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An RV can lead to amazing family adventures, I know a lot of people who dream of owning one so they can just jump in and go on a road trip. However, like everything else, you will find many benefits and drawbacks of trailers. In this post, I share with you my personal experience of pros and cons of owning a travel trailer.
I have owned a couple of travel trailers and one-fifth wheel. In fact, our family has spent an average of 40 nights in our travel trailer and traveled 3,000 miles a year. I also rented a motorhome. So I know the differences from experience.
In the same way that there are benefits, there are also some drawbacks of owning a travel trailer. Some of the Pros and Cons of a travel trailer are the same for owning any RV. We covered the pros and cons of traveling in an RV previously so this article will focus mainly on travel trailers specifically.
What Is a Travel Trailer?
A travel trailer is an RV that sits on a trailer frame and is towed behind a truck or SUV. Travel trailers can range in size from 15 feet to 45 feet long with the average being 25 feet. A lot of people like the convenience of being able to just park the trailer and use the SUV or truck when they are not traveling.
We have owned and traveled in a variety of RVs, including travel trailers, motorhomes, and fifth wheel. Our first travel trailer was a vintage 1974 Prowler that was 20 feet long. Currently, we own a 35-foot Jayco trailer bunkhouse. We do not travel full-time but have driven over 20,000 miles on vacations between a few days up to a month-long.
In this article, I will discuss many of the pros and cons of owning a travel trailer. If you are thinking of buying a new camper this will help you weigh your options.
Given that we chose a travel trailer for our own RV, I believe that it has a lot of benefits and it is perfect for my family.
What Are the Advantages of Owning a Travel Trailer?
Let’s start this guide with the pros of owning a travel trailer. These are some of the advantages that makes me happy happy that we chose this kind of RV.
You can Separate Your Camper and Your Vehicle
One of the major and biggest benefits of a travel trailer is that when you arrive at your campsite you can detach the trailer and still have your vehicle. This is helpful when you want to drive around to see the sights in the nearby area. For example, when you camp at a national park, which can be quite crowded, you are still able to visit the nearby area in a truck rather than the whole motorhome.
Because you are driving in your own vehicle, the passengers inside are much safer. Passenger vehicles are designed for passenger safety and are crash tested. The car seats attached with the latch system or seat belts keep the kids safe and the older passengers have a shoulder belt. Personally, it just gives me more peace of mind to have my family secured and safer in the car with me.
Further reading: We cover more car seat safety and other issues with kids in the article “15 Essential Tips for your First RV Family Camping Trip with a Toddler”
Enjoy Luxury Camping at an Affordable Price
Many travel trailers have the same amenities as a Class A motorhome at a fraction of the price. You can enjoy a full kitchen, shower and bathroom, separate bedrooms, AC, heat and hot water, and more. Since you are not buying the vehicle and engine the cost of the RV is much less.
Travel Trailers Cost Less to Insure
Because the entire vehicle is worth less than a motorhome and does not drive, the insurance will be lower than other types of drivable RVs. In general, the tow vehicle insurance will cover the trailer while it is being towed. So the insurance is for when the trailer is stationary.
Also, the insurance does not need to cover as many things as it will if you were you insure a motorhome.
Easier to Maneuver Around Corners
A truck pulling a trailer has a pivot point in the middle making the setup easier to maneuver, especially in tight spaces. For example, you can get back into a tighter spot or go around a sharper corner than a motorhome. This will prove useful when going to campgrounds with limited spaces.
Driving a trailer will take some practice but the extra pivot point will make a difference in maneuverability as you get used to it.
Less Depreciation than a Motorhome
A travel trailer depreciates based on the age and condition of the rig, but the mileage is not taken into account. Unlike motorhomes, on the other hand, where your mileage gets recorded and is a factor that lessens the value of your vehicle.
You can Choose a Variety of Tow Vehicles
Depending on the weight and size of your travel trailer it can be towed by a variety of trucks and SUVs. Lightweight travel trailers can be towed by an SUV that fits your entire family.
As your family grows and changes, you can change your tow vehicle without having to buy an entire RV. We used to tow our trailer with a half-ton truck when there were only two-three kids. As we grew, and can no longer fit in a regular truck, we bought a bigger SUV to fit the whole family.
Trailers are Relatively Lightweight
Generally, trailers are lighter than their motorhome counterpart. The simple reason behind this is that you are not buying the vehicle and the engine. You are just buying the shell itself that you can tow using your SUV. Trailers are 5,000 on average and generally less than 10,000 pounds.
What Are the Disadvantages of Owning a Travel Trailer?
Now to balance this article, let’s take a look at the disadvantages of owning a travel trailer.
Limited Access Enroute
You cannot access the inside of the travel trailer without getting out and back in. However, when we travel in a motorhome we enjoy being able to pull off the road and access the cupboards for snacks or the bathroom.
Safety When Camped
While you are camping inside in the travel trailer, you do not have access to the vehicle. Therefore, you cannot just drive away if there is a problem. This is important during boondocking or camping alone with kids.
Total Rig Length can Be Long
The total length of your setup up will be much longer than a motorhome or a camper van. When towing the entire length, you include the vehicle, the hitch, the trailer, and any accessories on the back.
For a campsite only the length of the trailer is important, however, the total length including the vehicle will affect what roads you can drive on, parking spaces, among other things. For example, my 35-foot foot travel trailer places at 59 feet and ends with towed by call and three-quarter-ton-truck. I know it’s exactly 59 feet and a half because we are charged by the foot when taking the ferry in Seattle.
Challenge to Drive and Back Up
Because of the pivot point between the car and the trailer, It is much different. When driving forward the trailer turns delayed behind the tow vehicle. Even more confusing when backing up the trailer goes the opposite direction as the back of the vehicle.
For some people this is an easy transition to get used to for others like me it’s very difficult to wrap your mind around.
Time to Set Up at Campgrounds
Motorhomes can be driven through the RV site on campgrounds. Travel Trailers, on the other hand, requires more effort to park.
When you arrive at a campsite you will first need to level the camper with leveling blocks and then unhook the camper from the tow vehicle. Once the hitch is off the truck you need to put down the stabilizing jacks and make sure the camper is level from side to side and front to back.
After that you still need to hook up the power, water and sewer. Once these are connected you can go inside and put put the slides and start setting up your campsite.
Portable Generator to Deal With
If you plan to be off-grid and not hooked to the power supply you will need a portable generator. Without this the batteries will lose power quickly and you will not be able to use some appliances or other power to the TV.
You will need to carry fuel for the generator. Plus, a generator can be heavy to maneuver onto the ground.
Final Thoughts on Pros and Cons of Owning a Travel Trailer
Living the RV life is a dream for a lot of people. But before you go and buy the first promo RV that you see, it is better to do some research and find out which one is the best for your family.
As a part of our RV series, we have been publishing resources for those who want to buy or rent their own RV. If you are still thinking about what to buy, consider renting a travel trailer first and learn about the pros and cons personally.
Here are some articles for additional reading:
- How to Rent an RV for an Epic Road Trip: Helpful Beginner’s Guide
- 25 Expert Tips for Renting an RV for the First Time
- RV Rental Delivery and Setup at Your Campsite (Cost, FAQs, Examples)
- Outdoorsy vs RVshare for Renting an RV (Who You Should Rent From)
- Small RVs to Rent in 2021 (10 examples with size and cost)
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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