Starling Travel

January 10, 2013

The Prius Camper

Filed under: Camping,Teardrops & Tiny Trailers — Laura Moncur @ 10:00 am

Long ago, Topolla made a camper that replaced the back hatch of a Saab 9-3. It looked like this.

Saab 9-3 with Toppola

It was obviously the inspiration for the Japanese company, Campinn, for this Prius Camper Conversion. AutoBlog did a piece on it last year.

Prius Campinn Motorhome

(Continue Reading…)

January 9, 2013

The VW Bug MiniHome Motorhome

Filed under: Camping,Motorhomes and Campers,Teardrops & Tiny Trailers — Laura Moncur @ 10:00 am

I can’t believe I haven’t written about the Volkswagen Bug MiniHome Motorhome. The plans for it were in the June 1977 issue of Mechanix Illustrated.

VW Bug MiniHome Camper Motorhome

You can buy plans for this camper here: (Continue Reading…)

January 8, 2013

The Winnebago 2014 Minnie Winnie

Filed under: Motorhomes and Campers — Laura Moncur @ 12:13 pm

Winnebago just announced the return of the Minnie Winnie motorhome.

When I heard about it, I was excited and immediately clicked over, finding this behemoth of a motorhome:

Minnie Winnie 2014

This must be a different meaning of the word, “minnie” than I’m used to. When I think of mini or minnie, I think of this minuscule motorhome from Dethleffs.

Dethleffs Mini Motorhome

Or even this 19′ motorhome for rent from Cruise America.

Cruise America C19

It has room to sleep three people, a shower and galley, all within a smaller space than some travel trailers.

C19 night floorplan

Heck, even this retro 1967 Winnebago motorhome is only 19 feet.

1967 Winnebago 19 feet

The smallest “Minnie” Winnie in the 2014 lineup is 25 feet, a full SIX feet bigger than that rental motorhome.

Someone needs to teach Winnebago the definition of the word, “Minnie” before they embarrass themselves any further.

January 6, 2013

The Beauty of a Tent Trailer: You Can Deploy It In Your Garage

Filed under: Camping,Motorhomes and Campers,Teardrops & Tiny Trailers — Laura Moncur @ 12:06 pm

One thing I loved about the teardrop trailer was that I could work on it in my own garage. That is a feature that is shared with a tent trailer. After a trip, I can pull our tent trailer into our garage, lift it up and out and be able to change sheets, unpack clothing and food and do whatever repairs are needed.

Here is a photo of our Jayco Eagle deployed in our garage.

Deployed Jayco Tent Trailer in the Garage

As you can see, when the bunkends are pulled out, the trailer barely fits lengthwise. When the roof is raised, there is less than a foot’s clearance from the trailer roof and the garage door when it’s opened. A similarly sized travel trailer wouldn’t even fit under the garage door, so I wouldn’t be able to store it in my garage. I would have to find a storage facility for it. Not so with the tent trailer.

Before a trip, I can open the trailer up and stock up the cooler, pack our clothes and other gear. I love that I can set things up perfectly before we go on our trip. Knowing that we have packed everything, calms my pre-trip jitters.

If my tent trailer was any bigger, however, I wouldn’t be able to have this luxury. Our box is only 8 feet, so we can fit lengthwise. We don’t have a high-wall camper, so we are short enough to fit under the garage door when it’s open.

This is a feature that I wasn’t expecting when we bought the tent trailer. I had enjoyed renovating our teardrop trailer in our garage and I wasn’t even sure that a tent camper would fit even if it was fully packed up. I’m so grateful that I can pack the camper before a trip and empty it out afterwards in the comfort of my garage.

January 3, 2013

HEAVY: A Study in Camper Dinettes

Filed under: Camping,Motorhomes and Campers,Teardrops & Tiny Trailers — Laura Moncur @ 10:37 am

The dinette table in our tent trailer is HEAVY.

Is The Jayco Dinette Table Heavy?

I know why this is the case. It needs to double as the middle support of a bed so our camper can sleep six people.

But we don’t need to sleep six people.

So, I took the table out of the trailer and we haven’t put it back in.

Is The Jayco Dinette Table Heavy?

But a nagging part of me thinks that I should bring the table on our travels to put outside, letting it be the focus of our outdoor cooking. And another nagging part of me worries about leaking bunk-ends in the rain with the three of us huddled on couches, wishing we could just turn them into a bed like they were intended.

Is The Jayco Dinette Table Heavy?But then again, that table is so HEAVY! I weighed it on my bathroom scale and it tops out at 16.3 pounds. No wonder I almost throw my shoulder out every time I try to move it!

I looked online and found some options. One of them solves the outdoor kitchen problem. A forum poster on Popup Portal named hsr posted his homemade outdoor galley and it looks much lighter than my table.

Built this to replace the Cabela’s Deluxe Camp kitchen. It was just too big (especially to store inside the PUP), heavy and had no easy way to level.

DIY Outdoor Galley and Camp Kitchen for a Popup Camper

The only problem is that when he weighed the two parts of that outdoor galley, they topped out 23.5, which is way lighter than the Cabela’s Deluxe Camp kitchen, but heavier than my dinette table. I could make something simple like my original table, however, that would weigh about ten pounds or so.

And what about the bed and that supposed leaky scenario where we are all huddled into the middle of the camper? I found an option for that as well. Instead of a heavy table, fritz_monroe used a few wood slats to bridge the middle.

My kids are getting to the point where they won’t share one of the king sized bed ends. So my daughter has been sleeping on the dinette. However, we like to use the table in the screen room when we are camping. So I needed to come up with a way to support the cushions for her. I didn’t want to use plywood. So I connected a bunch of 1×3 fering strips with nylon webbing. This is what I came up with. The spacing allows the boards to fold up accordion style.

Tent Camper Dinette Bed Slats

That many strips of boards might be foldable and easy to stow away just in case we need them, but will they weigh less than six pounds? Maybe, but now instead of a simple table, which can go outside for cooking or come inside to make a bed, I now have two kludgy replacements that weigh almost the same as the original table.

I guess that dinette table isn’t so heavy after all…

January 2, 2013

What Bears Do In The Woods: Privacy Tent Options

Filed under: Camping,Teardrops & Tiny Trailers,Tents — Laura Moncur @ 8:00 am

Since our trailer is so small, there isn’t room for a porta-potty in it. We needed to find a privacy tent that was small and easy to set up. After much searching, we found one that worked for us.

Texsport Hilo Hut Privacy Shelter at Amazon.comThe first privacy tent we tried was the Texsport Hilo Hut Privacy Shelter. We bought ours at Sportsman’s Warehouse for $39, even though it was cheaper through Amazon because we wanted to be able to easily return it if it was too hard to put up. I wanted something that didn’t take forever to put together. Unfortunately, I didn’t find out how long it took the Hilo Hut to put up because the cheap plastic connector on one of the poles broke the first time we tried it. I returned the tent with the offending part taped to the outside of the box. It was very disappointing.

Texsport Deluxe Camp Shower at Amazon.comThere was a bigger and better looking privacy tent at Sportsman’s Warehouse that looked like this Texsport Deluxe Camp Shower, but this one looked even harder to put up than the smaller one. More importantly, the box for this tent was HUGE and I couldn’t imagine where we would store the tent. I was keenly aware of the fact that I’m only getting a port-potty and privacy tent for those incredibly rare situations when we are camping without any hookups or access to bathroom facilities. They might be used if the campground bathroom is so far away that it feels dangerous to walk that far in the dark. This isn’t a necessity that we MUST make room for. It’s a luxury that I’d like to keep hidden in storage unless we need it, so this huge tent just wasn’t an option for us.

Trekker Fold A Privy from Cabela's We ended up buying the Trekker Fold-A-Privy from Cabela’s. It was the right size for Mike (who is quite tall), and set up was insanely quick. It is a pop up shelter, kind of like the sunshade Mike and I have for our windshield. All we had to do was pull it out of the bag and it popped open. Then we unfolded it and it was ready to be staked to the ground. There were no fiberglass poles to unfold and thread through the tent. There were no weird connectors to snap into pieces. It was a breeze. Additionally, it was a very small tent when folded, so I could easily squeeze it into the under seat storage in the trailer. It did cost $20 more than the Hilo Hut. My reluctance to buy it wasn’t based on price, setup, or size, however. I was really worried that I wouldn’t be able to get it folded back up. Fortunately, I found this video showing me how to get it folded back into the carrying case.

After watching that video twice, Mike and I were easily able to fold up the tent and get it back into the case. It really is a great little privacy tent for us.

Matter of Time Instant Privacy Pop Up Shelter at Amazon.comIf you don’t have a Cabela’s near you, I found a very similar tent for the same price on Amazon. It’s called the Matter of Time Instant Privacy Pop Up Shelter. It looks like the Fold-A-Privy and I’m sure that the folding technique is the same. We were just eager to buy ours from a store where we could easily return it if we didn’t like it, so Cabela’s worked out for us. Look how good the Matter of Time looks with this retro Apache Hard Side Pop Up Camper.

Matter of Time Instant Pop Up Shelter next to a retro Apache pop up trailer

If you are looking for a way to have a port-potty and need a small privacy tent, I really feel the pop up tents are the best option. If it’s not easy to put up and takes up too much storage space, then you won’t bring it with you and it won’t be there for those emergency times when you need it.

January 1, 2013

What Bears Do In The Woods: Porta-Potty Options

Filed under: Camping — Laura Moncur @ 10:00 am

It looks like we might be boondocking when we visit Quartzsite this year. I’m hoping that we have a spot in a campground with hookups, but if we don’t, I need to be prepared. We had some severe limitations because our tent trailer is so small that there really isn’t room for a port-potty in the trailer, so we have looked at a TON of portable toilets over the last few days.

Thetford 92360 Porta Potti 550E Curve Portable Toilet at Amazon.comThe best flushable toilet we found was the Thetford Curve. It was the only flushable porta-potty that felt like a real toilet. I didn’t have to squat to sit on it, which was a real benefit. Unfortunately, because of that, we weren’t able to purchase this one. It literally did not fit anywhere in our trailer. Since we are looking for a port-potty option for “just in case” we are forced to boondock, I couldn’t imagine carting around this huge thing and letting it take up so much space. Additionally, I couldn’t justify spending $150 for something that I might not even use. If we boondocked often, I would definitely go with this option. You can see a video review of it here:

Luggable Loo Portable 5 Gallon Toilet at Amazon.comWe had the same trouble with the Luggable Loo Portable 5 Gallon Toilet. It felt really good to sit on because it was rather tall and sized well. It may be just as tall as the Thetford Curve, but it was also lightweight. Since it’s basically a 5 gallon bucket with a toilet seat, it didn’t weigh very much at all. Even better, it worked with the Double Doodie Bags, but it was just SO large, that I couldn’t justify how much space it would take up in the trailer. At 19 bucks, it was a great deal, however. It made us want to look at other potty options that used bags. Here is a video review of the Luggable Loo, but take it with a grain of salt because this guy is an Apocalypse Prepper.

Fold-To-Go Collapsible Portable Toilet at Amazon.comI liked the idea of the Fold-To-Go Collapsible Portable Toilet, even though the $38 price tag was almost twice that of the Luggable Loo. A foldable toilet like this would take just a tiny area in the storage of my trailer. I didn’t like how far down I had to squat to use it, but more importantly, it felt REALLY flimsy. I was sure that those plastic legs would collapse right out from under me if I sat on it for any amount of time, so I had to pass on this one as well.

Folding Portable Toilet at Amazon.comWe ended up buying this Foldable Toilet at Sportsmans Warehouse for only $14. It is lightweight, stores absolutely FLAT and takes up hardly any space in the trailer storage bins. I tried sitting on it to see if it would hold my weight and it performed beautifully. It’s a little shorter than the Luggable Loo and the Thetford Curve, but not so short that I have to squat uncomfortably to sit on it. I really liked that I was able to use it with the Double Doodie Bags, so the smell wouldn’t be that bad. I found a video about it on YouTube. You can see it here:

If we regularly camped without hookups, then we would have made a very different decision, but because this porta-potty is to be an emergency toilet, not a regularly used one, the folding toilet made the most sense. If our trailer was big enough to house the Thetford Curve, I probably would have optioned for that one, even though it costs literally TEN times the cost of the foldable toilet because it was such a nice option. In the end, I was limited by our small trailer and liberated by our ability to stay at campgrounds with hookups, so we ended up with a tiny option that takes almost no space in our trailer.

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