Everything You Need to Know About Choosing a Motorhome vs. Travel Trailer

You’ve made the decision. You’ve chucked your tent and are ready to kick it up a notch. Maybe you’ve already started looking at RVs for sale. Now, the question is, what are the differences between a motorhome vs. travel trailer? Which should you choose, and why?

The process starts with an honest assessment of your camp needs and budget. Try to remember the things you love and dislike about staying outdoors and take it from there. Then, get down to the nitty-gritty of what matters most. After all, there’s a good reason why nearly 25 percent of campers opt to go RVing.

Factors to Consider

Before you start shopping, there are several things you’ll need to think about to guide your search. First, there is the cost. Buying an RV is a considerable investment. New RV prices can range anywhere from $5,000 to north of $300,000. Bear in mind that you also have ongoing maintenance expenses too, whether you get a motorhome or travel trailer. They can add up over time.

Second, you have to consider your ROI or return on investment. If you camp frequently, you can justify paying more. However, if you only go out a few times a year, you should lean toward a less expensive model. It’s also a done deal if your vehicle doesn’t have the towing capacity to haul a rig. It places a lot of strain on an engine. Make sure to assess the ability of your ride to see if it is up to the task.

If not, you’ll have to research tow vehicles as well.

Finally, think about how you plan to use your RV. If it’s just a place to sleep, you may not need the other bells and whistles. On the flip side, many rigs are incredibly comfortable if you want to cook a meal, entertain, or curl up with a book on a rainy day. Consider the type of camping you do and how a motorhome or travel trailer will fit into your plans.

If you’ve had your share of leaky tents and air mattresses that don’t stay inflated, the decision to invest in an RV is a no-brainer. Both motorhomes and travel trailers have their advantages and disadvantages. For you, it’s merely a matter of weighing them up to see which type is a better fit for your lifestyle.

Pros and Cons of a Motorhome

Motorhomes come in several types which can have a significant impact on your choice. The largest and most luxurious are Class A models with either a gas or diesel engine. They typically include all the amenities you would find with a hotel room, such as a bathroom, shower, and refrigerator. Many have a full kitchen too.

Positive Points

The biggest things going for a motorhome are comfort and flexibility. The larger living quarters are often the dealmaker point. You can drive all day without having to stop if you want to grab a quick bite or your traveling companion wants to take a nap. Everything is there where you need it.

Motorhomes are much easier to set up when you get to camp. They’re also quicker to tear down if you want to do some sightseeing. Unhook the lines and unplug, and you’re on your way. That’s an advantage if you want to get off the grid and go boondocking. You can get the privacy you need even if you’re parked in the nearest Walmart lot.

You also have the option of towing an everyday driver with a motorhome. It’ll make it easier to get around and save you some money on fuel. While it will add to your upfront cost, a trailer can pay for itself in the long run.


Perhaps the primary disadvantage of a motorhome rests with the cost. You’ll pay a lot more upfront for this type of rig versus a travel trailer. After all, you’re buying both an RV and a vehicle. That also means your ongoing costs are higher too. You’ll have to maintain the engine, appliances, and other RV components. Then, there is insurance and financing.

All of these things won’t necessarily put it in the dealbreaker category—as long as you use it and get your money’s worth out of it.

Pros and Cons of a Travel Trailer

A travel trailer is a towable RV. They come in a variety of styles, weights, and lengths. You attach them to your vehicle with a hitch. Of course, you need to have something capable of hauling your rig and the necessary components.

Advantages of a Travel Trailer

The main point in its favor becomes evident once you start researching travel trailer prices. They are a fraction of the cost of a motorhome. If you’re on the fence about your commitment to RVing, they are a wiser investment. It won’t hurt as much if you end up selling it because you won’t have lost as much.

The other thing to consider is its riff on flexibility. You can hitch it up and go for short weekend trips. When you get to the campground, you’ll have a vehicle to drive around and sightsee. You won’t have to hook it up and tear it down to go to town for groceries.

Your ongoing maintenance costs are also considerably cheaper than a motorhome without the need to keep the engine in good repair. If something goes awry, the chances are you can take care of it yourself.

Another advantage exists with selection. You’ll likely find over five times the choices when shopping for a travel trailer versus a motorhome. There are numerous floor plans, features, and decor options. You can opt to go retro with a 1950s look.  How about a slide-out outdoor kitchen or screen door? Advances in technology have made campers quieter, safer, and more comfortable.

That means you can find exactly what you want in an RV. You can go with the bare minimum of just a place to sleep with a teardrop model. Luxury options also exist if you’re jonesing for all the comforts of home. The chances are you’ll have more problems narrowing down your choices to home in on a favorite rig.

Disadvantages of a Travel Trailer

There are some downsides to going this route too. The glaring con is driving. Getting used to towing an RV takes some practice. It’s not for the faint of heart, especially if you’re hauling a larger rig. You’ll also have to install a brake controller to sync stopping between your vehicle and the trailer. The safety factor is definitely in the motorhome’s court for this factor.

Then, there’s fuel.

You can expect slightly worse gas mileage towing a trailer than you’d get with a motorhome. You might not be able to get it up to speed all the time, either. That point will become quite clear the first time you drive on a hilly stretch of road. Its maneuverability will be evident too when you try to back it into a camping spot.

Setting up camp is a bit more involved with a travel trailer, even if you’re not tearing it down during your trip. Slides complicate the process too, with more things you have to do. You must secure everything before you leave to avoid any nasty surprises when you get home. In a motorhome, you can stop that glass of milk from spilling before it hits the floor.

Choosing an RV is an exciting time. It’s filled with possibilities and dreams of many happy vacations and adventures. Deciding whether to get a motorhome vs. travel trailer is an essential task that can make or break your trips. That’s why considering your commitment and budget are so critical. No matter which one you buy, you’ll find the joy that many have discovered by taking to the road.