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RV vs Trailer: Which One is Best?

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Have you ever wondered what the difference is between an RV vs trailer?

Actually, a lot of people don’t know the difference.

So, let us tell you!

Recreational VehicleAlso known as a motorhome, there are 3 types: Class A, Class B and Class C. A motor vehicle that is equipped with living quarters – kitchen, bed, bath and living area – within the vehicle.Recreational Vehicle
Travel trailersThe travel trailer is typically towed by a powered vehicle, like pickup trucks, SUVs and some minivans. Once you set up the trailer at a site, your powered vehicle can be used to travel around.Travel Trailers
Fifth Wheel trailers5 wheel trailers need a special mount in the back of truck bed to make the drive more stability. You’ll also have to hitch this to a powered vehicle. Fifth Wheel Trailers
Popup trailerPop up trailers are small and can fold up, making them much lighter to tow, so you don’t need a big truck. Typically, they have a canvas top that can be expanded.Popup Trailer
Truck camperTruck campers are detachable units that sit on the bed of a standard pickup truck. Many people use them as a more affordable alternative to a traditional travel trailer. Truck Camper

An RV, or Recreational Vehicle, is a motor vehicle that is equipped with living quarters.

There are different types of RVs, including motorhomes, caravans, campervans, pop-up campers, fifth-wheel trailers and truck campers.

Among the usual features of an RV is a kitchen, a bathroom, and sleeping facilities.

Simple ones are described as utilitarian, which contains only sleeping quarters and simple cooking facilities, while luxurious ones include amenities such as water heaters, air conditioning, televisions and others.

Pros of RV

  • Adventure offered by owning an RV
  • Better than staying at a hotel
  • Better mobility
  • Comfortable mobile living
  • Comfort and convenience

Cons of RV

  • More expensive than travel trailers
  • Requires maintenance from time to time
  • Extra cost needed to pay for parking, etc.

Class A Motorhomes

Class A MotorhomesClass A Motorhomes are constructed either on a truck chassis (the base frame of a car), a commercial bus chassis, or a specially designed motor vehicle chassis.

In terms of design, Class A motorhomes are similar to a bus, with a vertical or flat front end, with some large side windows.

The slideouts on these RVs may also allow for a wider living area when they are parked.

These motorhomes are usually ideal for those who are searching for more space.

These motorhomes are oftentimes considered as the largest motorhome options.

Under this category are bus conversions, or a commercial passenger bus which is converted into an RV.

Depending on the added components, these conversions offer more space.

Class B Motorhomes

Class B MotorhomesClass B Motorhomes are built on a conventional van, which either a raised roof is added, or the back is replaced with a low-profile body.

These types of motorhomes usually come with a weight of up to 4,500 kg, measuring up to 6.4 m in length. In both Canada and the United States, Class B Motorhomes are typically built on a number of different chassis depending on the engine design and manufacturer aims.

Individuals and families who are searching for a vehicle that is more of a campervan, a Class B Motorhome is the best option.

In fact, in Australia, for example, most campervans are built on smaller vehicles including Toyota HiAce, while middle models are based on bigger vans, such as Mercedes-Benz Sprinter, Ford Transit, Iveco, and Fiat Ducato.

Class C Motorhomes

Class C MotorhomesClass C Motorhomes are typically built on a minimal truck platform that comes with a forward engine and transmission.

These are connected using a driveshaft to a rear axle propelling dual-mounted rear wheels.

These vehicles are usually powered using gasoline engines, even though some models have already been converted to operate using propane and diesel.

The transmission on these models are usually almost automatic.

These motorhomes are unique in a way that they feature a distinct cab-over profile, containing either a storage space, an upper sleeping area, or an entertainment section.

As such, this type of motorhome is perfect for those who need a much bigger vehicle, one with more facilities and features as well.

A subcategory of this type of motorhome is the toy hauler, which basically is the usual configuration with extra enclosed space for hauling bicycles, dirt bikes, or ATVs.

They usually offer a towing hitch that enables the pulling of a lightweight trailer, ideal for a small car and boats.

Things to Consider Before Buying an RV

Before you decide to purchase an RV from either a private owner or a dealer, consider the following factors accordingly:

In terms of overall cost, the difference lies depending on whether you are buying a new one or a used one.

Even though purchasing a new RV means less upfront maintenance issues, and a manufacturer warranty, the downside of this is that the value has the tendency to depreciate faster than cars.

On the other hand, purchasing used RVs can save you a good amount of money, though they can also mean higher maintenance costs.

When compared with trailers, RVs are more expensive.

In terms of resale value, travel trailers have a slight advantage in terms of depreciation.

Additional costs are more with travel trailers compared with RVs. There are also those that are referred to as the hidden cost.

Just like having an actual car, an RV needs periodic maintenance in order to keep things running smoothly.

Depending on where you park and the season, there will be costs for RV parks, campgrounds, as well as off-site storage locations.

And insurance and fuel costs, plus a vehicle if you are towing your RV.

You will also have to keep in mind other costs on the road, including travel, meals, and the other perks, including streaming services, satellite TV and the internet.

Except for the pop-up trailer, most models of RVs excel in combining together wind resistance and weight.

This means that you can easily expect fuel economy ranging between 8 and 20 mpg depending on the type of RV that you choose.

This includes the frequency of use, accessibility, and of course, comfort while driving.

You also need to consider the number of days that you will be camping out, and the location.

Are you planning to camp at a nearby campground, or the nearest theme park?

It is important to determine in advance the amenities that you need during your trips.

If you are planning to go for a longer travel, then it would make sense to select an RV that will give you comfort and convenience.

When looking for a parking space, RVs are no doubt a better option.

For one, a class C RV does not need to be towed, unlike a travel trailer.

Also, driving an RV is not really for everyone, particularly if you have either a Class A or a Class B RV.

You may require a special driver’s license to drive a much bigger RV.

After arriving at your destination, you need to setup your RV, which may include considerations such as hooking up water and electricity at your site.

You also have to dump your waste tanks.

Also, whether you are planning to tow your RV or a different vehicle just behind your motorhome, it is very important to ensure that you have the right equipment and vehicle for doing so, such as a trailer hitch.

If you plan to bring your RV for camping, choosing the right type is very important. In terms of living space and storage, the space in a Class C RV is generally bigger instead of a travel trailer.

Choosing the latter means less amenities for camping.

With an RV, you do not need more set up at campground.

Even though the Bureau of Land Management has a list of locations where you can camp without paying for anything.

Outside these locations, you may expect to pay a fee.

In certain cases, the daily rate also varies depending on the size of your RV.

To make the camping experience even more convenient, you can still choose to stay connected with mobile internet, GPS, Wi-Fi booster or Satellite TV.

SAVVY TIP:
Fuel economy is basically fuel efficiency. It measures the distance traveled by a vehicle and the amount of fuel used.

What’s a Trailer?

A trailer refers to an unpowered vehicle that is towed by a vehicle that is powered.

This type of vehicle is commonly used for transporting materials and goods.

At times, they are referred to as travel trailers or mobile homes, though they only come with limited accommodation facilities where people can either stay or camp.

Pros of Trailer

  • Cost effective than a motorhome
  • Incredible comfort
  • Ideal for rugged off-road locations
  • Better for those who camp in nearby locations

Cons of Trailer

  • May be challenging to look for parking locations
  • May involve other costs

There are different types of trailers, including the following:

Travel trailer

Travel Trailer

Travel trailers are usually towed using a small car, like a BMW air camper.

They are designed to be lower compared to a tow vehicle, thus minimizing drag.

Semi-trailer

Semi TrailerSemi-trailers are trailers that do not come with a front axle.

A huge part of its weight is either supported by a detachable front axle assembly (dolly), or a road tractor.

They are typically equipped with legs, often called ‘landing gear’.

They can be lowered down to provide support when uncoupled.

Many commercial businesses rent or lease semi-trailers for their business use.

Full Trailer

Full TrailerA full trailer is one that is supported by both front and rear axles, and pulled using a drawbar.

They usually transmit no significant static load to the vehicle towing.

This type of trailer is popularly used together with farm tractors.

Motorcycle Trailer

Motorcycle TrailerMotorcycle trailers are designed for hauling motorcycles behind a truck or another vehicle.

These types of trailers usually range in size.

They can serve, either to carry several motorcycles, or as a utility trailer that has been permanently adapted.

Livestock Trailer

Livestock TrailerThese types of trailers are designed especially for hauling livestock such as horses and cattle.

One specific type is a stock trailer, which is enclosed right at the bottom, but comes with openings at about eye level of the animals, thus allowing ventilation.

Things to Consider Before Towing a Travel Trailer

When preparing to decide between an RV or a Trailer, consider the following:

Because a trailer needs to be hitched to and towed by another vehicle, it may be harder to drive around, because you can’t 100% control the towable when switching lanes and turning. 

Expect that the trailer won’t always move the way you want it to when being towed.

In terms of cost, a travel trailer involves less cost compared to a motorhome.

On top of that, a travel trailer also has the tendency to hold its value much longer than a motorhome.

You may need a towing vehicle, and depending on the trailer size, the cost may be more than the trailer itself.

The gas mileage will also be reduced significantly when you are driving around while lugging something which can be twice its actual size.

In most situations, you cannot spread out the payments for a travel trailer, which is in contrast with that of a motorhome.

These means that the monthly cost may be higher.

Since the upfront costs are less, if you have already saved enough in the piggy bank before the actual purchase, this may not be a problem.

While a lot of people assume immediately that travel trailers are not really comfortable, the fact remains that they are very convenient, and incredibly spacious, even for sleeping.

When compared to other smaller trailer options, trailers are usually more spacious. The extra space available provides the assurance of comfort, which allows you convenience when parked at a camping site.

At the same time, you can choose a camper trailer model that features compartments where you can store additional items.

Camper trailers, in particular, are ideally suited for rugged off-road locations.

This means that you can take your trailer anywhere you want.

As such, they are the most versatile trailers, thus offering an amazing investment. To make the most out of your purchase, it is recommended to do your research about these types of trailers.

You can even talk to people who own one, and use their experience in making the most out of your purchase.

One huge advantage of having a travel trailer is that after reaching your campsite, you can easily unhitch it, using your towing vehicle in order to run errands or take in some amazing sights.

One downside, however, is that you cannot have somebody riding it while you are still on the road.

This means that your fellow travelers will join you in your towing vehicle until you reach your destination.

RV vs Trailer FAQ

RV vs trailerIf it is your first time buying an RV, you should consider buying a used motorhome from an RV dealership.

There are many advantages in buying a used vehicle, with the major benefit of saving money.

You should probably buy from an RV dealer instead of a private buyer, so you know everything checks out. 

There are also upsides if you want a brand new RV.

It’d be covered by the manufacturer’s warranty or any extended warranty you purchase, and you’d be the first person to live in it!

An RV weighs a lot!

The average motor vehicle can weigh up to 5200 lb.

And that’s just dry weight, meaning no gears and empty tanks. Water and gear by themselves are another 1500 lbs.

So, in total it can weigh up to 6700 lbs.

The standard RV is around 96 inches or 8 feet wide.

Some bigger and newer motorhomes are 102 inches or 8.5 feet wide.

Note that there are several states in the US where the law limits vehicle size to 8.5 feet, and a few that caps it off at 8 feet. 

Anything over this maximum width is considered oversize and you’d need a special permit in order to drive it on public roads and highways.

No, you cannot ride in a travel trailer.

Of course, this depends on the law of the state that you’re driving through, but for the most part – no.

Why?

Because passengers need to be able to communicate with the driver, to enter and exit the vehicle from the inside and out, and safety window glass need to be installed.

For example, you can ride in a pickup camper and fifth wheel trailer, but not a travel trailer.

Typically, you don’t need a special license to drive a standard RV.

Only if your motorhome is overweight, over a certain height or wider than 8.5 feet, then you may need to get a non-commercial special license.

The standard RV gets 10-20 miles per gallon, according to RV manufacturers.

On average, part-time RV living means you’d drive around 5000 miles, that’s 250-500 gallons per year.

So, RV vs Trailer – which one you end up going with?

Now, it’s time to learn more about how to sleep better in these motorhomes: thesleepsavvy.com/resources/ 

>> If you’re scouting out for an RV mattress, read more about it here! <<

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