17 Oct

Girl Camper: Episode 106 Simplifying Weekend Get Aways

On this weeks show I am talking about ways to make more use of your RV. You dreamed the dream, you made the purchase but now it seems harder than you thought to use it as often as you hoped. I discovered that weekend get-aways sometimes feel as pressure filled as the big trips. Having the RV packed and ready is only half the battle. Having the right state of mind is key as well. How do you shut the negative loop that starts telling you to “just stay home and relax here this weekend”?

I have a new check list of things to do when the camper rolls in the driveway from the last trip that make the next trip less pressure. In addition to the usual things like emptying the trailer of food, garbage and laundry I have now added these time savers that make the next trip more likely to happen.

When You Get Home

Strip the bed of dirty linens. Even if you don’t wash them until Tuesday or Wednesday, at least they’re in the house and it’s more likely to get done before the weekend.

Stripping the bed as soon as I get home allows me to get the bedding changed during the week and have the bed made up and ready to go before Friday afternoon.

Clean the trailer when you get it home rather than when you are ready to use it again. Getting out there in the middle of a busy work week can feel like a chore and add to the loop that starts playing telling you to just stay home. I now wipe the floors, bathroom and surfaces after I strip the bed. Having it all clean just begs you to repack it and get out.

During The Week 

Think of food differently when planning quick trips. I always have this ideal for camp meals and I want to make them extra special. Ideal meals are a bit of a dream. I think I’d rather sit around the fire with a reheated leftover than be at home with probably the same leftover. Some ways to not overthink the food are to:

Cook an extra large meal during the week and freeze a portion for travel. When you get to the campground on Friday you can unwind with a heated up leftover rather than ramp up and start chopping and dicing.

Freezing a serving or two from a weekday meal makes it easier to get out of Dodge on a Friday afternoon without worrying about what’s for dinner.

If you plan a special meal for Saturday night,  buy the ingredients when you are doing your family shopping. Don’t make anything so special that you need to make a special trip to get ingredients. Freeze it if necessary but get what you want when you are already at the store.

Have a pantry with ‘go to’ meals that don’t require refrigerated food. Tuna casseroles with Ramen noodles make great camp comfort food in a pinch. Beans and Rice. Tomato soup and oyster crackers. White sliced potatoes and hash. Ask yourself if the meal is more important than the location and if the idea of food having to be “special” is stopping you from even going, you may need to rethink the food part.

Ramen

The Night Before

Plug the trailer in so that the refrigerator is nice and cold and you can transfer the food items you need for the weekend to the trailer right before you leave. I cleared a shelf in the home refrigerator and I use it as my stash for trailer sized food. Mini sized condiments and things I like in the trailer and then I don’t have to search for them around the fridge. I put them on the bottom shelf on the door because no one will ever find them there!

I now know keep my RV sized condiments on the lower shelf of my home fridge so I can grab them quickly when I’m packing for a weekend.

Add the clothes items that you need for the trip and put them in the trailer the night before. I use packing cubes which I bring in when I get home and then I can add the clothes I will need during the week as I am watching what the weather forecast looks like. I have coats, rain gear and extra shoes in the trailer all the time so I just need the street clothes for the weekend ahead.

Gas up the tow vehicle. Having to make one less stop on the day of departure is a real stress reliever. It puts you closer to your goal of getting to the campground as soon as possible. Last minute errands on a Friday take longer than the rest of the week because of high traffic volume  and create tension when the goal is to start unwinding.

Having the trailer hitched the night before makes the travel day a lot easier.

Hitch up the trailer the night before if you don’t need the tow vehicle to get to work. If you need your tow vehicle to get to work on Friday, check the tire pressure on all the tires (trailer and tow vehicle) as well as the fluids on your tow vehicle so that on departure day you only have to hook up and check the lights and hitch connections.

Camp close to home so that you are not overwhelmed by the traffic, tolls and hours in the car. The goal is to get to your happy place. A site in the woods 25 miles from home offers the same benefits as one 100 miles or more away.

One of my “go to” campgrounds close to home for a weekend get away is Camp Taylor Campground in Columbia, New Jersey.

Making the most use of your trailer can mean spreading out the tasks over the course of the week. If you pull it off you can find yourself sitting around a campfire on Friday nights instead of ordering a pizza and spending the night at home paying bills or organizing your sock drawer!

 

15 Aug

Girl Camper: Episode 97 My Review of the Max by Little Guy

(To listen to the podcast attached to this blog, scroll to the bottom and click on the arrow.)

I had the opportunity to take Little Guy Worldwide’s new Max trailer on my four week National Parks Tour.  I slept in it for 28 straight days, towed it 6,228.3 miles, stayed in state parks and private campgrounds, used it with and without hook-ups, showered in the wet bath many times, experienced temperatures ranging from the high 90’s to low 30’s, used the air conditioner, heater and fan, cooked inside and outside and used the microwave for precooked frozen dinners, and ran the appliances on electric, propane and battery! In other words, I put it through the mill!!

I have broken down my review to my five favorite things about this trailer. There are many great features in this well built and thoughtfully designed trailer and I encourage people to go to the Little Guy website and take the virtual tour.  For my part I will focus on what made it enjoyable to use for me.

Number One Favorite Thing – The Windows

While I was traveling and posting pictures of my trip, the most comments I received had to do with the windows. The windows, the placement, size, number of them and functionality of their design make the trailer a light, bright and airy retreat. When I would come home from a long day of sightseeing and open all the windows I had sight lines, airflow and incredible brightness. One of my favorite features of the windows are the integrated privacy shades and screens. In the morning I would pull the screens all the way down and let all the light and air in.  In the evening I had the option of drawing the privacy shade up about 2/3 of the way and leaving the top of the window screened so I could have privacy and airflow.

The tinted acrylic windows made it possible to have another measure of privacy because they allow the light to be filtered in the trailer keeping it cooler in the sun while making it impossible for passersby to see in the trailer. As a solo woman traveler this daytime effect was an added bonus for me.

Because I work while I on the road I spend a lot more time than most people sitting at the kitchen table/desk. The window placement in this trailer made my rolling berth the best corner office ever.  Sitting at my desk with all the windows open and the door latched with the full door screen pulled across made working while in Yellowstone tolerable.

I initially had reservations about the large window over the bed. I thought that it would make me feel vulnerable while I on the road but I soon discovered that the exterior of the trailers design actually places the bottom of that window fairly far from the bumper of the trailer. What I thought was going to be a problem for me turned into my favorite window in the trailer. At night I was able to pull the privacy shade up from the bottom and lay in bed at night looking at the stars and moon and watching the rain. I also started having my morning coffee on the bed so I could look up at the trees.

Number Two Favorite Thing – Storage

I have spent the last 12 years Girl Camping and am always looking for storage solutions with trailers. For years I camped in vintage trailer which I love but am always worried about safety. I thought I was solving my trailer storage problem last year when I bought a new but vintage styled trailer. While the trailer I bought was well built it wasn’t particularly well designed. Despite its being new it lacked adequate storage for the essentials for camping trips. I was so pleased with the amount of storage in the Max. It has an astounding 57.94 cubic feet of storage.  I packed that trailer for two people for a four week trip bringing both hot and cold weather clothes and never put anything under the bench seats of the booth. There was so much storage space that I had to use dish towels to pack my bowls in the kitchen drawer so they wouldn’t move around.

In addition to the interior storage there is an outdoor dual access storage space under the trailer with an additional 30 cubic square feet of  storage. This space has a vinyl floor and built in LED lights that made it easy to find my wheel chocks and supplies for setting up when I arrived at night.

Number Three Favorite Thing – Kitchen

The kitchen in the Max was another area of the design that I thought was exemplary. When you are able to take all the elements of a large home kitchen and implement them in a travel trailer, it’s a good thing. What I really liked about the design is that it followed the principles of home kitchen design by creating the classic triangle work space. The sink to the left and the stove to the right and the refrigerator at eye level on the wall behind. Not having to get down on the floor to load and unload groceries to the refrigerator is a plus at any age.  I love the amount of counter space created when the sink was covered by the drop in cutting board and the two burner propane stove had the cover on it. The practical rectangular shape made this a space for many uses. I laid clothes to dry on it at night, unloaded groceries on it, folded laundry on it and sorted my never ending notes and rough drafts on note pads on it. It’s just a really practical space.

 

The space under the kitchen sink was a big bonus. I stored a garbage pail, large cutting boards, collapsible drain board and bowl and all my cleaning supplies as well as two gallons of water for my ice machine. So many of the practical housekeeping things you still need while camping fit so nicely under that sink cabinet. These were things I sometimes kept in a Rubbermaid container in my truck.

The kitchen cabinet set up also had three large rolling drawers with a built in silverware caddy in the top one. It was great not having to source something to organize cutlery in and the handle hardware on the hardwood, dovetail constructed cabinets made for great dish towel holders. My two favorite things in the kitchen though were the most unexpected and something I have only seen in large motor homes and travel trailers. The first is the dedicated pantry. I had assumed that there would be one closet like cabinet that would do double duty as a clothes closet and food storage but the Max has both. There was so much storage left over in the pantry that I ended up storing my husbands clothes cubes in the pantry cabinet.

The second thing that made the kitchen space superior to me is the large roll out pot and pan drawer under the refrigerator. I ended up storing everything I use for cooking while camping in that drawer. I stored a 12 x 12 electric frying pan, a regular frying pan, a spaghetti pot, a peculator, cutting boards and mixing bowls as well as my extra cartons of Almond Milk. I left nothing behind that I use while camping and still had cabinet space left in this well thought out kitchen design.

Favorite Thing Number Four – The Lighting Package.

Lighting isn’t something that I gave much thought to until I bought my new trailer last year and got in bed to read and discovered that there were no reading lights. There was a ceiling light under the overhead cabinets but it didn’t shine on your book. I was pleasantly surprised to discover that the lighting package in the Max had all the bases covered. A single switch at the door turns on all the overhead LED lights with the ability to customize by individually switching off the ones you prefer to stay unlit. The booth bench seats and each side of the queen size bed each have a touch pin light for reading. My favorite part of the lighting package though was the mood lighting. A switch at the door turns on the hidden lights over the kitchen cabinets, under the kitchen cabinets and hidden behind a shelf over the dining booth. This lighting feature had the option of being set on a low setting much like night time airplane lighting, or all the way up which was bright enough to work by but still an indirect and less harsh form of lighting. The trailer also had LED lighting on the awning and front porch which was bright enough to cook by as well as a lucite handled door handle and lighted step light. All in all, the lighting was brilliant!

Favorite Thing Number Five – Towability

Often Girl Campers write to me and show me a trailer they are in love with and then tell me they have a car that will tow 1500 pounds! A trailer can possess all the design features in the world but if it doesn’t tow well none of that will matter. I was concerned about the distance I would be going in an untested trailer and by untested, I mean by me. When you use a trailer all the time you get to know it and you “feel” when something is not right. I was hesitant to take a trailer on such a long trip that I was not bonded with . One of my main concerns was the potential for strong winds while driving across the plains in South Dakota and Wyoming. I am happy to report that the Maxs’ design made it a dream to tow. I tow with a Ford F150 which has a tow package more than adequate for that trailer but my own trailer also weighs about the same as the Max and I have encountered problems on windy days with it. To be fair I had a weight distribution hitch put on the truck for the Max that I had not used before on my trailer.  What I know is that I never experienced any sway or wind issues in the 6,288 miles I towed.

The Down Side

Every trailer, even “my” Max has things that can be improved. The Liberty Outdoors team asked me to take the trailer so they could get feedback on what they could do to improve the trailer even more. Here is the list I gave them.

Change the shower door. I did not like the smoked door that you can see silhouettes through.

Change the shower fixture in the bathroom which was hard to adjust and get the water to go in the direction I wanted.

Consider a prefab bathroom stall with towel bars and shampoo shelf already built in.

Deepen the entertainment cabinet at the foot of the bed by an inch or two so the DVD’s will not fall off the shelf while traveling.

Tighten the latch or find a better way to secure the TV at the foot of the bed. It has a magnet that does not hold it in place.

Make the upper pantry cabinet in the kitchen a roll out one so you can more easily access what is in that cabinet.

Add another shelf to the upper kitchen cabinet.

Make the cabinet latches stronger.

The kitchen table is functional but cumbersome to get in an out of.

My experience road testing the Max was a great one. I enjoyed the trailer immensely and many people are asking me if I am going to keep her. Well, I will be making a switch in the coming year to a Liberty model but I am going to keep dating the Liberty Outdoors trailers before I pick a winner. The Park Liner is coming out soon and the Serro Scotty Sportsman is also right around the corner. I will be taking them for a test run before I decide if Max and I will be tying the knot!

11 Jul

Girl Camper: Episode 92 The Little Guy Max

On today’s show Joe Kicos, co-owner of Liberty Outdoors,  talks about the new Max trailer. The Max is a new product by Little Guy, a brand within Liberty Outdoors.

Every detail was so well thought out on this trailer. Here the lighted entry handle and step can be seen at night.

It is the trailer I debuted here yesterday and that I am traveling in on my National Parks Tour. Also joining us on the show is Anthony Chiera, Director of Sales  for Liberty to talk about the details of this trailer. Anthony has watched this trailer go from drawing board to reality and he takes us through the features step by step.

I was so happy to discover this divider tray in the silverware drawer. I have had to come up with some pretty creative solutions to maximize the space available in some of my past trailers.

The cabinetry is all solid wood with quality hardware but most importantly, it is plentiful! I packed the trailer for two people for a four week trip and didn’t need to use the available space underneath the booth seats.

When the stove is not in use a glass cover that doubles as a cutting surface conceals it and allows for more food prep space.

I love the added storage shelf over the refrigerator. I am storing my campfire lap robes there.

The awning has built in LED lighting and is a standard feature.

The Max trailer is performing well so far and I have only one complaint – the people knocking on my door at each campground asking for a brochure!

10 Jul

Introducing Max by Little Guy

I have been promising and here it is – Max by Little Guy, a Liberty Outdoors brand. Little Guy trailers has long been a sponsor of the Girl Camper Podcast so when they asked me to road test their new “Max” trailer on my four week National Parks Tour I didn’t hesitate. I had been getting regular factory updates on the progress of Max along the way but when I drove to the factory to get him I was immediately impressed by the quality of workmanship and thoughtful design that went into this maxed out teardrop.

i love the profile of this trailer and I have already pulled it a thousand miles and can report that it tows like a dream.

 

The brightness and airflow in this trailer drew me right in. Wherever you stand there is a view!

 

Since I work on the road I love that when I am stuck working I have this sweet view as well as a USB in every plug!

 

This is the most storage I have ever had in a trailer. All of the cabinets are hardwood, custom made with dovetailed construction. I have the trailer packed for a four week trip and didn’t even put anything under the booth seats.

The neutral color pallette makes this trailer a blank canvas for anyway you want to go with the design. I chose simple and contemplative which suits this soothing space. The depth of the kitchen sink was a great bonus!

I love the beehive door and the sliding screen that pulls across it and then hides when not in use. There is a air and a view from wherever I am working.

Every window in the trailer is as large as they could make it and contains a pull down screen for when the window is open and a pull up shade when you want privacy. At night I have been leaving the windows open a few inches and drawing the screen 2/3 of the way up and the screen 1/3 of the way down for air and privacy!

This bright front window with the two large side windows that all open and create airflow and a great view is a feature reminiscent of the old school trailers where all the windows opened up front. This booth folds down and makes a comfortable single bed.

I keep referring to this as the “wall unit” in the Master Bedroom. I am looking forward to the option of watching a movie on a rain day or in the evening. The built in DVD player and surround sound controls are on a panel near the door. The DVD player will operate on either the Master Bedroom television or the one at the front booth that is hidden under a retractable door.

The bathroom is a large wet bath with room to move around. It also features a higher profile commode than the normal style.

 

I have been traveling for nearly a week in this trailer and am so impressed with not only the quality of the construction but with the thought that went into the design. I see a lot of trailers at RV shows, industry events and on Girl Camping trips. There are good companies out there making high quality trailers.  When I am at the big RV shows where all the new trailers are being displayed I often view them and think,  “Why didn’t they make this window operable? Why is there so little storage? Why is there not a place to hang coats and store food?” What impresses me the most so far in this trailer is that it is well built and well designed. Apparently that is not too much to ask for.I will be blogging about this trailer on my own site and the Little Guy site as well as posting my trip on Instagram. Follow along as I road test what so far has been a pleasure of a trailer.