The day we bought our trailer was bitter sweet. It was exciting to be getting a camper trailer, but there was that small voice inside saying we’ve sold out… we’ve failed… moving from a tent to a trailer. Will we still be roughin’ it? Can we still call ourselves campers?
Funny isn’t it, how we categorize ourselves into all these different levels of camping? Well, either way, if we wanted to get out to the campground with these 3 small kids in temperatures that can fall to freezing even in the summer, we needed something a little more substantial than our well-loved, leaky, too small, duct-taped Canadian Tire tent.
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Why we bought this trailer…
It was spring after baby number 3 arrived and we were planning out our summer camping plans. And, it occurred to us that our tent would no longer hold us all. So, we started hunting for a new tent. Because it gets so cold here even in the summer we needed something with a full fly, a vestibule, and something smaller than a traveling circus tent!
We needed someplace to sleep dry and warm. We wanted to be able to store basic camping supplies instead of needing to pack up the van every trip. We wanted to have somewhere to prepare food out of the rain and a place to escape from mosquitoes. And, perhaps most importantly, I wanted to go camping without having to nurse a baby all night long crouching over in a cramped damp tent.
So, we started browsing the by and sell ads… and voila! We found it.
Yep it needed a little work, and it could probably use a little more, but our 1973 Dutch Swinger meets all our current wishes! And we love it!
Nothing fancy inside this rv trailer!
A few of you have asked for a tour… well, take a look around!
This is our trailer from the outside. It’s old and it’s small. It could benefit from a painting. Every summer we see other vintage trailers with nice new paint jobs and think how sweet that would be for our old Swinger, but really, we don’t have any plans to paint the trailer any time soon.
Our trailer also lacks an awning. So, when we park there’s always a lengthy (and sometime controversial) process of putting up a tarp over the door area.
Obviously, you’ll notice we haven’t remodeled. I haven’t purchased coordinating fabrics or fancy decor. Sure, I’d love to make it all trendy and cheery. But, that’s just not going to happen.
I did sew up some new curtains for the trailer… and I’ll say I’m pretty proud of them!
This is the kitchen area. The stove works and just boiling some water for our morning tea is enough to warm up the camper and take away the morning’s chill. There is a sink but we don’t use any of the plumbing in the trailer. So, we just have a piece of counter top to place over the sink.
The trailer also has a fridge that works only when we’re plugged into electricity. If we don’t have electricity, which is most of the time, we use ice packs to keep it cold.
You can see our curtains in this picture. After having spent a few nights in the trailer I realized I should have fashioned more insulating curtains. There are drafts from the windows and a thicker fabric may have helped with that.
We permanently store camping dishes and supplies in the cupboards you can see in the above photo. There are also small cabinets above the eating table and under the bed/couch.
With 5 of us using the camper more storage would be appreciated, but we’ve come up with some ways to manage.
The most helpful thing we did for storage was remove the toilet and convert the tiny bathroom into a food pantry. In this photo below you can see where the toilet was and where food tubs and laundry are now stacked.
Since this photograph was taken my hubby has made permanent wooden shelves that go up past the window to securely store all our food and supplies.
Wondering what that big thing in the window is? That’s our solar panel. Right now the only thing it provides power to is the main light we’ve hung in the camper. There is a second outlet on the panel which makes me think I can purchase other items to plug into it, but I haven’t looked into that yet.
How do 5 people sleep in this tiny trailer?
Right now our kids are all under 10 so a few of them are still pretty small. When we’ve got 3 teenagers, I’m pretty sure we’ll need to send a few of them outside to sleep in a tent.
But, for the mean time, we manage with 2 people on each bed area and one on the floor.
In the front of the trailer the table and benches convert into a sleeping area. We tend to just keep the table converted to a bed for convenience.
Because this area is sometimes used transformed into a table, we use sleeping bags here.
However, the back sleeping area is made up with actual sheets and blankets. I’d much prefer to sleep with blankets as I find sleeping bags too confining. This means I usually get to share the back bed with one of the kids.
Then, you’ll see underneath the back sleeping area is a cozy little cubby that another kids crawls into.
How we organize our camper trailer
Here are a few notes on how we organize our stuff within the trailer.
Each person packs their clothes for the trip into a small backpack or small plastic tub. These are just thrown into the camper for the drive. But, once we set up and remove the camping chairs from under the table everyone’s stuff goes under there.
The kids are strongly encouraged to keep track of their belongings and put all dirty clothes into the laundry bag. However, it seems that no amount of nagging prevents the trailer from being covered in used socks and pajamas.
We have a small tub with books, pens, and paper for the kids and one small cupboard is dedicated to kid’s games and activities.
The kids are aware of limited space and allowing them only one bag helps keep the extras at a minimum.
Like I mentioned earlier we use the bathroom to store all our food and supplies. The shelves have been made so our carrying tubs fit nicely on them with space for us to see right into the tubs. So, we don’t even really unpack food into the trailer, just put the tubs on the shelves.
Our cold foods are stored in the camper fridge. If we’re camping for a long time without electricity to run the fridge we’ll also keep a cooler in the vehicle with all the frozen foods for later on in the trip.
Dishes, cutlery, cooking utensils, first aid stuff, and fire making supplies are stored in the other cupboards over and under the counter. We tend to keep our water on the counter because it seems that’s the only place to keep it.
We also have a little box on the counter to throw all our tidbits into (like keys, pens, change, head lamps, and such). These keeps the counter and trailer a little tidier and gives us a first place to look when small things go missing.
Our laundry bag’s home in this closet room as well as anything which happens to be over sized and doesn’t seem to fit anywhere else.
There is a small clothes hanging bar in one of the cupboards where we store our coats, hats, mittens, and such. Since the weather can go from warm to cool in a single day we always camp with rain jackets, and warm coats (sometimes even bringing along winter jackets for the littles). However, even with this closet in the camper it seems everyone’s coats and hats get folded onto the decorative metal ‘wall’ just inside the camper door.
Another thing we hang just inside the camper door is our bathroom bags. This way we can all easily grab our soaps, toothbrushes, face clothes and such without having to take our shoes off and go hunting in the camper.
Just outside of the camper door we have 2 large lidded tubs. They are the perfect size to just slide underneath the camper and stay out of the rain. One tub is for everyone’s foot wear. The other tub is for head ware, hats and bike helmets. This system is a huge sanity saver, given everyone puts their stuff back where it belongs!
A few more notes on our trailer
Generally we prefer to be outside rather than inside. But, I find we tend to have lazy long mornings when we’re sleeping in the camper. The kids will read, we’ll listen to stories, and then start thinking about breakfast. The kids really like converting the sleeping platform back into a table for breakfast if it’s a little chilly outside.
You’ll notice some tubs at their feet under the table. This is a big area where we store everyone’s clothes and such. So, when the table is set up I find bags and tubs will get stepped on. But, it’s mostly clothes under there, so it’s not a big deal.
Did you notice the rugs and cardboard on the floor? We find that the floors are very cold. To help this, I’ve put down thick cardboard which I’ve then covered with woolen rugs and blankets. This really warms up the floor and makes it much more warmer in there.
Another thing I’d like to mention is how we use the trailer to haul our gear. That area under the table is the perfect size for folded camping chairs. Under the benches are large storage areas too. On one side we keep our tarps, ropes, tools, and outdoor toys. In the other bench we store our sleeping bags, other outdoor toys (like our slack line, badminton net, and mosquito tent). I’ve even put my bike right into the trailer sometimes to bring it to the campground.
While we try to keep our camping packing to a minimum, we find that having a trailer in which we can keep all the gear very helpful. Instead of having to unpack and repack every trip there are many things which we just keep in the trailer all the time.
When we were looking at purchasing a trailer we also decided we wanted a hard top instead of a tent trailer for this reason. We felt a tent trailer would give us less storage and we’d still have to store most of our supplies in the garage in between camping trips.
Well, I think that’s about all I have to share. I hope you enjoyed the tour inside our rv trailer. Please feel free to ask any questions about anything you see or questions on how we pack and use the trailer. Happy Camping!
What you should do now?
- Throw your comments and questions down below and I can give you more details about how we use and organize this tiny trailer for our family of 5
- Check out our family camping checklist to see how keeping our camping packing just to the essentials really helps us manage more enjoyable camping trips.
Other camping posts you’ll want to read:
- Simplify your family camping with these packing tips and checklist
- Yummy campfire pizza your kids will love!
- Must read tips for camping with toddlers
- Do you actually know how to use your bear spray?