One concern when you buy a camper is to make sure it’s the right size and weight for your truck. The U.S. Department of Transportation requires manufacturers to affix a label to each camper with weight information. Truck manufacturers also must provide labels giving information on the weight that can safely be carried and towed by the truck. If you are not already familiar with terminology like GVWR (gross vehicle weight rating) and GAWR (gross axle weight rating), you should become so if you want to add a camper or tow a trailer.
Needless to say, exceeding cargo limits is dangerous. Web sites of some camper manufacturers offer guidance on matching trucks with campers, and you should be able to get good advice from a reliable dealer.
Assuming you don’t have an overload problem, there are still suspension issues that may arise when you put a camper on a truck. Check out the Tech Tips column of Russ and Tiña De Maris in this issue for a discussion of their experience in solving these kinds of problems.
In this issue Russ and Tiña also bring us up-to-date on what’s happening with all those trailers that the Federal Emergency Management Agency purchased in 2005 to house hurricane victims. To put it kindly, FEMA overbought, and you no doubt have seen newscasts and newspaper stories about the 20,000 trailers sitting idly at an airport in Hope, Arkansas.
We’ve seen various figures, but according to the Associated Press, FEMA spent $2.7 billion to buy 145,000 trailers and now has 60,000 in storage.
FEMA is starting to auction its surplus trailers, but Russ and Tiña explain why you might not want to rush out and bid. Many need repairs, and for those of us who live in the West, there is another reason to pass on this opportunity—the trailers are far away, mostly in places like Arkansas, Indiana, Maryland and Florida. That’s a long way to go for a cheap trailer that’s probably damaged.
In this month’s issue, we present an assortment of travel articles to help you plan your RV trips this spring and summer. Whether you are interested in bluegrass music, stargazing or just wandering through an interesting old town in Oregon, you’ll find intriguing ideas in the pages that follow.
This is also the time of year when slick travel brochures begin appearing everywhere to entice visitors. You would think that the Internet and all the travel information it offers might have obviated the need for printed travel guides, but apparently not. We put RV Life online, and that has gained us a new audience without diminishing the demand for the printed version. Apparently the same is true in the travel business—people want information online and in print too.
The State of California puts out a lavish guide called the 2007 California State Visitor’s Guide and Travel Planner. Within its 220 pages, you will find 47 maps, a guide to scenic drives, lists of attractions and a guide to RV parks and other lodging. Guides are free and can be obtained at www.visitcalifornia.com. You can also download discount admissions to family attractions in California at www.cafunspots.com and www.californiarewardcard.com.
Many cities and regions also offer visitor’s guides. In Washington, the Tacoma Regional Convention & Visitor Bureau has a 68-page guide listing attractions, events, campgrounds and RV parks along with information on dining, shopping and transportation. You can download it or order a copy at www.traveltacoma.com.
In Oregon, the Salem Convention and Visitors Bureau has a 65-page guide promoting Salem and the surrounding area. The guide can be ordered by calling (503) 581-4325 or sending an e-mail to email@example.com. You can find out just about everything you might want to know about visiting Salem by going to the organization’s Internet site, www.travelsalem.com, but the demand for printed information is so great that Salem prints 150,000 copies of its visitor’s guide.
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