Van or Keep My Car and Tow?

Hey Friends! I’m super new to everything and would love some opinions. Yes, I know this is a Van forum and you will all probably have a conscious bias towards Vans, but I want to know why.

I have a reliable car right now that could tow a Scamp style trailer. I’m looking to figure out if it would be better to invest in a trailer or sell my current car and invest in a Van.

Here are the details of my life and what I’m hoping to do!

  • Homebase: Minnesota, USA
  • Maintenance Experience: Relatively none. I can generally tell what’s wrong with a car but have no clue how to fix it. I’ve spent a lot of time with mechanics just never got my own hands dirty (dang patriarchy and their interpretation of my silly XX chromosomes)
  • Current Car: 2010 Toyota Camry, towing power: 2,000 lbs
  • Goal: I want to spend next winter not in MN (for anyone unfamiliar we get to -40 F as a high some days in the winter). I work full time, so internet and a workspace is a must. I want to visit national parks and friends along the way but would be looking to be away from “home” for about 6 months or so. If I love it, I could see myself doing it again the following winter, but the build would most likely NOT be my full time living situation or a long term housing investment.

The reason I’m torn is that with a Scamp, I could park it and drive into a town if needed and if I decide I don’t like life on the road I could still use it for weekend camping. But I also LOVE the idea of a Van.

I plan to travel mostly solo. Might have friends stay for a long weekend here and there, but I will be mostly alone. I will be bringing my standard poodle, Roman, with so the space has to fit myself (5’2 130 lb and my 50lb dog).

I’d love any recommendations, thoughts, advice, etc. that you wonderful people have to offer. Thank you in advance!

A quick search around internet claims 2010 Camry tow capacity everything between 2600 and 1000 lbs so make sure it’s correct. We, here on the other side of the world have weight limit of 750kg without brakes and anything over that has to be equipped with brakes (maximum dictated by car maker).

In my mind there is nothing wrong with a travel trailer. Your plan is all valid. Personally I would get a trailer that has built in toilet/shower even if you would not use them (except that one time, when you really need one).


My honest suggestion would be to go do this and live in your trailer or RV for a few months in warmer weather before committing to doing so in the winter, even if your plan is eventually to head south to get out of MN for the winter season(s).

Ditto from KLFs post - make sure of tow capacity and trailer brake requirements if you go for a trailer. Also try to get one with the furnace option if the scamp or similar is the way you go. And get a porta potti if it doesn’t have a cassette toilet.

And just like any other adventure: Put all your stuff in one pile and all your money in another pile. Then take half the stuff and twice the money.

P.S. You’re a business analyst, so you know that cars, vans, trailers, etc. aren’t investments. You’re spending money to live a certain lifestyle. They are depreciating assets and also ongoing expenses (traveling and camping expenses and maintenance can get costly). Newer vehicles depreciate faster, but older ones incur larger maintenance expenses. Just the reality.

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Let’s add to the list: a fixed bed and a separate dinette if possible. It is just convenience that you don’t have to assemble the bed for every night.
Something like this as an example:

I would make the dinette a permanent bed, add a good mattress and then install a Lagun table mount for the sofa part to have a table to work/eat at.

I am seriously envy at you guys for those “small and light” but still offroad style travel trailers (more ground clearance). We don’t have anything close to them here. Just saying… if someone would start an export business :smiley:

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I’m a little concerned about the towing capacity of a Camry.

I would probably go a slightly different route and get a smaller Class C motorhome, and then you could have the option of towing the Camry.


“Everything should be made as simple as possible." ~ Einstein

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That makes sense! I went with the average between the two and what my owners manual in the car says for towing capacity. I figured it was close enough. Good to know about addition breaks or not though, that is something I’ll need to look into.

And yes! A pro to the trailer idea is for sure the convenience of a shower/toilet for that one time at 3 am when its raining out… Thanks!

100% Agreed about the asset note. I do understand all of that, but also want to keep in mind resale value because even though its a terrible investment from a “making money” perspective, I still want to have all options evaluated.

Great suggestion about trying it out in the summer first. The point I was trying to make is that I would be here in MN in the summer then south in the winter. Last year I rented Air BNBs/VRBO in southern states and Mexico to get out of the cold and thought it would be cool to just drive rather than fly to new places to stay.

This is super helpful!! Thank you! I haven’t really looked into the Jayco’s before, they look super neat!

Great call out about the workspace! I love thinking through all the options, thank you for the suggestions!

There are other manufacturers of course, that one I had as an example because it had great internal layout.

Regarding towing capacities:

2010 Camry has not been sold here, so there is not good info
2002 Camry has 1600kg (3520lbs) tow weight max
2019 Camry has 0kg - according to the manufacturer, it is not intended to tow so they have not certified it for towing in EU.

2010 model in question was mostly sold in US market, therefore finding good data is a bit hard. I did find a mention that only hybrid 2010 was sold in EU area in small quantities and it’s towing capacity is even lower than gas one (but how much, wasn’t said…)

All three of those Camrys share the same name but they are pretty much different cars so there is no straight answer/correlation between models either.

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Totally makes sense. I would absolutely do what is safest and would not tow over my car’s capacity. 99.99% chance I will have to get a bigger car, which is totally fine :slight_smile:

Hi Sophia, I applaud your spirit of adventure. I can only speak from my experience and that is from a vanlifer for the last 7 months. I built out a PM 2500, following the sun, and having a great time.
My best advice is keep it simple. Other people on this thread have wonderful advice as well. As to trailer versus van. I definitely prefer the van. One always has to be hyper aware when hauling a trailer( which I have done). Other situations: parking, backing up, downhills, winding roads, and ferry tolls are a lot easier with a van. Yes, setting up camp and then wanting to go someplace can be a hassle but then a bike on the back could be a good compromise.
Lastly, if outfitted appropriately, the van can fit in unnoticed for those times that you don’t have a campground, or online place to stay. I have stealth camped many many times and never had a problem (I am at this writing in stealth mode in a Hilton parking lot in Palm Springs, CA watching the sunset.
Long and short of it. If you have the $ and don’t go crazy on gadgets you can have a nice relatively small, agile, comfortable home on wheels. Cheers