In July I spent a couple of weekends at the Mississippi Palisades State Park in Savanna, Illinois. The only amenity at my campsite was electricity.
This was my first time camping in the trailer without full hookups.
I know the in’s and out’s of not having full hookups when it comes to Van Life because, when I lived in the van, there wasn’t a need for full hookups.
When it comes to Van Life vs Trailer Life there are some similarities but there are also some notable differences. As for living in my trailer… I can say without a doubt that I enjoy having full hookups.
Don’t get me wrong! I enjoyed my time at the Palisades and I will certainly be camping without full hookups again. But I prefer this to be the exception – not the rule.
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No Cell Signal, Rain, Heat and Humidity
During my time at Mississippi Palisades State Park I was without dependable cell service. Most of the time I had no service at all.
Not having any cell service at all took some adjusting and a fair amount of whining. Since it’s just myself, I dislike not being able to contact the outside world (if needed).
For the sake of a little safety: Nikki and I use the Life360 tracking app. Nikki knows where I am at a glance 24 hours a day (as long as I have a cell signal). The app also tracks her (which means I can see where she is). I also try to let a other’s know where I’m at and/or heading.
No cell service also forced me to find other ways to occupy my time. This was made more challenging because, outside, it was either raining or very hot and humid.
I certainly wasn’t going outdoors in the rain and, when the rain stopped, the heat and humidity was atrocious.
My time at the Mississippi Palisades was spent mostly indoors in the comfort of the good ole air conditioner.
There was plenty to do inside the trailer. My activities included writing, re-organizing the trailer (to make things a little more efficient) and watching movies (I keep a stash of movies downloaded on my tablet in case my cell signal sucks).
The purpose of my Mississippi Palisades adventure was to get used to camping in the trailer without full hookups. So, the remainder of this post will be an overview (and some pictures) of full hookups vs partial vs no hookups as they pertain to my trailer.
What Are Full Hookups?
Full hookups means the campsite has water, electric and sewer. You have all these amenities right at your disposal the entire time you are camped in that campsite.
Some campgrounds only offer campsites with full hookups. Other campgrounds may only have partial hookups. And, other campgrounds may have a mixture of campsites with full, partial and/or no hookups at all.
Getting electricity to the trailer is just a matter of plugging the trailer in to the electric pedestal at the campsite.
My trailer comes with a 25 foot long 30amp cord.
To get running water in the trailer, a drinking water hose is attached to the campsite water spigot and the other end of the hose attaches to the city water inlet located on the side of the trailer.
The only thing left to do is turn the water spigot on. The spigot is left on during my time at that campsite and my cozy little home on wheels has running water any time I turn the faucet on, take a shower or flush the toilet.
The sewer at a campsite is a little hole (with a cover) that drains in to the campground sewer system. The sewer hole is used for dumping (emptying) the black and grey water tanks of my trailer.
When I’m setting up at a full hookup campsite I attach my sewer hose to the sewer outlet under the trailer. The other end of the sewer hose goes in the sewer hole at my campsite.
When my black and grey tanks are full, I go outside and pull the levers to open the tanks. This allows the contents of the tanks to drain thru the sewer hose and in to the campground sewer.
In case you’re wondering… I dump the black tank first and the grey tank last. That way the grey water flushes the black water out of the hose.
When the tanks are empty I push the levers in (closing the tanks) and I’m done!
The levers are never left in the open position because the tanks need to fill up in order to empty properly.
I also use an RV holding tank treatment (the same as I use for my porta-potti in the van). This helps digest and/or liquify whatever is in the tank so it doesn’t build up and clog things up.
What’s A Black Water, Grey Water, Fresh Water Tank?
My trailer is equipped with 3 tanks:
- A black water tank
- A grey water tank
- A fresh water tank
The black water tank is where the contents of the toilet go after flushing. The sole purpose of the black water tank is to hold whatever goes down the toilet.
My black water tank holds 20 gallons.
The amount each tank holds can be different for other travel trailers. Bigger trailers most likely have bigger tanks and some trailers may or may not have tanks. My info here is strictly based on my little travel trailer.
The grey water tank holds whatever goes down the sink and shower drain. It’s dirty or used water.
My grey water tank holds 20 gallons.
The fresh water tank holds fresh (drinkable) water. This is the water that comes out of the sink faucet, the shower head and water that flushes the toilet.
My fresh water tank holds 10 gallons but my water heater holds 6 gallons so, technically, I can have 16 gallons of usable fresh water on board for those times I’m not hooked up to city water.
City Water Connection vs Fresh Water Tank
The water options confused me when I first started out but it didn’t take long to understand.
There are 2 options that can be used to have running water inside the trailer:
Option 1 – City Water Connection
This option is used when the trailer can be hooked up to a water spigot directly at the campsite.
Hooking the trailer to a city water connection brings a constant supply of running water in to the trailer when using the faucet, shower or flushing the toilet.
The water comes from the city water tower or a well and is similar to running water in a house.
Option 2 – Fresh Water Tank
This option is used when the trailer can not be hooked up to a water spigot.
When a city water connection is not available, the fresh water tank can be filled so there’s water on board the trailer. This means finding a water source to fill the fresh water tank from.
The fresh water sits in a tank inside the trailer (my tank is under the bed). A water pump pushes the water through the water lines of the trailer when using the sink faucet, shower or flushing the toilet.
When using the fresh water tank the supply of water is limited to what’s in the tank. To help conserve water I typically don’t use the shower when I’m using the fresh water tank.
If possible, I use the campground showers instead of showering in the trailer.
Sometimes I can’t use campground showers because they have air fresheners. But never fear! There’s more than one way to wash up without using the shower.
Some campsites have water and electric only (no sewer) and some may have electric only (no water or sewer).
This doesn’t mean there is no access to water or sewer. It just means you don’t have access to these amenities right at your own campsite.
Most campgrounds that don’t offer full hookups will have water spigots and a dump station (sewer) somewhere on the premises. Water and sewer amenities are available but it’s not as convenient as having them right at your own campsite.
Getting Water Without Campsite Water Hookup
The water spigots can be used to fill the fresh water tank before heading to the campsite.
If I run out of water… I don’t have to hitch up the trailer and take it to a spigot. That would be a pain in the rump!
To refill the fresh water tank in the trailer I use a portable water tank (one that I used when I lived in my van). I drive to a spigot, fill up my portable tank and drive back to my campsite.
Back at the trailer, I use a battery powered water transfer pump to easily move the water from the portable tank to the fresh water tank.
Taking Care Of Sewer Needs Without Campsite Sewer Hookup
There are (at least) 2 ways to take care of dumping the tanks when there are no hookups directly at the campsite.
- Hitch up the trailer and go to the campground dump station.
- Empty the tanks into a portable tank and take the portable tank to the dump station.
Using the dump station is easy to do when you’re entering or leaving the campground. But, after the trailer is set up and parked at the campsite it’s a pain to tear it all down, hitch up, go to the dump station, dump the “stuff”, go back to the campsite and set it all back up.
Using a portable waste tank (ie: a Turd Toter) is a much easier way to dump the tanks when there are no sewer hookups directly at the campsite. The Turd Toter also hooks on to the vehicle hitch so it can be towed to the dump station.
Staying at cheaper campgrounds often means there aren’t full hookups. I currently don’t have a Turd Toter but it’s something I may consider in the near future.
My black and grey tanks hold several days worth of “stuff” but, for longer campground stays without full hookups, a portable waste tank would come in handy.
There are campsites and entire camping areas that have no hookups whatsoever (also known as dry camping or boondocking).
I dry camped a lot in the van but I haven’t attempted it (yet) with the trailer.
At some point, I may add dry camping to the mix but I have to do it in my own time.
I got my trailer the end of June and I’ve been having to move campsites once or twice a week. It’s prime camping season here and, without a reservation, it’s difficult to find a campsite that’s available for more than a few days at a time.
Last week I was able to get a monthly campsite at a local Homeland campground. I’ll be here until the end of October (when the camping season ends in this part of the country).
Not having to move so often is quite a relief!
Monthly rates are cheaper than daily or weekly rates (I can catch up on my budget!).
I also enjoy having my cozy little home on wheels parked while having the freedom to hop in my van and explore, run errands or do whatever trips my trigger.
In late October I’ll leave The Homeland and head south for the winter.
I don’t have plans made for November (yet) but I already have my Florida reservations made from December thru mid-February.
I’m looking forward to seeing Nikki and Misael, my Florida peep’s and the fabulous Florida Keys!