Why We Chose a Pop Up
…what to consider and is it right for you?
We when first started planning our life together, travel was a recurring theme. We both love visiting new places, hiking, and camping. One of the first trips we took as a couple was to a music festival in Colorado, camping in our The North Face tent. We learned a lot on this first trip. We spent time listening to music (of course), but it was our down-time that was the most inspiring. We spent our mornings reading and drinking coffee by the river, afternoons taking walks through the beautiful, red rock cliffs, and enjoying what we would soon come to call “slow life”. (Click here to read about “slow life”) We knew that however we decided to travel together, being outside and enjoying the beauty of our Earth would be a major theme.
Go Camping First
All of that to say…when deciding whether a pop-up is right for you, go camping first. A lot of small camping trailers, like pop-ups, are little more than glorified tents. If you don’t like tent camping, you likely won’t like pop-up camping. This doesn’t mean NO camper is right for you, just that you should go out tent camping first and learn what you do and don’t like. For us, tent camping has always been exceptionally fun.
Know What’s Non-negotiable
So you’ve gone tent camping and you know you enjoy being outdoors, but there are some things you can’t live without. Perfect! It is essential that you know what you need in your home away from home to be comfortable. It’s also important to note that when we say non-negotiable we don’t just mean amenities, we also mean know your limitations. These days you’ll find just about anything you can imagine in a camper, including pop-ups. Do you need a toilet? Fridge or freezer? How many people should it sleep comfortably? A table or a couch or both? Your comfort is directly tied to your ability to relax and get the most of your adventures. Get what YOU need.
You also have to consider limitations. How much can you tow? Do you have a portable medical device? Do you want to be able to boondock or go off grid? These are all critical questions to answer before moving forward with purchasing a pop-up or any type of camper. One reason we settled on a pop-up is to have a more comfortable way to travel with our dog, Pepper. We wanted to make sure she could join us on adventures, but also have the ability to feel safe and calm and comfortable which could be a stretch for her in the tent.
Set a Budget and Be Patient
Everyone’s budget is different, but with a little patience you can find exactly what you’re looking for without breaking the bank. Let’s be realistic though: campers are an investment, in that they cost more than a simple tent. Brand new pop-ups can go for $10,000 or more where a used camper can be as little as $3,000 or less. Don’t rush the selection process and look often at sites like Facebook Marketplace or Craigslist. Spring and fall seem like the best times to find a used camper so have your feelers out then. Let friends and family know you are on the look-out for a camper; they might have connections you never thought of. With the changes COVID brought to our world, vacations in state and national parks are becoming more popular. This could mean high demand for small campers for the foreseeable future.
We set our budget pretty low and knew that would mean extra time spent getting our pop-up ready. You also have to factor in repairs and upgrades. We had done quite a lot of pricing things like paint and flooring before setting our budget as we knew that would be crucial to meeting our financial goal. Our pop-up, we call him Taos, was $2,900 and we wanted to keep the total project cost under $4,000. So we knew we had something like $1,100 to remodel and repair. For more on what exactly we did during the original build, check out our Pop Up 101 blog.
One last thing to consider is taxes, tags, and insurance. Although some states don’t require you to register a camper if it is under a certain weight, there are states that do. If you’re traveling domestically your best bet is to get insurance and register your camper.
For reference, for our 2008 pop up we paid $372.95 for registration, title, and tags, and insurance is $240 annually.
Be honest with yourself about what is right for you and your family. You may decide that backpacking and tent camping is the best way to go and forgo the pop-up entirely. Or maybe an AirB&B cabin in the woods or a yurt at one of our National parks is more your style. We hope that however you decide to travel, you are able to relax and appreciate the beauty of the natural world and experience a little bit of Slow Life for yourself.