Is there anything better than life on the road: waking up to the sound of birds, sipping coffee while the sun slowly rises, driving through hill-and-dale, and discovering new places? Even if a life of spontaneous adventure isn’t necessarily your thing, an RV-based holiday or a camping trip with a travel trailer can be a memorable one.
Travel trailers have become a popular choice for RV-based holidays as they offer so much versatility when it comes to style, features, and budget. Travel trailers are ideal for campers who don’t want to spend a fortune on a huge RV or are looking for an RV-style trailer that can be towed by a vehicle.
Travel trailers have become a popular choice for RV-based holidays as they offer so much versatility when it comes to style, features, and budget.
What is a Travel Trailer?
A travel trailer is a type of RV that is towed from the back of a truck or SUV. Also sometimes known as “bumper pulls,” travel trailers can vary greatly in size, shape, features, and weight, and come with bedrooms, kitchens, and living spaces.
Larger travel trailers can be home-away-from-home on wheels with all the comforts of home, while high-end travel trailers come complete with state-of-the-art luxuries like workspaces, multiple bedrooms with en-suite bathrooms, smart televisions, and wireless Internet.
A travel trailer is a type of RV that is towed from the back of a truck or SUV.
Buyers Guide to Travel Trailers
If you are in the market for a travel trailer, there are plenty of things to consider from size and weight of the trailer to the towing limitations of your vehicle and what type of tow hitch you will need. Whether you are a novice camper or an experienced backcountry explorer, here are a few things you want to think about before shopping around for your new home on wheels.
Most travel trailers are designed for around three or four people, although some of the larger models can accommodate up to seven or eight people. Unless you have a large family, think about whether those seven or eight people can fit comfortably in the trailer without feeling restricted. Also, take into consideration the amount of luggage you will be carrying and whether there is enough storage space for it all.
Before you buy your trailer, you need to make sure that the vehicle you’ll be towing it with is strong enough to do so. The larger and more high-tech your travel trailer, the more it will weigh. Always check the camper trailer’s weight against your tow vehicle’s towing capacity and aim to leave a little leeway rather than choosing something that hits the maximum weight limit.
The type of tow hitch will depend on the size and model of your tow vehicle. Check whether the travel trailer you like comes with a standard 50mm tow ball or whether it has an articulating hitch. You also need to make sure the brake lights and indicators function correctly when connected.
While you can’t predict what type of terrain you might come across on some of your trips, standard travel trailers have all the necessary essentials for road trips. If you are an off-road adventurer and plan on heading into the backcountry, there are travel trailers that are specifically designed for off-road trips.
Batteries and Charging
There is nothing worse than losing power in the middle of nowhere or when you really need it, so always thoroughly check how to power your travel trailer. Many trailers nowadays include solar-powered or other energy-efficient methods but can also be hooked up to an electricity grid. You can also carry external batteries as an additional or emergency source of power.
Travel trailers need tanks to store water for drinking, washing, and wastewater (sewerage), and these are defined as Freshwater, Grey, and Black tanks. The freshwater tank is the tank that holds all of the freshwater that comes from the taps in the vehicle and this water is potable (drinkable). The gray water tank holds the dirty water that comes from your shower and kitchen sink. The black water tank holds all of the wastewater from your toilets.
Decide whether you want a travel trailer with all these tanks or one that just uses freshwater. Keep in mind that a travel trailer with too small of a water tank means lots of refilling.
The interior features and amenities of a travel trailer will depend on your needs. If you prefer basic camping and getting in touch with nature, you’ll need a small travel trailer with a comfortable bed and some living space. If you are a digital nomad and plan on working while in the great outback, a travel trailer with some form of office space is a good idea.
If you want a home-away-from-home on wheels with all the bells and whistles, head for the luxury travel trailer department, but be prepared to dig deep. Having an onboard toilet is always a good idea to avoid having to brave freezing temperatures and nocturnal creatures in the middle of the night if nature calls.
Teardrop travel trailer
Best Value Travel Trailer
Before deciding on what type of travel trailer to buy, it’s best to do some research on the kinds of travel trailers there are on the market, floor plan styles, extra features, and of course, price. We checked out some of the top travel trailer brands on the market and came up with this list of the best homes-away-from-homes on wheels.
Best Overall Travel Trailer: Bowlus Terra Firma Travel Trailer
The Terra Firma Travel Trailer has it all! This 26-foot gem can accommodate four people and is kitted out with beautiful interiors in soft, neutral tones, including a Zen Master Bedroom with upholstered headboards and designer linen bedding.
Features of the Terra Firma Travel Trailer include HEPA filter with UVC; a two-stage water filtration system with a carbon filter for fresh, sediment-free water; remote temperature monitoring; GPS tracking for an added level of security; and an integrated Bluetooth brake controller with triple-axis, motion-sensing accelerometer for highly responsive, smooth braking. The trailer also has a seamless tow vehicle transfer with vehicle-specific memory profiles so that it can be towed by a variety of motor vehicles.
The Terra Firma Travel Trailer is pet-friendly with a coordinated pet bed and bowls that slide out from a hidden drawer.
- Sleeps: Up to four people
- Dry Weight: 3200 lbs (1452 kg)
- GVWR: 4000 lbs (1814 kg)
Best Luxury Camper: Living Vehicle Max
For those who prefer their camping trailer holidays to be Vogue-worthy and have very deep pockets, the Living Vehicle’s Max is one of the most luxurious travel trailers on the market.
Maximizing the best of outdoor living, indoors, Living Vehicle’s Max is comfortable and spacious and equipped with everything from air-conditioning to solar power. This fully customizable unit is packed with state-of-the-art tech like flat-screen televisions, a stereo system, and fast mobile connectivity, and high-end amenities like a fully-stocked chef’s kitchen with a washing machine.
The mobile unit is powered by solar energy via a Living Vehicle® MAX energy system that produces 2,640 Watts of total solar power from a solar awning. It has four-wheel electric-hydraulic disc brakes and a top-notch security system.
- Sleeps: Up to four people
- Dry Weight: 11500 lbs (5216 kg)
- GVWR: 17000 lbs (7711 kg)
Best Value Travel Trailer: Winnebago
If you’re looking to travel true Americana style on a budget-friendly trip, the Winnebago Micro Minnie is the best option. Measuring seven feet in width, this compact travel trailer is spacious and comfortable and focuses on quality rather than quantity.
A roomy galley kitchen boasts a three-burner cooktop, microwave, double door electric/gas refrigerator, and stainless-steel sink, and windows are designed for cross-ventilation to keep the unit airy and cool.
A power awning with LED lighting and external patio speakers and a TV hook-up allows for outdoor entertainment in style. Light, stylish interiors have modern décor and easy-to-clean linoleum surfaces and there are 44 cubic feet of storage space.
- Sleeps: Up to two people
- Dry Weight: 3360 lbs (1524 kg)
- GVWR: 5000 lbs (2268 kg)
Minnie Winnie, Bryce Canyon National Park, Utah by Alex Proimos / WikiCommons / CC BY 2.0
Most Versatile Travel Trailer for Remote Work: Airstream Flying Cloud
If you are to leave the hustle and bustle of the city behind and head into the great outback, then the Airstream Flying Cloud is the answer! This shimmering gem of a travel trailer is not only beautiful looking but packed with amenities and features that make it ideal for digital nomads.
Designed to make life easy, this travel trailer has comfortable, yet stylish décor in neutral tones and easy-to-clean, pet-friendly Ultraleather® Seating. A spacious kitchen has high-end appliances like a Furrion three-burner gas stove, Baraldi cooking vent, and built-in microwave and there is plenty of storage space for groceries, pots, pans, and dishes.
The Airstream Flying Cloud has a dedicated office space with a desk and a swivel chair and when your work is done, the space can be converted into an additional sleeping area for one person. There is also an optional front bunk above the master queen or twin beds that provides another sleeping space that can support up to 150 pounds.
Modern amenities and features include Quietstream™ Climate Control air-conditioning and heating; a rear-view monitoring system for easy backing up and parking; a rear hatch for alfresco dining; multiple USB ports, and a pop-up USB/AC outlet supported by the onboard 1000-watt power inverter.
- Sleeps: Up to six people
- Dry Weight: 5000 lbs (2268 kg)
- GVWR: 6000 lbs (2721 kg)
1955 Airstream Flying Cloud, 2013 Modernism Week Vintage Trailer Show by Terry Bone / Flickr / CC BY-SA 2.0
Best Teardrop Trailer: Timberleaf Classic Teardrop Trailer
Boasting quality craftsmanship, fine woodworking, and a vibrant choice of colors, Timberleaf’s Classic Teardrop Trailer is a charming and cute little teardrop-shaped travel trailer for two. Small and sturdy, this travel trailer is available in three different suspension packages: Standard, All-Road, and Off-Road, each of which comes with its specific details, like a fully insulated cabin and special wheels designed for rugged terrain.
The Standard travel has standard trailer tires on a torsion axle, and retro-inspired round fenders, and is ideal for primarily paved road trips. The All-Road option is better for highways and forest service roads and offers aluminum mod-style wheels, Timbren Axle-less suspension with electric brakes, and diamond plate Jeep-style fenders. The Offroad package is best for rough terrain with All-Terrain tires, rock armor, a four-inch lift, electric brakes, and Max Coupler articulating hitch.
Weighing in at 1500-pounds dry, and 150-pound tongue weight, Timberleaf’s Classic Teardrop Trailer has a spacious skylight and a lovely galley with a slide-out Partner Steel two-burner cookstove, a built-in sink with folding faucet, a locking pull out tray for cooler/fridge and ample storage for water.
A fully insulated cabin features a custom-made Colorado Queen mattress that can comfortably sleep two people and there are USB ports and a GFI outlet at the foot of the bed.
- Sleeps: Up to two people
- Dry Weight: 1500 lbs (680 kg)
- GVWR: 3500 lbs (1587 kg)
Best Teardrop Camper with Bathroom: Homegrown Timberline Trailer
The Homegrown Timberline Trailer is another fantastic little travel trailer with all of the essentials for comfort, including a built-in bathroom. Designed for the energy conscious, this travel trailer is made from sustainable materials and makes use of energy-efficient methods.
Powered by either electricity or solar energy, the Timberline has a spacious kitchen, a dinette that converts into bunk beds, and an energy-efficient under-the-counter fridge. It has optional air-conditioning and heating, multiple 120V and USB power outlets, an external gray water tank, and large windows for airflow and light.
- Sleeps: Up to four people
- Dry Weight: 4250 lbs (1927 kg)
- GVWR: 5000 lbs (2268 kg)
An RV-based holiday or a camping trip with a travel trailer can be a memorable one.
Best High-Ceiling Travel Trailer: Land Ark RV Drake
Land Ark RVs Drake is a sleek and stylish travel trailer that takes camping to a whole new level. Designed like a high-end house, this two-story trailer boasts comfort and style with light wood interiors, air-conditioning and heating, a tankless hot water system, energy-saving insulation, and custom-made cellular shades for privacy.
The trailer has light and airy interiors with white-washed pine walls and ten-foot ceilings, luxury vinyl plank flooring, and LED dimmable lighting throughout. There are plenty of electrical and USB outlets in the trailer and 18 cubic feet of storage space.
A modern kitchen boasts all the mod-cons for easy living, including a stainless-steel refrigerator, a three-burner stainless steel gas cooktop and oven with a wall-mounted cooktop vent, and a stainless-steel kitchen sink.
Two loft bedrooms have custom-made beds with designer linen, egress windows, dimmable recessed lighting, and ample storage while the bathroom boasts a one-piece toilet, bathtub/shower, and built-in storage.
- Sleeps: Up to seven people
- Dry Weight: 16700 lbs (7574 kg)
- GVWR: 21000 lbs (9525 kg)
Best Lightweight Travel Trailer: Happier Camper
The Happier Camper is a super lightweight, neat, and sturdy little travel trailer that is fully equipped for all kinds of backcountry adventures. Boasting two dedicated living spaces that convert into an office using the brand’s Adaptiv technology, as well as an integrated bathroom and kitchenette, this travel trailer is ideal for a couple wanting to hit the road and explore.
Weighing in at just 5,000 pounds, the retro-modern Happier Camper has a 100% fiberglass double hull shell and an Adaptiv™ interior with a honeycomb floor grid and modular components, large panoramic windows, a wide entry door, and a large rear hatch for alfresco dining.
The Happier Camper is equipped with a five-gallon freshwater and gray-water tank and a dry flush toilet with disposable waste bags.
- Sleeps: Up to two people
- Dry Weight: 1800 lbs (816 kg)
- GVWR: 2500 lbs (1133 kg)
The Happier Camper is a super lightweight, neat, and sturdy little travel trailer that is fully equipped for all kinds of backcountry adventures.
Best Off-Road Camping Trailer: Bruder X EXP-6
Designed for off-road adventures through the countryside and forests, the Bruder X EXP-6 is a tough and durable expedition travel trailer that is built for off-the-beaten-track trips. This off-road trailer has a state-of-the-art cabin management system that can be controlled from your smartphone with courtesy lights, a clothes washer, an external hot and cold shower, and storage lockers.
Seamlessly blending inside and outside living, the EXP-6 is extremely versatile with a range of features including electronic awnings that can be fitted to both sides of the trailer, a rear hatch, a composite slide-out two-way kitchen with a portable induction cooktop, ample storage, and access from both the inside and outside. There is also enough space to house a large portable gas BBQ.
A comfortable lounge has a couch and a queen-sized bed, a ceiling window for stargazing, a flat-screen TV, which can swivel to be seen from outside, and climate control.
- Sleeps: Up to six people
- Dry Weight: 4850 lbs (2200kg)
- GVWR: 11464 lbs (5200kg)
Best All-Electric Travel Trailer: E-RV
Designed and engineered as the world’s first fully-electric travel trailer, the E-RV is a fantastic off-grid home-away-from-home. Blending seamlessly with the environment, the travel trailer uses clean, solar energy from a range of solar panels on the rooftop that powers a 14.3-kWh lithium-ion battery and provides enough electricity to enjoy outback camping in style.
Built from composite materials, the shell of the travel trailer is fully waterproof, ensuring a rot-free structure. Interiors are beautifully designed and include a comfortable entertainment area, a spacious master suite bedroom with a king-size bed, and a full-sized kitchen stocked with premium electric appliances.
A specially tuned suspension and heavy-duty, all-terrain tires allow the travel trailer to be taken off the beaten track for off-road adventures.
- Sleeps: Up to three people
Best Small Travel Trailer: Polydrops P17A Travel Trailer
Good things come in small packages and if you are new to camping and want to get the hang of it before committing to buying a large travel trailer or RV then the Polydrops P17A camping trailer is just for you! Small in size but packed with everything you need, this all-electric trailer is highly engineered and has all the essentials needed for a hassle-free holiday on the road.
Designed in a futuristic space-capsule style with gullwing entry doors, the eco-friendly Polydrops P17A trailer is equipped with solar panels, LiFePO4 batteries, and air-conditioning for ultimate comfort.
The trailer has a lightweight aluminum frame and an exterior with an anodized aluminum finish, while interiors are finished in Baltic birch and boast a cozy kitchen with an induction cooktop and a 20-liter fridge, a comfy sleeping compartment and toilet, and a micro closet for storage.
Measuring 13 feet seven inches long, six feet wide, and five feet three inches tall, and weighing in at 1,200 pounds, the trailer is very easy to tow due to its aerodynamic design, so it’s ideal for new-to-camping campers or lesser-experienced drivers.
- Sleeps: Up to six people
- Dry Weight: 1200 lbs (544 kg)
- GVWR: 2000 lbs (907 kg)
Best Mid-Priced Camping Trailer: Jayco Jay Flight SLX7
The best mid-sized trailer on the market for newbies to the camping world is the Jayco Jay Flight SLX7. Consistently voted America’s best-selling RV, this travel trailer can accommodate up to six people and is fully equipped with all the essentials you need for a relaxed camping trip.
Manufactured with the highest quality materials, weatherproof, and durable, the Jayco Jay Flight SLX7 can be fully customized to suit your needs with editable floor designs. Interiors feature solid hardwood cabinet doors, vinyl flooring throughout, LED interior lighting, and a premium multimedia sound system with MP3/iPod input jacks and Bluetooth® connectivity.
A residential-style kitchen boasts a two-burner range with cover, electric/gas refrigerator with temperature controls, a microwave oven, and a countertop, while the bedroom and bathroom offer the creature comforts of home with a queen-size bed, ample storage space, a shower, skylight, and a marine-grade toilet with foot flush.
The Jayco Jay Flight SLX7 has a Magnum Truss™ Roof system with a 20-year warranty on the roof materials, and galvanized-steel, impact-resistant wheel wells for easy towing and a smooth journey.
- Sleeps: Up to five people
- Dry Weight: 5560 lbs (2521 kg)
- GVWR: 7500 lbs (3401 kg)
Best Travel Trailer for Families: Grand Design RV Reflection Travel Trailer
Family camping trips are touch-and-go and can either be wonderfully memorable or end up being a disaster. Grand Design RV’s Reflection Travel Trailer promises your trips to be the former by offering all the creature comforts of home on wheels.
This sturdy and dependable travel trailer is spacious, stylish, and comfortable with a design akin to a mini apartment rather than an RV. Boasting all the bells and whistles from LED TV and a Bluetooth sound system to air-conditioning and heating, and a gourmet kitchen.
The main living area has a slide with a refrigerator, three burner range, and a microwave, while the kitchen features an island with a deep-seated stainless steel double kitchen sink and residential cabinetry. Sleeping options include a set of double bunk beds and a hide-a-bed sofa in the living area and the bathroom boasts a shower, sink, medicine cabinet, and toilet with a private entrance door leading outside from the bathroom.
Outside that trailer, there is an outside kitchen with a refrigerator, microwave, and two burner range, ample exterior storage, and a 20′ awning for shade and protection from the rain.
- Sleeps: Up to five people
- Dry Weight: 8096 lbs (3672 kg)
- GVWR: 9995 lbs (4533 kg)
Grand Design RV’s Reflection Travel Trailer offers all the creature comforts of home on wheels.
Best Pop-Up Travel Trailer: Taxa Outdoors Mantis Pop-Up Camper
The Taxa Outdoors Mantis Pop-Up Camper takes you back to basics and the simple joys of camping in the great wild yonder. If you are looking for an authentic, laid-back, small travel trailer, then this one is a great option. This little travel trailer comes with everything you need for a relaxing camping trip, including its outdoor seating area.
Designed by a former NASA architect, the Taxa Outdoors Mantis Pop-Up Camper has a pop-up roof for extra sleeping space and ventilation, as well as a rear ladder to make accessing the roof storage easier. There are three beds onboard: one full-sized bed and an optional bunk bed that also serves as a folding couch.
The trailer also includes a birch plywood-accented kitchen that includes a two-burner stove, sink, and fridge, a dining table, and an optional bathroom with a shower and a cassette toilet. There’s a water heater, a 20-gallon freshwater tank, and a 22-gallon gray water tank.
Other features on the Mantis include a furnace, a 110-volt, 6,000 BTU air conditioner, and multiple 12-volt accessory outlets and USB outlets. An eight-foot exterior awning provides shade, while the windows are insulated and come with screens and shades. The Mantis can sleep at least four people and seat six adults depending on the configuration.
- Sleeps: Up to four people
- Dry Weight: 2972 lbs (1348 kg)
- GVWR: 4200 lbs (1905 kg)
Frequently Asked Questions
What is the difference between a trailer and an RV?
There is no difference between a travel trailer and an RV. Standing for “recreation vehicle,” RV is simply a generic word for a motor vehicle or trailer which includes living quarters. A travel trailer is an RV that you attach to your vehicle by a trailer hitch. With this kind of unit, you have the option to disconnect it from your vehicle once you are parked. They are the most cost-effective if you are looking for a basic mobile living space.
Which travel trailers are the best quality?
Deciding on a travel trailer will depend entirely on your personal needs and requirements. According to our list above, some of the highest quality travel trailers on the market include Airstream’s Flying Cloud, Living Vehicle’s Max model, and Bowlus’ Terra Firma.
What are gray and black tanks?
Travel trailers need tanks to store water for drinking, washing, and wastewater (sewerage), and these are defined as Freshwater, Gray, and Black tanks.
The freshwater tank is the tank that holds all of the freshwater that comes from the taps in the vehicle and this water is potable (drinkable). The gray water tank holds the dirty water that comes from your shower and kitchen sink. The black water tank holds all of the wastewater from your toilets.
Do I need separate insurance for my travel trailer?
Yes. Car insurance and insurance for your travel trailer are different and you will need to insure both vehicles. There are specialized insurance policies made for RVs specifically that could cover things such as a full-time liability, emergencies, limited warranty on total loss replacement, campsite liability, higher liability limits, etc. It is important to note that not every company will offer the same coverages and they may word things differently.
What are GVW, GVWR, and GCWR?
These are abbreviations of the three weights most commonly given by dealerships.
GVW–Gross Vehicle Weight—the complete weight of a fully-loaded RV including cargo, fluids, people, and some equipment
GVWR–Gross Vehicle Weight Rating— totally allowed weight or max weight of the RV
GCWR– Gross Combination Weight Rating—the total allowed weight of any towing vehicles plus towed ones.
What are some additional costs I should keep in mind when looking for a travel trailer?
1) Insurance: Cost varies per provider.
2) Sales tax, delivery, etc.: Depends on where you are purchasing from.
3) Parts and accessories: Including special packages, break systems, waste dumping parts, sanitation chemicals, etc.
4) Maintenance: This may include routine care and emergency repairs.
Can I use my regular hitch to tow my fifth wheel?
No, the fifth wheel connects to a truck by a special type of hitch. It is similar to a ball hitch, but these are heavier duty and they go into the bed of the truck. The hitch uses a kingpin, a downward-facing pin, unlike the ball hitch which has an upward one. Then the kingpin slides into the hitch plate on the truck.
How do I know if my truck can tow an RV?
You need to look at the Gross Vehicle Weight Rating (GVWR) then look at your truck’s tow limit. Your truck’s tow limit will be its GVWR. It is typically on the sticker inside your driver’s side door.
Where can I have my RV serviced?
You can get your RV serviced at any dealership as long as they are a part of the manufacturer’s network. Something you should know is that many dealers give priority service to customers who purchased their RV from them.