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The Challenges of Camping in a Teardrop Trailer

by Suzanne S. Wiley
Bathroom facilities are not nearly this convenient for teardrop trailers.

Bathroom facilities are not nearly this convenient for teardrop trailers.

Their small, droplet-like shape gives teardrop trailers their name. Compact and lightweight, the trailers have enough space inside for a two-person bed -- maybe three if you bring along one small child -- and often have a small cooking area at one end of the trailer. Teardrop trailers offer convenience if you want more than a tent on the ground but less than a full camper vehicle. But the trailer’s small size means campers have to deal with some distinct disadvantages, including a lack of headspace and storage.

You Can’t Stand Up

Teardrop trailers are basically “beds on wheels.” That’s their main purpose; they first became common in the 1940s, when people began driving more after cars became more affordable and regulations regarding shorter workdays came into effect. Because there weren’t many hotels or motels at that point, people needed a place to sleep, and teardrops provided an easy-to-build option. But that also means that they weren’t built for long-term comfort. You can’t spend your days in them unless you stay seated on the bed, and there’s no room for other furniture or storage. Your car has to function as your closet and pantry, and you must be prepared to spend much of your day outside.

You’ll Deal With Weather

Teardrops are well made and provide some shelter, but if you have to move between your car and the trailer, or get things out of the cooking area of the trailer, you have to go outside and be exposed to the weather. It’s very common to bring along a tent or canopy to provide cover for several feet around the car and trailer, so immediate shelter from events such as rain is taken care of. But you’ll still face cold or heat, wind and general exposure if the weather turns bad. The only other option to avoid that is to stay cooped up in the trailer and not have access to the rest of your belongings.

Temperature Regulation Lacks Precision

Regular RVs and fancier campers have air conditioning and heating systems, or at least enough space to safely operate a portable air conditioning unit and space heater. Teardrops don’t always have that room. You can get teardrop models that have air-conditioning options, but more than likely you’ll have to provide a small portable heater that runs on direct current, rather than alternating current. Luckily, the teardrops tend to have good insulation for cooler nights.

Cooking Has to Be Light

Some models of teardrops have no cooking facilities, but others have a small area in back. Open up the end of the trailer, and you’ll find portable camping stoves, counter space and occasionally a tiny cooler area. But you’ll have to store food in a cooler in your car just because there isn’t enough storage space in the teardrop. That means cooking has to be very light, and you can’t bring a lot of perishables with you. If you want fresh foods, you’ll have to camp somewhere near a market.

Bathroom Facilities Are ... Not There

Teardrops do not have bathrooms. Or toilets. You can bring portable toilets and showers with you, or camp at a campground with those facilities, but you won’t have the indoor convenience and privacy offered by something like an RV. This is where you really get reminded that you’re camping and don’t have all the comforts of home.

About the Author

Suzanne S. Wiley is an editor and writer in Southern California. She has been editing since 1989 and began writing in 2009. Wiley received her master's degree from the University of Texas and her work appears on various websites.

Photo Credits

  • Antonis Liokouras/iStock/Getty Images