The option to travel with a small travel trailer is excellent. More room to pack the things we need, more space.
We made sure our vehicle would be able to safely pull the trailer. We asked around, where could we get a hitch installed on our van? Feedback from other traveling friends was resoundingly Uhaul. We did call other shops for comparison, UHauls rates were the best.
We learned from Uhaul, there are two types of lifts they use to put hitches on, not all Uhaul's have both- if one Uhaul can't install your hitch because they've got the wrong lifts call the other Uhauls in the area. The first location didn't tell us to try a different UHaul, a friend ofine with years of towing under her belt did.
The tow hitch was successfully installed. The mechanic made sure it was the kind we needed based on the trailer we planned to tow.
David's dad put a new tire on the trailer, he made sure it was up to date on it's paperwork and was road legal, brake lights and turn lights working. Excellent.
Load the heavy weight in the front of the trailer or it will fish tail.
It rode smooth. Three hours into the drive, a tire started smoking. We pulled off. Assessed the problem. Wheel bearing issue. Luckily, there was an exit less than a mile from us. We got off the highway and parked at a gas station, they told us a safe place to park for the night. We looked up repair shops in the area. The mechanics in the area were fully booked, Skaggs RV, half a mile from us said they could get us in. As we left the Fivestar (it's name is Fivestar and their staff IS Five star) the tire fell off.
We have AAA. Having just picked up the trailer, we hadn't changed coverage yet from classic to RV plus. As I sat in my van facing incoming and outgoing traffic I was bounced to five different AAA employees who asked the same questions each time, and each time said they weren't the department I needed. It seemed contradictory "Are you safe, no? Well, if you change your coverage now in three days we can help." This was the long and short of the call. I reached a point of anger where David took the phone and peopled, I wasn't at a talking to humans without verbally disembowling them. I paced.
Many profane words later, David still smiling somehow got a tow truck set to come. $80 out of pocket. We called Skaggs and updated them. Their mechanics actually drove over to where we were and assessed the situation personally. They went back to their shop, mind you, they were slammed due to an RV show happening in town this week. They came back and helped get the axle onto a little wheeled dolly to make to tow easier.
Doug's Towing sent Kevin who got the trailer on his truck easily with the dolly. Skaggs assessed the trailer's issues and a week from now the part they need should be here. Kevin, one of the mechanics is security for their shop, had our trailer placed next to his to keep an eye on it for us.
Seriously, if you have to have bearings go, and you're starting at a wheel lying in the ground- Elizabethtown Kentucky is the place to be.
We kept an eye on our trailer, we pulled off when we saw an issue and it saved us from having a serious accident. If it had come off while we were driving at sixty miles an hour on the highway attached to our can rather than as we were leaving the gas station- it could have rolled our vehicle.
We're on the road again, everything packed into our van. We're still going to get to our destination on schedule.
I share this experience because it's a bunch of important road lessons all wrapped in one. It was my first time towing. You don't really pay attention to towing information until it's pertinent to your experience. The biggest helps and best advice have come from other people who tow trailers and RVs.
I learned from another friend there's a company called Coachnet that offers coverage for trailers and RVs, many of my towing friends already switched to their service because of customer issues with AAA.
I figure, since I had the opportunity to learn these lessons, I could share and hopefully the lessons help others too.