By Russ and Tiña De Maris
Many fulltime RVers hit the road with a travel trailer or fifth wheel. At day’s end they unhitch and have an “around town” vehicle ready for use. But for fulltimers who live in a motorhome, the decision has to be faced: Do we need a “toad” car to get around, or can we do without a car?
Some immediately ask: Why would anyone want to do without a toad car? There are some advantages of being “toadless.” If you’re fulltiming on a tight budget, the extra cost of car insurance, gas and maintenance can make a big difference. Costs aside, taking a tow vehicle with you means additional complications: Can you tow “four wheels down,” or do you need to put your car on a dolly, or invest in a specialized driveline disconnect system?
If you see yourself leaning toward going toadless but are concerned with getting around, what alternatives are there? Many RVers have found a motorcycle or motor scooter is just the ticket. If light enough, an inexpensive platform plugged into the motorhome’s hitch receiver can accommodate a two-wheeler.
If age and health aren’t issues, others find bicycling – even walking – can be both practical and health-promoting at the same time. If you camp close to public transportation, “doing the bus” can be an inexpensive alternative to car ownership. If you don’t need a toad often, there’s always the car rental option. Call Enterprise – they’ll possibly pick you up, even at the national park campground.
Your particular RV lifestyle can have a lot to do with the answer to the question: “To toad, or not to toad.” RVers who say they get along well without a toad vehicle are generally those who are on the road a lot, not spending much time in any one place. They find they can pick up groceries and do the laundry “between stops.” RVers who tend to spend days or weeks at a time in one spot are the ones who most often note the need of a toad car.
Some say not having a toad isn’t a problem for them, even when sitting put in one place for a while. They report they can often catch a ride with another RVer in the campground. But here’s the “beware” side of that idea: Other RVers say that while they’re happy to help a fellow RVer out, after a while it can become a real strain, and “needful” RVers can develop a reputation of being a kind of “Freeloading Franklin.”
OTHER DRAWBACKS of not having a toad include limiting sightseeing. One RVer mentioned watching a couple in the campground take their motorhome out every day to visit attractions. By the end of the third day of sightseeing – and the associated disconnect, drive out, drive back, reconnect – the couple was noticeably cranky. We love “spoke and wheel” sightseeing: We find a camp we like, then use that as the center of our attraction visiting wheel, driving out along the various directional “spokes” to take in the sights. For us, not having an “around town” vehicle would severely crimp our lifestyle.
Not having a toad car can also create hassles for those who have schedules to keep. Maintaining the fulltime lifestyle may mean keeping a “real” job where times and places are dictated. Health issues where seeing the doctor is important could also dictate the need for a toad.
Like a lot of things in the RV life, it’s a matter of weighing all the factors and coming to the decision that’s right for you.