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What the Classic Movie “The Long, Long Trailer” Got Right About RV Life

What the Classic Movie “The Long, Long Trailer” Got Right About RV Life

If you’re a fan of I Love Lucy and RVs, you may have seen the 1950’s classic The Long, Long Trailer. Any RVers who haven’t seen this film will laugh at the mishaps and mistakes of people brand new to the RV world. 

If you’re thinking about buying your first RV, this is a good movie to show you everything you shouldn’t do! Either way, Lucy’s humor, and Desi’s charm have been winning hearts for the better part of a century. And we wanted to talk about what they got absolutely right. 

The Long, Long Trailer (1953) Official Trailer - Lucille Ball, Desi Arnaz Road Trip Comedy HD

If You Haven’t Seen the 1954 Film, ‘The Long, Long Trailer,’ You Should

Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz star in this comedic adventure as newlyweds who buy a trailer and set off to drive cross country. But their inexperience with trailers and camping leads to a series of disasters that will make anyone laugh, whether or not they can relate to it. 

Between Lucille Ball’s trademark humor and the gorgeous views of California and Yosemite National Park, this movie is a fun glimpse into RV life. 

What Brand Was The Long, Long Trailer?

The trailer featured in the movie was a 1953 Redman New Moon, and the car was a 1953 Mercury Monterey convertible. Before the movie, this trailer company only made a couple of trailers a day. 

Once the film’s success hit, so did the company’s popularity, and it became one of the biggest trailer companies in the country. 

How Long Was The Long, Long Trailer?

The trailer was 36 feet long, which was quite large at the time. Even current travel trailers only average between 12 and 35 ft, with the longest trailer being 41ft 2in. These old trailers continue to sell the infamous 36 ft trailer at ten times the price they did in 1953. 

Pro Tip: It may not be an Old Hollywood classic, but Breaking Bad does have a cult following. Discover where you can find The Breaking Bad RV: A Look Back at the Iconic Mobile Lab.

Tour a 1953 New Moon vintage trailer, similar to the one in the movie The Long, Long Trailer.

7 Things This Classic Movie Got Right About RV Life

Television seems to portray life in a heightened sense, and when things go wrong, they go very wrong very quickly. However, this movie did bring up some important points about RV life. Life on the road can be a struggle given the cost and learning curve of owning a camper trailer. Let’s take a look! 

1. RV Travel Can Cost More Than You Think

Initially, Tacy and Nicky believe they’re getting a good deal with a trailer because of the multiple payment plan. However, with the overall cost of the trailer, the necessity for a larger car and a hitch, plus money for accidents and towing, the money just kept adding up. 

The financial aspect is important to consider. You may not need to pay for housing when you have an RV, but the vehicle maintenance is not cheap. 

RV trailer maintenance and repair
Maintenance and repair are typically the biggest costs associated with owning an RV.

➡ Even if you score a fantastic deal on an RV, you might not find the upkeep to be so friendly on your wallet. Learn more here: How Much Does an RV Cost to Own and Maintain?

2. Driving an RV (and Backing Up) Can Be Challenging

If you know anything about Lucille Ball movies, you can imagine the hijinks that ensue when she and Desi try to back up their trailer. And it’s not that far from the truth–backing up a trailer, especially a very long one, isn’t easy! 

When you’re used to driving a car, it can be surprising when you hitch up a trailer. The added weight changes how you can drive safely, especially when backing up. Even turning is different, and if you find yourself on some windy mountain roads, you might want to prepare yourself. 

Pro Tip: Investing in an RV backup camera makes backing a travel trailer safer and easier.

3. Never Make Dinner in the Back of a Moving RV Trailer

It’s illegal to be in a moving vehicle without a seatbelt, and the scene where Lucille Ball attempts to cook dinner in a moving trailer is proof of that. Even a steady driver can’t prevent bumps and swaying, and trying to use a hot stove during all that movement is very dangerous. 

Illegal Sandwich Making Comic
It is, in fact, illegal to make dinner in a moving RV.

The scene provides a good example of why road safety is so important. Not to mention, it’s a great example of Lucille Ball’s slapstick comedic flare. 

4. The Weight of Your RV Matters. A Lot.

When the weight of your trailer is more than 50% of your tow vehicle’s GVWR, it can cause your trailer to sway. Not to mention, if your RV is overweight or if anything heavy comes loose while towing, it can cause a dangerous situation. 

We see this in the movie when Tacy’s rocks and canned goods weigh down the trailer and start rolling around while they attempt to navigate a windy mountain road. 

5. It’s Not Always Sunshine and Rainbows

Nicky and Tacy aren’t prepared for RV life and don’t know what to expect. With the unexpected costs, falling into ditches, windy roads, and accidental destruction of properties, it’s a much different honeymoon than they’d hoped for. 

Towing the trailer is hard on their car, repairs and towing are expensive, and they have very different views on what possessions are necessary. They have to make more compromises and apologies early in their marriage and learn to work together, which causes tension that could have ruined their relationship. Thankfully, this one has a happy ending!

Moving Our Home On Wheels (Without yelling at each other)

6. RV Life Can Seriously Stress out Your Relationship, or Strengthen It

As fun as traveling can be, it includes new experiences that can be stressful. Learning how to tow a trailer, especially a large one, can be difficult. Even just learning how to take care of an RV and adapt to life on the road can lead to some frazzled nerves. 

It may be easier to lose your temper, which could cause some tension in any relationship. Nicky and Tacy continually fight throughout their honeymoon, but they also learn to forgive and have patience with each other while they struggle with their trailer. Often, that’s what you have to do on the road—have patience and learn to forgive.

7. RV Life Is Not for Everyone

Sometimes the dream is better than the reality. Sometimes people enjoy traveling, but they also appreciate going home to a house that doesn’t need to be stabilized every time they park. 

RV fifth wheel trailer at campground
If you desire consistency and some degree of predictability in your life, RVing might not be for you.

There’s no perfect way to travel; it just depends on what you prefer. If you’d rather not be tied down by a house, you may enjoy living in a home on wheels. But if you need your own space and a regular routine between vacations, that’s fine too. 

The reality of RV life might not match the image you have in your head. Before you commit, check out 11 Things No One Tells You About Living in an RV to see if this lifestyle is right for you.

Where Can You Watch ‘The Long, Long Trailer’?

The Long, Long Trailer is available to rent or buy on Amazon, Google Play, and Vudu. It’s only $2.99 to rent for two days, perfect for a weekend movie night at home. Happy watching! 

RV Life Is an Unpredictable Adventure

No matter how prepared you are, you’ll always have surprises while traveling. That’s just life. You might hit a pothole, take a wrong turn, or have porcupines chew the wires under your truck. Something in your RV might break, or you could run into some overly friendly RV neighbors

Anything can happen, but that’s the beautiful thing about life too. You never know when you’ll stumble on a gorgeous view, taste the best meal at a hole-in-the-wall restaurant, or meet the kindest strangers just when you need help. 

Morton's enjoying RV life
RV life isn’t perfect, but the endless opportunities for adventure make it all worthwhile.

Life on the road is unpredictable, but much like Nicky and Tacy, you could find yourself on an adventure you never expected. 

Do you have a humourous RV story of your own? We’d love to hear it in the comments below.

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About Mortons on the Move

Tom & Caitlin Morton of Mortons on the Move gave up the stationary life for one where they are constantly on the move. They are full-time travelers, television hosts, and digital media producers.
They left their jobs, sold their house and possessions, and hit the road in September 2015 in their full-time “home on wheels”. Since then they have traveled the US, Canada, and even internationally by RV.
Now, they are Discovery Channel & PBS TV Co-stars of The RVers, producers of “Go North” on Amazon Prime, co-founders and instructors of RV Masterclass, and contributing authors for and an Arizona travel guide.

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Not So Free

Tuesday 20th of September 2022

Interesting how the Mercury turned into a Lincoln as they got to the steeper hills. The Merc just couldn't handle it. Look closely.