Our family has always loved camping. We camped with one kid and now we still camp with four. Along the way, we upgraded from tent camping to purchasing a travel trailer or what we call the camper. Some of our best memories have come from this purchase.
When we purchased our travel trailer we had three kids. So there are things we probably would have done differently had we known we were going to have another or had we thought about them getting older.
Unless you have an unlimited budget and towing capacity, there’s only so much space you can buy. Camping is still camping. They do make some amazing trailers though. Here are some of our tips on buying a travel trailer for a big family:
Most trailers can fit a ton of beds in a little space. Your table with convert, your couch will fold down, or there are even pull down bunks. If your kids sleep pretty much anywhere, you won’t have issues there.
Our issue came in with them getting older and wanting a more private space. There’s not a whole lot of privacy when you camp in general but older kids start to need their own space to get away. Had we thought about this, we would have purchased a trailer with a bunkhouse that had a door. We got full size bunks but they just have a curtain in front of them.
Also, check what happens when you fold the beds down or convert the table. We didn’t try these out and realized later the table converts but it’s not even. The pillows are different sizes and make it bumpy. We had to purchase a topper to go over the bed.
We went back and forth on having a door to the “master” or not. If you don’t have a hinged door, you can get sliding doors. You can have one pass thru or two. We wish we would have gone with two openings and not a hinged door. Actually, we took the door off! Fingers get crushed, people get hit, and there just isn’t enough space to open that door. Two openings would make each person getting in bed much easier.
One of the things that we really love about our travel trailer is that it has a ton of storage. When you have a big family, you have to pack a lot of stuff. So, ours has storage under the master bed, under the dining seats, next to the master bed, and even has a huge pantry.
There are some campers that do not have a dedicated pantry and for us, this is a must have. Part of camping is cooking your own food and if you are on a long trip, you have to have a pretty large space for all that food. We fill ours up every time we camp and would not be able to do without it. With this goes the fridge, we went for a larger fridge inside and a small one in the outdoor kitchen. We use every last bit of it!
In general, make sure you are getting a camper with no wasted space. Think about all the clothes, food, and toiletries that you will need on a week-long trip. There are tons of ways to organize the space, but you have to have the space to organize it.
There are SO MANY different set ups with travel trailers. You can get toy haulers, bunk houses, outdoor kitchens, and at least 100 other options. There are a couple things that we are very thankful we chose.
The outdoor kitchen. We use that kitchen more than the kitchen inside most of the time. When you camp in the summer, the last thing you want is a stove or oven running inside. Your camper will never cool down! It is nice to be able to cook outside in general though. Ours has a flat griddle and we cook 70% of our meals on that but you can also get a single or double burners in your outdoor kitchen. Most outdoor kitchens also have a water spray nozzle too. This is great for rinsing stuff off, including kids’ feet.
A second door directly to the bathroom. The trailer we chose has a second door that goes directly to the bathroom. This is a great feature to have. It allows people to use the bathroom without going through the camper. A perfect example is beach camping and all the sand that kids drag in. It is wonderful to be able to put them directly in the bath and not have to have a sand path leading to your bathroom.
The features on trailers are endless, literally. They all come with a cost though. Over the years we learned that we could have lived without some things, and we really needed others. Here are some of our top features:
- An Electric Fireplace- This is such a great feature. It is fun to look at but also makes a great space heater for cold nights. We have never had to use our propane heat.
- Automatic Levels- We did not get these. Manually putting down the stabilizers and leveling the trailer is not fun and takes time. Don’t forget the drill and bit if you do have to do it manually!
- Bathtub- We use our bathtub often. There will be times (with kids) that a standup shower just is not enough. Whether its soaking things, a place for dirty wet clothes, or bathing a baby… it’s a great feature.
- Bluetooth Music and Speakers- We love that we can hook up our phone or play local radio stations on our speakers. You can even turn it on just outside or just inside. It’s a fun perk.
- Good Flooring- I am still mad at our flooring to this day. It never comes clean, and dirt just sticks to it. We have a cheap laminate in ours and this is something we definitely will not get again.
I could probably go on and on for days about campers and different pros and cons. There is so much to think about, and it really isn’t something where you can just wing it. You should take the time to think about the things that your family will need. Where will you be camping most and what are the important features that will make camping better. Your camper is your home away from home and you should love it!
Soon I will be adding to the “camping” series with posts on products, places, and tips. Camping with kids is not easy but it sure can be a ton of fun! Happy Camping!
Check out my post on how to choose the right cruise ship room for your big family!
-Kristy M., Mommy to Many