The choice to live in a travel trailer led to a whole bunch of other choices, both big and small. We were considering things like price, value, if our truck could pull it, and how much space we would need to live and work in. An initial fascination with “tiny house living,” and searching Pinterest for “trailer remodels,” led to an education in being motivated more out of practicality and necessity, with form following function. It just had to be functional. “Cute” wasn’t going to cut it.
WHAT WE TOW AND WHAT’S PULLING IT
2016 PACIFIC COACHWORKS NORTHLAND 24IKS TRAVEL TRAILER
- Travel Trailer
- Floor Plan: Rear Bath
- Sleeps 4
- 5,830 lbs
- 29 ft 0 in
- 2 slides
TOYOTA TUNDRA LIMITED
When we purchased our trailer at Camping World, they outfitted our truck with a weight-distribution hitch, electronic braking system, and a sway control bar. We were not sure what the Tundra could haul at first. David did research through the Toyota dealership, and through Camping World, and in the end, we were pleased to find that the weight-distribution hitch could easily meet our needs.
WHY THE SIZE AND LAYOUT WE CHOSE
As we started researching and shopping, we soon learned that fiberglass trailers were the most durable, had the greatest resale value, and were the lightest in weight. This meant we could store more inside the trailer. As we began to look at floor plans online, we learned what was important to us to live in full-time:
- A coat closet
- A shower that was easy to stand up in, with glass doors
- A dinette/couch/bed for our living area
- An entertainment center to watch our favorite shows
- Ample cooking space
- To be able to use our own foam queen-sized mattress
- Access on both sides of the bed
The model we chose was a 24IKS travel trailer from Pacific Coachworks Northland. Trailer model numbers can be the same, no matter which company you are purchasing your trailer from, but this one was in our price range, with the layout we wanted. This length would allow us the space we needed for two of us to live, work, exercise, cook, eat, and relax the way we wanted to. The island divides the kitchen and makes the living space feel more utilized. The two slide-outs give us the width we need to move around. The space between the island and the entertainment center allow for an exercise area by day, or a dance floor by night.
There is storage underneath the bed, the couch/dinette area, and also outside. We have been learning how to best utilize the space as we live in, and have even gotten rid of more things we didn’t need along the way.
WHY WE BOUGHT NEW
When we started out in our research, we had idealized notions of getting a vintage trailer and revamping it. This seemed the most affordable and sustainable option. David is a carpenter, and this could be a labor of love to custom craft the space as we desired. What we came to realize, however, was that with vintage trailers come vintage problems – rust, leaks, mold, and the need to rebuild foundations and systems from the ground up. We were not willing to go this route.
We also learned that new trailers were easier to finance and insure. We wanted something solid and roadworthy, and buying new gave us the option of purchasing an extended warranty that gave us peace of mind for living in it full-time. If something breaks, it’s covered for 7 years.
THE REVISIONS AND REMODELS
Even though our trailer is brand new, it came with some decor and design choices that seemed very outdated. There was trim where it was unnecessary, and in patterns that didn’t match our aesthetic. The first to go was the fabric in the dinette area.
I had scoured Pinterest for easy ways to recover cushions without sewing, or other ways to use the space, and my brilliant husband found an easier way to revamp the existing cushions, piecing together IKEA pillow covers with the existing zippers on the original trailer upholstery. (I love the way his mind works).
Another thing to go were the window treatments. The trailer came with metal blinds and upholstered valances. I knew the blinds would soon bend and break, and also didn’t allow for the privacy we were looking for.
David sewed, serged, and stapled several incarnations of curtains and valances, and we ultimately agreed on IKEA blackout blinds that created a clean look, and blacked out the windows for privacy.
David also built a floor to ceiling pantry so we would have room for our food storage. This made a huge difference, as David loves to cook, and needed room for all of his supplies and ingredients.
For added security, David installed a hotel safe, that is designed to hold laptops, and other electronics.
We made the choice to peel off all of our decals for a cleaner look. Some came off easily in one pull. For the rest, it was a task to peel them all off, but with some orange oil and a scraper, David got them all off.
WHAT WE’VE LEARNED SO FAR
The biggest learning curves are not around how things look, but are more in how they function. When one person is walking around the trailer, the other person can hear and feel every step — even with leveling jacks and wheel chocks to try to prevent this. We learned to adjust our schedules,
Also, when living full-time, and showering and washing dishes, the holding tanks fill up quickly. They must be dumped every few days. This makes living with full hookups (water, electric, sewage) essential.
Even with all of that, it gets easier and easier with time, and we both falling more and more in love with our rig.