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Should I Buy a Motorhome or a Trailer?

By R. Kayne
Updated May 23, 2024
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Recreational vehicles (RVs) provide a great way to take vacations with family and friends. Motorhomes and trailers provide all of the conveniences of being at home, while just outside, nature awaits along with the relaxing enjoyment of camping in style. If you are new to RVs you might be deciding between a motorhome and trailer. The following considerations might help you decide which purchase will suit your needs best.

Advantages of a motorhome: One of the biggest advantages of a motorhome is that it can tow a boat or vehicles, adding to the fun. Family can also ride in the motorhome en route, making it easy for the kids to take a nap, get a snack, or even use the motorhome’s restroom. Like a trailer, the high profile of a motorhome will make it susceptible to gusty or high winds, but due to its extra weight it should be somewhat more stable under road-safe conditions, all else being equal. A motorhome might also fit easier in the driveway or backyard, as it’s simpler to drive a vehicle into a tight space than it is to maneuver a trailer into a tight space.

Disadvantages of a motorhome: Although motorhomes are easy to drive, some people are uncomfortable behind the wheel of a vehicle with such a wide profile. Also, when you reach your destination in a motorhome you will have to move your living space to go anywhere unless you’ve towed a vehicle for transportation. Motorhomes are also more expensive than trailers and require more mechanical upkeep. A standard auto shop can’t always work on a motorhome because RVs often require special lifts or equipment to perform certain types of maintenance.

Advantages of a trailer: Trailers are less expensive than motorhomes of equal length and amenities making them highly attractive to buyers. Trailers are cheaper because the buyer doesn’t have to pay for a motor, also resulting in less upkeep. This gives the buyer an option to buy a nicer or larger trailer for the same amount of money that would be spent on a motorhome, or to save a chunk of money to spend on those vacations. Trailers also have more living space than motorhomes because there is no need for a cab area. Finally, once you reach your destination, the tow vehicle can become a means of transportation.

Disadvantages of a trailer: Towing a trailer can be difficult, especially in high or gusty winds where the trailer can sway. A trailer also requires a strong tow vehicle with a powerful engine, and precludes towing other toys such as a boat or off-road vehicles. Also, it is illegal to ride in a trailer while it is being towed. Finally, one might have to rent a space to keep a trailer if there is not sufficient room off the street at home. Rental space can cost up to $100 US Dollars (USD) per month, or more.

If the answer still isn’t clear, consider putting a couple of weekends aside to rent a motorhome, then trailer. You might discover your own reasons for preferring one to the other. The good news is, you’ll win either way, as there’s nothing like camping or traveling cross country in style.

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Discussion Comments
By Ruggercat68 — On Jul 18, 2014

@mrwormy- I have to disagree with you a little on this. I've had a motorhome for about 5 years now and I take it everywhere I want to go. Maybe ten or twenty years ago there weren't enough places to park an RV, but that's not true these days. I usually go online and look for RV parks before I start my vacation. If I can't find one at all, I know that some 24 hour stores and travel centers will tolerate overnight RV parking.

I have a car trailer for my Range Rover, and I haven't had too many problems with stability on the highway. I think you have to invest in the right kind of trailer, though. I've rented trailers in the past, and I have to say that my motorhome feels much more like an apartment on wheels than a camper.

By mrwormy — On Jul 17, 2014

I think I would have to choose a trailer over a motorhome myself. The thought of towing a vehicle behind a large RV would always be a concern, and a trailer can be just as nice inside as an RV. The main reason I'd want a trailer would be to avoid having to rent hotel rooms everywhere I traveled. If I get tired on the road, I can just pull over and get some rest in the trailer. Instead of paying hundreds of dollars for a hotel room, I can take care of my personal hygiene needs in the trailer.

A motorhome might be better if I had some definite RV-friendly destinations in mind, but most of the time I just want to visit smaller cities on a whim.

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