Getting An RV Tow Vehicle – Part 1. To Tow or Not To Tow?
Follow Along On Our Tow Vehicle Setup:
- Part 1: To Tow or Not To Tow?
- Part 2: Tow Dolly or Flat-Tow “4 Wheels Down”?
- Part 3. Researching and Deciding On Flat-Tow Equipment
- Part 4: Final Equipment Decisions And Purchases
- Part 5: Towing Equipment Installed… and DONE! (Photos)
Since our family began making longer RV trips part of our life, we have always traveled without a tow vehicle.
It seemed normal. After all, my entire childhood, my family never towed a car behind our RV. When we went somewhere, we drove the RV. So, now that I was grown and was using my own rig, we just did it the same way.
Less stuff to worry about.
On our first summer trip, it went OK. However, there were some annoyances to it.
- Visiting Mammoth Cave, we were camping about 10 miles from the park at a KOA. So, for 2 days straight, we had to tidy up the rig and drive the 10 miles to the park. And back.
- In Gettysburg, we used the RV as our car. We even went around the road that encircles the battlefield in the rig. We were the biggest vehicle out there, by far. 😉
- In Philly, we went to visit a family member. We actually rented a car here and it was pretty easy using Enterprise’s pickup service.
Anyway, it goes on. However, the following summer it became more of a hassle not having a car.
- In Boston, we stayed at a KOA about 30 miles out of town. Best way into town was the train, but the nearest station was about 2 miles away. So, yep… we had to fold everything in and drive the RV to the train station and leave it in the parking lot all day.
- In Plymouth, we drove the motorhome there because we had no car. And it was a bit of a beast to get around down there. At one point, I had to do a 3-point turn in the middle of a road which was a bit too freakin’ small. Yay.
- In Maine, we were lucky enough to be able to borrow my father-in-law’s car. However, if that weren’t the case, it’d be quite difficult.
- In Watkins Glen, it was HARD to find a car because of a race going on. Only got one by the skin of our teeth.
- In Bennington, VT, we drove through. We decided to visit the old house of my grandmother who grew up there, and see some family grave sites. So, we took the rig up into a residential area and into this cemetery. The vehicle was just…. too big, really. I got it done, but… yeah.
- In Niagara Falls, we once again drove the rig into the park.
The thing about this summer trip is that we noticed it was harder to find a car. Several times, it took several phone calls to find a car we could rent. And, in a couple cases, they charged us a higher daily rate simply because of the last-minute booking. We probably easily spent a few hundred bucks on rental cars.
But, there’s also logistics.
For instance, grocery shopping. I can’t count the number of times I’ve had to navigate that RV into a small grocery store parking lot to go shopping. Why? Because we have no car.
Or be in a place where it would be cool to go check out more things, but it is too inconvenient because of the hassle of moving the rig. Or it won’t fit.
Now, it isn’t all hassle using your motorhome for visiting destinations. After all, many times we had lunch in the RV parking lot, generator running, quite comfortable. To me, that’s one of the joys of having an RV is being able to do stuff like that. 🙂
That said… when all is said and done, it is definitely easier having a car with you than not.
Let’s face it…
RVs have gotten big.
When I was a kid, our family RV was a 19-footer. Today, you have pickup trucks almost that long. 😉
It is easier to drive around town with a smaller vehicle. This is why Class B’s are growing in popularity. But, for people who don’t wish to pay the sky-high prices for these Class B’s on a Mercedes chassis, you’re likely going to have a larger rig. Even with a Class C in the 27-foot range, it’s still a bit of a bear to drive around many cities. And if you have a Class A like I do, it can be interesting.
So, I think it is the growing size of RVs that has made it much more necessary to tow a vehicle with you.
For us, the final nail in the coffin was just recently, up in Tallahassee. We wanted a car to go check out the city for the day. So, we booked an Enterprise. Well, I get over there the next day to pick it up and literally had to wait about an HOUR to get the damn vehicle. The place was so poorly run it was insane. In the end, I ended up taking a brand new Ford F150 to drive around. Nice wheels, but it wasn’t because I wanted that. I reserved a compact car, but I told them just give me ANYTHING to get me out of there. I didn’t want to wait for them to clean a car. It was about a 90-minute deal just to pick up a car to go into town for one day.
I looked at it as the final sign that I simply have to begin towing a car with me.
I need the flexibility. I think it will completely change how we look at the experience.
Once that decision was made, it was time to confront the logistics.
First up… tow dolly or flat-row “4 wheels down”?
I’ll talk about that decision in Part 2. 😉
Follow Along On Our Tow Vehicle Setup: