The Ins And Outs of Buying a Travel Trailer

Towable RVs are the least expensive way to get into RVing.

That’s because they are propelled by the family SUV or truck, making them much cheaper and simpler to get started with than a motorhome. They also come in a wide range of designs and sizes, providing something for every budget.

Low profile travel trailer at Catalina State Park near Tucson, Arizona © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Low profile travel trailer at Catalina State Park near Tucson, Arizona © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

A recent study reveals that demand for RVs is expected to rise 4.9 percent per year to $20.1 billion in 2022.

Sales of travel trailers continue to grow, even surpassing pre-recession peaks. In 2017, unit sales of travel trailers were nearly 200 percent of 2007 levels.

The study further revealed that demand for travel trailers is expected to rise 5.2 percent per year through 2022 to $12.6 billion with volume reaching 475,000 units on 3.9 percent annual growth.

Travel trailers are favored for their variety of options, from luxury to low-cost entry-level versions, and from those that require a truck to tow them to those that can be managed by most small automobiles.

Travel trailer at Lost Dutchman State Park near Apache Junction, Arizona © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Scamp Travel trailer at Lost Dutchman State Park near Apache Junction, Arizona © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

In general, trailers are preferred because, unlike motorhomes, they can be left behind at a campsite while the owner tours the area in a conventional automobile that can be parked anywhere.

Current models appeal to a range of consumers―from those looking for a retro or European look or a functional vehicle that can haul their ATV or snowmobile, to long-term travelers, and to those on a quick weekend getaway.

Because the trailer can be removed from the tow vehicle, the SUV or truck can be used year-round—rather than just serve as a vacation coach, like a motorhome. Plus, the tow vehicle will likely have modern safety features not readily available on a motor coach, including forward-collision warning, automatic emergency braking, blind-spot warning, and robust crash protection.

Travel trailer at Eagle View RV Resort near Fort McDowell, Arizona © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Travel trailer at Eagle View RV Resort near Fort McDowell, Arizona © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Travel trailers also offer flexibility when you arrive at the campground. You can unhitch the trailer and leave it behind, using the tow vehicle for day trips and shopping. You don’t need to pack things away inside the motorhome and disconnect all the utilities each time you want to head out, like you must do when traveling with a motorhome. A tow vehicle is considerably easier for sightseeing, navigating city streets, parking.

Be aware that towing a travel trailer requires a new skill set from merely driving a car. Considerable space is required to park a tow vehicle and trailer combination. Learning how to reverse the trailer takes practice and patience. You also need to hitch and unhitch the trailer, carefully going through the steps to ensure a safe connection. You need to own, or purchase, a vehicle that is capable of safely towing the trailer.

Travel trailer at McDowell Mountain Regional Park near Fort McDowell, Arizona © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Travel trailer at McDowell Mountain Regional Park near Fort McDowell, Arizona © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Now, how do you decide which trailer best suits your needs?

The first thing to decide is the primary purpose for the travel trailer. Weekend getaways? Summer vacation? Full time living?

From there, you can determine the features, size, and type you want. Consider the number of adults and children that will sleep in the travel trailer.

Every amenity within the RV has a direct impact on RV size, weight, and cost.

You also need to consider the practical aspects of your purchase: budget and towing weight. Ensure your tow vehicle is sufficient for the job factoring in the gross vehicle weight rating (GVWR), hitch weight, dry weight, and carrying capacity.

Travel trailer at Irwins RV, Valemont, British Columbia © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Travel trailer at Irwins RV, Valemont, British Columbia © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Whether you’re buying new or used, or planning to purchase from a dealer or a private seller, it’s important to do your research on the manufacturers and models that fit what you want. Go online to find reviews of the company, model, and sellers.

You can also stop by dealers to take a tour of the current model year units. They should be able to answer any questions you might have.

Worth Pondering…
When Robert Frost declared his intention to take the road less traveled in his 1916 poem “The Road Not Taken,” who could have guessed that so many people would take the same trip?

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