and I don't have air conditioning. It would be wonderful to be able to escape the heat in a nice, air-conditioned trailer! Could I ever go for that!! So maybe a travel trailer will get more use than I initially thought, even if it doesn't move from my yard.

I'm pretty sure I have my list of "must-haves", "wants" and "forget it" down reasonably well. I'm undecided about some of the compromises I would be making for the various trailers I'm looking at, one of them is an Aliner while the others are regular trailers.

The biggest reason I'm thinking of a trailer is security. I'll be an older solo female and don't feel comfortable any more with canvas or midnight walks to the toilet. The Aliner is as minimalist as I think I can go (I can get either a cassette toilet or a wet bath).

One of the trips I want to do is drive to Alaska, it was a childhood dream and since the roads are good now, I don't see why I can't do it. Then there's the Maritime Provinces and lots of national parks I haven't visited yet. I'm looking at retirement as being finally able to visit the places I've always wanted to see, to not have a timetable to do it in.

I have looked at Thousand Trails (it was the first thing that came to mind) along with some of the other camping membership organizations. 10 years ago you couldn't sell a camping membership, but now it looks like Thousand Trails memberships (certain ones) do have some resale value, it surprised me. If I get a trailer I might do something like that eventually.
 

Makai Guy

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Something to think about as you consider getting that trailer ...

The year after I retired we took our trailer out to Yellowstone and worked a few months in one of the campgrounds there. It turned out to be one of the best summers and trips we've ever experienced. We especially enjoyed meeting and interacting with park visitors from all over the world, and our fellow employees were all retired RVers with whom we had a lot in common. We still keep in touch with a few of them 12 years later.

There's a link to our photo journal in my signature block, below. I wouldn't suggest it for most people, but within that there's also a link to our full text journal from the trip that might give you a bit more insight as to what you'd be getting into.
 
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DaveNV

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Thanks for all these answers, and especially for the idea of renting/borrowing a trailer.

Happy to be of help. I'm a trailer fan, and as it happens, have been looking recently at lightweight trailers for weekend trips up in my neck of the woods. I enjoy timesharing, but like those spontaneous weekend getaways too.

You may want to check out some senior citizen neighborhoods in your town, and drive around them. Sometimes a trailer is sitting there unused, and the people haven't gotten around to trying to sell it. You may find a bargain at your relative doorstep. Knock on a few doors or ask a few questions, and see what sort of things happen.

The Aliner is as minimalist as I think I can go (I can get either a cassette toilet or a wet bath).

The Aliner is the one that has a hard sided design that folds up and down, right? Looks like a letter A when it's set up? Would be easy to tow, but I never cared for the lack of stand-up room inside. If the weather is rainy, where are you going to spend your time? I've only seen them up close a few times, so maybe there's a recent design change that addresses that.

I have looked at Thousand Trails (it was the first thing that came to mind) along with some of the other camping membership organizations. 10 years ago you couldn't sell a camping membership, but now it looks like Thousand Trails memberships (certain ones) do have some resale value, it surprised me. If I get a trailer I might do something like that eventually.

Check eBay. I've seen memberships selling there for the same sort of money timeshares sell for. You may find something great for a low price.

It sounds like you've already answered a lot of the questions for yourself. The rest is the trial and error, and then the doing. Have fun! Moab is a great place! (Slickrock Campground is a nice facility. http://slickrockcampground.com )

Dave
 
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presley

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How badly do you want to travel with your dog? A trailer is obviously great for that and timeshares generally don't allow dogs. It's something I am thinking a great deal about for myself. There are places I want to go that don't have timeshares (national and state parks) and I'd enjoy having my dogs with me. I think I'd like to know it was my own personal space, too.

In either case, you can rent and not buy. You may choose to do a little of both until you reach a point where you are completely sure which one you'd prefer. Since you don't own either, you are in a very good place to try out both several times before making a purchase.

The trailer will be more work overall, but you'll still have to clean up after yourself in a timeshare, do dishes, take out trash, do laundry, etc. If you used a timeshare, you'd also end up paying for a pet sitter for your dog. However, you'd be free to go out and go places that don't allow dogs. When you bring a dog in a trailer, you are limiting yourself to only going into places that allow dogs.
 

silentg

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This is an easy one for me. I don't like camping, and don't have a dog. So I would go on timeshare vacations only. If I did own a dog, I would take him to pet friendly resorts. Two of my close friends have RV's and love them, but we don't vacation together. They also have timeshares. We go to different resorts, share stories of our vacations, and never talk politics. I think that is why we have been friends this long!
Silentg
 

mtngal

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The year after I retired we took our trailer out to Yellowstone and worked a few months in one of the campgrounds there.

There's a link to our photo journal in my signature block, below. I wouldn't suggest it for most people, but within that there's also a link to our full text journal from the trip that might give you a bit more insight as to what you'd be getting into.

Thanks for the link to your journal - I've printed it out so I can read it again in more detail. It looks like you had a great time from the pictures (I am familiar with Yellowstone and the Jackson area, been there several times over the years and loved every minute of my visits).

I'm a trailer fan, and as it happens, have been looking recently at lightweight trailers for weekend trips up in my neck of the woods. I enjoy timesharing, but like those spontaneous weekend getaways too.

Dave

Out of curiosity which trailers are you looking at? I've not been researching for very long and am interested in what else is out there.

The Aliners are hard sided pop-ups. The one I'm thinking about has a 15 foot box and has the option for a wet bath or a cassette toilet. This one is designed so you can stand in it, and one (or both) ends have the option of a canvas dormer that you can open for more ventilation and headroom at the ends, but doesn't have to be open if the weather is lousy. I've kept them on my list because they are the lightest, cheapest, and easiest to tow trailer (and were the only option when my tow vehicle was going to be a Jeep Wrangler).

I've looked at the R Pods and the Lance (model 1685). So far I've been most impressed with the Lance - it's very well made but it's also the largest, heaviest (double axle) trailer I'm considering. I like the idea of the fiberglass shell trailers like the Escape and Casita, but I've never seen either one and they would be smaller because there's no option for a slide (both the R Pod and Lance have slides). The Escape is made in B.C. and right now the US dollar is much stronger than the Canadian dollar, which would cut down on the cost of a new one.

And then there's the small Airstream (yeah, right - just a bit (a huge bit) out of my price-range, even a 5 year old used one).

Even if I do end up getting a trailer, I will keep my timeshare, it's been one of my better, more useful purchases.
 

Passepartout

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In the small-SUV towables, I am partial to the Casita and R-pod. Airstream is just TOO expensive. I would look at the smallest, single axle trailer that has a dedicated, full time bed. Having to make the dinette into a bed at night, and restore it to dinette again each morning is more than I want to do.

Jim
 

easyrider

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Dogs are allowed at most campgrounds. ;)

Dogs are not allowed at most timeshares and for sure, dogs are not allowed at Worldmark Resorts. :annoyed:

There are plenty of pet friendly hotels. If it is just you and a pet maybe a conversion van might be the way to go. My 80+ neighbor lady has one that she and her two schauzers take off in for weeks at a time.

Bill
 

Elan

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FWIW, we have a Chalet, which is a "cousin" to the Aliner, and I love it. Up or down in less than 5 minutes, and virtually no mechanical issues. They're so basic that anyone can quickly learn all that is needed for maintenance and repair. I bought a fancy leveler when I first got the trailer and I've used it once. Having said that, if I were doing what you describe, I'd look into a conversation van. Even simpler.

As far as the original question, I've often thought about the same situation. For your style of travel, I just don't think timeshares are a good option. The location and logistics of timeshares will end up dictating when and where you go. As you said, there aren't timeshares in or near some of the more desirable destinations.

Sent from my Nexus 5 using Tapatalk
 

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In mid August, a good friend and wife rented an RV for a 5 night vacation with his brother who has a big travel trailer.

He took a day off to load the RV and 2 days after the trip to unload & clean up. He met the group (6 others trailer owners) the weekend before at a diner where they went over the "things needed" for a couple of hours. While they had a decent list of stuff they thought they needed ... the group added another page to load up the trailer with. Lots of war stories - but they are all trailer trailer owners who NOW can just throw some clothes into the HOME ON WHEELS and go.

My friend had to take 2 days off after he got home to UNLOAD and then clean the rented RV to get his deposit money back. Then, they had to put everything back into its place in their home.

So weeks spent in packing, 2 days in loading the RV and a week to get their HOME back order.

I think his RV'ing days are over ... he commented that buying an expensive RV or trailer was not the ONLY expense. He can NOT park a item like that in his HOA community (rental space in a secure locations $$), buying a 2nd set of stuff that he already owns for use in his travel trailer/RV, load up time & cleaning up time, plus you can't fly to an island with a RV.

He commented a motel room and eating out is MORE of a vacation for him even though he and his wife like the brother & wife and their friends. It is the load up and the clean up ... take the buzz off of the vacationing.

PS I looked at the Aliner trailers in the link .... I think I will stick to timeshares. Too much work and reminds me of living in a tent for 6-7 weeks when in HS and working in a camp for 2 summers. The worst was the 1st summer when it rained the 5 weeks every day ... our platform tent became an island and everything in the tent became encrusted with mold.
 
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ronparise

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The dog makes the decision for you

Otherwise it would be timeshares for me
 

Timeshare Von

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Look into a timeshare/RV barter . . . that's how we've been RVing Alaska since 2010. We do two weeks in their RV (based out of Fairbanks) . . . and they get two consecutive weeks at our Hawaii timeshare in Waikiki. We did it in 2010, 2014 and are planning for 2016.

If that doesn't work for you, I would suggest a trailer/RV to be more mobile and flexible. But that is "my style" . . . Mr. Timeshare would prefer the luxury of timesharing, which is why I often car camp solo.
 

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...Having said that, if I were doing what you describe, I'd look into a conversation van. Even simpler.

As far as the original question, I've often thought about the same situation. For your style of travel, I just don't think timeshares are a good option. The location and logistics of timeshares will end up dictating when and where you go. As you said, there aren't timeshares in or near some of the more desirable destinations.
LOVE conversion vans. Family had one in 77 and we pulled a pop up camper. I just recently traded in my '93 conversion on a pickup truck. Try to find Explorer conversion, there are a lot of dealerships that have the right staff to deal with this specific vendor kit. It's an issue when you have an electrical problem that normal mechanics don't generally deal with. I researched the matter greatly some years back when I bought the '93 chevy.
 

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As I posted in a recent thread, we're definitely considering something similar during retirement, and I'm looking for something to combine the camping/timeshare experience. I've thought about a small teardrop camper that would allow us to easily tow with a car and still have the flexibility that offers. That way we can travel to different timeshares, and then also have the camping option in between. I'd be curious to know if the resorts are receptive to being able to park a smaller trailer like this (I know the bigger trailers usually cannot be parked).

Here's a link to one that I currently like, though we still have at least 6-10 years before retirement. :)

http://www.gizmag.com/gidget-retro-teardrop-camper/38756/
 

theo

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I am genuinely intrigued by (and envious of) the potential freedom associated with the "travel by trailer" option, although I admittedly have no experience with all of the associated water & waste system needs, electrical system, tires and wheels (and wheel bearings), etc. issues with such beasts.

That being said, I know from a lot of years of experience with boats and boat trailers that everything needs parts and maintenance and monitoring if you want everything to always work well and reliably. To successfully (and sanely) adopt the trailer option, I suspect that one has to not just accept but embrace that indisputable fact. :shrug:
 
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Elan

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PS I looked at the Aliner trailers in the link .... I think I will stick to timeshares. Too much work and reminds me of living in a tent for 6-7 weeks when in HS and working in a camp for 2 summers. The worst was the 1st summer when it rained the 5 weeks every day ... our platform tent became an island and everything in the tent became encrusted with mold.

Having both tent camped and RV'd in the Chalet, I can attest to the fact that the two are nothing alike. The Chalet/Aliner goes up and down in about a minute (literally). You're off the ground and there's a nice fridge, heater, stove (and AC, if not dry camping) to keep one comfortable.

Would I want to live in one full time? No. Could I live in one while on the road seeing the sights of the US? Absolutely.
 
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Elan

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I am genuinely intrigued by (and envious of) the potential freedom associated with the "travel by trailer" option, although I admittedly have no experience with all of the associated water & waste system needs, electrical system, tires and wheels, etc. issues with such beasts.

That being said, I know from a lot of years of experience with boats and boat trailers that everything needs parts and maintenance and monitoring if you want everything to always work well and reliably. To successfully (and sanely) adopt the trailer option, I suspect that one has to not just accept but embrace that indisputable fact. :shrug:

Anecdotal to be sure, but I bought my Chalet new in 2007. I've reinforced one of the bunk beds and replaced the sink drain hose that had a pin hole leak. That's it as far as repairs. Maintenance, to this point, has consisted of blowing the water lines out every winter for storage and packing the wheel bearings.
 

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The ONE THING that really makes RV travel appealing and worth the hassle is that in many of the places you REALLY want to go, there simply are no timeshares or in lots of cases even viable hotel/motels. That combined with ability to have the fur-kid(s) along makes it worthwhile.

I can also attest that after a week/10 days, they tend to shrink. What was cozy and comforting the first day or two out, can get pretty claustrophobic over time. An awning and folding table and chairs to expand one's 'living space' makes a lot of difference.

Jim
 

klpca

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Not that I would do this - but we had friends who bought a used (but newer) tent trailer every year, camped for two or three weeks, then resold it immediately upon return, usually for the same price and sometime more. They did this primarily because they had no room to store it in the off season. We bought a used tent trailer and used it for four or five years and resold it for $100 more than what we paid. There's a nice market for the lower priced units. Lots of families are looking for something like that. Perhaps you could buy/sell the trailer for when you need it.

After we sold our tent trailer, we started renting RV's for cold weather camping.The cost was roughly $100 +/- per night. We drive to the rental place closest to our destination and rent there. This saves on gas, mileage, and then I don't have to travel in the RV which I find to be noisy.

We leave for Yosemite later this week (tent camping :D )and have had dogsitter issues. I thought that we were going to have to bring our 15 year old dog with us. The only issue that I had with it (besides her age combined with a long trip) was that dogs aren't allowed on any of the trails in the national park. And they can't be left unattended (duh) so you are pretty much stuck in the campground or the paved areas with them. That is a bit more limited than I would like as we are avid hikers. So sometimes camping with the pooch doesn't work out as expected. YMMV.
 

ace2000

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The ONE THING that really makes RV travel appealing and worth the hassle is that in many of the places you REALLY want to go, there simply are no timeshares or in lots of cases even viable hotel/motels.

Great point! And I'll also add that some locations may have timeshares, but no availability during the timeframes you want to go.
 
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