Campers, Camping and Hurricanes

How much wind can my RV, motorhome or camping trailer take? As two hurricanes recently struck my area, I was wondering this very thing.

We’ve had our new Grand Design Imagine travel trailer for about five months. We’ve also had two hurricanes. Fortunately these hurricanes did not bring enormous winds, only 60-70 mph I believe. Hurricane Ian hit us after it moved across the state from the Gulf, and a few weeks later Nicole came in from the east.

Our RV sits at the side of our house on the grass while not in use. It is not undercover, and there are trees all around. Fortunately this does help to keep the camper cooler in hot months. But the threat of limbs falling is real! We had no damage to the camper with either hurricane.

RV parked in side yard
The camper is stored in the yard.

We live in Florida and will most likely have to weather many more hurricanes and strong storms. This state has loads of campgrounds and many are near water and located along the coast.

So what happens to the people camping who are in coastal campgrounds and a hurricane approaches?

They have to leave. With Hurricane Nicole beach erosion was the big problem along with flooding along the coast. Campers had to pack up and get out of campgrounds that would be underwater. This was probably true for Hurricane Ian as well because it dumped nearly two feet of water where I live!

Where do all the campers go? I really don’t know. If you are a camper who has been displaced by a Florida hurricane, please fill us in. Because there are a lot of campgrounds maybe everyone headed inland to various camping spots. Maybe they headed back home.

As I was reading the Grand Design FaceBook page, one person was asking about how much wind a camper could take. I suspect quite a bit. RVs have to travel on roads being towed fast. It is likely that traveling means hitting some windy spots too. It was a good question and probably came from someone like me who stores their camper out in the open at their home. They were probably facing a hit from Hurricane Nicole.

How much wind can an RV withstand without tipping over?

I figured I should look this up. On GudGear they say up to 75 mph, but it matters whether you are towing it or it is stationery. It doesn’t take much wind to affect a camper while it is being towed.

As you may imagine, it also matters what type and size the camper is. Some campers are big and weigh a lot, others are small and lightweight. Either way, a parked camper can hold up to some high winds without tipping over, and especially if it is facing the correct way.

Our travel trailer is parked so that it faces into the wind, which comes from the east when a hurricane passes. It is also very blocked by the house on one side and woods on the other. I would worry about an RV sitting out in the open with winds hitting the side directly. We had 90mph gusts with Hurricane Ian, and 70 mph winds with Nicole and had no trouble with our 28 foot RV swaying or tipping – that we saw!

RV parked at the side of the house
Our camper is tucked between the house and woods. Photo taken the day after the 2nd hurricane.

Hooking a trailer up to a truck / tow vehicle might help as well. The article mentions that stabilizers should be down too. All common sense stuff.

If we ever had higher winds, we could be in trouble, but this side of the state rarely gets a direct hit from any hurricane, much less one in a high category.

One thing that annoyed me a bit on FB was comments saying to hook up and leave and get away from the wind. Now, campgrounds have to make you leave for safety sometimes, but if your camper is sitting in your yard, it’s not that easy to get away.

First of all, people work, and even though businesses can be shut down for a day or so, it’s not enough time to pack up a camper, find a campground out of harm’s way, and wait until it’s safe to go back. If the storm is covering a large area, finding a camping spot could be especially difficult because of all the other displaced campers who are also looking for campsites.

My son drives our truck and tows the camper. He is a firefighter, and First Responders work during hurricanes. They don’t have the luxury to even be at home with family for storms, much less pick up and go camping to stay safe. We can’t leave even if we wanted to.

This year we bought our camper, got Covid, camped twice (Salt Springs and O’Leno State Park), and have had two hurricanes. I’m looking forward to starting a new year.

(Retro camper photos on this page: credit to Pixabay)

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Choosing a Travel Trailer, Options to Consider

If you are just beginning the RV, travel trailer, motorhome search, it can be overwhelming. Here are some things to consider, and it’s how we narrowed down the search.

Once my son and I began searching for a camper we quickly realized how overwhelming it would be.

Storage and camper quality ranked high on our list of needs, but it took a lot of research to get to that point! See my post on beginning the search.

Once the style of camper is chosen, and the budget price is known, then comes the hardest part. Finding that perfect layout for your needs!

Which Extras Can We Afford?

Besides the layout, think about what type of extras you will want, and which you can afford. This will vary according to the needs of the buyer. Until you begin looking around, you may not even know about some of these things! Like us. And you may not know what you really need until you actually begin camping.

Camp site relaxing under canopy

Some camping families can overlook many things and settle for a comfy bed. After all, camping means being outside! But families with kids and / or pets will need extra space and storage.

Things to consider:

  • Storage – Is there enough for your family?
  • Active Lifestyle – Toy hauler?
  • Windows – Views and fresh air while inside.
  • Slides – Do you want them? How many? I view slides as problems waiting to happen!
  • Dual wheels – these were something my son insisted on.

Less Important Extras, Maybe?

How do you plan to camp? Will you do any boondocking (camping without hookups)? What are your needs to make the camping experience more fun?

  • Ladder – Some have one attached to the back to access the roof easily.
  • Solar Panels – on the roof for boondocking and saving energy.
  • Doors – Some campers have two, and we wanted two because of the cats.
  • Awning – many campers have an outdoor awning for shade.
  • Outdoor Kitchen – or will you bring your own grill?
  • Back Up Camera ready.
cooking breakfast outdoors

Choosing a Brand

Once the layout style is chosen then comes time to choose the brand or maker. Many of the same general layouts can be found on many different makes. For instance if you need a bunk house layout, you will find them within many camper brands.

Also, see which local dealerships carry the brand, or brands that interest you. Smaller dealerships may be very limited and you might have to travel.

airstream, campers, travel trailers, campground
Airstream travel trailers

It is tough to figure out which brands are better quality than others. Truthfully, I still don’t know except that Airstream is near the top! We ended up with a Grand Design which gets very good ratings.

Visit Forums and Groups

Another way to decide on a brand is to narrow it down and find a forum or FaceBook group of people who own that particular camper. Join the group and see what they have to say – good and bad. The best advice will come from owners. Salesmen will be selling, and they may not be completely honest… really!

Visit a Dealership to See Campers First Hand

Things are really crazy these days, so maybe call before you travel to a dealership to make sure they have what you want to see.

For instance, when we were looking for a toy hauler, we wanted a walk through bathroom to close off the garage from the main trailer area. That narrowed the search considerably and the salesman choose campers with that exact layout. We later changed our minds! It happens.

Take Your Time and Be Ready to Wait!

We began our search in 2019. Of course we had no idea what was coming, and we stopped camper shopping once Covid hit and people were staying home. Also, here in Florida I refuse to do camper shopping in the hot months, and we have a lot of hot months. Walking a lot in 100 degree heat and stepping in and out of non-air-conditioned campers does not sound like fun.

Truthfully, I kept going back and forth and just couldn’t decide on the right set up for us at the price we could afford. Finally we made our decision. There was one Grand Design Imagine model on the lot and unbeknownst to our salesman it had just sold the previous day. Therefore, we had to order ours, but at the same price. We just had to wait, which turned out good for us because we were busy with home improvements to fit the trailer in the yard.

Don’t be in a rush. Take your time and make sure the trailer you choose is right for you. Of course, you can always trade it in down the road, but starting off right is best. Good luck!

(Photo credits: Pixabay)

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Camping at Florida’s Beautiful State Parks

camping trailer art
Vintage RV camper art by arti1st @ Zazzle

Most people I know visit Florida by plane.  They stay at an expensive resort in Disney World or in a condo at the beach (or both) and then head home.  Not only is that type of vacation quite costly, it means that the best parts of Florida (in my opinion) have been missed.

Of course, if you are not an outdoorsy type of person, you may be very happy to skip a trip to a state park, or chance to kayak on a river.  Campers have adventurous blood running through their veins, and they know how to find adventure while saving their cash.

As you get ready to plan your camping vacation in Florida, just remember that it is hot there.  Most of the year it is very hot, with no cool down at night either.  Camping with the luxury of air conditioning is the way to go, if you ask me, but to each his, or her, own.

When planning your trip, a great place to start is the Welcome to Florida State Parks site.  This website is full of great information about the many parks all over the state as well as the variety of campsites available.  Some places have facilities for horses and some are for boat hookups, so you can “camp” in your boat as you travel.  Some are right on the ocean, with beaches just a few steps away.  If you are truly adventurous and prefer seclusion, look for a location in the Primitive Camping area.  (You own snakebite proof boots, right?)

Navigating the site is easy.  View a state map and choose the area you plan to visit, then click on the links there.   More specific information is given on each specific park page.  I like the looks of Gamble Rogers Memorial State Recreation Area at Flagler Beach.  Park the camper right on the dunes with the ocean on one side and the ICW (Intracoastal Waterway) on the other.

** At the time of writing this, there are alert notices for certain parks, and one of them (Blue Springs) is familiar to me, so I looked it up.  The notice is because the manatees have come into the spring area early so the spring has been closed for swimming.  Of course going there to view the manatees is allowed.

Camping is one of the best ways to visit the real Florida.  These are the beautiful places that Disney lovers never venture out to see.   And they are really missing out.

P.S.  Disney has camping too.
(The postcard image is from art1st’s store @ Zazzle)

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