Before we bought our first RV, we couldn’t decide between a motorhome and a travel trailer. We did lots of research and talking with owners of both. Now that we have owned both, I would like to share with you a few pros and cons for both to help you decide what is best for your families needs.
I have broken down my thoughts into five areas that should be considered before buying.
The most important thing to consider first is cost. How much do you want to spend? Do you want to look for one that is new or used?
A used travel trailer can be very affordable and is probably the most common way people get into the RV world. We took this route when we first began RV-ing. We didn’t want to spend much because we didn’t know how much we would use it.
Just a little heads up when looking used, remember this is a home on wheels. There is plumbing, electrical, gas, etc. In the beginning, I tried to talk my husband into buying a very sketchy and cheap used trailer that we could give a “face-lift”. After many discussions and seeing the nightmares others had in renovating their RV and understanding everything that needs to be maintained and cared for in an RV, I came to my senses. I realized that it was easier said than done. If you can buy a used trailer from someone you know, that is an ideal situation. Then you know it has been taken care of, and you should have very little to repair.
A motorhome is the most costly option; unless you purchase a new rig to haul a new travel trailer, then the cost is almost the same. Depending on which kind of motorhome you are looking. A motorhome cost can range anywhere from $60,000 to $1 million+ (Newmar).
A perk to hauling a trailer is that you always park it and have a vehicle to travel around exploring. (For example, going to Yellowstone; Most motorhomes will not be able to find a parking spot in all the little parking lots around the park. So if you are motorhoming, you will need to haul a “toad” for exploring the park.)
The downfall of hauling a trailer is just that; you are hauling a trailer. Fuel Mileage isn’t any better than a motorhome. When you get a strong cross-wind, it can cause the trailer to sway behind your vehicle even with sway-bars. You are also stressing your shocks, brakes, and suspension, which we ended up replacing our air-ride suspension on our Yukon XL three times and installed airbags in the shocks.
If you are the type that starts to sweat when you think about hauling a trailer, maybe a motorhome is best for you. A Class B (van) is small enough that you can go pretty much anywhere. A Class C motorhome will handle very similarly to a large SUV. But if you go with a large Class C or Class A like us, then your navigation is limited, and you’ll need to haul a “toad” to most places you go.
Traveling with a trailer is just like any road trip. Most states don’t allow anyone in the trailer while in motion (nor would we ever recommend anyone to be in it while driving). So you will be buckled up just like usual and traveling in your vehicle just as you always do, you still have to stop for restroom brakes and food prep.
I have to admit that when it comes to traveling, a motorhome wins this category every time. The comfort of travel is the best in the motorhome. Passengers can play games or build legos at the table. They can lay down on a bed and read a book or nap (check state laws and use your best judgment). You can make a meal in the kitchen or even take a bathroom break without stopping at a questionable rest stop. One thing that we love is that the co-pilot captain seat is allowed to have young passengers sit in it. Our younger kids love to take turns sitting in the “big seat” and looking out the giant windshield.
It is so wonderful to be able to prepare a healthy meal while on the road. I can create a home-cooked meal while we put miles behind us. I can either cook the meal on our stove top (which I try to do when we are on straight flat roads, outside city limits) or use our convection oven microwave.
Motorhome travel tip . . . As we have done quite a bit of traveling, I have leanred that these granite countertops do look nice, but cups and plates can easily “walk off” of them as we travel down the road. Having a towel to layout on the table or countertop and then placing the dishes on that will remove the problem of “walking” dishes. I was so happy when I recieved these towels from Lemon Drops & Lilies. They match our RV interior perfectly and might look too nice to be camping with. On the other hand, the fringe on the end of the towels adds a touch of rustic, so they are perfect for our glamping setup. Head on over to check out these towels or anything on Lemon Drops & Lilies and type in code MOOSE10 at check out to receive 10% off on anything in the shop.
The thing that does kill us is that the only A/C you have is the driver’s ones in the front. The central A/C units on the motorhome will not run off the motor. You have to turn on the generator to run them. This results in a lot more fuel consumption if you are traveling on a hot day.
When you finally get to your spot, set up with a trailer often takes much longer than with a motorhome. Plan on about 45 minutes to get all set up, if you don’t have an automatic leveling kit. You have to unhitch it from the vehicle. Put down all the feet and then level the trailer. The fastest part of the setup with a trailer is putting out the slides.
The motorhome wins in this category too. You pull into your spot, push the self-leveling button to put down all the feet, and then push the button on each slide-out to finish your setup. It takes less than 5 minutes.
I love the cleanup aspect of having a trailer. The trailer can get all clean and ready for storage before you even leave your campsite. So once you get home, all you have to do is take in the luggage and store your trailer. I love this aspect of a camping trailer.
Getting travel-ready will take just as long, if not longer, than setup did. You will need to bring up all the feet, bring in the slides, hook up to your vehicle, and store camping chairs and possible campfire stoves. You will need to have your family load up and buckle up in the car.
Unfortunately, when it comes to cleaning up the motorhome, you can’t get any clean up done until after you get home from your campsite. During the travel home, you will still be roaming around and lounging in the motorhome, beds will get messed up while traveling, the kitchen will get used, and bathrooms will become occupied. Something nice about the motorhome clean up is that you can wash all of your dishes while on the road. For me, this is wonderful. I hate to be stuck inside the motorhome doing dishes while everyone else is out hiking and exploring.
Luckily to leave the campsite only takes a few minutes. You don’t even need to wake your family. They can all remain in bed, and you can quickly get an early start without disrupting anyone.
Disclosure: Bear in mind that some of the links in this post are affiliate links and if you go through them to make a purchase I will earn a commission. Keep in mind that I link these companies and their products because of their quality and not because of the commission I receive from your purchases. The decision is yours, and whether or not you decide to buy something is completely up to you.