Vintage Camper Traveling and Buying Tips
Anna and Justin Scribner turn rundown vintage RVs into travelers’ dreams through their Oregon business, Flyte Camp, and on the show Flippin’ RVs. But these happy campers aren’t just in the business — they live for camping. In this Q&A, Anna shares her family’s tips for RV travel in comfort and style. And for those who get hooked, she also has advice for buying or renovating your own vintage camper.
First, what is the difference between a motorhome, an RV and a camper trailer?
The term RV encompasses all Recreational Vehicles. Motorhomes are motorized RVs. There are 3 types of motorhomes: Class A (a box or bus-style RV on a large truck-type chassis), B (a van camper), and C (a cutaway van chassis). Campers are separate from your vehicle, and there are 3 types: a fifth wheel (tow hitch located in truck bed), a travel trailer (hitch attaches to bumper), and a truck camper (which mounts in a truck bed).
Why should someone choose one RV type over the other?
I have never owned a motorhome, but I think it would be pretty cool to hang out with your guests, sleep on a bed, and have a cocktail while you are traveling. Some people are nervous about backing up a trailer, so a small motor home might work best for them. But if you have a large motorhome you will need to pull an additional trailer with a vehicle if you want to get around easily while on vacation. And it seems that a motorhome would require more maintenance since you are introducing another engine, transmission ... you get the picture. Travel trailer maintenance is minor, mostly just wheels, tires and winterizing.
Do you recommend renting an RV before shopping for your own?
Yes! Find out what you like and what doesn't work for you. These are small spaces, so a lot of thought needs to be given to how you will be using it. For example, does making a bed located against a wall make you crazy? Are you okay with a wet bath? Some people dislike stepping into a damp shower pan in the middle of the night. Will you be cooking a lot on the road? Do you enjoy RV parks or do you want a more secluded getaway that will require you to be self-contained for extended periods of time? These are just a couple of examples ...
» Get to know Anna and Justin Scribner of Flippin’ RVs.
What’s on your checklist for must-haves before you go on the road for a camping excursion?
Two things: gin and tonic. Ha. Also, we have a personal travel trailer list with all the necessities (from bath towels to twinkle lights). I would say a record player, some good records, and comfortable outdoor chairs are key.
What are top things you look for when choosing a campground?
Location. Clean facilities. Friendly people. The Good Sam Club is a great club. If they have their logo on a park, it is usually pretty decent.
Are you members of an RV club, and do you recommend that beginners look into becoming members of such clubs?
We are members of the Rolling Oldies Vintage Trailer Club and the Tin Can Tourists Club. They are great resources for getting information and advice on your vintage travel trailer, and a fun way to connect with people that have the same interests.
After people decide to buy, why would they choose restored vintage over new?
Well thank you for asking! To name a few — Style! Quality materials. Good design. Vintage appreciates rather than depreciating in value. You can still incorporate quality modern amenities, but have a timeless look and feel. There is nothing like the warm glow of a Birchwood interior on a cold night. There is something so relaxing about feeling as if you have just been transported to a simpler time.
» See modern luxuries in these restored campers.
When looking at used campers, what are some sure signs it’s a junker and should be avoided?
I cannot speak to the newer brands. Vintage trailers are almost all junkers when we get them, though there is the occasional barn find, which is what we are always searching for. If you are looking at a "restored trailer," be sure to check the wiring and that it was correctly updated. Asking for photos of the restoration might be a good place to start also, so that you can see what was addressed. If you are looking at an unrestored trailer, water damage on interior panels or soft spots in the floor indicate that larger problems exist. Copper plumbing will typically need replacement if the trailer has not been winterized properly over the years. (Most of these trailers have been neglected at some point.) And missing hardware can be difficult to replace due to lack of availability.
Conversely, when looking at used campers, what are common evidences of wear-and-tear that may look scary but are fairly easy to work with in a renovation?
Cosmetics. For example, replacing the flooring if there are no soft spots. Countertops, blinds, upholstery. Most people wish to have a new toilet installed, and this is pretty simple.