Looking for smart travel ideas, Joel Randall chose to live in a travel trailer and has never been happier.
Traveling is a way to feel alive for many people.
ILLUSTRATION: THE MOTHER EARTH NEWS STAFF
July 11, 1969 was my last day of institutionalized employment. After selling most of our personal items and organizing the balance, we moved on.
Our living quarters are a 1966 Avion 25-foot single axle travel trailer. We purchased the unit used and added folding bunk beds and dinette seats to the folding leaf table and two single beds already in the trailer. With this arrangement we are able to sleep six. The space is small for two adults and four children ranging in age from 4 to 10 but we have pretty well adjusted except for my wife's occasional bouts of cabin fever.
We are self-contained with water storage, holding tank, 12-volt lighting system complete with a storage battery backed with a 110-volt charger, gas or electric refrigerator, gas heat, gas water heater, gas stove and oven, three exhaust fans (all 12 volt) and a 110 volt refrigeration unit. Refrigeration is a near necessity, rather than a luxury, for six people living in close quarters.
Our tow rig is a 1965 International Travelall which is almost ideal for pulling the trailer as its drive train and suspension is built on the order of a light truck. We have adequate room for passengers with an extra two seats, storage and an elevated foam pad supported by plywood and legs above the storage area in the rear. The two-inch pad makes a nice bed for either children or an adult while we're traveling.
Our Travelall has a 266 cubic inch V8 engine and a 3-speed standard transmission. I would recommend a larger V8 of over 300 cubic inches and a 4-speed transmission to others planning our heavy use of a vehicle. Four wheel drive is a necessity for any off-road trailering. The Travelall is a comfortable, useable auto when unhooked from the trailer and, in my opinion, it's a mistake to plan a lot of trailering with a standard automobile. A car purchased as a factory tow vehicle might be alright but a standard auto will have problems such as overheating, drive train failures (especially in the transmission), weak suspension, and brake and wheel overloading.
We've towed over 5,000 miles and lived in our trailer for over two months now. Our travel speed is generally 50 to 55 mph if road and traffic conditions allow. We can pull much faster but the gas consumption increases greatly and the higher speeds are much harder on all the equipment. Increased speed also increases possibilities of accidents. Since we have no deadlines, there isn't any hurry for us.
Our only negative experience while traveling was the result of human error in Utah. We took a shortcut that resulted in our backing down a two-mile-long curved mountain grade that we were unable to pull. It was much too far down over the edge for comfort, I might add. We later made the grade by dumping water and the holding tank and taking a run in low with the engine overspeeded (4500 rpm).
We have stayed in roadside rest areas, KOA-type campgrounds, gas stations, socialist parks, private public parks provided by service clubs, city streets, Indian reservations, road ditches and many places of unknown ownership. We try to keep costs at a minimum and usually park at no cost. We've found ample parking spots in the midwest where many towns and service clubs provide no-charge areas. For example, we've stayed overnight at the Sydney, Nebraska fairgrounds where we even had electricity and water at no charge. No one patrolled the area and there were no posted limitations on the time one could stay.
Our luxury equipment consists of a portable tape stereo and a portable TV. The stereo is a Concord Model F400 made by Panasonic of Japan. It operates on 110 or 6 "D" cells. We have recorded 50 hours of cassette tape from records. Our TV operates on 12 volt or 110 and we can use it in either the trailer or the Travelall. We are not inclined to watch large amounts of TV but it does provide diversion while traveling.
During the summer our income will be from farm labor here in Nebraska. My father has a farm and ranch where I'm able to work the whole family part of the time and myself as much as desired. Our cost of living is low and we'll coast during the winter, earning a few bucks where and whenever possible.
Shortly after the first of October we plan to travel to the east coast, follow the coast line south to Florida and west along the Gulf to Mississippi. We will go as far and as quickly as we desire, depending on our whims at the time. We plan to license our rig in Mississippi or Virginia as neither state has compulsory socialist education.
Someday, when finances and experience allow, we hope to acquire a trimaran and do our wandering on the oceans, cruising the West Indies and possibly sailing to the South Sea Islands.
We've been very busy getting equipped and organized the past few months but the whole thing has been very enjoyable to me. I feel that I'm just beginning to live.
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