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Choosing between a trailer/fifth wheel and motorhome

by Carl Lundquist

Newcomers to RVing are often torn between purchasing a trailer, 5th wheel or motorhome. There's no single answer that will beright for everyone, but the following are some considerations offered by forum staff member Carl Lundquist.

  • With a motorhome, your home is your car. If you need service, your home has to go to the mechanic's for a stay. With a trailer, your tow vehicle can go by itself.
  • Almost any garage or small town dealer can handle repairs to a trailer's tow vehicle, be it SUV or pickup truck. Repair facilities that can handle a Class A motorhome, or even a Class C, are going to be harder to find.
  • A trailer-tow vehicle rig bends in the middle when you are trying to manuever into a campsite. Motorhomes do not.
  • In camp, a trailer's tow vehicle is free for errands and sightseeing without breaking camp. Motorhomes have to break camp to go to the grocery store unless they have a towed car, known universally as a toad.
  • Trailers require trucks, and some truly large trucks with big ones. Motorhomes can tow a reasonable sized 4WD, sedan, or even a Ferrari. A motorhome can also tow a boat.
  • A truck towing a trailer can be backed up. A motorhome towing a car cannot; The car must be unhitched first.
  • Motorhomes establish camp a tad faster than a trailer but in the upper reaches of trailers, the matter is a wash given conveniences such as power leveling jacks.
  • Entry to a trailer can be lower to the ground than a Class A motorhome. Helpful with limited mobility.