Reasons You Should Not Buy a Travel Trailer or Fifth-Wheel RV

There are lots of reasons people want to purchase a travel trailer or fifth-wheel RV. For example, they are looking for a way to vacation in a responsible, socially distanced way. But, just as there are reasons to purchase such an RV, there are also reasons not to get that shiny new travel trailer or fifth-wheel.

Purchasing an RV by maxing out the budget

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

My people interested in getting their first RV are often mesmerized by an eye-popping grandiose camper and the romantic sense of getting away. The truth is, however, unless the purchaser is prepared, the experience can be much more than the budget is ready for. The purchases of that grandiose mobile palace or headquarters on wheels is only the beginning of the costs.

Vehicle upgrades, maintenance

It is important to note that the actual purchase of travel trailers or fifth-wheels are only the beginning of laying out cash. The pickup or SUV that is going to pull the RV must be prepared to do the towing. With a pickup truck, a fifth-wheel adapter needs to be drilled into the bed and installed, if the truck is not already equipped with it. Also, the truck or SUV must have a pulling capacity that can handle the trailer being pulled. It’s a rookie mistake when one think, “Oh, my rig can tow anything.” These upgrades can be pricy and cause many people to hold off on a purchase.

Storage for an RV

Insurance is a monthly fee that many people already think of ahead of time. But, maintenance is not. Taking care of an RV is not the same as taking care of a car. Dry rot, leaks, and mice can quietly do their damage. So, since a travel trailer or fifth-wheel are more apt to be sitting for long periods of time, more care is necessary for them to remain optimal for the family getaway. Consequently, the extra labor has caused some potential owners to reconsider their purchase. Supposedly, they don’t consider themselves disciplined enough to take care of a new travel rig. 

Storage is another thing people have on occasion thought about after they made their purchase. As great an experience owning an RV can be, storing one can be a pain. Finding out after the fact that a homeowner’s association will not allow a travel trailer or fifth-wheel to be parked by a home can cause much angst. So, finding a nearby storage facility to permit parking of the newly acquired vehicle can easily become a challenge, regardless of how inexpensive the storage fee might be. Therefore, lack of storage has caused many people not to buy a travel trailer or fifth-wheel.

Being naive with an RV purchase


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The fear here is that somebody will purchase the most RV they can afford and not take into account the additional funding needed for other necessary things. Towing equipment upgrades, maintenance, and storage are somewhat costly but essential components for the recreational vehicle’s true enjoyment. Not having the budget prepared for those items can ruin what can otherwise be a pleasurable ownership experience. So, each of them should be looked at closely before the purchase, not after. If the added considerations are not feasible, then the purchase should not be made.