Explore {trailer life – campbell style}

Are you so sick of travel pictures? Well, if you are…good news, this is the last one. I am going to answer some of your practical questions regarding living in our trailer for a month.

What kind of trailer do you have and what do you use to pull it? It is a 25 foot 1966 Avion. We drive an older Suburban and it pulls fine.

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Does the trailer have heat and air? It has air, but we didn’t use it on this trip. Oklahoma is so much hotter, so we might use it more when we camp locally. It does not have heat, but we used a portable heater when needed. I don’t do well in cold weather, so we don’t plan on camping when it is really cold.

Does it have a working shower and toilet? No. It has a shower and toilet, but they aren’t connected to anything. We used the showers and restrooms where we camped. Not every place had showers, but every place had a version of a toilet. Remember, we are okay with rustic. This did mean we did not take showers daily (or even every other day at times), which would really bother some people. The weather was cold so we didn’t sweat much and a baby wipe can go a long way for cleaning ๐Ÿ˜‰

How did you plan out your trip? We picked a handful of key locations to park the trailer (Tetons, Shoshone, Glacier, etc.) and used those as our base camp to explore local areas. We didn’t plan much other than that. Once we arrived we talked to locals and park rangers. Since we had about 5 days in each spot, we were able to really explore and take our time. We never felt rushed, which made a big difference in the overall feel of the trip. Due to finances, we didn’t do many things that cost money…lots of hiking and nature exploring instead.

When you drove how many rest stops did you take? Too many. At one point I thought about making every person under the age of 12 wear a pull-up. Instead we just made a million and two potty breaks. Since our kitchen was connected to our car, we tried making sandwiches and such in the trailer during long drives instead of getting fast food. We’d just pull up to a grocery store, park far from the store and eat lunch at the table in the trailer.

How many clothes did you pack? Did you do laundry? We don’t have tons of clothes because I do laundry everyday anyway…so we don’t need a lot. I packed everyone 2 pairs of pants, one long sleeve shirt, and one jacket. The boys took several pairs of shorts and t-shirts. The girls took several dresses. We packed light, but should have packed more cold weather items. I packed a bunch of tank tops and only wore them twice. Under the beds in the trailer are plastic bins where I stored our clothes. We did laundry whenever we could find a washer and dryer…which was a handful of times.

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What did you eat? We only ate at restaurants a couple of times, which is more than we do at home. We shopped at local grocery stores and markets. I tried to stock up at each location so we weren’t trying to find something each day. I fixed most of our meals using a griddle or electric skillet in the trailer. We also used the campfire for several meals. Most campsites have picnic tables so we ate outside instead of in the trailer the majority of the time. The trailer has a full size refrigerator, so we were able to have cold goods. When we went from one place to the next I put all our cold items in insulated bags with frozen water bottles. We washed dishes at our campsite or at designated places at the various campgrounds. The kids did lots of dishes. My mother-in-law LOADED us up with snacks before we left, so I never had to think about buying those. We still have some left!

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We did pack our ‘fancy’ coffee machine and I had my normal yogurt concoction for breakfast every morning. Keeping little routines like those helped it feel more like home.

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How did everyone sleep and what did the sleeping arrangements look like? Sleep was great. The kids liked all being in one room each night. We were so active all day long and didn’t get in the trailer for bed until late each night, which meant everyone pretty much just crashed. We had a big bed up front for Chris and me. We created a large bed across the back for the kids – 4 slept on the top and one below (top part is pictured below).
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What were your biggest expenses? Gas. I’m not even sure what we spent on gas. We mainly did free things and we bought a national park pass so it would be a one time fee since we will use it again this year. Our grocery bill was about the same and RV parks are much cheaper than hotels. Gas was our biggest expense.

How did the kids do? They did so great. They are all getting more mature and independent, so that helped big time. Our oldest daughter is the only one that verbally said she missed home, though I am sure the others might have too. Of course there was fighting and arguing, but no more than we deal with at home. The cold days where we were in the trailer were the hardest. The boys wanted to wrestle and it was just a tiny space for that. One day I had them create a Wrestling Rules & Consequences Contract that they all signed. Really though, it was a beautiful time for our family. I’m not one for pretending life is perfect, but to say that the trip was just dreadful and we couldn’t wait to get home would not be true. It will live on as one of our family’s fondest memories.

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I’m not sure that I answered every question. It was hard finding them all throughout those older posts. If you have another one, ask it on this post and I’ll try to answer those when I get back from Africa!

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  • SueB - Loved reading all about your trip. Made me relive some of our camping trips a few years ago in our motorhome. Gas was always a huge expense but i loved being able to cook meals in it and having our own bed and bathroom. It’s a great way to travel and are some of our fondest memories as well.

  • Beth - Ashley, I LOVED reading about your trip. I’m sorry to see it completed! How often do you see your family doing epic trips such as this one?

  • cindy - what a wonderful trip…..were you aware of where hospitals or urgent care centers were in case of an emergency? other than the shower and toilet lack, i think i might like camping in a trailer like yours. i’m not so okay with rustic. ๐Ÿ˜€

    oh, what about bugs and little critters? were they a problem?

  • Michelle Hill - I have to be honest, I’m making sad faces over here when I read the line about being the last “travel post”. I felt like I was on this trip with you guys for the whole month…even if it was just in five minute snippets everyday). The pictures are just stunning and I can imagine the comments and memories your children will bring up when they are older about this trip.
    Thank you, thank you for sharing this adventurous and wonderful moment in your lives with us.

  • Mek - Love all your trip posts and pictures! Would like to ask about LO’s meals during the trip? Does she still depends on juices or she already can takes on soft foods?

  • cindy - LOVED hearing about your trip! Sad to hear this is your last post about it! What wonderful memories made – thanks for taking us along!

  • Ujjaini - I think preparing food at the campsite is the best thing. And it often tastes so much better, somehow!

    http://imyownmuse.blogspot.com/

  • Taylor - I love reading the insights on your trip. Definitely some great tips for future camping/road trip expeditions whether you’re with kiddos or not.

    xoxo
    Taylor

  • ashley jensen - Sounds like the camping we do! We have taken many bucket baths before instead of showers and during the summer we just take a bath in the river. Gas is definitely the biggest expense! That is basically all it costs for us to go camping since we take food from home. And yes camper rates are WAY cheaper than hotels! We are thinking about going down to the coast next year and would definitely take out trailer instead of staying in a hotel!

  • jill - How long were you gone total?

  • jenny - wow! you are such an inspiration! you really make me want to go on an adventure like this ๐Ÿ™‚ and the trailer remodel… fantastic… i never would have even thought of doing something like that to make it feel more like home! i absolutely love all the little touches you add (ex: chalkboard that said “let’s go on an adventure”, katie daisy camping print, and so much more!!!).

  • AshleyAnn - Jill we were on the road about a month on this one. Chris

  • AshleyAnn - Mek, Thanks for asking, she did great on the trip. Still a lot of soft foods but she picked up some new eating habits on this trips that were great. What was a little crazy on this trip is that we didn’t even pack the blender for smoothies which was a huge thing for us! Chris Campbell

  • AshleyAnn - Cindy, In most places there were facilities some what close but honestly that is a real challenge to being out further in the wilderness. Even if you do know about those types of facilities they are just not pragmatically close. Some of the national parks have first aid stations and such but what you maybe referring to in a hospital or urgent care are probably several hours away. We brought a lot of our own first aid supplies. On the bugs and critters we really didn’t have any problems. In bear country, you don’t leave anything outside of the trailer except for maybe camping chairs while you are gone from your campground or at night. Inside the trailer, we intentionally put out some ant baits and such because we heard that could be a issue at some of the campgrounds. We never really had a problem with them though. Chris Campbell

  • AshleyAnn - Beth, Ashley was planning our next one before we even made it home! As of right now we have talked about trying another one next summer but now that we have the trailer outfitted we are looking at the spring and fall because of the beautiful weather but also the lesser crowds. We have the bug! Chris Campbell

  • Julia - Dear Ashley,

    what I’m going to write now is something I meant to tell you for a long time, but especially since your Camping trip.
    I think you & Chris are like the most awesome parents, I’d love to be a member of your beautiful family and if I ever have children, it would be Grand for them when I’d be just a half as good Mum as you are.

    You are a great person! I’m thankful for your existence, because my day always gets a Little bit happier looking at your photographs and reading your posts. ๐Ÿ™‚

    Love,
    Julia/17/Germany

  • susie - Wish there was a place in Air-streams to put dirt bikes and the kayak in. The kids want to take a trailer of toys so we have been tenting it. Too bad gas is so expensive, that’s always our biggest expense too.

  • AshleyAnn - Susie, I wish we would have had bikes on this trip too. I have seen a lot of attachments that can hook on the back bumper of a trailer for bikes. My kids would have really enjoyed that. Our neighbor, at Jackson lake had his Kayak’s on his roof rack of his truck. That is the nice thing about pulling a trailer is you do have a lot more room for things in your main vehicle that you are pulling it with. As always more stuff usually creates more hassle but if it is important to you those things are not too difficult to pack along! Chris Campbell

  • Laura S. - I will never get tired of seeing your beautiful travel photos. It has made me want to plan a road trip for my 50th birthday with my gal pals. I have two years to plan the whole thing. You really inspired me. I think you could really write a budget travel blog and get paid big time for it!

  • sayonada - two (adult) friends of mine recently drove cross-country and i told them that it sounded like a nightmare to me. but this actually makes it sounds wonderful and do-able. thanks so much for sharing!

  • Diana - I too am sad to see this is the last trip post! I grew up going on camping vacations with my family (except in a pop-up camper usually, and we’d fit all 8 of us in there!) and so many happy memories coming back seeing your trip. I think those trips are one of the best things my parents did for us and I’d bet your kids will feel the same some day. Thank you for sharing!!!

  • Kristin - You’ve made me fall in love with idea of taking our own epic trip. I’m dying to see Wyoming & Montana more than ever now. Thank you for sharing your adventure with us.

  • Amber - I’m with someone else who said oh no, last camping post! I’ve loved them! When my husband and I graduated college we road tripped 10,548 miles all the way around the US (but very rustic, tent style). We love road tripping but are crushed because our youngest (2) gets horribly car sick, so we can’t go anywhere. How did the kids handle the actual driving part? Do you have any car sick issues? What did they do in the car while you drove? Thanks!

  • Julie - I have loved following your adventure! We have just started tent camping as a family this year (we have three kids) and we love it. I love that you didn’t sugar coat the realities of not showering often (we love baby wipes when camping, too!) and choosing to do free activities. We just got back from a several night stay in south Texas at Big Bend National Park. Amenities are few, but it was beautiful and I would go back in a heartbeat. We’ve got the camping bug ๐Ÿ™‚

  • haverlee - I always love reading your detailed, daily life type posts! I don’t know why. Your humility and strength continually bless me. Also, you totally rock that hat, you cute thing, you.

  • Kristine - Ashley,
    I have absolutely loved reading these posts about your trip! My hubby has been wanting to plan an out west trip for years and years, and so i have forwarded many of your posts to him! Your trip was the perfect combination of “roughing it” and, well, not roughing it. ๐Ÿ™‚ We plan on going now with our four kiddos in two summers (that way our youngest will be 5 and a little more independent). I have saved all of your post and beautiful pictures to refer back to. Oh, and I just love how you decorated your trailer, it was so sweet.

    Kristine ๐Ÿ™‚

  • Jeannine - Ashley and Chris – Loved reading these posts about your trip! My husband and I have been talking about doing yearly road trips with our girls once they’re a little older ๐Ÿ™‚ (They’re only 2 and 8 months right now) Oh and LOVE your trailer. Totally inspired!

  • Janet Phillips - I have so enjoyed seeing your photos and reading more about your trip. We are getting ready to take our six children on a road trip out west to many of the same places and it is so fun to see a family who has already done it. I’ve picked up some ideas here and there from what you have shared and I am getting even more excited. Thanks for chronicling your trip!

  • Brittney K - Ashley, thank you so much for sharing with us. Really it is so inspiring to see how you embrace everyday life with your clan. You inspire me to be a better mom. Thank you!

  • Cathy - Ashley – It has been great reading about your family adventures. We bought a camper 2nd hand last year also and are so thankful for the closeness it brings to each other and to God’s wondrous creation. Had a question regarding decorating – do you have throw rugs on the floor? We are looking for something that would be washable.

  • Sarah - What an amazing trip, I have loved following along with you! My husband and I took a trip to Yellowstone/Jackson Hole a few years back. It was beautiful, but I was so worried about bears the whole time we were hiking(especially on the less busy trails) and we didn’t even have our kids with us! Do you have any tips or advise that you picked up about hiking/camping in bear country? I would love to go back with my girls someday! Thanks for sharing your epic road-trip with us! ๐Ÿ™‚

  • Laura Y - Ashley and Chris – Thanks for all these posts. I have loved reading them. My husband and I now live in OKC but we both grew up in Wyoming and Colorado and have been missing how easy it was to travel to some of those locations.

    Quick question: What is the carrier that you are using for Little One in the hiking photos? We are expecting baby #2 soon and I am trying to decide on a good carrier that can last us as she ages.

    Thanks!

  • AshleyAnn - Laura – it is an ergo carrier….worth every penny ๐Ÿ™‚

  • Frances Locke - I love this post and, well, all the posts about your adventure. My husband and I are considering something similar before the summer is out, and I appreciate how you kept it real about laundry, bathing, etc. All in all the way you described your experience is so inspirational. Thank you!

  • Tara Abshier - I love your blog-I have 3 adventurous boys that remind me of your boys. We are planning a trip like this for next summer with our RV. I was looking into all the campgrounds that you stayed at. Did you prefer to stay in those rather than in the actual park at Yellowstone?