Travel Trailers

Travel Trailers seem to come in every shape and size these days. 

 

There are: long ones, short ones, ones that have a teardrop shape, the classic 'silver bullet' Airstreams, lightweight ones, ultra light ones, hybrids that are a combination of hard sides and soft sides, hard side telescoping ones that have a lower profile for towing, economical ones, luxurious ones, and ones that haul your 'toys.'  In other words, there's a travel trailer to meet nearly everyone's needs. 

When looking at travel trailers keep in mind that, in many cases, a 30 foot trailer is a trailer that is 30 feet when both the trailer itself and the front hitch are measured together.  A 30 foot trailer may only have 27 feet of usable living space.  Ask questions and look at the printed specifications when doing your shopping so you know what you will be getting.  To be absolutely sure of the dimensions, take along a measuring tape and measure the length, width, and height of the travel trailer yourself – especially if the space in your driveway or storage area is limited.

What Are the Disadvantages to Owning a Travel Trailer

 

Just like any other type of camper or RV, there are some things about travel trailers that many people don't like. 

The biggest complaint?  There is a tendency for travel trailers to sway when they are being towed.  Because they are pulled using a rear hitch versus the truck bed hitch used with fifth wheels, they are not as stable. 

To best deal with this problem, purchase an anti-sway bar or hitch and don't skimp on the quality.  Hensley Arrow and PullRite are the two brands of anti-sway hitches I hear recommended most often. 

The other complaint I hear most often is that there is no access to the travel trailer while it's being towed.  Unlike a Class A, B, or C motorhome that gives a person access to the living space including the bathroom and refrigerator, you have to pull over in a safe place before entering the interior of a travel trailer. 

I'm not saying that owning a travel trailer is going to be a bad experience.  Millions of people own travel trailers and are very happy with them.  Just make sure you have a vehicle capable of towing the travel trailer, a good hitch, and the ability to be able to wait until you get to the nearest rest stop or gas station to use a bathroom.

Sleeping Capacity

sleeping areaDepending on the size and model, travel trailers can sleep 2-8 people comfortably although air mattresses on the floor can add to that number.  Where are the sleeping areas commonly found?  Some travel trailers have a bunk bed style sleeping area on one end of the camper that can easily accommodate three people or up to six kids if they are smaller and don't mind sleeping two to a bunk. 

Slide-outs

Slideouts expand the living area inside a camper and are becoming very popular options.  They only extend out 1-2 feet but the difference they made in interior spaciousness is surprising.  They do add to the cost and the weight of a travel trailer though.

Some narrow campsites may not accommodate a travel trailer that has slide-outs.  If you purchase a travel with slide-outs (travel trailers with 2-3 slide-outs are very popular), pay close attention to campsite sizes when making reservations.  Also, try to purchase travel trailer that is still usable with the slide-outs not extended.  It wouldn't be much fun to get to a campsite, realize the slide-out(s) can't be extended and have a model that makes access to the bathroom impossible when the slide is in. 

Towing

towing hitchIf you go to a camper/RV dealership, the first question the salesperson will almost always ask when you state you want to purchase a travel trailer is "What type of tow vehicle do you have?" That's because unless you are willing to incur the expense of a different vehicle to accommodate the weight the of the travel trailer you want to purchase, the tow vehicle you currently have will dictate the size and weight travel trailer you can get. 

The dealerships have information on the towing capacities of nearly any vehicle so you don't have to search that information out beforehand if you don't want to but I recommend that people do because it's very disappointing to get to a dealership, find the travel trailer of your dreams that fits into your budget, and then find out that your vehicle doesn't have enough towing capacity to tow it. 

Costs

The average person spends around $15,000 on a new travel trailer, but the larger more luxurious models rival 5th wheels in cost with their price tags being upwards of $50,000 when they are fully loaded. 

Size

Travel trailers commonly range from 14 feet to 36 feet long.  It's a pretty big range but that's because there is a big range of choices.

Amenities

Some of the common amenities found in travel trailers are listed below.  Keep in mind that because there is such a large range of sizes and styles of travel trailers, some of the amenities listed below are not going to be available on all travel trailers; while others will be available as optional equipment. 

  • Air conditioning
  • Dehumidifier
  • Tub and shower
  • Porcelain toilet
  • Microwave oven
  • Convection microwave oven
  • Refrigerator with ice maker
  • Swivel Rockers
  • Recliners
  • Leather furniture
  • Free standing dinette
  • Hide-A-Bed sofa
  • Spice rack and knife rack
  • Raised panel cabinets
  • Cherry cabinetry
  • Solid surface kitchen countertops
  • Roll out pantry
  • Water filtration system in kitchen
  • Skylight
  • Innerspring mattress on bed
  • Flat screen television
  • Plank flooring
  • AM/FM/DVD stereo system
  • Satellite radio
  • LCD TV
  • Theater system
  • Internet hookup
  • Satellite television hookup
  • Telephone jacks
  • Built in safe
  • Washer/Dryer
  • Cedar lined bedroom wardrobe
  • Exterior stove or barbeque grill
  • Dual LP tanks
  • Tinted safety glass windows
  • Security lights
  • Heated enclosed underbelly
  • Hitch light
  • Exterior stereo speakers
  • Spare Tire
  • Remote ready generator
  • Solar charging system
  • Cold weather insulation package
  • Outside storage areas
  • Stabilizing jacks
  • Rear Ladder
  • Slide-outs
  • Deep cycle batteries
  • Awning
  • Bay window
  • Fire extinguisher
  • Deadbolt locks
  • GFI protected outlets
  • LP gas detector  

THE DIFFERENT TYPES OF TRAVEL TRAILERS  

Conventional Travel Trailers

sydney outbackConventional travel trailers were the first type of travel trailer to be manufactured and Airstream was the first manufacturer.  They made the first "silver bullet" style Airstream travel trailer over 70 years ago and still produce travel trailers with their signature sleek silver skin although there have been many updates over the years. 

Conventional travel trailers are roomy and spacious, with all the comforts of home. Kitchens with separate dining areas, island workstations, three or four burner stoves, a microwave, and ample countertop space are common.  The bathroom and shower areas are large enough to keep people from feeling claustrophobic in them. 

Slideouts are probably the single most popular "extra" feature because they add a lot of living space to the interior of the trailer and giving them a very spacious feeling.

Conventional travel trailers are the heaviest travel trailers though and require a mid-size to heavy duty towing vehicle.  They are usually the most expensive of the travel trailers (though the telescoping travel trailers can be more expensive than the conventional).

Lightweight Ultra Light Travel Trailers

surveyor ultralight travel trailer

Because of the popularity of SUV’s, many manufacturers now offer lightweight and ultra-light travel trailers.  They are attractive to many RV purchasers because the majority of the trailers in these categories can be pulled by SUV’s, minivans, or medium-sized trucks. 

Ultra light travel trailer are, just like their name implies, less heavy versions of conventional travel trailers.  How do the manufacturers manage to make a lightweight or ultra light travel trailer that is still sturdy?  The use of aluminum in the frame construction is usually a key factor because aluminum is lightweight yet strong.  Some manufacturers also utilize the features of a hybrid travel trailers by having slide out soft sided beds to help keep the weight down.  Lightweight and ultra lightweight travel trailers are also smaller than most conventional travel trailers. 

Even though they are smaller and lighter than their conventional counterparts, they still come with a full array of amenities inside with cooking, dining, entertainment, sleeping, and bathroom facilities (in most models).

Hybrid Travel Trailers

 stampede hybrid travel trailerBecause the biggest obstacle to purchasing a travel trailer is often not having a big enough tow vehicle, travel trailer manufacturers have found several weights to "lighten up" travel trailers so they are not heavy.  Hybrid trailers are one of the results.  They are hard sided campers with soft sided slide out beds (usually one or two). 

They are great travel trailers for families because the slide out beds create extra sleeping areas. 

Toy Hauler Travel Trailers

keystone toy haulerToy haulers are the fastest growing segment of the travel trailer industry.  A toy hauler is part living quarters and part "toy" storage (and when I say toys I mean "toys" for grown-ups like 4-wheelers, snowmobiles, dirt bikes, etc.).  Toy hauler travel trailers tend to have industrial or sporty looking living interiors.  Many have a wall to separate the living area from the storage area with a door for access in between.  The storage area can serve a dual purpose with pull down beds and seating area to use when the "toys" are outside or not being used on the current trip. 

Even though part of the interior is used for toy storage, the space in the rest of the travel trailer is put to good use with kitchen, sleeping, bathroom, and entertainment areas.  

Toy hauler travel trailers are definitely a specialty use type of travel trailer.  There's no need to consider purchasing one if pedal bicycles are the only extra pieces of equipment you take when camping.  In that case, installing a bike rack on your tow vehicle or camper is your best bet. 

If you want to learn more about toy haulers, be sure to read our complete guide to toy haulers.

Telescoping Travel Trailers

hilo telescoping  hilo telescoping closed

A type of hybrid travel trailer, telescoping trailers fold down for easier, lighter weight, low profile towing.  At the campground, they are quick and easy to set up and have hard sides unlike popup campers which have soft sides. 

How quick can they be set up?  TrailManor is a popular manufacturer of telescoping travel trailers.  They say their travel trailers can be set up with the push of a button in two minutes.  And, they can be opened or closed in the rain because it's completely self enclosed and none of the interior spaces are exposed to the elements during the set up and take down process.

Hi-Lo is another popular manufacturer of telescoping travel trailers. 

The downside of telescoping travel trailers is that their are expensive for their size because of the mechanical systems used for raising and lowering them.

Teardrop Travel Trailers

teardrop trailer

Teardrop travel trailers are small, have distinctive teardrop shape, are lightweight which makes them a good travel trailer for someone who doesn't have a heavy duty tow vehicle.  The most common setup in a teardrop is the sleeping area inside the camper and the cooking area outside underneath the back "hatch" area.  They don't typically have any bathroom facilities. 

Teardrop trailers first appeared in the 1930's and it was common for people to build their own with plans published in Popular Mechanics magazine.  Today, a popular activity is for people to buy old teardrop campers and restore them. 

There are several teardrop camping trailer manufacturers in the United States.  For a more detailed description of teardrop trailers and for a listing of teardrop trailer manufacturers, read our guide to teardrop trailers.

Manufacturers of Travel Trailers

Adventure Manufacturing: manufacturer of the Riverside, Timberlodge, Wedge, RPM, and Sky travel trailers.  Website: http://www.adventuremfg.com/

Aero Coach: manufacturer of the Aerolite and Cub travel trailers.  Website: http://www.aerocoachinc.com/

Airstream: manufacturer of the Bambi, International, Safari, and Classic travel trailers.  Website: http://www.airstream.com/

Bigfoot Industries: manufacturer of the 2500 and 3000 series travel trailers.  Website: http://www.bigfootrv.com/

Burro Travel Trailers: manufacturer of the Burro travel trailer.  Website: http://www.burrotrailers.com/

Camp-Inn: manufacturer of several teardrop travel trailers.  Website: http://home.centurytel.net/edevold/

Casita Travel Trailers: manufacturer of the Casita travel trailer.  Website: http://www.casitatraveltrailers.com/

Chalet RV: manufacturer of the Takena travel trailer and the Chalet a-frame style camper.  Website: http://www.chaletrv.com/

Coachmen RV: manufacturer of  Captiva, Spirit of America, and Capri travel trailers.  Website: http://www.coachmenrv.com/

Coromal Caravans (Australia - division of Fleetwood Corporation): manufacturer of the Princeton and Lifestyle travel trailers.  Website: http://www.coromal.com.au/

Cozy Cruiser: manufacturer of teardrop travel trailers.  Website: http://www.cozycruiser.com/

Crossroads RV: manufacturer of the Paradise Pointe, Cruiser, Sunset Trail, Zinger, CrossForce, and CrossFire travel trailers.  Website: http://www.crossroadsrv.com/

Cruiser RV: manufacturer of the Fun Finder X series travel trailers.  Website:  http://www.cruiserrv.com/

Dodge Recreational Vehicles (division of Monaco Coach Corporation): manufacturer of the D26QBS and D30WBSS travel trailers. Website: http://www.dodgerv.com/

Duster Camper: a custom trailer conversion company, specializing in trailer conversions for horsemen, motorcyclist and race car owners. Website: http://www.dustercamper.com/index.htm

Dutchmen (division of Thor Industries): manufacturer of Dutchmen, Aerolite, Colorado, Adirondack, Cub, Denail, ECO, Four Winds, Kodiak, North Shore, N'Tense, T@B, Tundra, Victory Lane, Wild Thing, Winners Circle, Zoom, and T@DA travel trailers: Website: http://www.dutchmenmfg.com/

Extreme RVs: manufacturer of Sportsmaster, Extreme, Road Ranger, Mega-Lite, Monterey, and Companion travel trailers.  Website: http://www.extremervs.com/

Fleetwood: manufacturer of: Terry, Prowler, Dakota, Lynx, Yukon, Mallard, Pioneer, Wilderness, Orbit, Pegasus, Nitrous Hyperlite and Redline travel trailers.  Website: http://www.fleetwoodrv.com/

Forest River: manufacturer of All American Sport, Cardinal, Cherokee, Salem, Sandpiper, Sierra, Wildcat, Wildwood, Work and Play, Flagstaff, Rockwood, Surveyor, Cherokee, Greywolf, Roo, Shamrock, and Surveyor travel trailers.  Website: http://www.forestriverinc.com/

Four Winds: manufacturer of the Four Winds travel trailers. Website: http://www.4winds-rv.com/

Franklin Coach: manufacturer of travel trailers with several floor plan options.  Website: http://www.franklincoachrv.com/

Frontier RV: manufacturer of the Explorer and Aspen travel trailers.  Website: http://www.frontierrv.com/

General Coach & General Coach West (Canada - both a division of Thor Industries): manufacturer of the Phantom, Citation/Chateau, and Corsair travel trailers.  Websites: http://www.generalcoach.on.ca/ & http://www.generalcoach.bc.ca/

Gulf Stream: manufacturer of Canyon Trail, Emerald Bay, Mako, Prairie Schooner, Yellowstone, AmeriLite, Conquest, Innsbruck,  Kingsport, Gulf Breeze, Mini SL, Streamlite, Sidetrak, Track & Trail, and G-Force Full Capacity travel trailers.  Website: http://www.gulfstreamcoach.com/

Heartland Recreational Vehicles: manufacturer of the Cyclone, Razor, North Trail, Sundance, and Trail Runner travel trailers.  Website: http://www.heartlandrvs.com/

Hi-Lo: manufacturer of the Towlite and Classic series telescoping travel trailers.  Website: http://www.hilotrailer.com/

Holiday Rambler (division of Monaco Coach Corporation): manufacturer of Presidential, Savoy, Aluma-Lite and Black Diamond travel trailers.  Website: http://www.holidayrambler.com/

Hy-Line: manufacturer of the Pine Creek travel trailer.  Website: http://www.hylinetrailers.com/

Jayco: manufacturer of: Jay Flight, Jay Feather, Eagle, and Octane ZX travel trailers.  Website: http://www.jayco.com/

K & D Custom Coach: builder of custom RV's including travel trailers.  Website: http://kdspecialtyvehicles.com/

Keystone RV: manufacturer of the Hideout, Hornet, Passport, Summerland, Sydney, Mountaineer, Outback, Springdale, Sprinter, Cougar, Laredo, and VR1 travel trailers.  Website: http://www.keystonerv.com

Komfort Corporation (division of Thor Industries): manufacturer of Komfort, Trailblazer, and Kampsite by Komfort travel trailers.  Website: http://www.komfort-rv.com/

Little Guy: manufacturer of teardrop travel trailers.  Website: http://www.golittleguy.com/cms/

McKenzie Towables(division of Monaco Coach Corporation): manufacturer of Dune Seeker, Starwood, and Starlite travel trailers.  Website:  http://www.mckenzierv.com/

Missouri Teardrops:  manufacturer of teardrop travel trailers.  Website: http://www.missouriteardrops.com/

New Horizons: manufacturer of several travel trailers.  Website: http://www.horizonsrv.com/

Northwood Manufacturing: manufacturer of the Arctic Fox, Nash, and Desert Fox travel trailers.  Website: http://www.northwoodmfg.com/

Outlaw Conversions: specializes in horse van conversions to create custom living spaces.  Website: http://www.outlawconversions.com/

Pacific Coachworks: manufacturer of travel trailers in several floor plans.  Website: http://www.pacificcoachworks.com/

Palomino: manufacturer of the Gazelle, Puma, Stampede, and Thoroughbred travel trailers.  Website:http://www.palominorv.com/

Pilgrim International: manufactuer of Pilgrim, Legends,  and Cirrus travel trailers.  Website: http://www.pilgrimintl.com/

R-Vision (division of Monaco Coach Corporation): manufacturer of the Trail-Bay, R-Wagon,  Bantam Flier, Traili-Cruiser, Trail-Lite, Trail-Sport, Max-Lite, Max Sport, Boogie Box, Trail-Lite Crossover, Trail-Bay V-Series and Super Sport travel trailers.  Website: http://www.trail-lite.com/index.asp

Rage'n: manufacturer of Xtra-Lite and Wide Body toy hauler travel trailers.  Website: http://www.rageninc.com/

Recreation by Design: manufacturer of custom designed travel trailers.  Website: www.recreationbydesign.com/

Showtime Conversions: does custom conversions.  Website: www.showtimeconversions.com/

Skyline Recreational Vehicles: manufacturer of the Nomad, Aljo, Layton, Seaview, Weekender, Rampage, Freestyle, Trailrider, and Malibu travel trailers.  Website: http://www.skylinerv.com/

Space Craft Mfg: manufactuer of travel trailers. Website: http://www.showtimeconversions.com/

Stable Living Conversions: specializes in custom trailer conversions.  Website: www.stableliving.com/

Starcraft RV: manufacturer of Antigua, Travel Star, Starcraft, Aruba LITE, Homestead LITE, and Star Stream travel trailers.  Website: http://www.starcraftrv.com/

Sun Valley Inc: manufactuer of the Road Runner and X-treme travel trailers.  Website:  www.sunvalleyinc.com

Sunline Coach: manufacturer of the Solaris, Tran-Sport, Que, and Advancer travel trailers.  Note: the Advancer is a wheelchair accessible travel trailer.  Website:  http://www.sunlinerv.com/

Sunnybrook RV: manufacturer of the Sunset Creek travel trailer. Website: www.sunnybrookrv.com

SunRay Recreational Vehicles: manufacturer of Smokey and Smokey Cub travel trailers.  Website: www.sunrayrv.com/

Thor America: manufacturer of the Chateau and Citation travel trailers.  Website: http://www.thoramerica-rv.com/

Trail Manor: manufacturer of the Trail Manor expandable travel trailer.  Website: http://trailmanor.com/

Trillium Trailers: manufacturer of the Outback lightweight travel trailer.  Website: http://www.trilliumtrailers.com/

Triple E (Canada): manufacturer of the Topaz travel trailer.  Website: http://www.tripleerv.com/

Weekend Warrior Trailers: manufacturer of toy hauler travel trailers.  Website: http://www.a1warriortrailers.com/

Zoom RV (by Aerolite): manufacturer of the Zoom travel trailer.  Website: http://www.zoom-rv.com/

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