The family has picked up a hobby called kayaking. At the same time the youngest child is also in Boy Scouts and enjoys the campouts immensely. Most likely because he has also caught the desire to go fishing. Mixing the two together has been easy, we can go fishing and kayaking at the same time to many of the same places. The problem lies in how to pack your gear. An easy question for many to solve – throw the camp gear and fishing tackle in the car, the kayak on the roof and head to where you want to go. Not so easy for me. The problem is that the Scout is handicapped and uses is a wheelchair as his major method of transportation. And kayaks tend to be pretty long also. Since we live in Florida, the heat and humidity can also wear you down. The boy is also more susceptible to heat than anything else. He has Osteogenesis Imperfecta which is brittle bones in layman’s terms. But he still likes to go camping even if he is in a wheelchair most of the time.
We own a 30-foot travel trailer that we have used a few times to go camping. The problem is that loading the kayaks makes the trailer even taller and is truly a pain to do. I needed a better way to make sure we can do what we like and not have to haul ourselves to death with trips back and forth or climbing up 10 foot ladders strapping kayaks to a roof. Enter the latest idea I had of using an enclosed trailer. I borrowed an enclosed trailer from a friend for a day as a trial and set all our equipment on the lawn. The idea was to figure out how to pack all the gear so we all could access it even in a wheelchair. I used just some scraps lying around to figure out a basic plan of what would work. It was a godsend to have the enclosed trailer because the boy could wheel around the trailer to get his stuff and put it away also.
Using the original idea of an enclosed trailer, I laid out the longest boat we had which was at 12 ½ feet. So that necessitated a 14-foot trailer. With that in mind I went to the internet and searched for the 14 foot trailers and found various vendors. I ordered one with a rear ramp door so we could roll up the wheelchair and any other items on wheel. I also made sure that there was a side door that had a flush lock, like a regular RV door. Since most of our camping is done at RV type parks where there is usually water and power connections and toilet facilities, I modified the side of the trailer with water and power connections. I don’t have a flush toilet in the trailer, just a camp toilet that is used only at night. I like the rustic experiences so I have hooks on the outside of the trailer for a solar shower. Though I think a 110volt point of use heater might be in order at some point just for comfort.
The longest boat slides in the back of the trailer under one bunk bed with shelf space above the rest of the boat that is not covered by the bed. The trailer is not as spacious as an RV, but we have a AC unit if needed, and 2 bunk beds and a queen mattress as well. I went to the RV store and ordered two windows so that if we sleep in the trailer we have some natural light if needed. We also have a sink in the trailer for washing dishes. I didn’t put in any holding tanks, but RV stores have portable holding tanks that have wheels that I empty when full. All my connections are quick disconnects with off the shelf products available at either RV outfitters or big box stores.
I would certainly do the project again, there are numerous articles on the internet describing how to turn a trailer into living quarters and I pirated ideas from many of them. We still like to pitch a tent, but if the weather gets bad, we have a dry place we can go to. We’ve met a few people who have taken the concept to family and friends who have people in wheelchairs. I would like to do it over again, but only with a wider trailer so that I have a little more elbow room. The rear ramp allows wheelchair access, but also serves as a ‘patio’ if needed. We cook with a propane stove outside and have the whole RV ‘experience’ without the cost, and the wheelchair can roll right into the trailer as needed.