Last Updated on March 12, 2023 by Jessica Lauren Vine
Do you wonder, “What are the pros and cons of owning a travel trailer?”
Since the start of 2020, travel trailers have become more popular than ever. While many people are buying them for weekend camping trips or weeklong excursions, many others are purchasing them for extended living. Travel nurses and other professionals, as well as snowbirds in the south, are starting to seek out travel trailers as an alternative means of housing.
Owning a travel trailer is a ton of fun and opens up doors to many opportunities that would ordinarily remain shut. However, travel trailers aren’t always a picnic, and there’s a lot of maintenance and upkeep that goes along with owning them. For some, the advantages outweigh the disadvantages. For others, however, the opposite is true.
If you’re considering taking the plunge and purchasing a travel trailer, you’ve come to the right place. This article will look at a comprehensive list of pros and cons about why owning a travel trailer is either the best idea ever or a massive mistake. Let’s get started!
The Difference Between a Travel Trailer and a Motorhome
The first thing we’ll look at is ensuring you understand the difference between a travel trailer and a motorhome. A motorhome is a recreational vehicle with a motor in it that you can drive around without using a towing vehicle. Essentially, they’re a truck and a camper in one.
A travel trailer, on the other hand, is any type of camper that can only move with the assistance of a towing vehicle, such as a truck or an SUV. Travel trailers come in various lengths and sizes and sit on top of trailer frames with wheels that allow for easy transportation. They can be just as big or bigger than motorhomes, but they can also be small enough to tow with a sedan or minivan.
Pros of Owning a Travel Trailer
Let’s start with the good news and look at some of the advantages of owning a travel trailer. We’ll also look at some of the advantages that a travel trailer has over a motorhome.
You Have a Separate Vehicle
Because you must have a separate towing vehicle when hauling a travel trailer, you’ll always have a separate vehicle after you park your rig. With motorhomes, the only way to take an extra vehicle with you is to tow it behind you, which is tricky with certain vehicles, to drive it separately, or to pile it on a trailer and tow it with your motorhome. Either way, it’s more hassle than simply unhooking your travel trailer and freeing up your towing vehicle.
A Home Away From Home
Travel trailers and motorhomes alike offer a comfortable home away from home. In fact, manufacturers have begun making travel trailers so luxurious and comfortable that many people are choosing to live in them for extended periods of time. Whether you’re a retiree, a travel professional, or simply looking for affordable housing, a travel trailer is a great option.
Cheaper Than Motorhomes
In general, travel trailers are cheaper to purchase than motorhomes. With motorhomes, you’re not just paying for a camper. You’re also paying for a motorized vehicle and all the components that go along with it. On the other hand, travel trailers are often half the price of their motorhome counterparts.
Less Maintenance Than Motorhomes
Additionally, because you don’t have a motor, gas, oil changes, and other mechanical issues to worry about with a travel trailer, they’re less maintenance than a motorhome. The main things to watch out for with a travel trailer are the trailer breaks, the hitch, the tires and axles, and internal components. You have all these things to worry about with motorhomes, plus engine and mechanical maintenance.
While you’ll have to worry about regular maintenance for your towing vehicle, finding a mechanic willing to work on your truck is much easier than finding one for a motorhome. Motorhomes are large and complicated enough that not all mechanics have the skills or facilities necessary to work on them. As such, they’re not only more difficult to fix, they’re also more expensive.
One of the advantages you likely didn’t know about is that travel trailers are much cheaper to insure than motorhomes. Travel trailer insurance can cost as little as $10 per month, whereas motorhome insurance is more comparable to that of a motorized vehicle. While it might not seem like a big deal, motorhomes can cost several thousand dollars more per year to insure than travel trailers.
Maintain Their Value
Finally, if you’re looking for a good long-term investment, travel trailers maintain their value better than motorhomes. The main reason for this is simply because there’s more that can go wrong with motorhomes. You have the mechanical components to maintain, plus all the other internal and external pieces.
With travel trailers, as long as the frame and inside are in good shape and it’s clean on the outside, you can sell them for a reasonable price. People are much more likely to purchase an older travel trailer than they are an old motorhome.
Cons of Owning a Travel Trailer
While travel trailers have many advantages over motorhomes, they aren’t without a few disadvantages.
You’ll Have to Invest in a Towing Vehicle.
Travel trailers are indeed cheaper at face value than motorhomes are. However, by the time you figure in a towing vehicle that’s big enough to pull your trailer, most of those savings are negated. For example, a brand new Class B or C motorhome will cost anywhere from $50,000 to $100,000, and a new Class A motorhome can cost between $50,000 and $300,000 for higher-end models.
New travel trailers similar in size to motorhomes will cost anywhere between $30,000 and $200,000 for higher-end models. If you don’t already own a truck big enough to tow your RV, you can figure on spending an additional $25,000 for a decent used truck and $80,000 for a new one.
When it’s all said and done, you might save a little money with a truck and travel trailer, but not as much as you initially thought.
More Difficult to Hook Up
In addition to being sneaky expensive, travel trailers are more difficult to hook up than RVs. With an RV, you simply jump inside, start the engine, and off you go. With travel trailers, however, it can take a while, to hook your trailer up to your truck. It’s even harder if you’re trying to hook it up alone or are a travel trailer beginner. The difficulty of hooking up is a big reason why elderly individuals and single people tend to gravitate towards motorhomes rather than travel trailers.
Less Traveling Space
If you’re traveling with the whole family, you might find it difficult to squeeze everyone into your towing vehicle. It’s illegal and unsafe to tow a travel trailer with people in the trailer, so don’t even think of that as an option.
Motorhomes, on the other hand, have tons of internal space for hauling passengers while you’re en route to your destination. While you won’t have the benefit of using your slideouts, most motorhomes are designed to optimize driving space as well as living space.
Take Longer to Setup at Campgrounds
In terms of which type of vehicle is easier to set up, there’s little doubt that motorhomes win out by a long shot. With a motorhome, you simply drive into the campground, find your spot, and back your rig into place. Most newer motorhomes feature self-leveling capabilities in the event that your spot isn’t level.
With travel trailers, it’s more difficult to back into your spot because your truck is backing one way, and your trailer is going the opposite direction. If you don’t know what you’re doing, it can take hours to work the trailer into place and level it out. You’ll then have to unhook the hitch, undo your brake connection and chains, and lower your stabilizing jack and side stabilizers. It can take double the time to set up a travel trailer at a campground as it does a motorhome.
More Difficult to Maneuver
While there are some who feel like it’s more difficult to maneuver a travel trailer than it is a motorhome, others disagree. Motorhomes are long vehicles without any give or wiggle room for maneuverability. It’s more difficult to make sharp turns and back into tight spots with a motorhome than it is with a travel trailer.
At the same time, however, there’s a large chunk of the population who thinks just the opposite. Travel trailers are tricky to back up and maneuver if you’re not familiar with them, whereas motorhomes turn and back up as you think they will. It all comes down to what type of vehicle you’re used to and more comfortable with.
Owning a Travel Trailer Frequently Asked Questions
If you’re thinking about owning a travel trailer, these are some questions you may have.
Is it cheaper to own a travel trailer than a motorhome?
Yes. It is usually cheaper to buy and maintain travel trailers than it is to buy and maintain motorhomes.
Should I buy a travel trailer?
Yes. If you want to and if you want an entry-level RV or a higher-end RV, you can find a travel trailer that will fit you.
How much does it cost to buy a travel trailer?
You can buy a very small RV for around $15,000, and it just goes up from there.
At the end of the day, it’s entirely up to you whether you choose a travel trailer or a motorhome. Either option will afford you the opportunity to travel and explore the country in an affordable and economical way. They will also give you the chance to make lasting memories that otherwise wouldn’t be possible.
However, if you think that one of the options is better for you than the other, you should carefully examine our list of pros and cons. Doing so will allow you to make the best and most informed decision possible.
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