RV Motorhome vs. RV Travel Trailers: There's a Difference

RV Motorhome vs. RV Travel Trailers: There's a Difference

Posted 08.02.2012 in Articles by Neil-Denny

Motorhome? Travel Trailer? You may be thinking "to-may-to, to-mah-to." In reality, the differences of each can prove huge depending on your lifestyle and preferences. Knowing the advantages and disadvantages of owning either a motorhome or a travel trailer before you shop for an RV can save you time and money. 

Part automobile part domicile, the motorhome is so-called because it's powered by its own motor and rests on its own chassis, either a van chassis or a commerical bus chassis, as opposed to being hitched onto a separate vehicle. The motorhome combines vehicle and living quarters into one neat package. This setup makes it convenient for bathroom breaks on the road, and gives you and all your passengers easy access to your living space if ever you need to make a stop due to harmful weather conditions.

On the other side of the spectrum we have the towable trailers. Commonly referred to as towables, the trailer doesn't run on its own motor. Rather, the trailer must be hitched onto a vehicle with enough power and torque to haul the extra load. Trailers come in a greater variety than motorhomes, making it more likely to find a trailer that fits your lifestyle and budget. The “travel trailer” for example is towed completely behind the tow vehicle, requiring special equipment to control the sway of the towable. Another type of towable is the “fifth-wheel,” a configuration that is designed to extend over the bed of a pickup truck. Separating the living space from the vehicle has its share of benefits. Owners can easily detach their towing vehicle to make short excursions or take care of repairs without bringing the whole unit.

While both motorhome and towable offer their own set of advantages, they also have their own shortcomings. Knowing their flaws may help you decide which model is right for you. 

Motorhomes are usually more expensive than towables, even with the tow vehicle factored into the cost. Taking the motorhome to a repair shop can mean bad news for full-timers, since living accommodations will be temporarily unavailable. When towing a secondary vehicle, the motorhome isn't able to reverse. Considering the value of the motor, the motorhome also depreciates more quickly than the towable trailer.

On the other hand, hauling a towable can make parking difficult. While the vehicle is in motion, non-drivers aren't legally allowed to move around in the cabin of a trailer. Since towables require a towing vehicle with the necessary power and torque, your secondary vehicle will most likely be less comfortable and less convenient to drive around than one towed by a motorhome. Although less expensive than a motorhome, monthly payments tend to be higher for travel trailers.

While the motorhome and the towable are birds of a feather, a closer look will reveal they are two different species of RV. Combining the automobile and the living space versus separating them offers two unique owner experiences. Put these two toe-to-toe and they are completely different tow-to-tow, in terms of hitching equipment and secondary vehicle. Before you make your way to the RV dealer, consider the small yet significant differences between the motorhome and the towable trailer, and you'll go home a happy camper.


Image (CC) .Larry Page

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