What’s Best to Buy? Motorhome or Fifth Wheel or Travel Trailer?

Tips & Info

Travel brings us new adventures and priceless family time. However, the means in which you get to the open road obviously has a price tag. So which do you choose? A motorhome or a fifth wheel or travel trailer? Go to an RV show and step into motorhomes, fifth wheels, toy haulers, travel trailers, etc. and after the excitement trails off, you probably will find your head spinning. Although your budget will most likely steer you to a “range” of RV’s, many of us may still be wondering which is the best long term choice.  We had to ask ourselves that same question. Should we get a motorhome or a truck and tow our home on wheels?

Some pros and cons are obvious. For example, in a motorhome, passengers can make snacks or go for a potty break without the driver pulling over a rest stop. However, when towing a fifth wheel, making turns when driving is usually easier. We came across some helpful questions from Reserve America that you may want to ask yourself when RV shopping. Here’s a summarized list of these questions to consider when making the choice between your self-propropelled home vs. your towed home. Might also be a useful tool to simply review and thus organize any overwhelming thoughts prior to your important purchase.

Question #1   Use and People?

How often will you use your RV? How many people will travel with you? If your schedule only allows for a few outings a year and/or mostly short distances, then do you want to pay the typical higher price tag for the motorhome (Class A, B, or C) knowing that it will sit for most of the year? If you do travel more regularly and to farther distances, then the added comforts of a motorhome most likely will be appreciated, especially with a larger size family. Everyone can have more room to spread out.

Question #2   Already Have a Truck? Maybe Heavy Duty or Super Duty Truck?

Pop up trailers and average travel trailers can be easily towed with your average pick up truck or SUV. These days, the larger fifth wheels require more horsepower AND load carrying ability due to the fact that 15-25% of the trailer rests in the truck’s bed. You’ll find that a Heavy Duty or Super Duty Truck is needed. If you’re considering a toy hauler for those motorcycles and garage area, again a Heavy or Super Duty Truck is a must. If you do NOT already have a capable truck and thus need to upsize, then of course add this into the cost equation.

Question #3   Dollar Amount Spending?  Up Front AND Later…

Other than the initial price tag, how much are you willing to spend? You’ll find these cost areas come into play while owning your RV:

Maintenance: Motorhomes have more things that break. Those bells and whistles with sophisticated electronics require more attention typically.  Motorhomes have engines and require time in the shop.

Mileage: Estimate for towing trailers: 8-12 mpg ;  Estimate for motorhomes: 6-8 mpg

Campground Fees: You’ll find that the size of your rig influences where you camp. State parks with primitive sites are the least expensive, whether the cost may be “donation” or $10-20 a night. If you are smaller and can “fit” in such as site, you’ll be able to to save on camping costs vs. a large motorhome that can NOT fit or maneuver itself within smaller state parks.

Insurance, Financing & Depreciation: The larger the rig, the larger the insurance bill. If you purchase a truck to tow the trailer option, financing is longer than 7 years. Since motorhomes have odometers, they have a lower resale value than their towed alternative.

Question #4   Comfortable Driving Motorhome vs. Trailer?

Which one would you feel more comfortable driving? Some RVers feel that motorhomes are like driving large trucks and they are easier to park (especially backing into sites). Those who tow fifth wheels and trailers may say that it’s much easier to turn and go around sharper bends (especially in mountains) because of the pivot of the truck/trailer feature.

Question #5   Prefer Easy Access While Driving?

How important is it to you and your family to easily use the potty or make lunch and snacks as you drive down the road? Nothing beats the motorhome in this category. Everything that you need is with you, in walking distance, and can be reached without stopping the drive.

Question #6   Set Up Time?

Motorhome set up time is typically quick and easy…with most recent RVs just level with powered jacks, and plug into utilities. A few more steps are required for fifth wheel and travel trailers…you may need to level prior to lowering stabilizer jacks (many jacks are manual) and you’ll need to unhitch from the truck.

Talk it over with the family and decide which questions lead you to the MUST haves and which questions raise big concerns. More than likely, you’ll find you and your family leaning toward one type of RV. Remember, the best decision is what’s right for you and your family. Most RVers buy their RV not only with the intention of seeing new places, but also enjoying the drive there.  Whichever you choose, you’ll find the best life experiences are yet to come as you “Go RVing!” We have. Happy and Safe travels!

You can read the entire article on Reserve America here:

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *