Question Of The Week

Truck Campers Use It, Or Lose It

This week we asked TCM readers if the experience of truck camping changed their perspective on their house, home, and belongings.  Specifically, we asked, “Has truck camping made your house too big, and your stuff seem unnecessary?”  It most certainly has for us, and we’re evidently not alone.

“We now look at the house the same way we do the camper.  If we don’t use it, we sell it or donate it.  Either way, we get rid of it.  Not only have we radically reduced the amount of stuff we take in the camper (we are camp hosts, so we have extended stays), the house has a lot trimmer and neater appearance.” – Robert Allyn, 2013 Ford F-350, 2013 Arctic Fox 1150

“From a house on a cul-de-sac street with full basement and two kids, we went to a two story house with half a basement on a smaller lot, with two teenagers by then.  The kids having left the nest, we sold that house and bought a town home row house with a garage below, so no basement, on a lot as large as the house – twenty feet!  And we still find this house too big!  So we bought a 560 square foot condo with a small four by ten terrace.  Now the only thing I have to figure out is, what to do with all my stuff!” – Denise Hupé, 2010 Ford F-250, 2004 Adventurer

“My wife and I have brought this subject up the last couple of years.  Yes, we have too much stuff.  When we return from camping trips, this becomes painfully obvious.  Retirement sort of woke us up.  We want to go more, not over pack, and get rid of junk we don’t need!  It’s called “yard sales”!  It’s taken a few years, but traveling lighter has been the way to go.” – Mike Kolinski, 2012 GMC Sierra 2500HD, 2012 FWC Hawk

“I have been RVing in some form or another for most of my adult life and have always had the urge to downsize.  In fact, at one time I thought seriously about selling everything and going full-time.  Due to personal circumstances, that didn’t happen.

I would still like to have a smaller place with less yard work and less home maintenance.  And I don’t want to give up my woodworking shop.  So for now I’ll look forward to every opportunity I have to live small in my truck camper and deal with the rest when I get home.” – Eldon Rhodes, 2008 Chevy 3500HD, 2011 Lance 1050

“Yes, every time we are away for a few days with our camper, coming back into our home seems huge and not very important.  We actually are looking to sell the house for a smaller house with a bit of land to relax on.

I really enjoy Truck Camper Magazine, and I am anxiously waiting for updates on your camper.” – Brent Portschy, 2005 Dodge Ram 3500, 2006 Host Tahoe 10.5

“I’m trying to sell my home with all belongings, including cats, to downsize to a larger truck and live-in camper.  Anybody interested?  I’ll partial trade for a used truck and camper.” – Bill Enos, 1997 Toyota Tacoma. To be upgraded, 2000 Shell

“We have been in the truck camper for long periods of time, as much as three months.  We loved it but, when we pull up to our 1,600 square foot ranch house and step inside, the feeling is great!  Variety and change is good.” – Dave Weinstein, 1999 Ram 3500, 2005 Arctic Fox 1150

“Camping had much less effect than moving to a different house a year and a half ago.” – Philip Tron, 2009 Chevy 3500, 2012 Lance 1050

“It’s sort of a yes and no answer.  We love our camper and enjoy life in it.  We have an almost month long trip coming up.  Us and five dogs live very happily in our camper.  I think what makes it all easy and okay is that we know we have our ranch to come back to.

Several years ago we sold our company and decided to retire.  We bought a 45′ motor coach, attached a 28′ trailer to carry my Jeep and tools, and went full-time. One year later, we decided it was the biggest mistake of our lives.  We sold it and bought a home.

But we did not give up our dream of time out on the road and with five dogs, motels do not open their arms to you.  We went to show after show, looking at travel trailers, fifth wheels, you name it.  But every one had the same feel and drawbacks as the monster motorcoach. Then one day we met someone who had a truck camper and they talked about how great it was.  We never saw their setup, but we began to investigate and, a couple of years later, we bought one.

A while back I was talking to another camper who had a nice fifth wheel and a F-250 truck.  I told him about our camper.  Then he asked about costs and he guessed the camper was about $10,000 to $15,000 and did we just sleep on a mattress in the back?

I said, “Come on over, you can see my setup”.  To say he was drop jawed would have been an understatement.  And, of course, he loved my F-350 dually.  When we parted, he looked at me and said we clearly had a better idea.  Yes, we do!” – Don Pryor, 2015 Ford F-350, 2009 Arctic Fox 1150

“My retirement goals were multiple and centered around five carefully researched major purchases; a Victorian or Edwardian home in a small river based community, a truck and truck camper, a recumbent trike, and a perfect travel and river dog.

The lovely old rectory in a Thousand Islands community and my Irish Water Spaniel were first in 2011. Loved them!  It’s a big nine room house with tons of room for weekend guests, lovely trails, and beaches – perfect dog!  The trike came next in 2012, a Lightfoot Greenway, and I was utterly captivated, as was Jack.  He clearly felt born to run beside it ears streaming back, along the river banks.  In 2013, I bought my truck and used camper.  In 2014 I drove more than 13,500 kilometers over six months.  I knew I had made all the right decisions!

Then I came home in the late Fall and was appalled by my massive house, containing so many family antiques and mementos and rooms to clean.  Wow, I felt I could rent out two-thirds of the place and still have room.  Small spaces are so efficient, so easy to keep tidy, and even a deep clean only takes a very small amount of time.  You carry less clothes and you buy nothing unnecessarily.  It’s a simpler life; an easy, comfortable, yet full of adventure way of living.

A house with yard, snow removal, rugs to vacuum, massive laundry, etc. is so much more work.  For the first few weeks back home I felt like I had made a mistake in buying this lovely house.  However, Christmas arrived and I loved decorating it, filling the cupboards with many freshly baked goods, entertaining, and filling every bed in the house with guests.  Right now I am planning the menu and events for Easter, including an Easter egg hunt.  Of course I am also planning with excitement my travel agenda for this year.

It’s funny.  I don’t find it takes any adjustment to live small but returning to living large does.  I do love small spaces.  I’ve always loved sleeping in boats and trains, so a truck camper is perfect for me.  But baking, having people for the holidays, and one day welcoming my grandchildren are all wonderful pleasures too.  Life is balancing act I suppose.” – Michele McLeod , 2013 Ford F150, 2002 Northstar TC800

“Not even a little bit.” – Dave Riddle, 2015 Chevrolet Silverado 3500, 2006 Host Tahoe

“Although our truck camper is relatively small, we were well prepared for it by previously owning a Volkswagen Eurovan.  We have a ‘kidding on the square’ rule that nothing is allowed unless it serves at least two purposes.  Traveling in the camper with a minimal amount of possessions provides valuable experience in questioning what’s truly needed at home.  We completed a major downsizing when we retired (including relocating to a smaller house) and continue to reorganize and weed out.  “It’s not what you have, it’s what you don’t need.” – Paul Turner, 2014 Toyota Tundra, 2014 Adventurer 80GS

“Boy, you could open a can of worms!  That being said, yes I could purge.  The wife loves to bring everything with her on an outing.  I have to remind her there are weight limits and not enough space in the truck and camper.  The house is not that big, but it is cluttered with stuff we don’t need.  It’s time to purge!” – Jeff Hagberg, 2002 Ford F250, Travel Lite 800 SBX

“We went from a 36 foot fifth wheel, to a 24 foot pull trailer to the Lance truck camper. Our basement at home is full of each trailer’s contents.  We stay in our camper several months during the winter, so we pull a seven foot by twelve foot utility trailer for extras like golf clubs, tables etc.  It seems like the more space you have, the more junk you have.” – Pat LaVenture, 2015 Ford 350, 2015 Lance 1191

“Living in the truck camper is easy.  It’s getting everything from the garage into the trailer.  I always look forward to the simple needs we have when we are on the road. When we keep it simple we have more fun doing things outside.  I’m not sure it has made a big difference at home.  Maybe someday.” – Dave Miller, 2015 Ford F350, 2003 Bigfoot 10.6E

“Cleaning out an Aunt’s house who was a hoarder and downsizing from a fifth wheel to a pick up camper has caused us to purge every six months or so.

We love our home, but our family room, which we thought was going to be a television area for the kids, is nothing but storage.  They prefer to be upstairs with us in the living room, rather than separated from us.  We won’t be getting rid of the house for a while, but things are less cluttered, inside the house, the garage, and the shed.  It’s amazing how many things you collect over thirty years and we’ve never been ones to buy trinkets.” – Cindi Delo, 2002 Chevy K2500, 2015 Palomino 1251

“Truck camping has helped us realize that there is more to life than home, but we will always value our house as our home.  It’s the place that our kids and grandkids come to gather; it’s where we live.

Our camper is an extension of how we live.  We love our camper life, but home will always be home.  As we get older, we recognize that having things, and actually using the things that we have, is the issue.  So each year now, we separate ourselves from the things we have, but really never use.

Our camper is comparatively small.  When packing it we have learned to live lean, and we’re still learning.  We found out quickly that we can do laundry along the way, and all the clothing we thought we needed wasn’t really necessary.  Grocery stores exist beyond one’s own city limits, so we back off on the pantry.  And there was other excess baggage that was never used, or used once and never used again, so it’s gone.  It’s a process, I’m sure familiar to your readers.

I have to confess that we are not real truck campers.  We chose a truck camper because of its maneuverability, relatively easy loading/unloading, and overall comfort in a small package.  After six weeks traveling the Pacific North West last summer, we feel reassured that we made the right choice.

We do not however camp in the traditional sense.  We always go where there are hook-ups, very often dine out, and do whatever makes our travel comfortable.  I stayed in hotels during my working life, and I’m not a fan.  It was nice to have the option of preparing our own meals, breakfast was mostly in the camper, other meals when we preferred.

Our clothes were always unpacked and ready to go, we always slept in our own bed, and the shower is exclusive to us.  It’s a great way to travel!  As for stuff, well, I guess we live a double life.” – Gerry Reeves, 2014 Ford F- 250, Lance 825

“Absolutely.  In 2008, I sold my 3,800 square foot house and, a year later, moved into my Lance truck camper.  Just getting everything I needed to fit into a small space was challenging.  But this allowed me to weigh what I owned, material possessions, in what I needed to move forward in my life.

It was easy.  I wanted a simpler life and all the material possessions I had surrounded myself with really wasn’t needed.  Each year, I reserve a day where I stop and open up all the cabinets in my truck camper and truck and evaluate whether I needed each item and whether I had used it in the last year or previous years.  If not, it is jettisoned.” – Bryan Appleby, 2008 Ford F550, 2009 Lance 1191

“I love truck camping, but it get’s a little cramped when I bring the family along.  Don’t get me wrong, I love taking the family.  They just bring everything from the house with us.  I pack the camper with stuff that stays there all the time.  I don’t even bring a duffle bag, but my family (wife, two kids and the dog) packs everything but the kitchen sink into three or four bags each.  Our house is empty when we get back.  Almost everything we own is on the floor of the camper.” – Robert Williams, 2012 GMC 3500 HD, 1994 Caribou 10’6″

“I’m already consolidating.  Even my 1,200 square foot house seems big!  I just wish my carport was a tad taller so I could park the camper in the shade!” – Steve Nicholas, 2000 Silverado 2500, 2008 Starcraft Pine Mountain

“We have too much stuff.  We’re not ready to dump the house, but we will purge a lot this spring/summer.” – Bob Nelson, 2015 GMC Sierra 3500, 2013 Arctic Fox 1140

“It has occurred to me that everything we need to live fits in the Lance.” – Lois Zell, F350, 2010 Lance 1040

“Yes, I find I sure could use a bigger house!  Especially in winter time when I have to bring a lot of the stuff from the truck camper into the house for storage.” – Maaja Sutak, 2012 GMC Sierra 2500, 2015 Northstar Liberty

“I have always liked simple.  When I buy something I in turn take something to Goodwill or the likes.  I have what I need to be comfortable but no more, like my camper!” – Michael L Sasse, 2013 Toyota Tacoma, 2014 Four Wheel Eagle

“The wife and I sold our 2,000 square foot house in 2011 and moved into a 370 square foot 2011 35′ Carriage Cameo 35SB3 fifth wheel.  The house sold in forty-five days, and we sold everything in it on Craigslist.  We did not want to pay to store things that we would not be using for a long time.

We are living full-time in our fifth wheel.  We actually could not believe all the stuff we had and really did not need.

In 2015 we are going to Alaska and purchased a 2014 Adventurer 116DS from Truck Camper Warehouse in New Hampshire in November of 2014.  The people at Truck Camper Warehouse were wonderful in getting us set with the new truck camper.

Just to clarify things, we are not going from the fifth wheel to full-time living in the truck camper.  My wife would kill me.  We have done two week long trips in the truck camper, and we will see how the five month trip to Alaska and back goes, and if I make it back dead or alive.  To be continued…” – C. Ramsbottom, 2012 Chevy 3500, 2014 Adventurer 116DS

“During my business career, I was relocated by my employer seven times throughout the eastern United States.  After the first couple of moves, we learned not to accumulate many unwanted/unused items that had to be relocated.  That experience taught us to live with what we need to be comfortable.

When we got our truck camper, we gave much thought to the equipment and provisions necessary to maintain a self-sufficient lifestyle in such a small area.  The only exceptions to this rule is food and clothing.  Clothing in particular is a problem since we both bring more than what is needed, but having a crew cab truck, we hang the majority on a clothes bar in the back seat with our dog.  We are very comfortable for our summer travel that normally has a duration of at least two months in a truck camper.” – Warne Todd, 2000 Ford F350, 2005 Lance 981

“I think the fact that we have way too much stuff around the house has bothered us before we traveled around in a truck camper.  However, traveling and living in the small space of a truck camper for extended periods has taught us that we don’t need all that stuff to be happy.  Too much stuff just gets in the way!  At home, we are constantly trying to get rid of stuff, but it seems to be an almost never ending task.  Now we have to be careful not to pack the truck camper with too much stuff.” – Buzz and Sherri Merchlewitz, 1998.5 Dodge Ram 2500, 2007 FWC Grandby

“Don’t get me wrong, I like my stuff, but I often feel it a burden.  When I was a kid, and I’m well along to being an old man now, I always felt if I had a roof over my head, three square meals a day, and my health, everything else was gravy.  Spending two months in a truck camper sure reinforces those feelings, and the belief that I just own too many things.  I’m just a retired school teacher, not a wealthy person, but living with less on road trips feels far richer to me.  As Thoreau wrote, “Simplify, simplify, simplify.” – Al, 2006 GMC 2500 HD, Northern Lite 8′ 11” Queen Classic

“Aha!  We have never had a yard sale, so this helps explain why one of the bedrooms in our house is now filled with stuff for a spring yard sale.  We now think twice about purchases – do we really, really need that?  Our camper doesn’t have a television, oven, internet connection, or GPS.  Heck, we even have flip phones.  Give us a paper map and a AAA tour book and we’re good to go.  It sure frees the mind and spirit keeping it simple.  Love it!” – Tony and Linda Perez, 2014 Chevy 2500HD, 2013 Wolf Creek 850

“What has truck camping done for how things feel at home?  A mess.  We are out camping so much and hardly home to keep it clean.  Hmmm, downsizing, huh?  I like it. If only I could talk my wife into it.” – Rich Bain, 1999 Chevy C3500, 2010 Adventurer 810WS

“For years, I would shudder at what was in Mom’s attic.  You know, out of sight out of mind.  Now that all the Angels are out on their own, lots of stuff has gone to other states.  We actually have one very big (boys) room that’s completely empty.  Now the garage is a different story.  Don’t you know, that’s all good stuff!  Most of it is tools I had to have from being in business.

Little by little, the Angels are all getting their garages filled with all good stuff.  If they don’t have tools, how are all the repairs and improvements going to get done?  Oh Dear, time for a road trip.  One of the Angels needs help.  I love road trips.” – J.Kevin McCarron, 2013 Ford F-350, 2013 Northern Lite 10-2 CD SE

“Not so much camping in the truck camper but, as I age and look back over life, I find the things that really mean a lot to me.  My mantra is, “If I look at something and it doesn’t make me smile, it has to go!” – Linda Rearick, 2002 Ford F-250, 2001 Arctic Fox 1150

“Our house is not too big, and that’s the way we like it.  At 1,200 square feet, we’re happy.  Neither one of us has felt the need to buy a bigger house.  Everything they build now seems to be small lots, two stories to more rooms and bonus rooms and then you have to fill it with stuff.  We do not want more clutter in our lives.

A truck camper is a lifestyle we embrace.  I see these huge fifth wheels and 40 foot class A motor homes driving down the freeway, and what’s the point, just to take more stuff with you?

The ease and ability to maneuver in our truck camper means more to us than having more stuff with us.  We’ve learned to pack lighter, less food and clothing.  After all, the whole idea is to travel and see new things and new destinations.  And, if you need more stuff while traveling, there is always an outlet mall or a farmers market to accommodate you.  Keep it simple, avoid clutter!” – Roger and Elaine Odahl, 2008 Dodge Ram 3500, 2004 Eagle Cap 950

“I spent thirty days traveling and living in a Caribou Lite this past month, in February 2015 and a few days into March 2015.  I never felt lacking for anything, except a shower, but that is easily solved by spending a night every few days in a campground.  I currently live in a 600 square foot apartment and feel I keep too much stuff and don’t need all the space.  I have been looking at micro tiny houses as a future option (though these face many legal issues because laws encourage McMansions and in some areas specifically legislate against building small square foot homes).” – Dave Scobie, 2007 Toyota Tundra, 2014 Outfitter Caribou Lite 6.5

“When our kids moved out we downsized our house to a 1200 square foot rancher, (that way they couldn’t move back in) so we don’t have room for excess stuff.  Even so, as we travel more we still find ourselves streamlining what we have and what we carry.  Our rule of thumb now is that if we haven’t used it in a year, we put it in a box in the attic.  If we haven’t looked in the box for another six months, the whole box gets donated to charity without opening it.” – Jennifer Richardson, 2012 GMC 3500, 2011 Arctic Fox 992

“No. I still like coming home and being able to work in my workshop.” – Paul Roberson, 2014 Ford F350, 1988 Lance 11’3

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