Buying a Travel Trailer – The Pros and Cons of New and Used Travel Trailers

Are you thinking about buying a travel trailer? There are so many decisions to make.

* Do you want a new or used trailer?

* Is this going to be a cash purchase or financed?

* What are you willing to spend?

* Should you get a 5th wheel, toy hauler or tongue pull travel trailer?

* What manufacturer are you interested in?

* What floor plan is best for your requirements?

If you are undecided, you should start out by considering the pros and the cons of buying used vs. buying new. Take your time when buying your travel trailer. Do your research and avoid spontaneous buys.

PROS of Buying a Used Travel Trailer

* More Bang for Your Buck. A used travel trailer will hold it’s worth longer than a new trailer. A used trailer is the way to go if you are on a looking to save money or don’t want to be stuck with making payments for 10 years. You could get a used 252 with all the bells and whistles cheaper than a NEW 202 plain jane travel trailer.

* Do Your Research. Visit travel trailer forums and read what owners are saying about particular travel trailers, both good and bad, this information could save you a bunch of future headaches. Remember the greater part of travel trailers that are purchased new rarely see any camping action, a large amount of trailers are either put in storage or parked at peoples houses. Its not unregular to find a used travel trailer in showroom condition, even older travel trailers from the 70’s can be found in great condition.

* Second-hand travel trailers hold their value! If you get a good quality bargain on a used travel trailer and decide to sell it a few years later you have a great chance of getting all your money back.

CONS of Purchasing a Used Travel

* Potential Problems. Buying a used travel trailer is a bit of a gamble, there could be minor problems or major problems and if you are lucky – no problems with the trailer. In most cases the warranty will have long ago expired, so expenses will be out of your pocket. Do your homework right so problems won’t be a surprise.

* Elbow Grease. You will need to give your new used trailer a good cleaning, no matter what condition it’s in.

* Less selection of ideal floor plans. Floor plans are limited by what’s currently for sale.

PROS of Buying a New Travel Trailer

* Nice & Sparkling. It’s new, fresh and all yours!

* Warranty. If there are problems, take the trailer back to your dealer and they’ll have to repair them for free!

* Maintenance Free. You do not have to be bothered with purchasing new tires, new battery, or any other part for at least a year or until the warranty has expired.

* Floor Plans. Lots of floor plans and interior colors to choose from.

CONS of Buying a New Travel Trailer

* New Trailers Depreciate Fast. A new travel trailer loses it’s value the moment you pull out of the dealers lot. If you financed with little or nothing down, you will be “upside down” owing more that the trailer is worth, for years! If you have to sell your travel trailer you will most likely owe more than what it’s worth and have to come up with the difference in cash.

* The Cost. If you are budget minded you almost certainly do not want to be trapped making monthly payments for the next 10 years on a travel trailer you will use at the most 8 months out of the year. Do the math, and figure out how much each camping trip will actually cost you per year, just factoring in the monthly payments. Ouch! If your payments are $350 a month x 12 months = $4,200. $4,200 can buy a fantastic used travel trailer and you won’t be stuck with payments!

A Toast to Champagne and Sparkling Wines

In December, we travel across the ocean to discuss one of nature’s gifts, Champagne! Champagne is a wine region in France, so only wines from this area may be properly called Champagne. Any “champagne” produced outside this region in France should be referred to as Sparkling Wine.

No other beverage in the world symbolizes a celebration better than Champagne/Sparkling wine. These beverages help usher in the New Year as well as weddings, birthdays, promotions and any other special occasions. This time of year is when approximately 80 percent of this beverage is consumed. At holiday parties, my catering company likes to set up a sparkling station near the front door, greeting guests with a festive glass of bubbly.

Wine speak

The Champagne region in France is located about 90 miles northeast of Paris. In the late 17th century, French Champagnes were formally recognized as a new style of wine. Champagne’s unique effervescence came about due to the cooler climate of northern France. Grapes from this region generally had not fully ripened nor totally fermented in the Fall when wines are traditionally placed in barrels. Over the winter, the champagne was dormant, then began fermenting once again in the Spring. This led to a fizzy beverage that was cloudy, due to the spent yeast floating in the barrels. At the time, this was considered an inferior product.

The French in the Champagne region created a new process to clarify their beverage. Instead of traditional barrel aging and storage, champagne was the first wine to be stored and aged in individual bottles with corks. This new process, Methode Champenois, (still in use today) involves inverting the bottles in racks and gently turning the bottles (riddling), to help the yeast collect in the neck of the bottle.

Next, the neck of the bottle is submerged in a brine solution that freezes the yeast section. The bottle is popped to expel the plug of yeast (disgorgement), resulting in a clear beverage. The champagne is then topped off with still (non-fermented) wine held in reserve for this purpose. A small amount of yeast and sugar are added to the bottle, then corked. This starts the second fermentation process. As the yeast consumes the sugar, a small amount of alcohol is created, as well as carbon dioxide. This allows the bottle to regain its fizz.

Today there are about 100 Champagne Houses in the Champagne region that are supplied with grapes or grape juice from over 15,000 local growers. Given the cooler climate, faster ripening grape varietals are used exclusively in this region; Chardonnay (used exclusively in Blanc de Blancs), Pinot Noir and Pinot Meunier (used with Chardonnay in Blanc de Noirs and Roses). There are three different methods to produce Champagne; the traditional Methode Champenois where wines ferment in individual bottles, the Charmat Process where wines are fermented in large steel vats and, third, the Artificial Carbonation process where wine is injected with carbon dioxide – which is the most inexpensive approach (and can lead to headaches). Quality Champagnes cost more due to the winery’s use of higher quality grapes, the blending of aged, still wines and the cost of storing the bottled Champagne for years before release.

There are three different styles of Champagne or Sparkling wines, ranging from light to medium to full body (based on the amount of time the yeast is left in contact with the wine). Also, sparkling wine’s sweetness levels ranges from Brut (dry) to Extra Dry (semi-sweet) to Doux (sweet).

Food and wine pairings

As discussed, the holidays are when the majority of Sparkling wines are consumed. They tend to be food friendly due to their higher acidity levels. This refreshing beverage is an ideal aperitif (lighter style is best) or can be used throughout a meal (heavier, more yeasty styles). They tend to match well with spicy and salty dishes. When served as an aperitif, my catering company tends to pair the lighter style Sparklings with sushi, smoked salmon canap├ęs, garlicky shrimp crostini, spicy chicken sate and grilled ahi tuna skewers with a wasabi aioli. They also pair well with goat cheese and semi-soft white cheeses that offer mild flavors.

Sparkling wines have been a house favorite for years. Personal favorites from California that I recommend include Schramsberg and Domaine Carneros, which we just visited this past October. On the French side, a smaller House that is receiving great accolades is Charles Ellner, whose Brut Champagne Seduction ($65) and Brut Reserve ($40) offer tremendous value for the money. Included in the following are suggestions from local merchants of Champagnes and Sparkling wines and their retail prices, which may vary:

Picks

$10 range

Pierre Delize Non-Vintage (NV) Blanc de Blancs – France – $7

Domaine Ste. Michelle (NV) Brut Columbia Valley – Washington State – $12

Jaume Serra Cristalino Brut Nature – Spanish Sparkler – $10

Rotari Brut – Italian Sparkling (not from the Asti region) – $12

Daniel Pardiac Brut Blanc de Blancs – France – $12

$25 – 40 ranges

Roederer Estate (NV) Brut – Anderson Valley, CA – $22

Domaine Carneros Brut Carneros – Napa Valley, CA – $25

Schramsberg Brut Blanc de Noir – Napa/Sonoma Counties, CA – $30

Joseph Perrier Brut – France – $26

Bollinger NV Brut – France – $40

Charles Ellner Brut Reserve – France – $40

Bob Kovacs of The Wine Seller in Geneva reminded me of Winston Churchill’s famous quote, “Champagne, in defeat you need it – in victory you deserve it!”

Happy Holidays and Cheers!

Top Ten Travel Destinations for the Savvy and Cultured

There are so many places on earth, so choosing the top destinations is really up to personal preference. Depending on whether you like tropical places, or rainy locations, or camping, or hiking, there are so many options to choose from. Below are ten places throughout the world that may be exciting and interesting to visit.

1. Costa Rica

If bird watching is something that you would like to experience, Costa Rica is a must for your top ten travel destinations list. In 2009, Costa Rica obtained a new birding route and it has over 500 bird species. With all these birds, it is important that you remember either your favorite birding binocular or, at a minimum, your compact travel binocular or monocular. The landscape is a must-see for naturalists. With its rainforest canopies, tropical biological research facilities, and family – fun reserves, this place is incredible.

2. Seoul

The capital of South Korea is known for its glamorous cafes, glorious galleries, and great fashion. As of 2010, it was referred to as the World Design Capital. If you are interested in art and fashion, and glamorous scenery is your motivation for travel, this would be a great place to visit. It’s also renowned for cultural and shopping opportunities and you can take advantage of low prices for SLR cameras and lenses, for example, during the day while attending cultural performances during the evening. Korean cuisine is excellent and, if you’re not handy with the flat, metal, Korean-style chopsticks your host or hostess will likely graciously provide a spoon and fork for you.

3. Sri Lanka

If you desire a setting that is filled with animals, and natural beauty, then sightseeing in Sri Lanka must be on your to do list. For more than two decades Sri Lanka experienced low tourism, as the country was plagued by a civil war. But, with civil peace, the natural beauty has once again become evident. Whether you want to see gorgeous beaches near seaside villages, or monkeys swinging from trees; this is the place to be.

4. Copenhagen

If you are trying to go green, Copenhagen may be a good place to include in your top ten travel destinations list. Copenhagen residents have bicycles paths around the city and tourists can ride free bikes, revealing the attitude behind why this city is known as a very “green” place. Scandinavia has historically been a conscientious steward of its ecology without being strident about it and you’ll enjoy the easy-going atmosphere.

5. Antarctica

This continent should definitely be one of your top ten travel destinations. The tourist boom is posing a threat to the environment, so it is important to visit before the continent is closed to more casual visitors. If you want to view some amazing landscape, and have first class access to views of some of the world’s last remaining glaciers, then Antarctica is a must. If you’re interested in sharing awe-inspiring vacation pictures when you return, you can’t go wrong with the rare beauty of Antarctica.

6. Shanghai

China is an interesting place to visit. If you want to travel through Shanghai, then you can always use the Maglev, which is a train that can reach speeds of 430 km/hr. Getting to see this city, and what it is has to offer definitely earns this place a spot on the top ten travel destinations. Whether you want to see museums that showcase 5,000 years of history, enjoy the delicious soup dumpling that they have to offer, or experience massage with yoga, or Chinese acupressure, then Shanghai is a travel destination worth exploring.

7. Los Angeles

Los Angeles, California, is a city that many people have heard a variety of things about. For those who desire to explore museums, or go shopping in Beverly Hills, Los Angeles is the place for it. For those of us who have long aspired to meet someone famous, spending a day in Los Angeles is the one of the better things you can do to change your luck. You can also check out Venice beach if you want a more tropical setting, or Disneyland or Universal Studios if you are with the kids. Whatever the case, Los Angeles is a magnificent place to include as one of the top ten travel destinations.

8. Leipzig

If you want to visit a cultural destination, then Leipzig should be a destination to consider as part of your top ten travel destinations. With the numerous museums, you will be able to learn about German cultures and ways of life. The glorious churches, the magnificent buildings, and the parks and gardens make this city even more glamorous to explore. If you are a true history buff, then the Battle of Leipzig Monument may be a nice review. If visiting with a family, then the Leipzig Zoo will be a delightful destination. Whatever your interest, this is a nice German city that may be interesting and stimulating culturally.

9. Koh Kood

These luxurious islands in Thailand are for outdoorsy people who enjoy nature. Since more than half of Koh Kood is covered by tropical rainforests, and the seas offer crystal clear water accompanied by beautiful beaches, this is a tropical paradise. Whether you want to snorkel or scuba dive in the sparkling seas, or view the beautiful imagery of the sunset, or waterfalls, this island can be a breathtaking experience for beach lovers everywhere. You’ll regret it if you forget to bring your camera and travel binocular or monocular! Koh Kood certainly deserves a spot in your top ten travel destinations!

10. Mumbai

Have you ever wondered about the legendary Bollywood? You’ll want to include Mumbai in your list of the top ten travel destinations and here’s why. Mumbai is the capital of the film industry in India, and if you choose to visit this destination, you will get to indulge in some of the culture that goes along with this domain. In this dynamic city, you can even see the Taj Mahal resort, which is a must for history enthusiasts. If that’s not your area of interest, then there are always museums and art galleries to free your creative side. If you want to go shopping for the day, then there are a plethora of markets where you can shop for just about anything. How about visiting the famous tourist spot known as Powai Lake? This is a famous spot that attracts people from all over the world. But beware; the rumor is that the lake is infested with Crocodiles.