Teardrop and other tiny travel trailers; frugal travel in high style!


Author's spouse Susan poses near our Scotty teardrop, every bit as comfy around the campfire as our giant motorhome neighbors. Picture from Pinnacles National Park.

Teardrop galley with two burner built-in stove for quick cooking.
Galley paired with custom tent added to double the teardrop’s covered “living area” footprint, with Ocean Cove, CA in background near Jenner, CA.
Galley detail on one of many teardrop trailers we have seen in our travels!

We are gearing up for a three week trip with our little teardrop camper that will take us to Crater Lake National Park, Mt. St. Helens, Mt. Rainier, over to Spokane, through Idaho, into Montana to Glacier National Park, then up to Alberta, Canada to take in Lake Louise, Jasper National Park and other incredible places. 

With our circuitous route, we’ll take in two family reunions along the way, see several sets of friends in Oregon and Washington, log about 3,500 miles – and spend $500 on gasoline and, maybe, $350 on lodging.  Not bad for a three week tour into wonderous country!

You might wonder “how do we do that”?  Well, pulling a fully-loaded teardrop trailer adds about 850 lbs, and does cut our gas mileage down to about 28 MPG (but, compare that to folks pulling giant fifth-wheels behind behemoth diesel pickups getting 8 MPG).  And, the trailer fits into many camping sites too small for the giant rigs, offers wonderfully comfy sleeping quarters, and we can cook with the best of the giant motorhome owners.  We added a receiver to the back of our little trailer, so several bikes are always with us, as well.  The sun shines as brightly on our campsite as it does for the larger rigs, and our campfire and picnic table is just as rustic.

On the lodging end, we don’t duck the chance to spend a few nights with friends along the way, which we will do in the Portland and Spokane area.  For other nights we search out federal campgrounds (national parks, national forests, etc.) and with our federal Senior pass, we get half off all campgrounds (and free admission to all national parks in the US, including all nine in CA!).  So, a $36 site drops to $18 (the discount does not hold in Canada, however).

I’ve been retired, now for 20 months, my wife for 12 – long ago, we made a pact to do a lot of traveling in the US and Canada the next several years.

In the last year, we have toured all the way to the end of Long Island (and bought a classic teardrop trailer in West Virginia, towing/camping in it the balance of the trip), toured Gettysburg and the C&O Canal into Washington D.C., and took a fall trip up the coasts of CA, OR and WA, and across British Columbia. 

In the deep winter, we drove up to Whitefish, MT, toured into Glacier National Park (eerie in frozen splendor) and experienced 40 below zero in West Yellowstone!  We spent three weeks touring the Grand Canyon, taking in spring training games in Phoenix and visiting pals in Yuma.  Along the way, we have visited eight of the nine national parks in California (only lacking Channel Islands NP; we’ll get there someday!).

We want to see the US first, Canada second, before flying off to see Europe and other far-flung destinations. Not that we don’t want to travel the world – but we know we can see much of the US and much of Canada and spend a lot less money.

For meals, we prepare many of our own in camp; the pictures above show many of the “kitchen detail” built into many of these small, teardrop trailers.  If we are not dining at our campground, we don’t “go cheap”, for we like nice restaurants and appreciate a quality meal.  But, about 12 years ago (both of us feeling like we eat too much and desiring to lose a few pounds) we began sharing a salad and a main entry.  We can add an inexpensive bottle of wine, and get out with a bill in the $60-$80 range.  Perfect!

We currently own two small trailers, a three-year old 58 Serro Scotty teardrop reproduction model, and an original 64 Scotty Sportsman, a bit larger though needing a fairly intensive rebuild.  We can tow the teardrop with our Focus, and we get lots of comments in the campgrounds, parked among the “big boys” – giant fifth-wheels towed by huge diesel pickups.  Guess who gets four-times better mileage?

So, take a think about “small trailering”.  You can find slightly used teardrops trailers and their kin on eBay or Craig’s List, and sold new locally at places like Pan Pacific RV in Lathrop, CA.  In addition to teardrop trailers, modern pop-up campers offer all sorts of options that can sleep a family of six in most of the creature comforts offered by those giant fifth wheels!

On Friday, we will return with the second half of our article on Stockton and San Joaquin County’s “hidden gems”!  For additional travel destination inspiration, see my blog: http://blogs.eSanJoaquin.com/valleytravel.  Happy travels in the west!


This entry was posted in Alaska, Canada, Eastern, Canada, Western, Central California, East Coast US, Hawaii, Midwest US, Mountain West (Montana, Wyoming, Utah, Colorado), Northern California, Pacific Northwest USA (Oregon, Washington, Idaho), Sacramento/Capitol region, San Francisco Bay Area, Sierra Nevada, Southeast US, Southern California, Southwest USA (Nevada, Arizona, New Mexico, Texas), Stockton/San Joaquin County, Teardrop and tiny travel trailers, United States beyond! and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Post a comment

Post a Comment

You must be logged in to post a comment.

We reserve the right to remove any content at any time from this Community, including without limitation if it violates the Community Rules. We ask that you report content that you in good faith believe violates the above rules by clicking the Flag link next to the offending comment or fill out this form.
  • Categories

  • Archives