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Motorhomes vs Travel Trailers: 10 Pros and Cons

Published on December 7th, 2018 by Camper Report
This post was updated on August 24th, 2020

Let’s talk about motorhomes and travel trailers. Are they similar? What are the pros and cons? Both have wonderful things that they are useful for.

Having had lots of experience with both of these types of RVs, I want to shed some light on the subject. Like any RV, both have their places in the world of RVs. Let’s talk about it!

#1: Price

Upfront, a motorhome is going to be more expensive. Motorhomes at a bare minimum are $50,000. Even used will cost a lot. I would suggest that you buy this if you are seasoned veterans with RVs and traveling with them.

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If you are just starting out with traveling in an RV, I would suggest a travel trailer. Why? Well, for one, the price. I will talk about other reasons later. Most of the research that I have been doing has been saying that travel trailers are around $20,000-$30,000.

That is a significant price drop. You can even get used ones which could potentially cost less.

If you are experienced or you live in your RV, then go for the motorhome. That will probably fit you better. If you want the full home experience in a car then you can find some beautiful and expensive ones. I’ve seen some incredible ones.

If you are more of the simple traveler who just wants what they need, I would go for the travel trailer. It costs less and it will work. I would even suggest this for those who want to camp frequently outside of their RV.

#2: Gas

A motorhome is powered by a diesel engine. It depends on the size but in a class C motorhome, you can get about 15 miles per gallon (mpg). Which is not incredible but it is something and that’s about as good as you are going to get. Surprisingly, this is faster than pulling a trailer which I will be talking about in a second.

Actually, most class Cs, if not all, will fit at the gas station. You can just pull up like a normal car and fill ‘er up! It’s really convenient.

Actually pulling a trailer will make you slower at around 10 mpg. You will want to be pulling a trailer with a truck that holds diesel. Most of the time anyway. It really depends on what size you are pulling.

Although if you pull a trailer, you can drop it off and zoom around at a much higher speed. Depending on your car it can be about 30-40+ mpg.

#3: Insurance

Simply put, the bigger the rig the more it will cost. That’s just the general rule of thumb. A motorhome will cost more than a travel trailer, no questions asked.

This is one of the reasons why a motorhome should not be your first rodeo with RVs, especially if the motorhome you are thinking of is big.

Check with differen insurance companies and see what kinds of rates and services they can offer. Do your research and see what they can offer you.

#4: Depreciation/Worth

It’s just a given that your motorhome and trailer will depreciate. When was the last time you sold a vehicle for higher than you paid for it? It’s just going to happen but which one is worse off?

Both can just end up sitting and doing nothing. This investment will not make a return.

Because a travel trailer does not have an engine, it does not depreciate as much or as fast. Newer models come out and things just lose their value over time. Different features of both make it depreciate in worth. That’s just the way of modern things.

That is something to consider. What are you willing to be okay with? Maybe this is not even a worry for you. If you are a penny pincher, then this is something to consider.

There are many ways to look at this. I would do your own intense research to see what works for you.

#5: Maintenance

Other things that will cost you money are how much maintenance are you going to have to do on the thing. Once again it costs more for repairs on a motorhome than it will be for a travel trailer.

The more you use it, the more repairs that may need to happen. That’s a natural consequence. It may cost you a few thousand dollars per year for a motorhome and about half that for a travel trailer.

The reason why it costs more for the motorhome is that you have both the RV part and the car part. Does that make sense? You have things like the engine and other things involved in the car part.

You also have the RV parts like what is on the inside, making sure dumping and electrical things are working properly, etc.

That is a more fair way of looking at it. It just has both components whereas the travel trailer only has the RV parts. That’s just how it all adds up in the end.

#6: Amount of Use

How much are you going to use your RV? Cross country? The occasional camping trip a couple of hours away? These are real things that you need to consider before buying an RV.

If you are seasoned and you like to travel far and wide a lot, get the class C motorhome or any motorhome. You can live in it. It is comfortable and homey. They are made to feel like a mini home.

This is great for traveling over long distances and you don’t have to find somewhere to stay. You can get up and leave whenever.

If you are more of the weekend traveler or only use it for a few weeks out of the year, then I would suggest getting the travel trailer. Also, you won’t feel as bad having the travel trailer sitting and wasting away in your driveway, unlike if you let the motorhome sit and waste away. That would kill me.

You can have people rent your RV. There are businesses out there. There are local businesses that you can rent from or you could just rent your own out. You can make some excellent money off of renting your RV while it sits.

This is a great way to make passive income.

There are two places I would suggest checking out. RVShare is one. You can rent or rent out your RV. RVShare is very thorough and safe. They do DMV checks on all involved in the process. They have a great rating and people have seen monetary success off of it. is well known. They have been shown on TV and many new channels. According to their website, they are “the largest and most trusted RV rental marketplace in the world.” This is a great place to list your RV and start making money when not in active use.

#7: Accessibility

Having a class C motorhome would make it way easier to move and turn around in compact spaces. It is smaller than carrying a trailer. Now, having a large motorhome like a class A would be a huge problem in a tight space. Let’s just assume that this is going to be class C motorhome.

The class C motorhome is very flexible and can be in tight spaces if needed. Normal parking spaces are easier to get with a class C. Not having to park out of the way really brings in the immersion of any given area. You aren’t hindered by the size and trying to find a spot to stop and get out.

Trailers are going to need a lot of space for parking. This can be annoying and ruin some of the immersion of any given area. Can you imagine getting to the bay area for the first time but then having to look for a good parking spot for a good 10 minutes or more.

That would suck. Trailers are not as accessible as the class C motorhome.

Also, I should note that you need a truck for the travel trailer. I assumed that was a given but I wanted to cover all the bases. In order to use one of those, you need somewhere to hitch it.

I would suggest a truck and nothing less. If you have a mini trailer or just something small, you could use a smaller car. Think in proportions.

#8: Luxury and Comfort While Driving

I believe that this is the best part of a motorhome. Being able to get up and do whatever you want while someone drives is a luxury that anyone who has experienced it will not soon forget. I know I won’t.

You can grab a snack. Watch a movie. My wife will work on her projects while I’m driving. The kids play games. It’s just really convenient. It’s a comfortable arrangement. The greatest part? I don’t have to stop. They can do all of that without me having to stop.

If you have a trailer. You can’t just hop out the back window and then find some way to get into the trailer while the car is going. You will have to have snacks in the car or just wait. There is not nearly as much room in the car to do stuff either.

Also, you have the mystery of did everything stay in place while we were driving? Is the food all over the floor? Is anything broken? This can happen in a travel trailer but you will be able to catch it if you are right there when things start to go downhill.

The motorhome stands king and high over the alternative of travel trailers. The class C kind also drives well and I don’t feel like it is much different than a larger car.

How comfortable are you with driving either a trailer or a motorhome? What makes you more anxious, a big bulky vehicle or a trailer you have to keep in mind while driving? Find what suits you best.

Either way, they will be bigger than your average car. Maybe ask a friend if you can take their RV for a spin to see if you are comfortable with it.

With a trailer, you’ll want to go a little slower but in a class C, you can go about the speed limit and feel comfortable. There is just something about pulling a trailer that makes me scared to go above 65 mph. You do what you need to do but it makes me uneasy.

#9: How Much Space?

A big thing for me is how much space I have to move around without feeling like the roof and walls are closing in on me. Let’s talk about what each kind can offer.

The class C motorhome may be a great choice of for many reasons but only if you have about 2 people. The bed can hold two and only two. If you have a family, I would suggest getting a travel trailer.

If you are going to do long trips, make sure that you are okay with the space. If you are not comfortable, you won’t enjoy the trip as much. I’d feel bad for you.

The travel trailer provides much more space than a class C motorhome. Now if we are talking about a much bigger size, then that is a different story. Within a budget, you will probably be better off with the travel trailer if you want a good amount of space.

Before you buy though, I would suggest that you walk through many different RVs to see what suits you best. This will help you decide what works for you and you will be that much smarter of a buyer.

#10: What is Your Style of Adventure?

When you finally get to where you are going, are you someone who wants to drop everything when you get there and explore or are you someone who likes to stay near play games? This is an important factor in deciding what kind of RV to get.

Getting to camp is one of the best feelings in the world. You can finally stretch your legs and do something besides drive or sit in the car. After you set up, you are free to do whatever your heart desires. Now comes the important decision: Do you explore or do you chill?

When setting up a motorhome you pull into your spot, make sure that you are level with the ground, and then hook up everything and you are good to go. This is good for staying put.

I mean you can undo everything you just did to go explore the town or the surrounding area. Some people might find that to be an inconvenience.

If you have the trailer, have to do all of the same stuff plus unhooking the chains, anti-sway bars, and hitch. You will not want to move this thing once you have laid it to rest for a few days or more. It should be your headquarters. Not your mobile unit.

This is ideal for exploring the surrounding area because after set up you can get in your car and go check stuff out. It is simple and you’ll get better gas mileage.

If undoing your set up with the motorhome doesn’t bother you then don’t even pay attention to what I just said about the travel trailer.


What it really comes down to is what are you looking for? Do you want something small for the two lovebirds? Do you want something fun for your family?

Costs vary and there are many different things to keep in mind. I was impressed at how much thought I had to put into research to write about this. I hope that I gave you some solid, logical information about RVs that you can benefit from. Good luck hunting for an RV!

Related Questions

What is the difference between a motorhome and a travel trailer? A motorhome is a trailer and a car all built into one thing. The motorhome comes in a giant bus size which is class A, a class B is which is a van, class C is the smallest of the bunch being no more than a truck.

A travel trailer is an RV that hitches to the bed of your truck and follows behind you. There are tiny RVs called teardrop trailers and those hold maybe one person to sleep in them.

Is a travel trailer considered an RV? A travel trailer is considered a Recreational Vehicle. There are other kinds of RVs like a motorhome. Travel trailers function the same way as motorhomes, the only difference is that the car is not a part of the “home” portion.

Are motorhomes hard to drive? It really depends on the size. Motorhomes are not necessarily difficult to drive, it just takes some patience and some learning if they are really big. They are bigger than normal cars and you have to be smart and drive more cautiously.

Be on the defensive when driving one of these things. You should be an experienced driver if you are going to drive anything bigger than a class C.

11 thoughts on “Motorhomes vs Travel Trailers: 10 Pros and Cons”

  1. What would be best if driving through US. A fifth wheel a class c with out towing a car or just drive our suv and stay at hotels?

    • We’ve owned a 32′ class A and a 37′ super C, a large C, towing a Jeep, and our experience is the larger the rig, the slower you go and are more often limited to private type rv campgrounds, a lot are like rv parking lots. State and national parks have less room for bigger rigs, which takes more planning to find spots. It depends on how you travel, if you are on the move all the time, smaller rigs likely better, staying out on the road longer or at particular spots for extended periods, the larger rig/space is nice. RV industry claims for a family of 4, maybe 2, that if you eat all your meals, sleep all your nights in an RV it is cheaper to travel in RV than paying for hotels and eating out. The times I calculated it’s pretty close to the same for 2 of us. As silly as it sounds I like my own bathroom traveling with me. We are downsizing to C or TT, and trying to decide also, as we want to travel further distances and it takes us all day to get out central Texas. If you’re new to it all I would not buy the biggest rig to start with, like the 40’+ ones and go with mid size, under 30′ C’s, 30-35′ ish TT. We’re looking at 25′ C’s and TT, with only 1 slide for simplicity.

  2. Thanks for the info. My wife and I are considering hitting the open road and living in RV for a few years. A motorhome seems the appropriate choice. We would start in Ontario, travel Canada the US and perhaps lodge in Mexico over the winter.
    Do you know of any publications or links that support this lifestyle?

  3. Found the article to be very helpful My husband and I are wanting to purchase a travel trailer for family fun with the grandkids You said truck and diesel at that any suggestions on gas trucks and any suggestions on affordable travel trailers to start with

    • Emily,

      If you plan to travel with grandkids, I would highly recommend a bunk house travel trailer like the Grand Design 2800BH. It’s a great design and guaranteed to fit everyone. We have one, although we are empty nesters now, and use the bunk area for storage. As far as the tow vehicle goes, I would suggest at least a 1/2 ton or 3/4 ton to make towing more efficient. Example, I had a Toyota Tundra crew max that towed our camper, but gas mileage was horrible. Now I tow with a Chevy 2500HD diesel and yes it costs more to fill it, but I can go farther. Hope this helps a little bit.

  4. For long trips, the biggest concern about the motor home for me would be if it needed major repairs while traveling leaving you without your home and needing to stay in a motel. With the travel trailer you still have a home if your vechile breaks down.

  5. Hi, great article, very informative. ahh, I am an American living in Asia due to Covid. We would like to return to the US n buy an inexpensive house. But, before we can move in, time moves on. Hotels for 3 get expensive over 2 0r 3 months, so I thought of a small travel trailer. The prices are very reasonable. But, I am not good at backing them up. So, we are considering a Camper on the back of a Pick-Up. Have you, or someone done the pros & cons of a small (20ft) trailer vs a Camper/PickUp setup? I would not have the backing up problem, but, I also could not so easily detach & drive. Any help, links or suggestions would be appreciated and thanks in advance.

    • Honestly for backing up – watch a few you tubes, like parallel parking it is setup getting your trailer in the right place and practice – if your wife is better at backing the trailer let her do it and you both will enjoy your first beverage 😊


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