When you are looking for a new RV, you have many choices to make. One of the primary choices that you do have to make is what style of RV do you buy? Should you purchase a 5th wheel, a travel trailer or a motor home? (For sake of simplicity, anything including tent trailers will fall into travel trailer – if it’s not a 5th wheel and attaches to a vehicle with a ball hitch.)
I know that I had to go through all the thoughts of which one would be best for my family, my circumstances and my budget. Let me offer you some of the ideas that came to my mind and things that came out after owning an RV.
Travel Trailers – The First Option
The first RV my wife and I owned was an old tent travel trailer. It was very old, didn’t have any options but it was a hoot! One of the biggest reasons to get into a very light weight travel trailer is to keep your costs low, but allow you to get going now. That’s probably the biggest advantage on the lower end of cost.
Now, you are not limited to a simple tent type travel trailer. You can pull a monster behind you that has all the comforts of home. But what you do need to decide and understand is that the bigger and heavier a travel trailer becomes, the more difficult it is to drive and the more vehicle you will need to pull it.
Again, the biggest advantage to a tent travel trailer is the fact that you can pull it with most home vehicles. Now watch, there is a limit to the weight a vehicle can pull and that is normally the strength of the engine and transmission of the vehicle and there is also a limit to how much a vehicle can support on the tongue and that is the rating and strength of the rear suspension of a vehicle.
On the higher end of travel trailers, if you have a truck that can support the weight and pull the load well, there are good points and bad too. The strongest reason to go with a travel trailer again is cost. Dollar for dollar, you really do get the biggest bang for the buck.
I’ve seen travel trailers that have everything for under $25,000 and the same 5th wheel is over $50,000. Why? Well, it has to do with drive ability. Travel trailers being longer and the load is controlled behind the rear wheels of the towing vehicle, it is harder to pull. Not impossible by any stretch of the imagination. But have you ever seen a person towing a trailer and the trailer is swaying?
This is what I’m talking about. You have to get experience and learn how to avoid this situation. And there will be times when you decide to pull over when the wind is against you, to avoid an accident. Travel trailers are great, but you must know and understand the risks that go with them.
5th Wheel Trailers
The 5th wheel trailer is definitely the middle child in this mix. In terms of cost and what you get, it’s right about dead center. This is one of the reasons that 5th wheels are so popular. Again though, there are things to consider.
If you wish to own a 5th wheel, you will need a truck that can appropriately pull it. This is no negotiation on this one. You must make sure that your truck is more then adequate to pull the load and support the weight. If your truck is on the edge of being able to, you’ll find yourself in more of a dangerous situation then trying to pull a travel trailer!
The big difference in pulling is that the load is centered on the rear axle of the towing vehicle. This makes a ton of difference when it comes to drive ability. Corners are easier, towing is easier and you are less affected by weather conditions like cross winds.
I’ve pulled both and the 5th wheel comes out the winner. In my opinion, if you have the appropriate vehicle to pull it with and the extra funds, I’d go 5th wheel.
Motor homes are a great option for a number of reasons. They are usually the most expensive option as well. A motor home is an RV that is driven by its own power. So there is a lot more to a motor home. Again, you have a lot of choices to make with a motorhomes.
Do you go for an A class, B class or C class? Do you go with slides?
We personally went with an A class motor home. It was a used model that offered the advantages we needed. So why the a class? For us, we didn’t have a vehicle that could pull much more then a tent trailer. We did look at tent trailers and felt that it wasn’t much of a step up from a tent.
For us to purchase a travel trailer or 5th wheel, we were looking at a solid $15,000 to $25,000 to invest into a stronger vehicle for our needs.
And in the end, we liked the flexibility of being about to pull over and enjoy a cup of coffee easily, or allow the kids to sit around the table when driving down the road. It gave us room when we were going from point A to point B. In terms of cost for running, it’s probably the highest.
All in all though, for us it offered the greatest flexibility. For example, when we were travelling home last summer from Eastern Canada, we travelled through the States and it wasn’t an issue to stop and park for the night in the highway stop offs. Now it wasn’t a pleasant park, but it was a really cheap place to park our heads for the night.
So that’s why we went with a motor home. We did shop around a lot and when we found a unit that was well taken care of, we jumped on it. One more note too. If you are undecided between an A class and a C class unit, choose the A class. The A class are normally built on proper industrial truck frames where C class are built on normal consumer grade truck frames.
Good luck and I hope this helps you somewhat on your RV adventures!