Why did we decide to build our own custom camper? What made us choose this route? Why not simply purchase an already existing manufactured RV camper? Let me tell you…
First of all, we put a lot of thought into this decision and ultimately knew that it was absolutely what makes the most sense for us.
We love adventure! We love to explore, get dirty and get exhausted in our explorations. We also love a good night’s sleep in a comfy clean bed after a day of playing and exploring.
We love to camp and be in the outdoors but when you are on an air mattress in a tent in the middle of a wind storm in Utah you do not sleep! When it is July and you forget to take into consideration the higher altitudes in specific areas of the Rockies and it is 40 degrees but you packed for JULY, you don’t sleep. When your air mattress has a slow leak and the ground is hard and rocky, you don’t sleep. SO, our main reasoning for reluctantly leaving behind our tent camping was the need for sleep after long, active, usually exhausting days.
Our second reason was wanting to be able to camp in locations where only hard shell camping is allowed due to threat of bears and mountain lions…which is far more places than you realize here in the west.
We added up the cost of hotels when doing a road trip…it can get ridiculous and who has that amount of money to throw away on one night’s sleep in a hotel? (I’d rather spend the money on an experience.) And what if you are in an area where there are no hotels? Or, motels? We have slept in the SUV when there were no other options!
So, why not find campsites along the way? Well, we do…BUT who wants to set up camp every single night after hours on the road or hours of adventure? Sure, if it’s a small single person tent that just pops right up that is no problem at all. Our tent has to sleep at least 4 so it is large and is NOT fast to put up. If you stay put in the same area for 2 or 3 nights, which we like to do, but you don’t sleep well on the air mattress which makes you exhausted and achy the next day it kind of takes the fun out of the road trip!
So we reluctantly began exploring the option of a hard shell RV camper. When we first began to explore our options I was adamant that we only needed a place to sleep. We don’t spend our days inside so why purchase something large that mimics a home when we won’t be in it most of the time? Jason, on the other hand, doesn’t like to be as rustic as I do on our road trips, or camping adventures, and wanted a bathroom, shower and such in a RV camper. UG! Not necessary!
We realized in looking at different sizes and types of RV campers that they are overpriced for the quality of work and type of material used. We also never found one that exactly met our every need and want…which really wasn’t a long list in the first place.
Jason is a problem solver and began researching other ways to have what was best for us without spending a lot of money…which we didn’t have.
He wanted to build our own camper and to build it well. That way there would be no wasted space, the quality of work would be top notch and the materials used would be durable for our roughness, yet look good. It had to be safe and well-built and sufficient for at least 4 people. After lots of research we decided on a contractor grade cargo trailer that we could turn into our own safe and secure camper!
We have very carefully drawn out the plans for sleeping, and storage space, that makes the most sense for us. Can our entire family sleep in it? No…but because of the ages of our kids we only needed to account for our youngest and her best friend. Sadly, most of our future adventures will not include our older children because they are grown. If they want to join us they are more than welcome and we will figure out sleeping at that point.
So, we chose to build our own camper for several reasons…
- For the adventure of it!
- For the sake of a good night’s sleep!
- For safety reasons when camping in the wilderness. **Check with the National Park, or campground, that you may be heading to if you plan on tent camping. Many of them in the Northwest no longer allow tent camping due to bears.
- For the money we will save not staying in hotels…which is A LOT!
- For the large amount of money we saved not purchasing a manufactured camper.
- Because we were able to design every aspect of it and that was fun!!
- Because the thought of not having to keep everything in a suitcase, or pack up necessary daily items every time we head out, and then having to rummage for needed items the entire trip sounds great!
- Because the thought of always having a clean comfortable bed ready and available, that is ours, sounds beyond great! We purchased REAL queen sized mattresses, guys, that are comfortable and inviting!
And did you know that there is an app that tells you all of the places all over the US that allow and encourage travelers with RVs or campers to stop and stay the night for FREE. Yes, there is! It is locations like Cracker Barrel stores/restaurants, Walmart parking lots and many others. This is excellent for travelers like us who often decide to stop and explore an area we are passing thru. When you have a locked in reservation at a hotel you feel like you have to press on no matter how tired you are or what you will miss exploring! Pulling our comfy, cozy, no-wasted-space home-away-from-home, we can explore any little town, mountain top, lake or museum we unexpectedly come to and still find a safe place to lay our weary heads at night…happy, safe, content and comfortable in our own beds with our own sheets and blankets and no chance of bed bugs! How great is that?
UPDATE: After our 18 day road trip down the Oregon and California coast we can without a doubt tell you that we did the right thing in building our own camper. It passed every test…kept us dry, cozy and safe. You wouldn’t believe how many strangers, at campgrounds, asked to look inside. They were always pleasantly surprised by the comfort as well as everything we squeezed into the space. I can tell you that the hidden drawers inside the stairs were plenty roomy enough for the 4 of us. The shelves and closet space were great and we never wished for more space for clothes, shoes or personal items.
TRAVEL APP: The travel app for finding a place to pull over and sleep did not disappoint us! It is called RV Parky, it has over 100,000 downloads and a 4.6 Star rating. Every place that it led us to, for an overnight stay, was in a very safe, clean and well lit area. The Walmart parking lots that we stayed overnight in were all newer stores that were very clean and the parking areas were very large. I highly recommend this app for any road trip.