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For as long as I can remember, I have loved traveling in an RV. Just in the last decade, I have owned, rented, and sold a number of travel trailers. I have my own share of experience with the different lengths and kinds of RVs.
Generally, for convenience, longer travel trailers are the best choices for a family with at least 4 members or more. However, note that there are roads and campsites that have limits on the lengths that they can accommodate.
I have personally experienced the benefits and drawbacks of traveling in different lengths of trailers. So I made this article in the hopes of helping you determine which is the best length for a travel trailer for you. It can also serve as a guide so you can rule out the other sizes that you know won’t work for you.
How Long Is Too Long for a Travel Trailer?
Some will say that anything above 30 feet is too long. But the truth is that the answer to whether a travel trailer is too long lies on your tow vehicle. As a rule of thumb, the longest trailer that your tow vehicle can pull is the one that does not exceed 75% of the maximum loaded weight of your vehicle.
Another consideration is the number of people in your family. How long does it have to be for you and your family to live in it comfortably?
|10-12 feet||1250 – 1300 pounds||2-5|
|14 – 15 feet||1500 – 1650 pounds||2-5|
|16 – 18 feet||2200 – 2300 pounds||2-5|
|18 – 22 feet||2500 – 2750 pounds||4-7|
|24 – 26 feet||3600 – 4100 pounds||4-7|
|28 – 30 feet||4300 – 4900 pounds||4-7|
|32 – 38 feet||7200 – 8500 pounds||9-12|
|39 – 40 feet||7690 – 10495 pounds||9-12|
Some people report that a travel trailer that is more than 35 feet gives them a hard time in looking for a campground to set up base on. Most of the available campgrounds only have limited and teeny space, however, if you own a bigger rig, finding the right campground is not going to be that hard.
The question will lie in your preferences. Do you plan to camp in National Forests or dispersed campgrounds? If so, then having a long rig will seldom be a problem for you as these campgrounds usually can accommodate longer rigs.
If you prefer to camp in private campgrounds then this might prove to be a slight problem as these campgrounds usually have limits on how long of a rig they can serve.
Pro Tip: If you are fine with getting down and little dirty, seasoned RV travelers advise you to just move or sway little brushes or leaves. Because sometimes, the tree and shrub positioning in campgrounds is what makes it smaller. But if you can go past them, you’ll be able to fit your rig.
How to Measure the Length of the Travel Trailer
The length of the travel trailer that your manufacturer specified is your trailer length. State-run campgrounds and some private ones usually base their site length upon the length of the travel unit itself. Most often than not, there will be a separate parking space for your tow vehicle.
I own a 35-feet travel trailer. It is specified by the manufacturer as 35-feet. When I call to reserve a campsite, I ask for 35 feet or longer.
However, when going through roads that have length restrictions, you have to make sure to measure the whole length with your tow vehicle.
For example, in Independence Pass near Aspen, Colorado, RVs more than 35 feet in length are prohibited to pass. We have a 35 feet trailer but our total length from the bumper from the front of the truck to the bumper at the back of the trailer is 59 feet. We know this because we were measured when we took the ferry from Seattle.
Does Travel Trailer Length Include the Tongue and Hitch?
The trailer length and the manufacture description do not include the tongue and the hitch. The length is only the inside box of the trailer.
If you want to know exactly how long your trailer will be you need to include The rear bumper, any accessories like a bike rack, and the front tongue and hitch. The rear bumper generally adds 6 to 12 inches. The front tongue and hitch add 2 to 3 feet to the length.
So for example my 35-foot travel trailer is 38 feet bumper to hitch. It’s even longer when the bike rack is on the back. When towing it with a truck it is 59 feet bumper-to-bumper.
How Does Length of the Trailer Affect Towing
A longer trailer will move differently behind the truck in a shorter trailer. Both the length and weight of the trailer affect the amount of weight on the tongue and swaying the backend. Most experts agree that a longer trailer is actually easier to close to eight because it will have slower delay life.
However, the total radius with a longer trailer will be longer. Therefore your turns will be much wider. In addition, you only to watch the inside corner very carefully for obstacles.
What Are the Disadvantages of a Longer Trailer?
The longer your trailer is, the more difficult it is to look for camps to stay in. Generally, state parks commonly have a length restriction of 45 feet. However, when your rig is 41 feet or above, you have to expect that you will only be accommodated by less than 10% of the campsites. On the other hand, 98% of campsites can accommodate trailers that are 19 feet and less.
Another disadvantage of a longer travel trailer is the total weight. Once you get up to 30 or more feet and 7 to 8,000 pounds you will need a 3/4 ton or 1-ton truck to tow it. Keep in mind that you’re towing capacity will be reduced by up to 20% at altitude and over the mountain passes
A longer trailer has more tail drag in the black end. You will need to be driving on relatively flat roads. So you will be limited to maintained roads and campgrounds. You will not be able to off-radio or boondock much.
What are the Advantages of a Longer Travel Trailer
A bigger, longer-length travel trailer has many advantages. A longer camper has more room inside giving you more space to move around. You will also have more privacy. Our trailer with 35 feet length actually has 2 separate bedrooms with doors.
Another advantage is the convenience of the space. A smaller camper will need to be spending time changing the inside back-and-forth between living quarters and sleeping quarters. Our first Taylor was a 20-foot long vintage camper with no slide-outs. Every night and every morning we had to transform it back into a table put the bunks away and make the bed back into a couch just to have breakfast.
A longer travel trailer can carry more weight. Once you have a camper you will want to load it up with all your favorite camping gear. You would be surprised how much your finger in toys ends up weighing. In addition, if you are Boondocking he will be also be carrying a full tank of water to your campsite.
A larger trailer also responds to movement when towing more slowly than a short trailer. Some people even say driving a longer trailer is easier than a shorter one. The physics of the hinge point at the back of the tow vehicle and the distance to the back end of the trailer, that’s how quickly the very back of the trailer responds to small adjustments in the front.
Summing up the Optimal Length of a Travel Trailer
The best length for your travel trailer will depend on the needs of your family. If you are traveling long-term and want more space and amenities similar to an apartment, you will require a bigger camper. If you are planning on shorter trips to national parks and sightseeing, a shorter travel trailer will likely work for you.
Before buying a camper I always suggest that you try renting at least one similar to what you’re thinking of buying. Travel trailers are difficult to rent from national companies. However, you can rent from a private owner on Outdoorsy or RVezy.
To rent a camper similar to the one you’re thinking of buying simply go to the Outdoorsy or RVezy website. Once you’re on the website choose the destinations that you would like to pick up the travel trailer. Then from the options choose the number of people that should sleep and your ideal length.
For more resources in renting an RV, read some of our blogs under our RV series:
- 17 Tips to Know for Your First RV trip with Kids
- Questions to Ask Before Renting an RV
- Where the Best Deal on an RV Rental
- How to Reserve the Perfect Campsite Every Time
Hi, I’m Shauna – Welcome to Family Travel Fever. We are a large family, that was bitten by the travel bug! We travel with kids and extended family. I take the kids by myself sometimes because I don’t mind flying or driving solo with my crew to discover the coolest places.
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