Travel Trailer Pros and Cons

Things to Consider Before You Purchase a Travel Trailer

Truck Towing a 5th Wheel Travel Trailer
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Chris Clor / Getty Images

Table of Contents
Table of Contents

So you’ve decided to join the ranks of retired Americans, adventurous families, and wanderlust-filled solo travelers by purchasing your very own home on wheels. Before you look at shiny makes and models, it’s important to decide whether you want to invest in a motorhome or a travel trailer.

There are lots of advantages and disadvantages to owning a travel trailer as compared to a motorhome. Here are a few things to consider before choosing your ideal investment home on wheels and making your purchase.

Key Takeaways

  • Purchasing a travel trailer can be a relatively cheap and convenient way to travel the country.
  • Travel trailers don't offer as much luxury as motorhomes while on the road, but they may be better suited to certain styles of camping.
  • Financing options for travel trailers tend to have shorter terms and higher monthly payments than other vehicle loans.
  • Insuring a travel trailer is typically quite affordable, and in some cases may be offered as an add-on to your existing car insurance policy.

Cost

Without a built-in engine or drive train, the cost of a travel trailer is almost always less than for a motorhome, oftentimes significantly less. In addition, a travel trailer tends to hold its value longer than a motorhome. You will, of course, require a towing vehicle and, depending on the size of your trailer, its cost can far outdistance that of the trailer itself.

The price of gas is subject to sharp rises, and your gas mileage in the original vehicle will be significantly reduced when you’re driving around lugging something that can be twice its size.

Convenience

One big advantage to a travel trailer is that once you have reached your campsite you can unhitch it and use your towing vehicle to run errands or take in the sights. This is a great perk for longer camping trips, or when you want to set up a home base and take shorter day trips via car or truck.

Restrictions While Traveling

One major disadvantage of a travel trailer is that you can't have anyone riding around in it while you are on the road. All of your fellow travelers will have to join you in your towing vehicle until you are stopped. For smaller parties, like retired couples, it may be no issue to stay in the cabin of your car or truck while commuting, but larger groups or families may be more comfortable in a full motorhome.

Financing

In most cases, you will not be able to spread out payments for a travel trailer as much as for a motorhome, so monthly costs can be on the high side. But since they already cost less to begin with, if you’ve saved up before making a purchase, this may not be that much of an issue.

Though prices will vary significantly by make and model, you can expect to spend on average about $20,000 more for a motorhome than you would for a travel trailer.

Insurance

Insurance on a travel trailer is often very reasonably priced. Most travel trailer policies are added to your existing auto policy and are generally based on new replacement cost. Premiums are affordable, running on average between $200-$500 per year. Of course, there can be a big variation in price depending on where you live, the value of your trailer, and your personal factors such as driving record, age, and credit score.