Our Rig

This post has been a long time coming. I think one thing I want to be clear about is that we are not rig people, per se. We don’t exclusively stay in campgrounds or boondock, never have. We enjoy staying in hostels, hotels and motels, we like the break from driving and getting to know an area by foot.

I was a backpacker traveler for most of my life; both Mikey and I are third culture kids, and all of it shapes how we travel as a family. We like going local. We avoid expat stuff. We think the point of traveling is to learn about and enjoy experiences that are completely different, so we try to go there, and do not gravitate towards what is most like home.

A little history so you can see how we’ve evolved?

 Our Rigs:

 1. ’94 F150 4×4 Supercab with Campershell and Truck Tent

This is what we first used to travel and camp around Baja. Mikey built a bed/storage area in the camper shell and we attached a truck tent to the truck.

r1

The set up worked well.

r2Except for when it was windy or rainy, then it just miserably sucked. The last time that happened, around Cabo Pulmo, was when we were looking at the people camping next to us in their hard-sided something-or-other, all warm and snug and eating hot food (while we shivered and scarfed down cold tortilla with peanut butter and jam) and we were all…. Oh yeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeah. That’s what we are getting!

IMG_0251 IMG_0253 IMG_0250

  1. ’89 F350 4×4 with 4 Doors, custom side boxes and ’85 Alaskan PopUp Camper and SOLAR PANELS

This was a good set up. We were broke when we assembled it all, but we had time on our side, so slowly, surely we got it all done for a pittance. Flatbed for the truck was $150, Alaskan PopUp was a steal at $600. Truck was $800. Time that Mikey spent fixing it all up and wiring the solar panels while I went crazy watching 3 kids solo = priceless.

DSC_1074

This was a great for going places – we could get anywhere with it. But we had too much stuff on us, since we were carrying everything we owned.

DSC_0924 DSC_0912 DSC_0933

With setting up that took over an hour, it got old.

DSC_1035

  1. ’95 F350 4×4 with 4 Doors. ’85 Alaskan PopUp camper with solar panels. ’56 Benroy Teardrop.

For this particular assemblage, we had more money than we had in the past, but no time to pull things together.

We bought the teardrop at the last minute because we realized we were going to be SQUASHED, and since we didn’t have the time to transfer the flatbed or the custom boxes to this truck, we didn’t have an outdoor kitchen anymore (this is crucial for us since we like to wake up before the kids and drink coffee in the dark together). The teardrop provides the outdoor kitchen, some extra play space and another small room.

meriah nichols_-2

This configuration… was the best we could do given the time we had to get ready, but it’s WAY too small for us. I mean, we like traveling small and light but this is honestly too small. The Alaskan is perfect for 2 adults, not 2 adults, 3 small kids and 1 labrador retriever.

meriah nichols mexico-8 meriah nichols mexico-5 meriah nichols mexico-4 meriah nichols mexico-3 meriah nichols mexico-2 meriah nichols mexico meriah nichols mexico-6

We have fun and make do with it because we love traveling more than we love being comfortable. But I wouldn’t recommend this set up for a family of our same size or larger.

  1. Future Plan:

We have our eye on the  Scamp 5th Wheel – with a queen sized bed, bunks and a shower, it should have it all, but still be small and light enough to go places. If we go that route, we’ll probably also get a 5th wheel truck bed with side boxes.

r3

  1. Questions?

If you have any questions about any of this or the truck engines or work that he’s done or how any of this handles on Mexican roads, please ask here. Mikey will answer.

meriah nichols mexico-7

Meriah
Meriah Nichols is teacher and artist who lives in a yurt off the grid. She is deaf, has 3 kids (one with Down syndrome) and a lot of chickens. She writes about travel, disability, and getting dishes done. She likes her tea Earl Grey and hot.
Meriah

@meriahnichols

#deaf mom, teacher & #disability activist, living in a yurt #offthegrid. 3 kids (1 with #downsyndrome), a camera and a lot of chickens. Never a dull moment
A comprehensive collection of resources for new parents of children with Down syndrome - https://t.co/WfzGfpmWm6 - 2 days ago
Meriah
Liked it? Take a second to support Meriah on Patreon!

9 Comments

  • Good idea for a post Meriah…..I was thinking that your current set up looked small for all of you but thought that was what you liked! Ha! It will be nice to go larger. There are four of us – 2 adults, 1 kid and 1 100 lb Husky in a 98 sq ft van. It’s cozy but small after living in it now 15 months!

    • Yeah, we like small but it’s where no more than 2 of us can be upright at the same time – that’s just *too* small for us, if there is a choice. Also, kids are too little to sleep in the camper or teardrop alone, so Mikey and I end up being separated. 🙁 I feel like of spoiled even talking about this because I know plenty of people would jump at being squished in exchange for being able to travel.

  • I love your blog!! My wife and I are planning a 5 month camping trip to Mexico this winter. We have 5 kids 0-10 years old. We already own a 32′ camper and were planning on getting a 15 passenger 1 ton van(2wd) to pull it. I was wondering if Mikey thinks this will be fine or should we look for a 4wd like an Ford Excursion? Are we going to wish we had 4wd if we don’t have it?

  • Do think the set up is too small for weekend type trips? We have 3 kids too and I was looking into the Alaskan. Did not really want to tow yet.

    • It was really, REALLY tight for us. I wouldn’t personally go that route again (kids are 3, 5 and 7 now) because you can’t even walk around; everyone has to take turns moving! We’re looking into buying something for weekend trips (all 5 of us) and cross country road trip (just me and the kids) and we’re looking at a van with a rooftop tent or something like a transvan – a little bigger (some of them come with bunks). An old short school bus would be great but we still don’t have time for the re-model. That’s just us though; some people are ok with being squished – the great thing is that if you ARE okay with it being really tight, the Alaskan is a great camper, and since you can put it on you 4×4 and attach solar panels to the top, you can really go ANYWHERE with it.

      • Cool. I am starting to get the idea that a family of 5 just can’t travel safely in an RV. Meaning 5 legitimate seats. Kind of a bummer. I was thinking maybe 5th wheel, but towing in snow seems to be dicey. Thank you for the quick response, and I love the site and your story.

I'm opinionated, friendly & chatty... I hope you are, too