by Larry Galantis – 18V
September 30, 2021
To tow or not to tow?- That is the question.
I think we all want to be as flexible as possible in our travels and sometimes the idea of towing a vehicle presents us with the illusion of flexibility.
It is my opinion however, that towing a vehicle does not necessarily increase your flexibility. In fact, it may even limit your flexibility. My opinion is worth exactly what you paid for it. Certainly, I’m open to hearing yours. Of course, if you’re a full timer, a toad is almost mandatory.
In the interest of full disclosure, I have a tow vehicle but my opinions, stated below, may surprise you.
The decision to tow, I believe, depends on what type of traveler you are. Are you a “blow and go” traveler or a “stay and play” traveler? Do you just blow into your destinations location, spend a day or two looking around, take a few pictures, click, click, click and then, you’re on the road again? Generally speaking, if you’re blowing into a “destination location”, everything you might want to see is going to be right where you parked. If it’s not right there, it’s within walking or bicycling distance. Mt. Rushmore or El Capitan come to mind.
Or, is your RV travel style one where you drive into a town or destination spot and you stay in that spot for a week or longer while you really get into and take in the area? Then, having a vehicle is probably a good idea. Notice, I didn’t say tow vehicle. Subject to availability, renting can be an option.
Here are a few reasons why I think the towing option is not as flexible as you might first believe.
- Deciding on and pulling into a fuel station becomes a little more complicated. It requires a little advance reconnaissance. Which island has the diesel dispensers? Am I going to be able to pull in and still have ample room to pull out? Many fuel stations today are nothing more than convenience stores that sell gas. Parking is set up with the convenience store customer in mind. Sometimes I’ve had to wait until several cars backed out of their parking spots so I had enough of a turning radius to get out!
- Simple tasks like making U-turns and backing up become more complicated when you tow. If you miss a turn, it’s not as easy to pull off a U-turn when you’re towing a vehicle. It’s doable but you have to select the right spot. Depending on the road you’re on, there may not be a shopping center or parking lot that you can pull into and turn around, for miles and miles. Of course, you can always unhook and re hook. Ask me how I know!
Backing up, in many instances is not a viable option. Especially, if you’re flat towing. Personally, I know some drivers will back up on a four down vehicle, But it’s not recommended. It’s very easy to bend those tow bars.
- Parking is a biggie. Stand alone, our 25’s are pretty easy to park and can fit in places that a rig pulling s toad, can’t. Speaking of parking…..
- Sometimes, if you need to hook up, a park or campsite can generally accommodate a 25 footer. Add another 15 feet for your tow vehicle setup and now your site options become limited if not nonexistent.
Not all camping facilities have pull through sites. Yes, you can unhook your toad and back in but some campsites don’t have room for your rig AND a toad. Some National Parks come to mind. Besides, if you’re a blow and go traveler, connecting and disconnecting your tow car is just more work. Even if you have it down pat…it’s still more work.
- Your travel expenses are going to increase. Be prepared for additional maintenance and repair costs for the toad. Increased fuel costs as a result of reduced miles per gallon when towing. Add in additional insurance costs. If it also does double duty as your daily driver, then some maintenance is still required, and tires will wear out sooner. Oh yeah, add a few bucks at the toll booth for those extra axles….
- You do ALL the driving. Some spouses/partners have no problem sharing the drive responsibility as long as it’s just the V/N. Add a toad and you might be the sole driver. Of course, many single drivers tow without trepidation. Just sayin’ ….
Bottom line is that I can only think of 1 or 2 advantages to towing. I can think of lots of disadvantages to towing. In the end, it’s up to you.
I’m up here in Indiana, 50 degrees and rainy. I can’t go sightseeing so I’m killing some time until I can get to my leveler install on Thursday.
By the way… don’t listen to me. I also own a boat. Has got to be the dumbest idea ever…..