On a recent solo trip to Moab, Utah, I stayed in a teardrop camper instead of a tent or hotel room.
The RV wasn't much bigger than a queen-size mattress, but I thought it made camp luxurious.
While I loved glamping, I wouldn't choose this trailer if I was traveling with someone else.
Moab, Utah, is known for its dramatic landscapes, towering arches, and dark skies. When I visited for the first time, I wanted to spend every moment outdoors, so I decided to camp.
For many travelers, nature lures them to Moab. It's a small desert town surrounded by multiple national and state parks. Hiking, rafting, four-wheeling, and mountain biking are all abundant in this outdoor lover's paradise.
For this reason, I wanted to spend every moment possible outside in the geological wonderland after I arrived on the luxury Rocky Mountaineer train from Denver. To maximize my time, I decided to camp.
I'm an avid camper, but my camping accommodations are rarely more than a nylon hammock or the tarp flooring of a tent. This time, I wanted to try something new.
I grew up tagging along on my brother's Boy Scout camping trips. Today, I fill the majority of my weekends living in Colorado sleeping in a tent or snoozing in a hammock.
As an avid camper, I can admit the experience comes with its downsides. I often don't get much sleep thanks to thin sleeping pads, and I tend to miss the luxury of running water.
So when I was mapping out a trip to Moab and realized I wouldn't be able to bring all my traditional camping gear onboard the train, I started considering glamping. Glamping is loosely defined as a version of camping with more amenities than a tent.
The idea of upgrading my typical camping experience to include luxuries like a mattress and running water felt like a dream.
After scrolling through Vrbo, local blogs, travel sites, and Google, I found a small teardrop camper on Airbnb.
I hunted vacation rental sites like Vrbo and searched Google for Moab's best cabin rentals with no luck. I also scrolled through Airbnb, where I spotted massive five-wheel RVs, yurts, and vintage trailers, which I consider all forms of glamping.
Then, I stumbled upon an Airbnb listing for a tiny teardrop trailer through Red Rocks Base Camps. The camper was one of the more affordable options I saw, plus it seemed like a practical size for one or two people for one or two nights.
This was my first time reserving a camper on Airbnb, and the process was slightly different from booking a brick-and-mortar home.
The Airbnb listing outlined that the host would deliver my trailer to a nearby Moab location, which I was responsible for finding and paying for. So before I reserved the Airbnb, I researched camping spots around Moab.
After seeing positive reviews of Ken's Lake Campground, I booked a campsite there for two nights, which cost $48. Then, I reserved the Airbnb and let my host know where I'd be camping. The trailer cost $286 for the two nights. Insider paid for these costs, per our reporting standards.
Once my booking was confirmed, I was all set. All I needed to do was arrive at the campground on check-in day.
Together, the stay cost $334 for two nights for the camper and the campsite.
Overall, I thought the price was fair.
I was traveling by train to Moab, which meant packing a tent and all my camping gear would be tough. My roommate and I typically take an entire trunk's worth of gear when we camp, and the Rocky Mountaineer has a luggage allowance of two pieces with a combined 60-pound weight limit. My tent alone weighs nearly 17 pounds.
I could have rented camping gear, but it would have cost me about the same as the camper. Outdoors Geek, for instance, charges $230 for a one- to three-day camping rental. Since I'd be in a hot climate and interviewing people for work, I thought a trailer with running water and a bed would be a smarter way to stay cleaner and put together for the trip.
If I was really set on sleeping in an air-conditioned room, I likely could've found something around $400. But I would have had to compromise on location and access to nature, which wasn't something I was willing to do.
On check-in day, it felt odd pulling into the campsite without any gear. I didn't have — or need — a sleeping bag, tent, or camping stove.
The morning of my first day of camping, the Airbnb host let me know that my trailer was ready for me at Ken's Lake.
After I disembarked from the train, I picked up my rental car and drove to the campsite. There, my little teardrop was waiting.
It was the easiest check-in process I've experienced in all of my travels. I didn't have to provide a credit card for damages, meet with an Airbnb host to gain access to the property, or use a code to get in.
Instead, I arrived to an unlocked trailer with camping chairs already arranged near the fire pit, and rugs lined up at the entrances of the trailer. I thought I might have to do some of the setup myself, but the host did it all for me.
I knew the trailer would be small, but it felt even tinier in person.
At about 45 square feet, the camper definitely appeared small to me right away. If you visualize a queen-size mattress, that's nearly the entire interior of the camper.
The camper had a door on each side and a fan in the ceiling.
I arrived midday at the campsite, and a thick band of sweat began to form the moment I stepped out of the rental car due to the high heat.
I was curious if this fan would be enough to keep me cool in the high 80-, low 90-degree Fahrenheit weather. I later realized this was a silly thought. Moab, like most arid climates, has cool nights. During my stay, temperatures dropped to the 40s.
While I wasn't hot when I fell asleep, I did wake up feeling warm. Sure enough, the fan above wasn't enough to keep me cool, so I opened both doors to help with the airflow.
As I opened both doors, I realized that having two doors would've been necessary if I was traveling with another person.
Since there was no room to stand in the camper, a second door would also prevent someone from crawling over the other person to get out of the trailer.
There was no floor or room for standing. Besides the mattress, the only other thing inside the camper was a shelving unit.
Every time I climbed into the camper, I kicked off my shoes and left them outside. The mattress took up the majority of the trailer, so there was no room to stand or even flooring to store my shoes.
A set of shelves lined the wall at the foot of the bed. Each door handle had a press-and-unlock knob to prevent items from falling out on a drive.
I thought it was an ample amount of storage for two nights. If I was traveling for weeks or had another person's belongings crammed into the shelves, I'd have to pack lighter, or I'm sure I'd struggle to fit everything inside.
Near the head of the bed, I enjoyed a skylight and the use of a small ledge.
The skylight was my favorite feature of the camper. Moab's nearby national parks have some of the darkest skies in the country, according to the National Parks Service. Since I was a few miles outside of the town, once the sun set, a light show erupted in the sky.
Thanks to the skylight, I was able to stargaze tucked inside my trailer's cozy comforter.
Outside of the camper were more amenities to make camping a breeze. At one end, a pull-out nook came with a cooler and solar panel.
A solar panel supplied energy to the outlets inside the camper, so I was able to charge my phone and laptop throughout the trip.
While I didn't use the cooler, it would've been helpful if I planned to cook my own meals.
At the other end of the teardrop trailer, a garage-like door opened to reveal an entire kitchen setup.
There were two lockable handles to lift the door, which created some helpful shade while I used the kitchen space.
The camper does not have a fridge, but it does come with a propane-fueled stove and a sink with hot and cold water connected to a 40-gallon tank, which emptied into a bucket on the floor. According to the Airbnb listing, I had enough water for 10 days.
I thought the kitchen was fully equipped with a stove, sink, and all the cooking necessities.
I hadn't expected such an equipped kitchenette for the small space.
The Airbnb host supplied everything I'd need to cook an ambitious camping meal. While I hadn't planned to cook, I spotted pots and pans, cutting boards, spices, paper towels, lighters, and everything I could need to craft most meals.
It felt like every detail of the experience was thought out, which was ideal for a traveler like me.
The Airbnb host made it so that I wouldn't have to buy anything besides groceries for a Moab camping experience.
She also added small thoughtful details like two outdoor rugs for wiping off sandy feet.
Plus, the thrill of not having to pack a tent or double-check that my propane tanks were full felt like luxury when it comes to camping.
While I thought the camper was a huge upgrade over my typically-used tent, it did not come with a place to shower.
While I thought the camper was well equipped, I still had to rely on Ken's Lake Campground for other amenities.
The campground has a vault toilet, but there were no sinks or showers available. Before landing in Moab, I hadn't considered the shower situation, but I did see a few spots where travelers can pay for a shower once I arrived in downtown Moab.
Unfortunately, I was too busy exploring national parks and ghost towns. By the time I finished my day's activities, the sun had set and shower places were closed.
While the experience showed me the luxuries of glamping, I wouldn't book this tiny of a camper with another person.
At about 45 square feet, sure, two people could manage the space. But with the hot temperatures and the sweat that comes with camping in Moab, I was relieved that I had the entire bed to myself both nights.
If I'm traveling with a friend or partner on a future trip, I'd opt for a larger space.
The two nights were some of the easiest camping nights I've had. I'll consider booking glamping trailers and campers for future trips where I'm traveling by train or plane. But if I'm taking my car or traveling with another person, I think I'll stick to my tent.
Typically on a camping trip, tasks like washing my face or brushing my teeth are just a bit trickier. I'm often juggling a water bottle between my hands or searching for an OK place to spit out my toothpaste.
This camper had the luxury of a sink, which made basic tasks like washing dishes a breeze.
It also offered some of the best rest I've had in nature. When I go camping, I don't expect a good night's sleep. No matter the thickness of my camping pad, I struggle to get comfortable.
For those small luxuries and future trips where I'm not able to pack my 17-pound tent or camping solo, I'll consider glamping options like RVs and trailers. But if I'm driving or with a friend, I'll likely stick to camping in my tent to save money.
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