Class C RV vs Travel Trailer

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Updated April 9, 2024

Susan and I have a Class C RV, and we were thinking about getting a travel trailer and towing it with our pickup truck. So, we decided to write this article comparing a Class C RV vs a Travel Trailer.

We didn’t end up getting a travel trailer. We bought a Class A RV instead. But we still own our Class C RV, and one day, we may trade it in for a travel trailer.

Since we already did all the research, I am going to share with you the differences between a Class C RV vs a Travel Trailer to hopefully make your decision a little easier.

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 cost anywhere from $80,000-$110,000, depending on size, typically 16′-26′, and other upgraded options you choose. A new travel trailer averages $35,000-$50,000, 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 to tow a trailer, you must buy an SUV or pickup truck to pull a travel trailer. This is quite an added expense that could make the price the same either way.

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 $80,000 to $110,000. They used to be between $50,000-$80,000 when I first wrote this article in 2019.

Today, 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 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 large-sized family.

A nicely equipped travel trailer can help make an outing more comfortable and fun—whether for a three-day weekend or a three-week journey. Since travel trailers can be bought brand new for as little as $35,000, they are more attractive for lower-usage situations.

When I wrote this article in 2019, travel trailers used to start at $15,000. Boy, have times changed.

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 Set Up and Break Down

Once you arrive at your destination, your first order of business is setting up camp. This can be as simple as leveling the rig with electric jacks and hooking up the utilities in a motorhome. 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 breakdown is the reverse.

In our opinion, setting up and breaking down a travel trailer takes much longer than a Class C RV. We could set up our Class C and have a drink in hand literally in 15 minutes. We have seen many travel trailers take well over 30 minutes to get unhitched and all set up.

6 Cost Differences Between Class C RVs and Travel Trailers

There are different costs associated with a Class C motorhome compared to a travel trailer, such as insurance, park fees, maintenance, etc. We discussed the front-end costs, and here, we’re going to break down the other expenses just a bit more so that you can picture them a bit better.

1. Maintenance

Travel trailers have fewer things that can break. More things can go wrong with a Class C RV since they have engines, 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.

2. Miles Per Gallon

Pulling a travel trailer with a decent vehicle that gets good MPG 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 9 to 12 mpg on a good day.

For Class C motorhomes, depending on the size of the RV and its equipment, you will average 8 to 10 miles per gallon.

3. Insurance

Same as with maintenance: the bigger the rig, the larger your insurance bill. You should check several insurance companies for the best rate before you buy. You should figure that a motorhome is always going to cost more than a travel trailer.

RELATED READING: Check out our blog on How Much Does RV Insurance Cost? for a complete breakdown of insurance costs.

4. Financing

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.

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 second homes. That means that the interest on your loan may be tax deductible as a home mortgage.

5. Campground Fees

Campground fees vary widely. The prices for a large motorhome are usually higher than those for 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 $17 to $30 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 $150 a night.

PRO TIP: If you want to see the best RV campground memberships to save money on campsites check out our article called The 6 Best RV Campground Memberships.

Because most public campgrounds were built 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.

6. Depreciation

It’s a sad fact that just about any major purchase depreciates the moment you hand over your money. 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.

Final Thoughts About Class C RVs vs Travel Trailers

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 also your sightseeing vehicle.

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!

Thanks for reading this article. We hope you found it useful. If you would like to contact us directly, please feel free to visit our Contact Page to send us an email.

Learn More:

10 Best Class C RVs Under 25 Feet for 2024
What is the Average Gas Mileage for a Class C RV?
Class C RV vs 5th Wheel – Which is Better and Why?
12 Best 4 Season Travel Trailer Brands for 2024
7 Best Fiberglass Travel Trailer Brands

Mike Scarpignato – Bio

Mike Scarpignato created over five years ago in 2018 to share all we have learned about RV camping.

Mike is an avid outdoorsman with decades of experience tent camping and traveling in his 2008 Gulf Stream Conquest Class C RV and 2021 Thor Challenger Class A motorhome.

We attend RV Shows and visit RV dealerships all across the country to tour and review drivable motorhomes and towable trailers to provide the best evaluations of these RVs in our blog articles and YouTube videos.

We are 3/4-time RVers who created to provide helpful information about all kinds of RVs and related products, gear, camping memberships, tips, hacks and advice.

Mike and Susan from RVBlogger at an RV Show touring reviewing and rating RVs

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6 thoughts on “Class C RV vs Travel Trailer”

  1. I’m in the midst of making a decision. Right now, I’m towing a small teardrop trailer. My job allows me to travel as long as I can work remotely and keep my current address. But, my present trailer isn’t spacious enough for a comfortable work-from-home setup; there’s barely any room to move inside. I’m thinking about getting a 25-foot Class C without slide-outs. A truck that can pull a large travel trailer would set me back over $50,000. My current tow vehicle can handle up to 6,200 pounds. I’ve recently come across a Class C for less than $80,000. I’m weighing the options of either selling my tiny camper and tow vehicle for the Class C or going for a medium-sized trailer.

  2. This is great information, im leaning on a travel trailer, but worried that my 2011 f-150 which has a 5.0 v8 engine with little over 120,000 miles not sure if I would be able to tow a trailer, and if so not sure what weight or length I can purchase.
    Karen from oklahoma

  3. thanks for the comparison. My husband and I are not sure what to get, for a while we were thinking Class C, but so many problems and in the shop so much from what we see, am now considering maybe a really good travel trailer, such as an Airstream. We do like the idea of the Class c are easier to set up. but so many have very little storage unless you go with a Super C, which is a whole other ball game!

  4. Personally i would rather have a class c rv as it would just be myself and i dont have the funds for both a trailer and a pickup truck as pickups now can reach anywhere from 30,000 to 80,000 for a decent one. Being by myself a travel trailer would be a hassle trying to level it and adjust it without any guidence. Id just have to tow my car behind the class c with a towdolly nothing to fancy.
    Ive experienced the travel trailers as a kid with my parents, had to stop to get the food, and leveling it on uneven ground was a pain. This article is a good one though makes me think

  5. I love the information I get from this post. Very useful and helpful.


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