Ultimately, it is all about the owner and what they like, want, and need. But each type of RV has its advantages and disadvantages. Read on to learn what sets these RVs apart and what makes them the same.
How Much Are You Willing To Spend on Your RV?
A new Class C Motorhome can run you anywhere from $50,000-$80,000 depending on size typically 16′-26′ and other upgraded options you choose. A new travel trailer averages $15,000-$30,000 depending on size, weight, layout, materials, and amenities.
Do You Have A Vehicle that Can Tow A Travel Trailer?
As you can see from above the average cost of a Class C RV is quite a bit more than a travel trailer. However, if you don’t have a vehicle that can tow a trailer, you will have to buy an SUV or truck, to pull a travel trailer.
We were in the market for a new truck/vehicle, so we opted for a bigger truck so we could pull our travel trailer with ease. Did we need to get that big of a truck? No, but that is what we wanted.
How Often Will You Be Using Your Recreational Vehicle?
This is important to consider, especially if you’re thinking about a motorhome.
If the average cost of a Class C motorhome runs $50,000-$80,000, that’s a whole lot of money sitting idle on the side of your house or in storage if you’re only going to use it a few times a year.
Of course, if you do go out regularly and for long distances, then a motorhome with all its accessories can make the journey all the more pleasurable, especially if you have a medium to a large sized family.
A nicely equipped travel trailer can help make an outing more comfortable and more fun—whether for a three-day weekend or a three-week journey. Since travel trailers can be bought brand new for as little as $15,000, this makes them a more attractive for lower usage situations.
Do You Need Access to Items While In Motion?
Another perk of a Class C RV over a travel trailer is the fact that you have access to everything in the motorhome while cruising down the road. For example, you don’t have to pull off the side of the road to make a sandwich while you “keep on truckin’.”
If you are towing a travel trailer, you will have to pull off into a rest area or a large parking lot so that you can get into the trailer and fix your lunch.
Convenience Of Put Up and Take Down
Once you arrive at your destination, your first order of business is setting up camp. In a motorhome, this can be as simple as leveling the rig with electric jacks and hooking up the utilities. To depart, just reverse the steps.
With a travel trailer, you have a few extra steps: leveling the unit, unhitching, lowering the stabilizing jacks, and then connecting to shore power and water. And like the motorhome, the takedown is the reverse.
There are different costs when it comes to a Class C motorhome vs. a travel trailer, i.e., insurance, park fee, maintenance, etc. We discussed the front end costs, and here, we’re going to break down the other expenses just a little bit more so that you can picture it a bit better.
Travel trailers have fewer things that can break. With a Class C RV, more things can go wrong since they have engines, and transmissions, pumps, and sophisticated electronics. So unless you’re handy with a screwdriver and a wrench and know what you are doing, repairs are going to be more expensive.
Another thing to consider, if your motorhome breaks down and has to go into the shop, your living accommodations go with it. On the other hand, with a trailer, should your truck or SUV need repair you’ll still have a place to stay while waiting for the mechanic to fix your vehicle.
Miles Per Gallon
Pulling a travel trailer with a decent vehicle that gets good MPG’s while not towing something doesn’t mean you will get good MPG while pulling a travel trailer. That being said, depending on your tow vehicle and trailer, you might see a sobering 8 to 12 mpg on a good day.
For motorhomes, again, depending on the size of the RV and its equipment, you are going to average 6 to 8 miles per gallon.
Same as with maintenance: the bigger the rig, the larger your insurance bill. You should check several insurance companies for the best rate and service before you buy, and figure that a motorhome is always going to cost more than a travel trailer. Check out our blog on How Much Does RV Insurance Cost? for a complete breakdown of insurance.
Due to the cost, most RVers finance a large part of their purchase (for 10 to 15 years on average). You should take the time to check your bank or credit union rates and see what type of loan, interest rates, and the duration of your loan before you go shopping.
And keep in mind that if you decide to go the trailer route and you don’t already have a tow vehicle, you will also need to plan on purchasing a new tow vehicle.
TAX TIP: Because virtually every motorhome and many trailers feature beds, kitchens, sinks, and bathrooms, the IRS considers them to be homes. And that means that the interest on your loan may be tax deductible as a home mortgage.
Fees for campgrounds are all over the map. The prices for a large motorhome will usually cost more than the travel trailer spots. Check out our article called Why Are RV Park Rates So High? where we explore campground prices.
Some federal, state and county agencies offer free camping in primitive sites or a very reasonable $10 to $20 per night. Remember if you plan on “glamping,” luxuries like water, sewer, and electricity, if available, will add to the cost per night.
At the other end of the spectrum, privately run campgrounds that offer heated swimming pools and hot tubs, laundries, rec rooms, restaurants, landscaping, cable TV, ect., their fees could exceed $50 a night. If you want to see the best RV campground memberships to save money on campsites check out our article called The 5 Best RV Campground Memberships.
And because most government-run campgrounds were built back in the early days, the size of many sites can be on the small side. With today’s increasingly larger trailers and motorhomes, especially ones with slide-outs, fitting into many older campsites can be challenging. So when you’re deciding on a motorhome or a trailer, keep this in mind, as bigger is not always better.
It’s a sad fact that just about any major purchase you make depreciates the moment you hand over your money. And while travel trailers aren’t immune to such declines in value, they have some advantage over motorhomes because they don’t have an odometer. Motorhomes have odometers and the more miles on the clock the lower the resale value.
Choosing between a motorhome and a travel trailer can be a tough decision. It all comes down to what you want and need in a motorhome and tow vehicle. Travel trailers definitely cost less, but once you set them up at a campsite, you also have a vehicle to drive around in. Class C motorhomes are more expensive, but they are typically easier to operate and maneuver. But if you don’t tow another vehicle behind you, your RV is your vehicle for sightseeing too.
If you are considering a 5th wheel check out our article called Class C RV vs 5th Wheel – Which is Better and Why?
Let’s have a healthy debate, we would like to hear your thoughts on Class C RV vs. Travel Trailer. Please share your thoughts with us and why you would choose one over the other!
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