Motorhome Versus Trailer
Lots of customers have asked, either explicitly or implicitly, which “way to go” when selecting an RV. Most Rvers who have had both trailers and motorhomes will recognize the answer is not a simple one — if indeed there is any “answer” at all. Yet it’s important for first time RV buyers to know what the pros and cons of each are, so that they can get into a unit which will be best for their particular RV lifestyle.
Before getting to the Great Debate over Motorhome versus Trailer, let’s give the credit that’s due the relatively smaller types — the tent trailer and the slide-in camper. Actually, both of these RV types can come in quite fancy packages too. But typically there is some sacrifice in space and amenities.
The Pop Up offers quite a bit of inside space, given the relatively small size of the typical unit. Not only is it an economical choice in terms of purchase price, it’s lighter weight assures much better fuel economy over the road. Equally important, most units are light enough to pull behind almost any car equipped with an adequate trailer hitch. No need to buy one of those expensive, full size pickup trucks as part of the price for getting into Rving.
A motorhome is particularly user friendly going down the road. While underway, the and of course using due care not to move about on winding roadways or in traffic, the passenger has access to the full range of motorhome amenities. A snack is as far as the refrigerator; a quick nap is but a few steps to the coach or bed; and of course the onboard lavatory is fully accessible.
Backing into an RV site is easier than maneuvering a trailer in what often appears to be an unnatural direction. There seemed to be something inherently “superior” about a motorhome (at least the Class A types — I’ll leave the “Class A versus Class C discussion for another time). No doubt many view the “motor coach” with a certain sense of elitism.
But there are drawbacks. Perhaps the most significant — for fulltime Rving lifestyle there is not a go and stay there mode. Most stay two or three nights at any destination More typically a night or two and then off again in search of new places — or one of the many, many “old places” cataloged in years of RV travels.
Another, and unrelated factor is the first weekend outing in the new motorhome, you concluded that your travel style would require that you take along a tow car. Once a motorhome is parked, leveled, and hooked up to utilities, one hardly wants to undo all that loving work just to drive to the grocery store for a carton of milk. So now a tow vehicle is opted for light enough to tow without adding any sense of added weight, and it could be towed without the use of a car dolly — still another chassis to worry about. But of course the tow vehicle will began to log some big mileage too unless you get a tow dolly, so its resale value will be less as well. Moreover, providing maintenance on two separate vehicles, neither of which could accomplish the purpose of a “family car” — so there is of course a third vehicle to maintain.
Since the third vehicle is already a full size diesel pickup, the move to a fifth wheel becomes irresistible, and quite easy to tow. In all fairness, it is a bit more of a chore to tow the fifth wheel than to simply drive the motorhome; but it is not at all difficult. Parking at RV parks is a bit more tedious when backing into a small space. But soon you get the hang of it and that problem gets minimized. You will miss the over-the-road convenience of the motorhome, but the fuel economy goes way up, and your maintenance costs goes way down. And of course you no longer need the tow vehicle. Another difference you will notice is the superb on-road stability of a 5th wheel and generally more stable in windy conditions. Some RVers prefer the 5th wheel combo over motorhomes in windy conditions. Carefully note that we are talking about a 5th Wheel trailer — not a travel trailer. Keep in mind both 5th wheels and motorhomes come in all different sizes, shapes, weights, and design. Not all 5th wheels would be more stable in windy conditions than all motorhomes. But in my experience as a general rule, 5th wheels do better than motorhomes when the wind really decides to blow.
Now that brings us to Diesel Pusher and a class of it own. The Diesel is built for longevity, power, and luxury that will not be pushed around by the elements and will still hold its value with high mileage. So the bottom line to the Motorhome versus Fifth Wheel seems to have everything to do with one’s current RVing lifestyle. For low or high mileage travels, or for extended RV travels, a Diesel Motorhome may offer many advantages. The Fifth Wheel combo has more overall advantages for weekend and full timers alike. Barbara Andrews 904 458-3000