The Best Travel Trailer for Couples - Top 5 Features
“Happiness [is] only real when shared.”
Christopher McCandless, Into the Wild
"Do your own thing" or "No man is an island?" For those who choose the latter, a happy life of shared experiences awaits you on life's road of wonder.
Choosing self-sufficiency or togetherness was front and center in the fascinating horror story penned by biographical author Jon Krakauer that focused on the real-life story of a single, confused, young sojourner from El Segundo, CA, named Christopher McCandless in his book and later movie, Into the Wild. The tragic and final message makes it clear that happiness is, indeed, best when shared.
If McCandless taught us anything, a life of shared experiences is better than being alone because it provides opportunities for growth, learning, and connection. Sharing experiences with others creates memories and builds relationships that can last a lifetime. It also allows for a greater diversity of perspectives, support, and encouragement during difficult times. Whether traveling to new places, trying new activities, or simply spending time with loved ones, a life of shared experiences offers a richness and fulfillment that cannot be achieved alone. Togetherness promotes a sense of belonging, purpose, and joy essential for a happy and fulfilling life.
This doesn't mean there aren't a few bumps in the road, as Chevy Chase shared in his hilarious depictions of traveling cross-country with the family.
Family Vacation -- Chevy Chase Style
"National Lampoon's Vacation" (1983) follows the Griswold family on a cross-country road trip to Wally World. Chevy Chase stars as the bumbling but well-intentioned patriarch, Clark Griswold, in a hilarious and relatable tale of family dysfunction and the joys and pitfalls of family vacations.
Over the past 60 years, I've traveled in a trailer across the US with a Lab, as a young couple, with my family of four, and in 1964 from LA to the New York World's Fair in Flushing Meadows. My father pulled a 1962 24' cab-over Traveleze trailer behind a Bonneville station wagon. He took our family of seven, plus grandma and a nanny, more than 7,000 miles in 6 weeks, touching 46 states. One might think he was nuts to do it. Ok, he was a psychiatrist.
3 Items Every Couple Should Pack for a Great Getaway
I've lived in 5,000+ sq. ft. MacMansions and was miserable. But the year I lived in a travel trailer full-time with my partner was one of the best times of my life.
People would ask, "Didn't you drive each other nuts?" Sure, we had our moments, but nuts? Absolutely not. We loved it! As with any good partnership, it works when there is good communication. Most importantly, we shared the desire for adventure and rolled with it when something unexpected or difficult happened.
Here are three secrets to successfully traveling for couples who spend this much time together in a small mobile space:
1) Keep your individuality.
Although we enjoy doing most things together, like bicycling, reading, doing puzzles, snuggling with popcorn and rocky road, and watching nature documentaries, maintaining our uniqueness and interests was the secret to our success. When one of us went snow skiing, the other went snowshoeing or cross-country skiing. And when one prefers to go stand-up paddling the other is searching for sea glass on the beach.
After a full day of doing our own thing, we're excited, energized, and ready to share our stories in the trailer at night. Once we embraced this concept of individuality, living together full-time on the road was fun and easy.
2) Create a living space that's well thought out, with enough room to enjoy life.
I'll say it upfront, as cute as they are and easy to tow with a small car, teardrop trailers for couples make no sense to us. They don't begin to provide the features we need for a comfortable adventurous, off-grid lifestyle. You might as well go tent camping. Frankly, living that tiny is just a little too adventurous for us.
While I recommend focusing on travel trailers with a full aluminum frame, I don't recommend concentrating on a lightweight trailer, period. The reality is the word light in the RV business is frequently code for crappy quality. And don't focus too much on the specs, such as GVWR, dry weight, or hitch weight, because when it comes to the best travel trailer for couples, less is not always more. Quality travel trailers for couples will mean pulling some heft. Fortunately, trucks today are more luxurious, spacious, and capable of greater towing capacity than ever.
If you're only looking for a weekend getaway travel trailer, like a Winnebago Minnie Drop, that's another story. But if you're looking for full-time comfort, go bigger.
3) Pack plenty of patience.
The third essential item to pack when traveling with someone else is patience -- don't be in a hurry, and stay flexible because stuff happens.
Shopping for the best travel trailers for couples is part of this amazing adventure. The key is to know what you're looking for. Be sure to have thoughtful conversations. Listen to each other's words and heart. Consider what you truly need and what you don't.
This was our search for the best travel trailer for couples. In this article, I'll share five key ingredients along with what we learned from experience about travel trailers that worked best for the two of us. There are so many, too. However, you cannot have 100 priorities. So, we started by writing down a list of our preferences and eventually synthesized our list to these five shared values:
1) A fully-functional kitchen,
2) Separate work/sleep spaces,
3) Spacious bathroom/shower,
4) Ample storage and
5) Off-grid capability.
Our Top 5 Travel Trailer Features for Couples
Let's get real. If you're moving from a 3,000 sq. ft. home and want to get on board the freedom express, you'll have to downsize. A lot. Even the largest travel trailers have their limits. So, get used to letting go. Stuff never made you happy anyway. Happiness comes from interesting people, shared experiences, and good health. These are the keys to happiness.
Nevertheless, there are keys to evading suffering, so begin with the basics, such as temperate comfort, security, and personal space. Climb aboard! Here are the five top features for couples every travel trailer should include:
1) A Fully-functional kitchen
We started with decent counter space and storage cabinets, a large sink, high rise faucet, three burner stove, quality appliances, and an oversized refrigerator. A kitchen island is a huge space saver if you can get it -- especially one that can be moved outside when you want more floor space.
Another important feature is extra elbow room in the kitchen/dining space because this is where you'll spend most of your time. You'll cook meals together and won't want to bump into each other constantly. An outdoor propane barbecue grill is another nice appliance for cooking outside. The best travel trailer for couples offers the option of an indoor kitchen or an outdoor kitchen. You'll want this flexibility, especially when the weather cooperates.
There's a reason the architectural concept of a great room is so popular in a traditional home's floor plan. A couple's travel trailer should offer an open space that allows connectedness while cooking, working, streaming, playing games, reading, or relaxing. Your travel trailer should have an open, inviting living space with plenty of natural light, adjustable LED lighting, and cross ventilation. Extra features could include a medium-sized mini fridge or more, depending on your needs for cold storage, large cabinets, and extra storage space. A perfect couples camper would have a U-shaped dinette lounge that converts into a sleeping or lounging space and a quality entertainment center with premium speakers.
2) Dedicated sleep and work/leisure spaces
Separate spaces offer privacy, mobile office adaptability, and convertible spaces that provide the option of not needing to make up your bed every night. The perfect travel trailer will also offer options for sleeping space for a guest, such as an automatic bed that drops down from the ceiling.
The floor plan of the sleeping space in relation to the bathroom is also critical. You won't want to walk through a space where someone's asleep to use the bathroom. As with kitchen storage, having a little extra space in the bedroom is a feature of the best trailers.
Another great feature we didn't go with was a Murphy bed that converts into a workspace table. Other options are bunk beds and a jack-knife sofa that easily converts from a seating space into a bed. However, it's not a very comfortable option, and the whole point of travel trailers for couples is cozying up in a comfy queen bed or king-size bed while watching the brilliant night sky through a large window or skylight.
The question of a king-sized bed vs a queen-sized bed all depends on your personal preference and occasional guest sleeping capacity needs. Regardless, a generous wardrobe closet with full-length hanging spaces and shelves to store your clothes, supplies, and other camping gear is invaluable. Adjustable LED lights and directional task lights for reading in bed are also practical in the kitchen/dining and bedroom areas.
3) Spacious bathroom with extra-capacity water storage tanks
Without question, the toilet must be separate from the shower. We were ready to give in on a few things, but one non-negotiable was a cramped shower without modern amenities and a wet bath. We knew we needed a little more space in the bathroom. A spacious spa-like bathroom was my wife's one personal sanctuary. Aside from that, the full-length wardrobe closets sealed the deal for her luxurious yet rugged mix of camping styles.
Next on our list was a large freshwater storage tank. Most RVs offer only 30-50 gallons of fresh water -- which isn't enough. Once we calculated our off-grid potable water needs, we needed 80-100 gallons of water storage for ideal comfort and convenience in our perfect camper for two. With a larger tank, we could go for long periods without refilling, giving us more freedom to explore remote areas without access to water hookups. Additionally, it allows for longer showers and more frequent dishwashing, making your camper feel more at home.
Two more travel-trailer-for-couples amenities were an on-demand water heater and atmospheric water generation. Going on-demand is the only way to go and is essential, especially for those like us who enjoy extended trips. It provides a continuous hot water supply, making it possible to take long, luxurious showers without worrying about running out of hot water.
These systems made for a more comfortable and enjoyable travel experience. With these water capacities, systems, and bathroom amenities, they were at the heart of making for the most romantic date night!
4) Extra Storage Space Throughout
You will undoubtedly need more space than the typical RV for carrying your clothes, personal gear, recreational equipment, and essential travel trailer supplies. Ample storage is important in creating the best travel trailer for couples. A well-organized travel trailer is less stressful for couples because it promotes a sense of calm and order. When everything has a designated place, it eliminates the frustration of being unable to find things and reduces the likelihood of misplacing items. This reduced tension allowed us to focus on enjoying our time together. We had far fewer tiffs about what we couldn't bring with us or if we wanted to buy something new because we had a place for everything we wanted. We didn't lose stuff that would get buried in a pile of containers. Best of all, our cozy, well-equipped, and organized home on wheels allowed us to fully appreciate the bountiful Great Outdoors, which brought us closer together.
5) Off-grid resource generation
The key to our freedom and independence was the ability to generate resources -- including unlimited solar energy, electric production, water generation from thin air, and internet connectivity from the most remote locations.
We soon discovered a misperception among those seeking an RV lifestyle. That it will be easy and free of crowds. It may seem ridiculous, but the opposite is true! We heard stories from many travelers who purchased a cheap lightweight travel trailer and full-size SUV tow vehicle and could not spend long periods without electricity, fresh water, and waste hookups. Their greatest challenge was finding a place to spend their nights because many RV parks and national parks were booked solid. Then, when they did find a place to park for the night, space rents were more than $100, and they were parked 5' from their neighbor.
After adequate solar energy production, fresh water is the most limiting factor to going off-grid. We ordered a WaterGen drinking water system that extracts humidity from the air and makes 5-7 gallons of pure drinking water daily. This was a complete game-changer.
Next, we went with a composting toilet. Before you say, "No way!" hear me out. Composting is truly the most environmentally-sound way to go. Why Americans use 1-2 gallons of fresh water to dispose of a cup of liquid and solid waste is ridiculous. Composting toilets are much less smelly than the traditional black waste water tank. When waste solids get wet, they stink. A dog's waste will prove my point -- give it a day to dry out, and there is no more smell. In a composting toilet, the liquid is separated into the grey water tank, and a compostable bag of solid waste can be tossed in the trash, just like you do with your dog's waste.
The Best Travel Trailer Summary
An off-grid travel trailer experience is better than renting an RV park space. First, it allows for a more authentic outdoor experience, with the freedom to camp in secluded, scenic locations without the distractions of other campers. This provides a greater opportunity to immerse oneself in nature and truly disconnect from the stresses of everyday life.
Second, an off-grid travel trailer experience is often more cost-effective than renting a space in an RV park. While park fees and hookup costs can add up, traveling off-grid allows for free camping in many public lands and national forests, reducing the trip's overall cost.
Third, an off-grid travel trailer experience allows for greater self-sufficiency and the opportunity to hone camping and survival skills. With limited resources and amenities, one must learn to adapt and rely on their own abilities to make the most of the experience. This is a bonding process for couples.
Overall, an off-grid travel trailer experience provides a unique and rewarding opportunity to explore the outdoors and connect with nature without the crowds and constraints of urban life.