budget (car) travel with champagne taste

lifestyle, travel November 22, 2014

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When I get moments to myself, I tend to fantasize about things I can not afford. Like traveling. I want to go everywhere and take my kids everywhere. Ever since I was a little girl, I was fascinated with the idea of easy mobility. The ability to just get up and go. Backpacking (of both the traveling and camping varieties) appealed to me immensely, and I was supremely happy for the six months I lived out of a back pack in Africa. Now I have children and dogs and a husband and in general a lot more to carry. We are also on a tight budget with a new business and me a mostly stay at home mom. It does not stop my dreaming. Someday my husband and I want to take the boys for a trip around the world for a year. It would be awesome to drive through north, central, and South America. Having children means that traveling by plane is a lot more expensive when you consider the tickets, the hotels, and the food. The ability to travel by car would save a lot on all fronts. And I have always enjoyed seeing the world through the windows of a moving train, car, bus, or boat.

Our mission: We have two children and a station wagon. I want to be able to comfortably drive down to Mexico and camp on the beach for an extended period. So we need to cook, sleep, and attend to our toiletries on the road without too much setup and take down. Here are some of my favorite fantasies of how to do so.

First, simple is good. The Cricket Trailerfrom a NASA architect. (Pictured above) This solves all problems in an efficient way. J and I sleep in the queen bed in the trailer, the kids sleep in the car. It has a refrigerator, kitchen area, handheld showed, even a portable toilet.

IMG_2905.PNGIt is lightweight and can be towed with our station wagon. No messing with tents, or set up while on the road, and no need to worry about keeping our stuff locked up. It has all kinds of neat extras like solar panels and little berths that can hang above the bed for kids. It also comes in a very pretty blue and looks cool. It is also on the pricey side, starting at 21k. Onward.

Ideally, I want to be able to stop at a beautiful spot, eat lunch, take a hike or a nap, and move on without too much fuss. In the event that someone doesn’t decide to make us a gift of the cricket trailer, I like the idea of a car top tent from Autohome.

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The Columbus could accommodate my whole family for around $3,400. It is quick setup and take down, spacious and lightweight. It also has the benefit of allowing us to have our car and nothing else. However, it only covers sleeping. We would need a car kitchen setup that is quick and simple. This means: atleast a stove, table, sink basin of some sort, cooler, and storage for food, dishes etc. We have some of it already, but I imagine only trial and error will provide the answers as to what will work fast and efficiently and not take up too much space.

Another cool option is the Sylvansport Go. It is a tent trailer, providing a sleeping and eating space as well as a means of towing your toys. I’m thinking bicycles to get us around our various destinations. This would also require the camp kitchen as an additional set up, but would provide the storage needed to transport the gear. (Not sure whether our dogs are with us on these adventures or not). This is great, but also pricey at around $8,000.

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My next task is to figure out how to plug a portable refrigerator like this Colemaninto a solar panel. I would love to not have to worry about ice while on the road. When I figure this out, I will update.

Additionally, I like the idea of a little toilet and pop up tent to go with the solar shower we already have. It looks like we can have a reasonable (depending on your definition of the term) camp bathroom for under $50.

For a little more, (around $250) this is a pretty neat item. It is a solar shower mounted to your car that holds 5 gallons of pressurized water.

If any one from Cricket, Sylvansport, or Automhome wants to throw a sample my way, I’ll promise to write all about it to my 26 readers! Starting with a trip to the Baja in Mexico this winter and a Chicago/Michigan trip next fall!
(With plenty of local lake outings in the summer). Happy camping. Just like with gardening, winter is a good time to dream.

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