Friday, January 31, 2014

Getting Ready To Travel Again- What Steps Need To Be Done

I've been in a bricks and sticks house helping out here in Michigan since October. The city of Saginaw has started giving me a hard time about my travel trailer, so it's Bug Out time. This blog is about the bug-out process, what I needed to do, and what the associated costs were to do so.

After the initial stages of panic and OMG, then the planning and doing set in

For me, the important thing was to sort out what had to be done versus what I'd like to have done. Breaking it down to only what tasks were absolutely necessary was the first thing I did.

The travel trailer needs registered and plated, I have all necessary documents and the money to do that. The permanent plate for the trailer has gone up to $200. It was $100, but $200 is still reasonable considering once it is registered and plated, it is then good for the rest of the time that I own it.

In order to take the trailer down the road, I need to put a hitch on my van. Hitches are specific to the vehicle. I've learned a few things about hitches. I went with a class III hitch. I was told to always go up a level from what I might need. The travel trailer weighs 3200 pounds empty (this is a typical weight for travel trailers under 26 feet long according to the ones I have owned.)

I called a national chain to have a hitch put on and when I got the quote, I almost fell over from shock. I decided to look into buying a hitch and then paying someone to install it.  I found a Curt Class 3 hitch for $118 and the Curt wiring connector was $29.  Considering the quote I had gotten was $450 for an installed hitch and wiring, I was very happy. I have a friend here locally who can install the hitch for a minimal charge.

I was able to make arrangements with another friend who is kind enough to allow me to park the trailer for a couple of weeks to allow the weather to break and a check to come in so that I can safely have enough money to fill a propane tank and put some groceries in the trailer. I'll also have to put as much gas as I can in the van.

So, within a week, I have arranged a hitch for my van so I can tow my trailer, the license plate and registration for the trailer, and a place to take it off the property for a few weeks so that I can get the money needed to take it a short ways down the road.

The van has a 35 gallon tank, it gets 12 city and 16 highway, when not towing, I am planning on 10 mpg when towing my loaded 1970 Amerigo travel trailer. The vintage travel trailer is 18 feet long and is a single axle hard side hybrid trailer. It will need a sway bar package to take it any farther than a hour or two away.

It's winter in Michigan and it has been a hard winter. So because March will still have some serious weather issues, I will be going to a RV park that has minimal services and winter camping. I believe the cost for a site is still $200  a month and the website informs me that there is a charge for electric based on how much I use.

I've winter camped in Michigan before, so I can do it safely. In April, the weather will still be chilly but it should be safe enough road wise to get into a good boondocking spot. Boondocking is also known as dry camping. It means I'll not have electric, running water, or any other "civilized comforts."

My trailer has a propane heater, a propane Humphrey's light, and I will be very comfortable. I'll carry plenty of food, many paperback books, and I will enjoy camping, photographing nature, and enjoying the solitude.

I will also be doing some writing now that I've gotten a lot of things out of my way. I have two children's books to edit and illustrate. I'd also like to try my hand at a novel. It's a bit ambitious, but I'd like to give it a shot.

I don't recommend winter camping or towing a trailer during that time without some experience. I've done this before, so I know I'll be toasty warm, comfortable, and enjoy it.

Anyone wishing to help financially can use the donate button at the top of the blog. It is a PayPal link to my account and you may donate any amount small or large to help with the expenses.