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Are you having a hard time choosing which RV is perfect for you? Whether an RV, a motorhome, or a trailer, sorting out the different terms can be confusing. Deciding about what to buy can be can leave your head spinning and someone who doesn’t know anything about RVs may think that they are all the same.
RV is the term for a Recreational Vehicle, which is a catch-all for campers, motorhomes, and travel trailers. A motorhome is a drivable RV that is either class A, B, or C. While the towable RVs are called travel trailers and fifth wheels.
Motorhomes and travel trailers come in different sizes and capacities. So you will want to know how many people will generally be along on your adventures and how large of a rig you want to handle.
Most motorhome sizes are about 25 to 45 feet depending on their class and can fit 4 to 12 adults. On the other hand, trailers can range from 10 to 40 feet but you need to include the tow vehicle in the total length. Travel trailers can accommodate 2 to 12 adults depending on which type of trailer it is.
Aside from sizes and capacities, we will tell you more information about these two that you should look out for. This guide aims to help you distinguish the difference between an RV, camper, motorhome and a travel trailer. So you will know what is right for you.
What are the Classes and Types of RVs?
Like I mentioned above, a motorhome (or motorcoach) is a type of RV that is self-contained as a camper and a driving vehicle. Motorhomes are usually distinguished by the length of their rig and their class, which is grouped into three; Class A, B, and C.
Related Reading: See our article on Which Type Of RV is Right for You: 11 Types and Classes Explained.
Class A Motorhome
Class A motorhomes are the most luxurious type of drivable RV. These motorhomes resemble traditional busses with vertical windshields. These types of motorcoaches are expensive but comfortable. You might even see some celebrities buying this so they can have a comfortable resting place while working out of town.
The major drawback for this kind of motorhome is that you will be limited to flat campgrounds because you can’t take it off-road.
- Sleeps: 4-12 people
- Average length: 25-45 feet
- Rental Cost Per Night: $200 – $500
- Rent this Class A Motorhome in Colorado Springs, Colorado. 2003 Fleetwood Bounder at RVezy.
Class B Motorhome
Class B motorhomes are mid-sized camper vans on a van chassis. Making it versatile and popular in both mountain states and urban areas, and throughout Europe.
Singles, couples, and small families tend to choose this kind of RV because it is easy to maneuver, it feels car-like to drive and it can be parked in normal parking spaces.
The major drawback of this kind of motorhome is the living space. Although some larger models are equipped with bathrooms, lounge areas, bigger holding tanks, the most common size is just packed with the essentials like bed and kitchen.
- Sleeps: 1-4 people
- Average length: 16-21 feet
- Average Cost Per Night to Rent: $85-$200
- Rent this Class B Motorhome in Golden, Colorado. 2020 Winnebago Revel from RVezy.
Class C Motorhome
Class C motorhomes are cheaper and smaller alternatives for Class A. Class C motorhomes are built on a standard truck chassis with an extra space or compartment extended above the roof of the truck.
Many Class C motorhomes have slide-outs that can expand the space inside it when parked and used.
The drawback for this kind of motorhome is that it may be cumbersome to take your whole camp everywhere when you decide to go out and around the town. Unlike travel trailers that you can leave in the campground.
- Sleeps: 2-8 people
- Average length: 21-36 feet
- Average Rental Cost Per Night: $150 – $300
- Rent this Class C Motorhome in Longmont, Colorado. 2008 Coachman Freedom Express from RVezy.
Travel trailers or what is sometimes called bumper-pulls are RVs that you pull with a separate vehicle. This type of RV is popular to own because of its cheaper entry point and versatility. In fact, we own a 35-foot trailer and I like how we can pull it with our SUV when we travel. We then set it up in a campground and go around town in our car.
The drawback to this kind of trailer is the turning radius when driving it. Since you will be attaching this to your vehicle, you may need to adjust from driving the car itself and driving it while pulling your trailer.
The other problem is you may be looking at upgrading your tow vehicle as if you do not correctly match the size trailer.
- Sleeps: 2-12 people
- Average length: 19-40 feet
- Average Rental Cost Per Night: $90- $250
- Rent this Travel Trailer in Arvada, Colorado. 2021 KZ Sportsmen SE 271 BHKSE from RVEzy.
These are the types and classes of RV that you can choose from.
What Type of RV Is More Comfortable to Drive?
When it comes to drivability, we would say that driving a campervan or Class B motorhome is much more comfortable than driving a trailer. In a motorhome, you can drive for 6 to 8 hours without any discomfort because it is easy to maneuver.
However, while towing a travel trailer, a 4-hour drive may completely drain and tire you because of the learning curve and focus required to tow a trailer.
However, we own a trailer, what sealed the deal for me is that my family, especially the kids, are safer if they are in the towing vehicle. They will be secured in a car seat and adults have shoulder belts.
What Are the Luxuries and Amenities Included in a Motorhome and a Trailer?
Typical trailers have storage, a tiny kitchen inside. Some have an outdoor kitchen that you can use if you want to eat, drink, or grill while enjoying the view during the day or stargazing at night. It also has an all-in-one bathroom where the toilet, the shower, and the sink area in the same small room.
Many travel trailers have at least one separate room. It has a bed or multiple beds that is enough for a couple or a family to sleep with.
Now with some motorhomes, you will get more luxuries and amenities. Depending on what Class and size of a motorhome it is, it has a spacious bedroom, living room, kitchen with lots of storage, laundry area, a bathroom and possibly a separate shower room.
Some class A motorhomes even have an outdoor entertainment area. Aside from that, if you are into interior designs, motorhomes will give you the feeling that of home or a fancy hotel.
Other than that, motorhomes have some conveniences compared to trailers, especially for the passengers. With this, you can easily access the bathroom, your bedroom, or your kitchen anytime while on the road. Whereas, on a travel trailer, you have to pull over just to get access to any of these.
In my trailer the inside is very cramped when the slides are in so the only thing we can use easily is the bathroom.
Should I Buy A Motorhome or a Trailer?
The section of this post onwards will focus on helping you decide which one to buy if you are on your deciding period and are ready to buy your own RV.
If you feel that you need to rent first, the sections above may help you. You can also see our entire article “How to Rent an RV for an Epic Vacation”
How Much Does It Cost to Own a Motorhome and a Trailer?
Motorhomes’ prices vary depending on their class since they all have different features and benefits. But generally speaking, motorhomes are expensive since it is motorized and it is designed as a home on wheels.
On top of that, you also have to know the cost of maintaining this kind of RV. It has generators, engines, chassis, battery banks, and some other things that you have to maintain monthly or yearly on a motorized vehicle. Therefore, can you imagine how much it will cost you for a repair in case you will have trouble with any of these?
On the other hand, trailers are more affordable and have less to maintain. Trailers have similar costs associated with the tires, roof maintenance, slides, and other mechanical parts.
One major cost you will have from a travel trailer is the fuel and maintenance for your towing vehicle especially if you are going to tow a large trailer.
If your truck and trailer are a mismatched size or if you are too speedy you may need a new transmission sooner than expected.
Cost of Buying an RV Motorhome vs Trailer
Here is a price comparison table for the costs you should expect to pay for a Motorhome and for a new Travel Trailer.
|Discovery LXE 2021||Class A||$395,751.00|
|Discovery LXE 2021 (Anniversary Edition)||Class A||$411,561.00|
|Pace Arrow LXE 2021||Class A||$327,926.00|
|Pace Arrow 2021||Class A||$261,375.00|
|Southwind 2021||Class A||$204,949.00|
|Bounder 2021||Class A||$193,130.00|
|Bounder 2021 (Anniversary Edition)||Class A||$195,804.00|
|Fortis 2021||Class A||$177,287.00|
|Flair 2021||Class A||$129,544.00|
|2013 EXT Lounge Mercedes Benz||Class B||$80,000.00|
|2014 Roadtrek – CS||Class B||$79,500.00|
|2018 Mercedes Benz Sprinter Van Pleasure-Way Ascent TS||Class B||$119,000.00|
|2019 Mercedes Benz Sprinter 3500||Class B||$129,000.00|
|2016 Forest River Lexington – GTS||Class B||$17,517.00|
|2021 Coachmen Leprechaun 210RS||Class C||$69,998.00|
|2008 Coachmen Leprechaun 318DS||Class C||$53,998.00|
|2017 Four Wind Chateau||Class C||$36,998.00|
|2019 Thor Motor Coach Freedome Elite 26BE||Class C||$74,000.00|
|2000 Coachmen Santara 315QB||Class C||$24,000.00|
|2021 Forest River Ozark 1650BHK||$21,995.00|
|2021 Jayco Jay Flight SLX 174BH||$22,154.00|
|2021 Heartland Pioneer RD210||$27,995.00|
|2021 Crossroads Zinger 280BH||$32,759.00|
|2021 Heartland Mallard M27||$32,995.00|
|2021 Keystone Premier 29BH||$40,995.00|
|2021East to West Silver Lake 31KBH||$41,121.00|
|2021 Keystone Sprinter Limited 341BK||$51,528.00|
|2021 Keystone Springdale 1800BH||$19,516.00|
Considerations Before Choosing an RV Motorhome or Camper Trailer
Since you already have an idea about the difference between a motorhome and a trailer, it is now the right time to decide which RV suits you best.
- What kind of camper are you?
- How often would you like to travel?
- Are you a seasonal traveler?
- Would you like to do it for a living?
- Who are you going to travel with?
- What kind of places are you going to explore?
- Would you like to drive on small roads, rough roads, or wide roads?
- Do you own a truck or do you still have to buy one?
- And how much is your budget?
First, before you buy an RV you have to ask yourself these questions to understand what would be the one that is worth buying.
If you have to make a list of your questions and answers to help you decide, you can do so.
Read More about 17 Undeniable Reasons NOT to buy an RV
If you are not going to use an RV often and you want to stick to a budget, we recommend you have a travel trailer instead of a motorhome. Because leaving a motorized vehicle in your garage or your driveway for a long time is not good for the engine. So, if you are not going to use an RV regularly, save your money and get a trailer instead.
Furthermore, if you want to have more freedom on your road trips and still be able to visit many places, a trailer is better than a class A or C motorhome. You can just park your trailer then go anywhere you want with your towing vehicle.
This does not necessarily apply to a Class B campervan that is easy to maneuver as long as you keep a tidy camp.
Additionally, if you are going to travel with your kids, a trailer is what we recommend for their safety. Although couches in motorhomes also have seat belts, based on our own experience it is still much safer for them to sit in a truck using a car seat.
When it comes to space and off-road driving, you have a lot of choices for both motorhome and trailer. There are RV’s that are big or small enough to accommodate you and easy to drive and maneuver on any kind of road.
Talking about the budget, if you just want to check first if you will love RVing and you already have a truck, it is more practical to buy a trailer first. Already have a truck and know how to tow is key here.
(I just have to warn you though that this is addicting. But, you can thank me later.)
Then, if you think that RVing is something that you will do regularly, you can reassess your needs and your situation. You can decide which of the two you are going to purchase.
However, if you are someone who’s planning to travel across the country, have enough budget, and prefer to travel smoothly without any inconvenience, we recommend you to buy a motorhome.
Motorhomes can be very comfortable to travel and live in. Class B campervans have the benefit of being easy to mauver and drive as well.
You can also rent an RV if you want to try first. Here are some resources for renting an RV:
- How to Rent an RV for an Epic Road Trip
- 17 Important Questions to Ask before Renting an RV
- How to Rent an RV for Cheap
Important questions to ask before Choosing an RV Motorhome or a Trailer
Is an RV the same as a motorhome?
RV is short for “Recreational Vehicle. It is an umbrella term for different kinds of vehicles which includes motorhomes and travel trailers.
What is a drivable RV called?
Motor Coaches or Motorhomes are self-powered RVs that come with an engine and chassis. On the other hand, towable RVs are those that you need to attach to other vehicles to drive.
What is the difference between a 5th wheel and a travel trailer?
A fifth wheel attaches inside the bed of a truck and is secured by a “hitch”, while a travel trailer is pulled by the bumper hitch of the vehicle using a “ball and coupler”
Final Thoughts on the Difference between a Motorhome and a Trailer
Being able to go anywhere, anytime you want is such a great feeling. Just thinking about seeing and exploring different places with your family or friends can make you really excited.
If you are still undecided after knowing the difference between these two RVs, we recommend that you try renting for now. (You can check out this article to see the RV Rental Types) The good thing about it is you will be able to experience all kinds of RVs available in the Market and it will be easier for you to decide which one to buy since you have already tried them.
You just have to remember whether a motorhome or trailer, whatever difference they may have, both of them have the same goal. It is to bring you to great places that you will treasure forever.
As a part of our RV series, we have compiled other resources that may be of help to you.
- 25 Expert Tips for Renting an RV for the First Time
- RV Rental Delivery and Setup at Your Campsite (Cost, FAQs, Examples)
- How to Rent an RV for an Epic Road Trip: Helpful Beginner’s Guide
Hi, I’m Shauna – Welcome to Family Travel Fever. We are a large family, that was bitten by the travel bug! I take the kids by myself because I don’t mind flying or driving solo with my crew to discover the coolest places.
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