Homemade teardrop trailer puts family on the road to budget vacations

By Karen Deer

Chris Peterein loves the outdoors. He and his family have visited many of Missouri’s state parks and private lakes, hauling a pop-up Coleman camper large enough to sleep eight.

This year, however, the Petereins had to tighten their budget. “We had to make spending changes,” says Peterein, 28, of Affton. He found an alternative for family travel for his wife, Donna, and 2-year-old daughter, Lucy.

“The pop-up was an expense,” he says. They pulled the camper with a Ford F-150 pickup, and fuel costs were high. Maintenance and storage fees added up, too.

The solution? He sold the camper for $4,000 and spent $1,300 to build and license a small teardrop-shaped camper, a retro style that has enchanted Americans since the 1930s. New teardrops can run as high as $6,000.

“My family loves traveling in the new 800-pound camper,” Peterein says. “It goes anywhere and can be pulled by our minivan.” Fuel costs have been cut in half, and the camper fits in their garage.

Peterein searched Craigslist for hours for a cheap utility trailer before he saw one on the side of the road. At only $200, he couldn’t pass up the deal.

Peterein stripped the trailer to its frame and extended it to 10 feet long. After priming the trailer, he started creating the new teardrop top using only a jigsaw and a circular saw.

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budget vacations


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