ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel

How To Choose Between Camper Trailers And Motor Homes

Updated on April 1, 2013
Randy Godwin profile image

Randy is a life long lover of the outdoors and especially camping. This article is intended to help the RVer save money and time on repairs.


The Camping Evolution

Giving Up the Tent 

Tent camping has been, and always will be, a wonderful opportunity to enjoy the great national and state parks scattered all across America. Whether you backpack out into the wilderness or set up at a campground, a tent still serves the same purpose it did when our ancestors used animal skins as a shelter from the elements. But Rv’s are not new. The first ones were wagons used for sleeping in and storing the essentials. The Conestoga wagon was the settler’s Rv of the day.

But there comes a time when one’s age and physical condition dictates a change in order to continue to enjoy camping outdoors. The simple fact is there is no tents which one can enjoy camping in when the weather is bad. I don’t mean a few showers or a cool snap, as these can be dealt with. But severe thunderstorms and winds can cause quite a bit of discomfort for old, as well as, young camping aficionados.

Camping purists frown on motor homes and camper trailers of course, but that’s why they call them purists. There’s one in every crowd, as the saying goes, but camping comfortably is not a sin and in fact, it beats hell out of a tent. It’s great to wake up without your back hurting and no sand or ants in the bed. Everything is in its place in the drawers and cabinets and don’t have to be loaded up again every time you decide to go camping.

The biggest mistake most people make when purchasing a motor home or camper trailer is buying one of the wrong size or type. This mistake can be costly as well as disappointing. There are a few tips for helping you decide which type and size motor home or camper trailer will suit your needs.

You Don't Have To "Rough It"

Modern camper trailer
Modern camper trailer
!959 Serro Scotty
!959 Serro Scotty

What Can You Afford?

Your Budget

For those of you are rich, you can just skip over this part and buy the biggest unit you choose. For the rest of us, we have to make wise choices in order to enjoy life so here goes. Look at this investment as if you were buying a home. Not the same of course, but there are many similarities. The number of people expecting to be sheltered at one time in the motor home or camper trailer is considered as beds just like in your home. Sure, it’s always crowded in any camping unit if more than two people are staying together, but this is part of the experience. So, view the particular unit with this in mind.

Do not overlook used rv’s or camper trailers. As stated earlier, some people buy a camper and find out it is either too big or too small and end up trading it in for another unit. The price for these “hardly used” units will often be much lower than a new similar model so look around before buying a new unit.

Another consideration is operating expenses. Motor homes are notorious gas guzzlers and large camper trailers require a large vehicle to tow them efficiently. Anytime you tow a heavy trailer of any kind it requires lots of fuel. The bigger the camper trailer, the more it costs to tow it to the campground. And don’t forget storage, you have to keep the unit someplace. So unless you have a large yard you may have to pay storage fees to avoid the neighbors complaining or because of zoning laws.

Repairs and maintenance can run into quite a bit of money on some motor homes or camper trailers. Some motor homes have engines which are hard to access when a belt breaks or an alternator goes out. You do not simply raise the hood to fix these things. Don’t forget brake repair, A/C maintenance and the list goes on and on. All motor homes and camper trailers require maintenance, so don’t forget to consider this before you make your decision on the unit for you.

Small Camper Trailers

New Retro Small Tow Campers
New Retro Small Tow Campers

Driving A Big Rig

                                                  Motor Homes : Pros and Cons     

The motor home industry has come a long way since the early days of the old boxy Winnebago campers.  Today, you can spend a million dollars or more on a motor home if you so desire.  There are special motor home parks for these behemoths to visit across America.  But most of us cannot afford these beauties with their hot tubs and a tow package enabling you to pull a Porsche for gadding about.  Which brings us to what could be a con, depending on you of course.  Having another vehicle along is essential if you have a motor home.  It is too much trouble to take the motor home into town every time you need something.  So figure on driving or towing another vehicle.

Unless you have driven a large vehicle before you must learn about the craft.  A 38 foot motor home does not corner like the family car.  The acceleration is slower and the visibility is different also.  I would suggest you test drive any prospective purchase to see how it handles and how easy it is to back up and park.  Don’t forget this unit is much taller than most trucks.  There have been many  instances of motor home drivers tearing the canopies off of drive thru restaurants and even a few banks.

Check out the engine compartment too.  Is it easy to get to the maintenance parts of the engine?  This could make a huge difference if a mechanical problem presents itself on your trip.  It also pays to check the availability of parts for the prospective motor home.  Some use very expensive, hard to find, parts while other use standard parts found at most auto parts stores.  Again, this is an important difference.  

There are many great motor homes to choose from so look carefully before you buy and you will be assured of many happy trips for you and your family.  These motor homes are wonderfully supplied with all the comforts of home and are the very best camping units available if you can afford them.

Going With The Tow

                                                Camping Trailers : Pros and Cons 

For most of us, the camper trailer is the most convenient and economical camping unit to use when enjoying the great outdoors.  These wonderful camping units come in many sizes and shapes which gives a prospective buyer a wide variety of choices to decided from.  Like the motor homes, they can be very expensive but most are affordable because of the different sizes made. 

Buying a camper trailer allow the owner to tow a small camper with the family car or pick-up.  This is a good selling point for many people as they do not need the added expense of buying a large truck.  But larger camper trailers, such as Airstream and Avion models, require a heavier, stronger vehicle in order to maintain safe driving practices.

Since there is no engine or transmission to maintain on a camper trailer, you do not have to worry about taking along another vehicle to get around in and the engine maintenance is non-existent.  You still have brakes to maintain as well as tires, but this is true on any road unit.  There is another advantage camper trailers have over motor homes and this is being able to drop the unit if a flat tire or wheel bearing causes problems.   For many campers this is the deciding point when making the final decision. 

Structural maintenance also tends to be less expensive on camper trailers vs. motor homes.  Windows, doors, and other parts can be found easier for camper trailers as a rule.  Even the furniture is easier replaced on a camper trailer as most motor home furniture is custom made for the particular unit.  So as far as maintenance and repairs are concerned, the camper trailer seems to suit the majority of us campers for the needs we require.

Making The Choice

                                                                Do Your Stuff           

Although I haven’t listed everything different between motor homes and camper trailers, I hope this article gives you insight into which type of camping unit would suit you the best.  You may even have reasons of your own not mentioned here.  Feel free to comment at the bottom of the article if you have any information not mentioned here.  Happy camping!


    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment

    • habee profile image

      Holle Abee 7 years ago from Georgia

      Thumbs up, Randy! Great article. This should help potential buyers make a decision - you've offered food for thought.

      We're headed to Lakeview - Shannon and Jade are playing Mary and Joseph, and Cameron is baby Jesus. I told Beth we might stop by afterwards, if it's not too late.

    • Randy Godwin profile image

      Randy Godwin 7 years ago from Southern Georgia

      What? I thought Joseph and Mary were Jewish! That would make you Jesus's grandmother. Sacrilege!

    • GusTheRedneck profile image

      Gustave Kilthau 7 years ago from USA

      Hi Randy - Your Hub makes me want to hit the road. Gus

    • Randy Godwin profile image

      Randy Godwin 7 years ago from Southern Georgia

      Ain't it the truth Gus! I plan on doing just that in the next few weeks. Thanks!

    • LoveOurPlanet profile image

      LoveOurPlanet 6 years ago from Austin, Texas

      Thanks for the hub. I'm wondering what the long-term cost difference is between a motorhome towing a dingy, and a big truck towing a travel trailer or 5th wheel. If you have any insight or articles about this, would love to know.

    • Randy Godwin profile image

      Randy Godwin 6 years ago from Southern Georgia

      @LoveOurPlanet- A 5th wheel is normally easier to tow than a bumper hitch travel trailer. The big truck should get better gas mileage than a large motorhome also.

      Another advantage of a tow behind RV is having the option to unhook from it to go get repair parts or pull it with something else if you have motor trouble on the truck.

      A tow behind also allows you to use the truck for shopping, sightseeing, etc. after reaching the camping spot without having to drive a motorhome everywhere you want to go.

      Another thing is repairs to motorhome drive trains can be very expensive. There are many more things to malfunction on a motorhome. I hope this helps you make a decision and feel free to ask for any info you think I may help you with. Thanks for reading too! :)


    • LoveOurPlanet profile image

      LoveOurPlanet 6 years ago from Austin, Texas

      Thank you, Randy. Those are good points to consider.

    • Randy Godwin profile image

      Randy Godwin 6 years ago from Southern Georgia

      You're very welcome, LOP. Good luck with your choice of either trailer or Motorhome!


    • profile image

      Glenn Gray 19 months ago

      Two very important considerations not mentioned. A trailer does not have to have insurance on it but both the towed vehicle and the motor home must have insurance on them. The motor home has the advantage of passengers being able to sleep as the vehicle goes down the road but most states if not all will not allow a passenger to ride in a towed vehicle.

    Click to Rate This Article