Friday, January 10, 2020

Stocking Your Tiny Trailer (or Otherwise)

A well-stocked homemade teardrop, from "The Tear Droppin' Ladies at the Dutch Oven Cookoff"

How ready to roll do you keep your trailer? Do you empty it out after each trip, or do you keep it ready to go at a moment's notice?

I've found that emptying my camper at the end of each trip and then taking a day to fill it back up before heading out can be exhaustive. I'm trying to learn how to keep as much as possible in my trailer so I don't have to keep loading it up over and over; however, I also want to keep my camper neat and clean. Recently I read a post thread in a tiny trailer group about this very subject.
"I have a question on how stocked with everything is your teardrop? What do you always bring along that is not kept or stored on your teardrop? I am trying to have everything except my ice chest loaded and ready. Is this realistic?"
When experienced campers begin to talk about the procedures they've developed over time, it quickly becomes clear that what works for one camper can be different than what works for another. However, analysis has provided a few concepts to consider regarding camping readiness.

An RTTC teardrop . . . and Zoey

  • Climate: High humidity, mold beneath cushions, and food spoilage are all possibilities that have to be considered, especially if you live in a moist, hot climate. During times of high humidity and between trips, I use a small dehumidifier (Pro Breeze Electric Mini Dehumidifier) that removes some humidity from the trailer. Honestly, it doesn't remove much humidity, but I use it in the summer when the trailer is closed up and stored in the yard. One teardrop owner commented as follows: "I like to remove my covered three part foam cushion, as I don’t want mold growing. The floor is not carpeted for this reason, too." Another camper responded by saying, "I would say it depends on how often you use the trailer, and your humidity and temperature situation while in storage."
  • Pests: I remove any food that I think might attract pests, even if the camper will be parked for just a short while at home. Almost all food is in a plastic bin and one or two cloth shopping bags, anyway, which I bring back into the house when I get home from a trip. I have some small covered plastic boxes I keep in my overhead cabinet up front that hold spices and tea bags. That's it, for any edibles that are kept permanently in the camper. I have no desire to attract rodents or roaches. If I'm shutting down for two or three months over the winter, I'll even bring in the teas and spices. One seasoned traveled said, "I don’t keep anything remotely scented in the tear (no soap, toothpaste, nothing) to avoid rodents."
  • Perishable/Non-perishable: The simplest common thread to comments as to what is left in the camper all the time deals with shelf life. If items are frequently used when camping, and they are not perishable, then campers try to keep those items permanently in the camper. Examples of this could include a boxed cooking/dish set, sleeping bags and pillows, and perhaps a portable toilet. One lady camper described her organization: "My roll-on suitcase, pillow and blanket, and 12v cooler go in SUV. Everything else stays in the teardrop: mattress, toiletries bag, first aid kit, sleeping bag, ez up canopy, chair, fan/heater. No galley, so a large flat tote stays in the teardrop, always packed with essentials, until I travel, then lives in back of the SUV. Makes get away quick!" These are tiny trailer owners talking. I wonder if folks with the bigger rigs keep them stocked with separate items--like camping clothes that stay in the RV.
  • Camping Frequency: Most trailer owners indicated that longer storage times resulted in a more thorough clean-out of the campers. Many campers who store their teardrops in the garage have convenient storage shelves right next to the camper. The nearby storage allows for loading flexibility, due to time of year and the nature of the trip. I use this system, except my storage area is in our house. An infrequent camper wrote: "We keep baskets stocked with things like creamer, condiment packs, sugar, dry cereal, sunscreen, shampoos, batteries and the like and just load them up when we get ready. We only camp a few times a year and are in Texas (high heat and humidity). Everything else stays year round." Another camper wrote: "I have a shelf next to the teardrop (in our garage) with items that I might take on certain trips. I don’t always need my Dutch oven so only take it when my menu dictates (as an example). Otherwise the tear is loaded and ready to go other than stuff from the fridge and clothes."
  • Ready to Sleep: A couple of campers indicated that they keep the teardrop set up for sleeping and pack everything else in their SUV or pickup so that when the arrive at a campground, no unloading or setting up is required in order to go to bed. "I try to keep as little as possible in the teardrop besides bedding, so it is ready to tumble in to sleep wherever we pull over. All camping gear is stored in stacking drawers and tote that are stored in the tear when not in use, but ride in the back of tow vehicle on a trip. Have an empty set of drawers to fill with groceries and clothes/toiletries. My gear drawers are labeled with what is kept in them, so I can re-stock when I use or return from a trip, makes it easy to find anything while traveling. Kitchen necessities are also in smaller stacking drawers in the galley."
In general, experienced campers try to keep their "core camping items" stored and ready to go. After that, weather- and trip-appropriate clothing and food are the most common items that need to be packed each trip. "We only have to pack clothes and food. (And clean bed linens if they've come home to be washed.) Everything else is in our T@b or next to it in the storage unit." One couple who are "87 plus" years old keep their teardrop packed except for food, which they stop and buy on the way out of town. Most folks try to find that happy spot where the camper is safe from the elements and rodents, yet is as ready to roll as possible, making getting down the road as easy as possible.

How my tiny trailer looks inside when parked in the driveway.

Geared up in the campground, although I usually set the table up for the day.

I remember my mom spending time on a Thursday and Friday getting food ready and her and my dad's clothes packed. Then she'd tell my brother and me to pack our clothes. We'd get our fishing gear ready, and off we'd go that evening or at dawn on Saturday morning. Good memories. I just hope someday to be as organized as my mom. Luckily, practice makes perfect, so all I have to do is keep camping as much as possible!

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  1. Mine is always ready to go except I need to fill the cooler and the small water tank. I don't pile anything in the trailer. The utensils and such stay in the galley. The other stuff like food, dog food and his dishes are in a couple plastic boxes that go in the SUV, along with portable toilet. Dog takes up back seat.

    I tried stacking plastic drawers, but they don't stay shut. So, I'm back to trying boxes again. They are somewhat transparent, so I have a clue what's in them.

    I spread a cloth shower curtain on the bed for dog to lay on, and upon returning home, throw it in the washer. He knows which is his side of the bed, although he tends to encroach.

    1. I like how your procedures are based in your individual experience. I think with tiny trailers, storage is always a compromise. Getting used to our systems--and putting stuff away--helps keep us sane.