Camping can be a fun lifestyle but many people are intimidated by the size and cost of large RVs. Most large motorhomes are out of the price range of the normal camping enthusiast.
Although there are many advantages to owning and camping in a large space, smaller camping solutions are where the majority of campers are going to be spending their money.
A camper need not be a behemoth of a rig to be enjoyed. One can easily purchase a small RV and get just as much or even more enjoyment out of it. No matter what you have heard, bigger isn’t always better.
I have had the opportunity to enjoy a small space in my camper van and have learned that staying in something small like this makes me appreciate the trip even more.
Let’s take a look at some of the options for those looking to minimize the space they are camping in.
Small Camping Options
- Camper Van (Class B Motorhome) – A camper van is a small camping area and motor vehicle all in one. Everything is self-contained making it very convenient and easy to use.
- Small Travel Trailer – Travel trailers come in all sizes and the smaller ones can be easy to tow, and provide ample room for living and enjoying.
- Teardrop Travel Trailer – Even smaller than a travel trailer, a teardrop trailer is lightweight, minimal and provides a safe, comfortable place to sleep. Think of a teardrop trailer as a large, hard-sided tent with a few more amenities.
- Pop-up Campers – I spent a lot of my childhood in various pop-up campers and these compact campers fold down when not in use. When ready to use, the living area is expanded, providing a nice living space. They are lightweight and can be pulled by almost any vehicle.
- Truck Campers – If you have a pickup truck, a truck camper is small and efficient. You can use it when you need it and then unload it when you don’t. Although these are often small, they are usually very roomy.
- Truck Camper Shell – If you don’t want a full camper, a camper shell can provide a safe place from the weather in a convenient, small package. I have seen some pretty sweet setups built using these.
- Car / SUV Camping – Perhaps the smallest camping option of all is sleeping in a car or SUV. Many people make this work and depending on modifications, it can work out quite well. There are also truck bed tents that can work great as well.
- Rooftop Tents – If car camping isn’t for you, a rooftop tent may be the answer. These tents can be quite large and give you a comfortable place to camp off the ground. These mount to the top of a vehicle roof.
- Tents – The most primitive option is the old-fashioned tent. I’ve slept in a tent many times and it can be very enjoyable. A tent provides shelter and allows you to get up close and personal with nature.
10 Benefits of Camping in a Small Camper
A small camper can be very beneficial in many ways. Many people assume they need a large sized camper because they are used to the luxury of living in a house.
However, camping should be seen as different. Camping is a way to get away from the normal routine of life and enjoy the simpler things in life.
Camping provides a great way to unwind from the stresses of life. Owning a large camper can often add to the stress rather than help to get rid of it.
Below, you’ll find 10 benefits that owners of small campers enjoy. If you are looking to downsize, keep reading to learn how beneficial it may be for you.
1 – Easy To Drive And Maneuver
My favorite thing about a small camper is that you can drive or pull it nearly anywhere and it’s easy to maneuver into most any location. Whether you are driving it to a campground or a dispersed camping location, they are usually easy to park and set up. Oftentimes, they can be managed easily with only one person.
Compare this to larger RVs. The larger the RV, the more difficult and intimidating it will probably be. Especially for those who aren’t used to pulling trailers or driving large vehicles.
Pulling a smaller camping trailer can often go unnoticed and you may even forget that something is behind you. A camper van will have a similar feel to driving a standard passenger vehicle.
This makes the process of loading up and hitting the road much more pleasant for those who don’t want to bother with large, cumbersome RVs.
2 – Lightweight And Easy To Tow
If you have a small travel trailer, pop-up trailer or a teardrop trailer, these can be super lightweight when compared to a much larger trailer. This means that nearly any car will be sufficient for towing it.
A small travel trailer may be as light as 1800 pounds and a pop-up camper might weigh in as low as 1200 pounds. A teardrop trailer could be less than 1000 pounds.
This type of weight is usually no problem for mid-size cars or pick-up trucks.
By comparison, large travel trailers and fifth-wheels can be quite heavy and require a heavy-duty vehicle for towing. A large travel trailer can weigh over 5000 pounds and may weigh as much as 8000 pounds or more.
Something of this size will require a heavy-duty vehicle for towing.
3 – Less Expensive
It stands to reason that the smaller the camper, the less it will cost. This isn’t always the case but it is typical of travel trailers and other towable solutions depending on the brand and model.
As mentioned above, larger campers require a more heavy-duty vehicle for towing. You will need to have a heavy-duty vehicle or purchase one with a large camper. With a small trailer, however, you may be able to use whatever vehicle you currently have.
Camper vans and some truck campers may be a bit of an anomaly in this case. Camper vans are much smaller than larger motorhomes or travel trailers. However, some of them can be quite expensive and reach prices in six figures.
This is not the case if you decide to build a custom van yourself as I did. I ended up with a small camper van for a very affordable price by taking on the challenge of building it myself.
4 – Helps You Focus More On The Adventure
When you head off into the great outdoors in a small camper, you are probably looking to spend time in nature. You may require a recharge from your stressful life.
Since a small camper isn’t big enough to contain a lot of entertainment, you are forced to wander outside the camper to seek entertainment from Mother Nature herself.
When I head out in my camper van, I am not looking to spend the day trapped inside my van watching movies. Instead, I am out hiking, biking or just relaxing outdoors, taking in the beauty of nature.
5 – Allows You To Visit More Places
Campgrounds often have size limits on some of their parking spots. Even those that have room for large units often have a limited number of accommodating spaces for large motorhomes or RVs.
Those who camp in smaller units don’t often run into the problem of not being able to park at a campground.
Besides that, a smaller camper such as a truck camper or a camper van can park more inconspicuous in places without being noticed.
This is helpful when you are in a location and campgrounds are fully booked and you are scrounging to find a place to stay for the night.
6 – Less Fuel Costs
If you are driving a smaller camper, you can expect to pay less in fuel costs. I can use my own experience as an example. My Class B motorhome averages around 20 miles per gallon and there is no way I could expect that kind of fuel efficiency in a Class A or Class C motorhome.
Likewise, towed RVs will get better fuel mileage as well due to less weight being pulled. However, this will depend on the vehicle you are using to pull the trailer with.
Even if you pull your rig with a heavy-duty Ford F-250, you may notice a difference in pulling an 1800 pound trailer versus an 8000-pound trailer.
7 – Cozy And Comfortable
If nothing else, a small camper is just cozy and makes it fun being in one. If you are plugged in, they are easy to heat and cool since they are so small.
A small teardrop trailer will be less than 100 square feet of living area so if it is equipped with a 5000 BTU air conditioner, it will cool off quickly in the summer heat.
Likewise, with a propane heater, it will be nice and toasty inside during the coldest winter day.
A nice cozy and small camper allows you to enjoy your time in nature while relaxing and unwinding as all your cares and worries slowly slip away.
8 – Easier To Store
When you are done with your small camping space, it should be no trouble to store. You probably won’t need a separate garage or a special building to park your small travel trailer for the winter.
My camper van sits in my driveway all year long and I don’t have to do anything special except for normal winterization procedures.
If I had a large Class A motorhome, it may be different. I wouldn’t want a gigantic vehicle sitting in my driveway so I would have to find different storage so that I wouldn’t have an unsightly mobile home cluttering up my property.
9 – Easier To Maintain
Without as much living space in a small camper, maintaining it is going to be easier. If you own a camping trailer of some kind, the maintenance will be limited. There isn’t much to do other than winterizing and make sure all systems are in working order.
Since campers are almost always kept out in the weather, seals start to corrode, caulking weathers and other working items may need routine maintenance. This is all normal but it is much easier to do on a smaller scale than it is on a larger camper that may have more surface area to maintain.
If you have a camper van, you will still need to do all of this plus make sure the vehicle itself is in good working order. However, this is much easier than the amount of maintenance that would need to be done on a larger Class A or Class C motorhome.
10 – Easier To Sell
A large motorhome or RV can be a challenge to sell unless you are looking to lose money on the transaction. Not everyone is able to purchase a camper for the high cost that a large one demands. You may get a seller but it may take you longer than a more affordable, small one would.
Small campers are popular because they are more affordable. This is an advantage for you if you have one that you are trying to sell. You will find a buyer much easier on a camper that costs $10,000 than you will on one that costs $60,000.
How To Get More Space In Your RV
No matter the size of your camper, we all want to have as much space as possible. A camper requires that items be stored and organized efficiently in order to make the most of the space.
This is even more true with a small rig. Organization is key to maintaining a clutter-free environment. Clutter is often a reason that people think they need a bigger space.
Chances are, if you have a cluttered small space, you will also have a cluttered large space. This means that if you upgrade to a larger RV because you think it will end the clutter, you may be in for a surprise unless you learn how to properly organize your space.
There are a few ways you can make sure that your small space remains clutter-free and provides you with a spacious area that allows you to enjoy your camping experience.
8 Simple Camper Organization Tips
There are many hacks that you can use to keep your camping space nice and tidy. The ones listed below are simple ones that I learned early on in my camping experiences and hopefully, they’ll help you reduce clutter in your space.
- Take only essential items – If you are going camping, you only need a few items. There is no need to pack your camper full of non-essential items just in case you need them. Think it through and take only the essential items.
- Make use of storage cubes and bins – Instead of just tossing items inside cabinets, organize them with storage cubes and bins. These are great for keeping your items separate and easy to find when you need them.
- Use Hooks to hang items – Hooks installed in various places provide a great way for you to hang items that you often use. Keys, jackets, belts, flashlights and other items can be hung neatly and ready to use whenever you need them.
- Make use of hanging shelves – A hanging shelf can be a great place for storing items such as shoes and other clothing items. They utilize vertical space that would be wasted otherwise.
- Use folding & stackable bowls – Kitchen bowls and other cooking essentials can take up a lot of space. Collapsable bowls and other items save space and help to free up more room.
- Make use of bungee cords – Bungee cords are a necessity and you should be sure to have a bunch of them on hand. These are great to use while traveling to keep items from getting thrown all over the place as you are driving down the road.
- Repurpose grocery bags for trash – Grocery bags make great trash bags and since they don’t hold a lot, it will force you to empty them daily.
- Use a soap and shampoo dispenser – If you have a shower that you use in your camper, consider a soap dispenser instead of taking soap and shampoo bottles on your trip.
A small camper can be much more enjoyable than you might think. If you are used to a large motorhome or RV, it may be difficult for you to downsize but if you do, you’ll see the benefits of owning a smaller rig.
Going small is becoming more and more popular as people become more serious about minimizing their lifestyles. It can be fun to travel and live in such a small space.
I have camped in everything from tents to large motorhomes and I have grown quite happy with the size of my camper van. It has allowed me to get out more and focus on the adventure.
Give it a try and you may enjoy the simplicity of traveling in a small camper. You may find that you can enjoy the camping experience without the need for a large, fancy rig.