Travel Trailers vs. Motorhomes: The More Practical Choice Is Obvious

Socially distant activities are still recommended for now, so RV sales are booming. Travel trailer and motorhome RV models are perfect for campers who don’t want to rough it too much in the great outdoors. The two are very similar, so how do you know which one best suits your needs? Camper Report has the answer.

Both motorhome and travel trailers come in various sizes. A Class A RV is as long as a bus and features a large kitchen and living room area. For something more minimalist, a pop-up trailer is still fairly spacious. However, for one type of camper in particular, it’s clear which one is more practical.

The perks of owning a travel trailer or motorhome

The best thing about trailers and motorhomes is their versatility. Motorhomes come in Class A, Class B, and Class C variations. These RVs can accommodate up to four passengers comfortably for a week or more in uncharted territory. Travel trailers also come in different sizes, the smallest of which can be installed on the bed of a truck.

Either one is suitable for a weekend getaway, but it’s important to remember size limitations. Large RVs and trailers can be a nightmare to park in small spaces or campsites. This is especially true for travel trailers that need to be attached to another vehicle. On the other hand, a smaller RV is easier to maneuver.

A few notable differences

The biggest difference between the two is that a motorhome can be driven by itself. Most are powered by a diesel engine that gets around 15 mpg. This may seem like a downside, but keep in mind that pulling a travel trailer also causes lower gas mileage.

Motorhomes and travel trailers also have a steep price difference. A large travel trailer may cost around $30,000 while a smaller motorhome starts at $50,000. If you make a few camping trips per year, it may make more sense to go with the travel trailer.

Motorhomes will also depreciate faster than travel trailers, according to NADAGuides. The only exception is a fifth-wheel travel trailer, which has a depreciation rate of 71 percent over 10 years. A Class C RV will lose around 50 percent of its value after five years of ownership. Most travel trailers will still be worth 60 percent of their original value after five years. 

How much does each cost to own?

After the initial sticker price is paid, then you have to consider maintenance costs. Since the motorhome comes outfitted with more standard amenities, it will cost more to repair over time. Since this type of RV is a car at heart, it still needs routine inspections and oil changes as well.

Despite the fact that it doesn’t have an engine, a travel trailer still needs insurance just like a motorhome. Your rate will depend on the insurance company, but you can usually expect to pay more for the RV. A large travel trailer only costs $500 a year on average, while a Class A motorhome may cost up to $4,000, according to Classic Vans.

Is the travel trailer or the motorhome the more practical option?

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For those who want to spend as little money as possible, the travel trailer is the better choice. A trailer is also more suited for the casual camper who only takes vacations during one season. However, if you don’t own your own car to pull the trailer, you might be better off with a motorhome.

While some minivans can tow a trailer, you’ll probably have to purchase a truck in most cases. The cost of a truck and trailer combined could end up costing more than the standard motorhome RV. If you plan to live in one for an extended period of time, go with the RV.