Camping can be a fun and exciting adventure for the whole family. However, the excitement can vary depending on the type of quarters you have to rest your head. There are many pros and cons to owning a travel trailer so this article will go through the main pros and cons and give you a better sense of what to look for in your new (or next) travel trailer or whether you may want to upgrade to a bigger RV.
What is a travel trailer?
This may sound like a rather dumb question, but is a common one! Travel trailers, also commonly called ‘campers’ are ‘campers’ that connect to a ball hitch mounted on the tow vehicle and is designed as living quarters for recreational travel. These are not to be confused with Motor Homes which have their own motor which drives the vehicle. Although motor homes are a great way to camp, I’d like to talk about the good and bad to owning a travel trailer only for now.
Pros and cons to owning a travel trailer
There are many good and bad points so let’s start with the benefits to owning a travel trailer.
This one is HUGE! If you are anything like my family (family of 7 with small children), you need to stop quickly to find a bathroom! This may not be the easiest thing to do right away depending on where you are.
As a great example of one of our family trips, we were traveling to Florida, a 24 hour trip, and during the first leg of the trip my kids decided that it would be a great idea to open a case of Gatorade and suck down a few bottles.
Well, you can imagine the amount of stops we needed to make. This was not easy as we were in the middle of nowhere at the time! Fun! Having a trailer where we could pull over and use the bathroom would have made this MUCH easier!
Kids aren’t the only ones that get to benefit from the travel trailer. Your pets (and wallets) can as well. If you own a dog or cat, they will have more room and feel more at home in a travel trailer over a hotel. They can stretch their legs a bit more in a trailer than a hotel. It is also easier to find a place to walk them in a campground! Finally, you see I wrote “wallets” too? This is because you will save money on not having to pay for additional pet fees which a hotel will charge.
Expense has it’s own pros and cons to owning a travel trailer. The pros are that you are saving money over hotel fees. You can find campgrounds which will let you boondock saving money for the night. this can be a huge advantage especially if you have a large family like me. When we get a hotel, we usually have to get two rooms to accommodate us which as you can imagine, can be quite expensive.
On the flip-side, the cost of purchasing and maintaining a travel trailer can add up. This along with the cost of certain campsites can be more than you wanted or expected.
Continuing on with the pros and cons to owning a travel trailer, we have touched on staying in a hotel vs the cost of staying in a travel trailer. Let’s explain a little more about the cost comparison of each.
Quoted from Camperreport.com, “In general, RV campsites cost between $25 and $80 per night depending on the location, the size of the space, and what connections are offered. In my experience, an average camper trailer spot with power and water costs about $45 a night.” Compare this to how much it would cost my family to stay in a hotel overnight! According to budgetyourtrip.com, the average cost for a couple to stay in a hotel for one night is $207. Now multiply that by two for my family and BAM! That’s $334 saved by staying in a travel trailer!!! I think you see my point. 🙂
PACKING AND PACKING AND STORING OH MY!
I use my family as a reference a lot. It’s just because we are a great example of the higher end of the cost spectrum. This relates to packing too!
We had to get a large vehicle to allow all of us to fit comfortably and be strong enough to be able to pull a travel trailer. With that, when we go on short trips where we do not need the trailer, packing is a lot of fun!
OK, so maybe not, but imagine what we need to pack and how to pack it all if we were to go on a long trip for a week without a trailer. Having a trailer allows us to be able to pack a lot in it and save the room in the vehicle. Plus, having a travel trailer can allow you to have clothing in a closet or dresser and not need to pack and unpack like you would if you were staying in a hotel or Airbnb.
So… we all need food and if your anything like me, I can eat! The great thing about owning a travel trailer is that you save on food expenses over eating out like you generally do when staying in a hotel. For me and my family, this is major! The down side is that you have to cook and clean, but it’s a small price to pay for the savings.
I’m Outta Here!
So now that we got all the expense related parts out of the way, let’s talk about other benefits. Benefits like getting away! If nothing else, you are away from home and able to enjoy being away. Having a travel trailer, you can have the opportunity to build a fire and view the stars while at a campground. For me, this is one of the best parts of camping. I am able to just forget everything at home and just relax. Need I say more?
Explore Like Christopher Columbus
OK. So maybe you are probably not going to explore in that extreme, but you will be able to explore new places. There are a lot of great state parks and other campgrounds that allow travel trailers and RV’s. Staying at these, you will have the time to explore new places without totally killing your budget.
You may even be able to extend your stay if it’s a place you really like. And if it’s a place you really like, tell us about it! We would love to hear your experiences and love to have new places to visit!
We Welcome You
I’m sure you are doing your research about owning a travel trailer. After all, that’s probably what brought you here. Right? Well, there are plenty of great forums and community websites which have great people providing a slew of assistance.
Well, your travel trailer may not be a treasure, or maybe it is, but either way, it is an asset. You can actually make money to help pay off your rig faster as well. How? By renting it out. Yup! You can rent your rig out when you are not using it. There are plenty of people that will be happy to rent it. Especially those that are testing to see if buying one is right for them.
RVSHARE.com is a fantastic RV and trailer rental platform. They make it simple to list your recreational vehicle. They also allow you to list almost every type of rig. For example, here is a list of what they allow to be listed:
- Travel trailers
- Motor homes
- Pop-up campers
- 5th wheels
- Toy haulers
You can also control who you rent to and when you rent it. For example, if you have a date that you will be using it, you can block those dates out on the calendar and it will not be available to rent. You can also set the rates you want to charge. This is not controlled by the website.
PRO TIP: Having your vehicle spec sheet handy will help speed the listing process up. Also, having good pictures and brochures will help!
Get Out and Camp!
The best part about owning your own travel trailer is that you will want to get out and camp more often. You will not want to let it just sit there and if you choose to rent it out, seeing it come and go will certainly give you the sense of missing out.
We covered the good points, but what about the bad points when talking about the pros and cons to owning a travel trailer?
BACK TO THE MONEY
Having a trailer is like anything else in life. It has good things, but unfortunately has bad things too. One of the biggest pain points is the cost of the rig.
Depending on the size of the trailer you need will determine the price. For example, if you are like my family, you can expect to pay $5,000,000! Seriously though, a camper that only needs to fit 2 people will rightly cost less than one that needs to sleep 10.
WHAT’S THAT NOISE?
This is something you NEVER want to say while out on the road. However, it happens! Something breaks and needs to be fixed. Having continuous preventative maintenance can help prevent these “Oh No!” moments. However, there is the cost of the maintenance that you will need to take into account.
Batteries, tires, tanks, fluids, nuts and bolts, slides, coolant, awning, air conditioning and electrical systems are some of the major areas that need to be maintained. This does not include the constant manual inspection of the roof seals.
WHERE DO I PUT THIS THING??!!
If you don’t plan on renting your RV out, then you will need to find a place to store it when not in use. This can become a big problem to your wallet. Storage costs average from $50-$250 for indoor, non-temperature controlled storage. And for heated indoor storage? This can run upwards of $450 per month.
You may be able to store your RV on the side or back of your home. In that case, you are saving in storage costs, but make sure you get a good quality cover to protect it from the elements. You can find good ones at Amazon.
WHO’S DOING THE DISHES?
Dishes and other items needed to be purchased for your trailer can quickly add up. In fact, a small fortune can be spent for these types of items. Looking at dollar stores and such can save a lot of money, but will still result in a bit of cash.
I NEED TO GET GAS… AGAIN
When pulling a trailer, no matter the size of your truck, you will see a decrease in gas mileage. This is something that you will want to take into account when estimating budgets.
HOW MUCH FOR THE WEEK?
Cost of camping spaces may be more than you expect. The best way to make sure you stay in budget is to have an idea of where your going and the places you will be stopping at. Call ahead to find prices can help negate the unexpected cost. Also, finding where you can boondock can help save too. There is a great app called The Dyrt for iOS and Android that can help you find stops along the way. It can be a major budget saver!
The last small items that I would like to point out is privacy and comfort.
- Privacy is many times limited when camping. There is usually not a lot of space between you and your neighbor.
- Comfort of sleep may not be the same as in a hotel or at home. The mattresses are not exactly made with the utmost comfort in mind. You can find a great mattress at Amazon to replace or add to the current mattress.
There are many pros and cons to owning a travel trailer. With this list, I hope you are able to see how owning one can be great.
Do you have any great ideas that you think should be added to this list? Contact us and let us know! We will be happy to review and add items!