As I mentioned before in a previous post, we are working on the 100 thing challenge. You can find that post here:

After doing a bunch of research, we learned so much about dinghy towing and living simply, we wanted to share with you. This was a true eye-opener.

We both owned very large trucks the 9 years we’ve lived here because of the challenges of driving on the snow here. We always felt safe. I originally had a Honda Accord when we first got here, but it rode too low to the ground and kept getting caught in snow drifts and snow berms (large hills of soft snow that make a car like that just go nowhere)

Now that we’re leaving, we both had to give up something huge. Two trucks we both really loved. We both realized it is just dumb to love a thing. Someday it will just be a pile of rust. People are more important.

This is when we started investigating what it means when you talk about dinghy towing. Everywhere you look in Alaska in the summer, you see these large 40 foot RVs pulling small cars behind them. They use a variety of methods.

You can do one of the following: (these are not all the choices, but they are the main ones)

Scissor-type towbars:

Use a scissor-type towbar that leaves all 4 wheels of the vehicle you are towing on the ground. You have to install some electronics in your tow vehicle (called a dinghy in the RV world) to connect the braking system of your RV with the braking system in your tow car.

Pros: Easy connect and disconnect

Cons: Fairly expensive, or so I thought. The towbars themselves tended to be around $1,000.00 for a good one, and the braking systems were fairly expensive, too – if you want one that is quality. You wear out your tires pretty good on the tow vehicle with this method. You cannot back up the RV and the tow vehicle with this method, if you get stuck somewhere. You have to get out, unhook it, and get your RV where you want it, then hook up the tow vehicle again.

Tow Dolly: You put the front wheels of your vehicle on a tow dolly, which looks like this:

Towdolly - put your car's front wheels on and strap in

You can read everything you ever wanted to know about a tow dolly and the laws governing them in Canada and the 50 states here:

This manufacturer provides customs documents for Canada as well, as he sells 40% of his tow dollies to our neighbors to the north.

Full Trailer:

Pros: You can back these up while backing your RV. They keep rocks and other road debris from damaging your tow vehicle. They also put no wear and tear on your tow vehicle (also called a toad). Some road damage can still occur, as these are open air type trailers. They can be just a frame or they can be a flat surface, like the ones you tow 4 wheelers and snow machines with.

Cons: Pricey, in the tens of thousands of dollars, at least here in Alaska. Tend to be heavy, which can really put a damper on your RV’s gas mileage.

Fully covered trailer: All the pros of the full trailer mentioned above, but no road damage would occur to your ‘toad.’ They would have the same cons of being very pricey and heavy, but for some people who are towing a classic car or pricey vehicle, it would be well worth it. You have probably seen these pulling Nascar race cars before.

I mainly wrote this article because we ran into a situation when we were looking at a Hyundai dealer to find a toad vehicle. We were looking at their crossovers and SUVs and had decided on one after reading the Official towing guide. We found out later that the Towing Guide was inaccurate on all accounts when it came to the Hyundai vehicle section. You can find the official towing guide here: (there’s also a really good article there about dinghy towing overall).

I’m still not going to say which method is better for you. I am just outlining the different methods you could choose from. It is always best, if you are going to have a braking system and a scissor tow type of towbar installed, to have it done by an expert. Many RVers use Camping World or a dealer specializing in just towing. Just having your local mechanic install it all or doing it yourself might miss some very important steps. There are strict regulations for safety when it comes to towing a vehicle behind.

So, instead of using the towing guide to choose a toad, go to the dealership and look around. Ask questions in the service department. Read the owner’s manuals of cars you are interested in.

The Durango was one big machine we traded in

We chose a 2011 Hyundai Elantra Touring Coupe for our Toad

We are going to tow our Elantra using a tow dolly, as that is the recommended method in the owner’s manual because it is a front wheel drive.

So, by trading in two huge trucks, we’re saving $1,300.00 + a month on car payments, insurance, gas. We also don’t have to spend $3,000.00 + to ship them to Wyoming. Not to mention storage costs and not being able to tow either one. Talk about living simple!

Be safe and make the right choice for you!