Traveling with a motorhome; To tow or not to tow?

Posted on Posted in Full time living

One of the decisions we had to make when going fulltime RVing was do we need a vehicle besides the motorhome itself? And if so, what kind of vehicle? We have taken many trips in our RVs before and have never towed a car. We would just do sightseeing on the way where we could, or pull off in a city center or a park and check out the area. It worked out great for having a break from the drive, eat some lunch and chill a bit. Most larger cities have a welcome or visitors center with RV parking with great info on the area. Once we would get to our destination site we would set up and see what we could within walking distance from our campground. If it was a longer stay or not much near the campground we would rent a car for a few days. Almost every larger city has a car rental location, and some will even deliver the car to you. For the most part this worked great.

But now that we are living on the road will we be able to plan ahead enough to have things we need for each stop without having to pack up and move just because we need something from the store. We could still go the car rental route when we need, but that doesn’t solve the problem of getting around when the unexpected happens. We looked into the idea of hauling a motorcycle on the back of the motorhome, but the added weight of the cycle would probably be a problem on a bumper hauler unless we got a small scooter and I just couldn’t see myself driving around on one of them, and also the safety of being hit by another driver on a little scooter pretty much eliminated that idea.

Towing a car was the most practical decision for us. This did add some extra thought in it self. How are we going to tow a car? And what car are we going to take? There are basically 3 ways to tow a car behind a motorhome. You can either use a trailer, a tow dolly, or Flat tow “4 down tow with the use tow bar system”.

After looking into all 3 options, we thought we would scratch the trailer option off the list. Although its the only option that lets you drive backwards more then a few feet, we didn’t want to deal with the idea of having to figure out what were going to do with the trailer every time we settle down somewhere. Flat towing does look to be the easiest as far as connecting and disconnecting the car to the motorhome each time, but its also the most expensive for initial setup and require you to own a car capable of flat towing.
That left us with tow dolly towing. Just about any front wheel drive car will work on a tow dolly. We ended up choosing this option mostly due to the lower initial cost of setup and we already had a car that would work fine for this setup.

Connecting the car is a bit more of a hassle with a tow dolly then flat towing would be, but after doing it for a few weeks I can get the car on in about 10 minutes and off in under 5 minutes. Most of the time storing the dolly is as simple as leaving it connected to the motorhome and back the car off. If we are short on space I disconnect the car, remove the dolly from the hitch and back the dolly into our campsite and back the motorhome up so it sits over the tongue of the dolly and park the car in front of the motorhome sideways if needed. Its a bit of work but we haven’t ran into a place yet that didn’t work out. We got a used 1 year old Demco Kar Kaddy 3 with surge bakes built in. Some have electric brakes that require a brake controller to be installed in your motorhome. I would recommend getting one with some kind of brakes though. Even if you have a car that weighs under the limit of needing brakes by state laws, If your going into the mountain states you are not going to want a car pushing you down them high grade hill, trust me. When I’m in low gears going down mountain grades letting my transmission keep the speeds down and I can feel the dolly brakes slowing me, not pushing me down.

I’m not sure if our choosing the tow dolly was the best choice, and in time our setup may change. But we sure are loving having a car with us and are getting to see so much more of the country then without one.

Let us know how you are traveling with or without a vehicle and how you are liking it.

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