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A Beginner’s Guide to Travel Trailers With Help From Consumer Reports

There is much to consider before buying an RV. And with so many different brands and RV class types, making the right decision based on your personal needs is astounding. Here is beginner’s guide to finding the best travel trailer for you, with help from Consumer Reports. 

The benefits of a travel trailer over a motorhome

The Airstream Basecamp travel trailer is pulled behind a red Toyota pickup.
The Airstream Basecamp travel trailer | Airstream

Now more than ever, traveling by RV is one of the safest ways to go. But how would you go about choosing a travel trailer over a motorhome? Well, if practicality is your top priority, travel trailers have a clear advantage over a motorhome.

As Consumer Reports highlights, trailers offer a ton of flexibility as you travel. A motorhome or an “all-in-one RV” is reserved for specific vacations and isn’t always practical to use all year round. But since you can remove the trailer from the SUV or truck you are towing it with, it can be used for other things.

Additionally, using a tow vehicle allows you to travel safely with young children in car seats. Not many motorhomes can accommodate travel with young kids, as CR notes. Furthermore, a trailer allows you to set up camp, explore nearby areas, and pop over to a nearby restaurant for food without much hassle.

Starter trailer options 

The Airstream travel trailer is by a campsite, a truck, and solar panels.
The Airstream Basecamp travel trailer | Airstream

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If you’re toying around with the idea of buying your first trailer, you’ll probably want to stick with cheaper options. One of the most affordable ways to go is with a folding or pop-up camper. Folding trailers range from 1,000 to 4,000 pounds and cost anywhere from $10K to $30K, according to CR. 

The Taxa Outdoors Mantis is a good example of a pop-up trailer. These trailers can sleep up to eight people. However, the main downside is that they don’t do much to shelter you from outdoor elements. 

Truck owners might want to get a truck camper. Truck campers can be pretty cheap and can fit into a truck’s bed. But as you can imagine, the amount of living space in these options are limited. 

An Airstream RV trailer along with others, wait in a long line to enter the south entrance to Yellowstone National Park
An Airstream travel trailer | George Frey/Getty Images

Actual travel trailers are the most popular towable RV. Travel trailers provide solid walls to minimize outside noise. They are available in various sizes, but they require different driving skills to haul. You’ll also have to make sure your travel trailer isn’t too big for some campsites. One of the most famous examples in this category is the Airstream Globetrotter Travel trailers can be as low as $10K but can rise to $150K depending on the amenities you desire.

Grander options 

A white fifth wheel RV trailer is set in a snow-capped valley with a lake behind it.
Winnebago Micro Minnie 5th Wheel Trailer | Winnebago

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If you have a heavy-duty truck and are longing for a luxurious camping experience, a fifth-wheel trailer could be right for you. CR considers the Escape trailer brand as one of the best to buy because of its customizable styles and array of features. Winnebago has also diversified its lineup to present buyers with additional choices. 

Additionally, toy haulers are another option that can be as grand as you want them to be. Toy trailers can provide lots of space, and can even be towed by motorcycles.

Finding the right fifth-wheel trailer will mostly depend on your truck’s towing capacity. But before making any decision on a trailer, make sure you do your research. CR especially recommends that you rent one before you buy.