Many moons ago, we started out as tent people…young and dumb in our late-20s, braving the snow, rain, and mosquitoes under a thin layer of fabric. In 2015, we went out on a limb and bought a tiny pop-up camper off a dude in Georgia via Craigslist. This one random decision led to us deciding to ditch the sticks and bricks to hit the road full-time in 2016. After seven months, the lifestyle was appealing but the accommodations were not, so we made a massive upgrade to a 33-foot, Class A motorhome in the snowbird capital of Yuma, Arizona. But after traveling non-stop throughout the west and parts of Mexico and Canada, eventually falling for New Mexico and buying a house here, and introducing a tiny human to the world during a pandemic, our travel needs changed and priorities shifted. But we still longed for the open road and the kinds of adventure we knew well and wanted to introduce our baby son to.
This long-winded recap is all just backstory to announce that we got a new camper!
Since buying our house almost a year ago (eek!), having this glorious beast (pictured above) parked outside seemed a bit like overkill. It was a perfect full-time residence for a while but definitely more than what we needed for part-time travel with occasional weekend trips and half-cross-country jaunts to visit our families.
Aptly named Dragoon-a-Saurus-Rex de la Mantequilla, this motorhome served us well during full-time camper life, but it certainly didn’t come without it’s issues. The gas mileage was abysmal, it shook and rattled so loud while driving that you couldn’t even have a conversation or hear the radio, and navigating it through gas stations/winding roads/parking lots was a chore-and-a-half. Yet it was so comfortable inside and felt more like home than pretty much anywhere else I’ve ever lived.
It was a bit sad to let the big guy go, bit it was time to move on and make new memories in a camper that makes more sense for us right now. So after checking out several models at three different dealerships in Albuquerque and Bernalillo, we rolled home in this new Pacific Coachworks Tango 26-foot travel trailer!
Although the listing says the trailer is 26 feet, it’s more like 29 feet when you factor in the outside components for the actual length. By comparison, our previous motorhome was listed as 31 feet but more like 33 feet in total. So, I guess you could say we downsized, but not by much. This trade-in was more about switching up the camper type without making ourselves feel crowded as a party of four.
There are a few reasons why we finally settled on this particular set of wheels. First of all, it can be towed by our Jeep Grand Cherokee. It’s at the top of the weight limit but still considered safe, so we maximized our capacity with this Tango. It also offers a safer driving situation with a baby car seat in the back of the SUV rather than the front of a motorhome.
Inside, it has a layout that feels spacious with some separation between the main sleeping area and living area. Compared to other models we looked at, there’s more floor space for a travel crib, plus bunk beds for Monkey right now and for little Chikoo when he’s a bit older.
The kitchen’s pretty nice and even has an oven – something that our last camper didn’t have. Helloooo homemade pizza and cupcakes! The only thing seriously lacking is counterspace, but the crafty husband has already ordered supplies to make himself a cutting board extension area between the sink and the sofa.
It also has decent storage cupboards for part-time living. The storage really doesn’t compare to our old motorhome, but then again, we’re not trying to cram all of our worldly possessions into now that we have a legit house.
Perhaps best of all, Monkey still has her very own room in the new camper – the bottom bunk with plenty of room to spread out and play with her toys.
Many travel trailer’s bathrooms leave a lot to be desired, but we were particularly into this one because the sink is separate from the toilet and shower and because there’s a mini bathtub. I can’t really imagine myself taking a soak in that little thing, but it seems pretty ideal for little kid baths to wash all that future camping dirt off our little man.
Otherwise, there’s an awning outside for chilling out, indoor/outdoor stereo speakers, and air conditioning to keep cool on these sauna-esque New Mexico days. Unlike our last motorhome that had three TVs, this camper has none. But we’re more internet streaming TV people than on-air cable TV people anyway and can totally make do watching stuff on a laptop or iPad. Better yet, we got a great deal on the trade-in so this is a more economical option as well.
All in all, we’re pretty pumped for our new part-time home on wheels and can’t wait to try it out. In a week, we’ll be testing it for the first time at a nearby campground to check out a part of New Mexico we have yet to explore. In this era of sketchy coronavirus travel, being fully self-contained and stocked up in our own space feels like the safest way to go right now. It also sounds like a fun way to celebrate this little guy turning three months old while avoiding going too stir-crazy at home.
Bring on the next round of adventures!