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  1. #1

    Default Questions about towing/storage

    I am planning a two-week, cross-country roadtrip this summer, but I'm having a bit of trouble deciding on a few things. I am most likely to be traveling alone.

    First of all, I am driving a 2003 Mazda Protege 5, which has a Class 1 hitch on it. I have a factory luggage rack in the garage that I never installed that I could use, as well.

    I am fine with sleeping in the back of my car since my seats fold down to provide a twin-bed size area to sleep. I've catnapped there on smaller roadtrips in many different weather conditions; it's actually quite comfortable. I love my hatchback.

    However, being that I will be on the road for two weeks, I'm concerned that I will need that space for my photography equipment, clothes, cases of water, food, camping supplies.

    So here are the options I am weighing:

    1. Buy/rent a small luggage trailer, sleep in car/tent/hostel.

    2. Buy/rent lightweight pop-up camper, use car for storing supplies.

    3. Buy a cargo box for the luggage rack, sleep in car/tent/hostel.

    I would also like to bring along my bicycle for any trails or getting around in small towns, can I still have a bike rack and pull a trailer/camper? Are the top bicycle racks more aerodynamic than the rear-mounted ones?

    I appreciate any advice or experiences you can share! Thanks!
    Last edited by thelionsof; 02-21-2009 at 03:15 PM.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    May 2003
    Location
    Green County, Wisconsin
    Posts
    13,063

    Default Overthinking

    Welcome to the RTA Forum!

    I really think you might be overthinking your situation here.

    I think pulling a trailer would really seem to be overkill for this situation. I'm certain buying or renting either would drastically exceed anything you'd save by trying to sleep in your car. You'd also be putting some extra stress on an engine/transmission that really isn't designed for pulling a trailer, and you'd be quite a bit less manuverable, and thus would have to adjust your driving/speed accordingly.

    Especially if this is a solo trip, I think you should have no problems fitting all of your gear into your car. If you really have so much stuff that you need to pull a trailer, then you probably should think about how much of your stuff you really need. Remember, you don't have to bring the kitchen sink with you; You can buy food and water and wash your clothes while on the road. My first roadtrip car was a Mazda hatchback, and I was able to fit 3-4 people, plus camping gear, for several roadtrips without putting stuff on the roof.

    I will say that you might not have a full bed worth of space left after you bring all of your stuff, but packing a tent and occationally staying in hostels or even motels will probably be a lot easier and cheaper than trying to find lots of elaborate things to give you room to sleep in your car.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Dec 2008
    Location
    Melbourne, Australia
    Posts
    6,936

    Default

    Strikes me that some lessons in packing a car would not go astray. For a solo traveller and a mere two weeks, you should have plenty of room to carry all essentials, camping equipment, some food and photographic equipment IN the car. There are easily clipped on bike racks which would accommodate your bicycle on the back.

    Having done a lot of camping, with a family of five children, even for a two week trip, I can assure you we never pulled a trailer, nor packed anything on the roof. Our VW microbus accommodated each child's requirements, all camping gear, loads of food and ALL drinking water.

    Lifey who was never a really light traveller

  4. #4

    Default

    The only reason room was a concern was if I ended up sleeping in the rear of my car, since everything in the backseats and hatch would have to be moved to the front seat for me to fold the seats down flat. Between camping and hostels, however, it really wouldn't be an issue. For a girl, I really do pack quite lightly.

    I do tend to overthink things, but I suppose that's why I'm here. It really helps to have people help me take a step back and get a good look at the whole picture. :) I'd rather be prepared than poorly so.

    Thank you!

  5. #5

    Default A few thoughts

    Hello lioness,

    I've never been comfortable sleeping in a vehicle. Unless you rig some mosquito netting in the windows and are willing to chance nighttime rainstorms, it tends to be either stuffy, buggy, or wet. Sometimes all three. It's not a good way for me, personally, to get a good night's rest.

    I favor a "quick as a flash" backpacking tent, a "two person" (which is comfortable for exactly one in most cases). Most come with bug-net screen panels and a rainfly which covers the panels without restricting air flow too much. Most can be erected in a single handful of minutes. Throw in an air mattress inflated by a 12 volt pump from the car, and you're golden. It's likely you'd have little more time involved in setting that up as compared to moving your gear back and forth.

    Your car is low-slung and aerodynamic. I'd be reluctant to put lots of gear up top. Instead, I'd look in to the myriad of ways to attach bikes and other gear to the trailer hitch. Variously described as "hitch-haulers" or "back-racks", there is much you can do in that sense without spoiling your vehicle's performance or fuel economy with aero drag up top.

    Foy

  6. #6
    Join Date
    May 2003
    Location
    Green County, Wisconsin
    Posts
    13,063

    Default class 1

    Foy's idea about a bike rack or hitch hauler on the rear is a good one considering your car. However, keep in mind that most hitch accessories are built for 2 inch receivers, and with a class one hitch, your car's will be 1.25 inch. There are inch and a quarter accessories out there, but you may have to shop around or have it special ordered. There are also 1.25 to 2 inch adaptors that would let you work with 2 inch accessories.

  7. #7

    Default Correct-a-Mundo, MM

    That's right. There are adapters to step UP from a 1.25" receiver hitch to a
    2" accessory as well as adapters to step DOWN from a 1.25" accessory to a 2
    2" receiver hitch. I acquired a step-down just last week in order to use our 1.25" bike rack in our son's Jeep, which has a 2" receiver (female) hitch.

    I think there are adaptors allowing attachment of a receiver female tube onto a regular bumper hitch. The receiver tube mounts to a bolt of the same diameter as the hitch ball and thus transforms the external hitch tab into a receiver style for the purposes of accepting receiver-style accessories.

    Our local Northern Tool franchise stores feature a couple of aisles of trailering hitches, accessories, and lighting kits. I suspect Tractor Supply and a variety of boating outlets also carry such goods. There must be dozens of catalog and online outfits, too, starting with the venerable JC Whitney catalog.

    Foy

  8. Default

    Quote Originally Posted by Foy View Post
    Hello lioness,

    I've never been comfortable sleeping in a vehicle. Unless you rig some mosquito netting in the windows and are willing to chance nighttime rainstorms, it tends to be either stuffy, buggy, or wet. Sometimes all three. It's not a good way for me, personally, to get a good night's rest.

    I favor a "quick as a flash" backpacking tent, a "two person" (which is comfortable for exactly one in most cases). Most come with bug-net screen panels and a rainfly which covers the panels without restricting air flow too much. Most can be erected in a single handful of minutes. Throw in an air mattress inflated by a 12 volt pump from the car, and you're golden. It's likely you'd have little more time involved in setting that up as compared to moving your gear back and forth.
    Your post made me think of this Honda Element accessory:

    http://automobiles.honda.com/element...ory=ELEME09106

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