What is a Travel Trailer?

what is a travel trailer

It is estimated that over 25 million Americans, if not more, took to the open road over the summer of 2019, taking in the sites and enjoying the great outdoors. Though hotels and resorts offer an excellent option for today’s tourists, many travelers enjoy the use of RVs and travel trailers. If you love spending time outside, and enjoy leisurely conversation by a campfire, you might be the perfect candidate for a travel trailer or other type of recreational vehicle.

What is a travel trailer?

A travel trailer is a camper on wheels that can be towed via a pick-up truck or sports utility vehicle. These campers are quite versatile. Pull up at your campsite, position the trailer where you want it, and disconnect your truck. With just a bit more effort in getting the trailer set-up, outdoor enthusiasts will be set-up and ready to enjoy their home away from home. Some of these trailers can sleep over six people, making travel trailers a cost-effective alternative for those who might not be able to bite off the expense of an RV.

How big is a travel trailer?

Travel trailers come in various sizes but are usually eight to eight and a half feet wide. Lengths vary as well and can run up to 33 feet. For those looking for a smaller version, compact trailers are available in widths under seven feet.

Determining the right-sized trailer entails understanding legal regulations in your state, as well as how many people you might want to be able to sleep comfortably. This said, it is critical to understand the towing restrictions of your vehicle, as this may impact the width and length that can be towed safely.

How much do travel trailers weigh?

A typical travel trailer will have a dry weight of just over 5,000 pounds. Dry weight refers to the trailer’s weight with empty tanks, and before gear is added to the unit. In many cases, equipment and tanks can result in an incremental 1,500 pounds of weight. Therefore, in addition to considering the length and width of the trailer, it is essential to know what load your vehicle can safely tow. If you are looking to do some simple math, it is safe to assume that your trailer will weigh approximately 250 pounds per the footage of the trailer’s length.

What is the average cost of a travel trailer?

Many outdoor enthusiasts find that travel trailers provide an economical option over their more expensive recreational vehicle counterparts. Not only do travel trailers generally cost far less, owners like the flexibility of having a separate vehicle that can be unhitched once the trailer is settled at a campsite.

Most travel trailers will cost $35,000 or less, though this is heavily dependent on the size and features that are included with the unit. Additional features such as hoses and cords, extra batteries, propane tanks, a spare tire, and the generator will add to the cost. In addition to the costs for the aforementioned additional features, it is also essential to consider the other expenses tied to dealer titles and fees, sales tax, and insurance. Further, many travel trailer owners elect to store their trailer offsite during the off-season, and this can come with some cost too.

What are the benefits of a travel trailer over an RV or 5th wheel?

Travel trailers, RVs, and 5th wheels all provide outdoor and vacation enthusiasts with the ability to take more vacations (short weekend getaways) and to enjoy substantial quality time with family. That said, there are some benefits that a travel trailer will provide over an RV or 5th wheel.

Many travel trailer owners appreciate the lower upfront cost and the better fuel economy. Aside from the vast variability in gas mileage tied to the towing vehicle itself, those who tow a travel trailer can anticipate better gas mileage of at least two to three miles per gallon. Related to this, travel trailers can be towed by a wide range of vehicles, and unless you have a sedan that can’t tow, it is possible that you can haul your trailer with the car you already have. This means less need to upgrade your vehicle, such as would likely be the case if you intended to purchase a 5th wheel.

Are travel trailers safe?

When towed correctly, travel trailers are incredibly safe. The key to ensuring that your travel trailer safe, it is vital to ensure the trailer is appropriately cleaned and maintained regularly. Additionally, owners should ensure that they have the proper towing vehicle, that packing isn’t out of control, that the weight inside the trailer is properly distributed, and that drivers practice safe driving.

Is it safe to ride in a travel trailer?

Though travel trailers are largely safe, it is widely agreed that it is not safe to ride in a travel trailer. However, many states do, indeed, allow passengers to ride in travel trailers and 5th wheel trailers. In most cases, states that do allow this will require that there be some two-way communication available between the towing vehicle and individuals riding in the trailer.
What kind of vehicle do I need to tow a travel trailer?

To determine the type of vehicle you need for your travel trailer, it is crucial to consider the trailer’s width, length, and weight. Most front-wheel-drive cars and small SUVs can tow up to 1,500 pounds, which would not be enough to tow a travel trailer safely. In general, a full-sized SUV or pick-up truck will be able to tow 5,000 pounds or more.

Are travel trailers hard to tow?

As with anything that you might be looking to tow behind your vehicle, most drivers can safely tow a travel trailer with some practice. When practicing with your trailer, it is advisable to spend time learning how to correctly back up the trailer so that you will be able to maneuver it into campground sites easily. Drivers might also find that they need to make some adjustments to their mirrors or to add a lawful mirror extension or backup camera so that they can properly see to the end of the unit that they are towing.

How long will a travel trailer last?

How long your travel trailer will last is mainly dependent on the care and maintenance that you put into it. If the unit is properly maintained, the travel trailer can easily last for ten years, if not more. This will require a change of tires here and there and some general maintenance. But overall, maintaining your travel trailer doesn’t need to be overly expensive or complicated.

Are travel trailers worth it?

Determining whether or not the expense of a travel trailer is worth it is largely subjective. For outdoor enthusiasts that are ready and able to get away for long weekends and short mini-vacations, plus a more extended trip here and there, travel trailers are not only convenient but can be an incredibly cost-effective solution. Campground site rentals are generally far less expensive than staying at a hotel or resort. And, the flexibility of having a vehicle can save hundreds of dollars on air travel and car rentals.

What is the difference between travel trailer vs camping trailer?

Many people interchange camping trailers and travel trailers as one and the same. However, travel trailers are largely more comfortable and offer more of the benefits and comforts of home.

Camping trailers often have larger holding tanks and are better equipped for sites that don’t have water hookups.

If you think that you’d like to get out and do more camping, it is essential to do some homework before making a final purchase decision. Travel trailers provide many benefits and are mostly a popular choice. However, many campers prefer the size and space that an RV can provide. Other campers like the height and compromise that a 5th wheel offers. Deciding what type of camping vehicle is right for you is mostly subjective and will depend on your interests and needs. This said, if you do decide that a travel trailer is right for you, rest assured that you will be able to enjoy nights and nights of camping and hours and hours of outdoor enjoyment in the future.


Related: What Is The Difference Between A Campervan And A RV? Which Vehicle Is Right For Me?

conversion van vs rv

Mariska Lee

Mariska is a recovering attorney who gave up her professional job to discover new perspectives of life while traveling in a 2009 Ford Transit. She has been living the van life for 3 years and has not looked back since.

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