Unique Differences When Deciding Motorhome VS Travel Trailer

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The top image is a motorhome driving down the road. The bottom image is a travel trailer being towed by an SUV.

Imagine yourself driving down the road with your new RV. You’re headed off on the adventure of a lifetime. But what does your rig look like? If you’re not quite sure, keep reading to find out the differences between a motorhome vs a travel trailer so you can make the right purchase. 

Difference Between a Motorhome VS a Travel Trailer

A motorhome is a recreational vehicle that has everything enclosed in one space. That means the same space contains the area for living and driving. These vehicles are typically much larger than a travel trailer. Motorhomes come in different classes.

On the other hand, another vehicle needs to haul your travel trailer. It has a living area but no engine. You will need a vehicle to pull a travel trailer while the motorhome is the vehicle. 

Pro Tip: Need to take the lesson back a step? Read What Is Considered A Recreational Vehicle?

A travel trailer is being pulled behind and SUV on a roadway with mountains in the background.

Comparing Travel Days

While driving to your destination, you’ll experience some key differences between a motorhome and a travel trailer. 

Traveling with Children or Pets 

If you have a motorhome, there is usually additional space to buckle in kids or pets, but the safety of these may be variable. For example, if you have a sideways facing couch that has seatbelts, this may not be a safe place to seat additional family members. 

Even though they would be buckled in, if you were to be in an accident, they would be whipped sideways causing significant harm. If you have kids you’ll be buckling in, make sure there are front-facing seats with seatbelts for them. Also, make sure they are safe to use with car seats if needed. 

If you have the proper seating setup, a motorhome can be extremely convenient for traveling with kids or pets. Or even just yourself. When you stop, all you have to do is turn around and you have instant access to all the amenities. A travel trailer means everyone will sit in your everyday vehicle. For long road trips, this can feel crowded. A motorhome is definitely a more luxurious way to travel for highway driving. 

If you have kids or pets with you, you will also have more living and storage space in a motorhome vs travel trailer in most cases. 

Some pet owners also opt to let their pets roam around a motorhome while driving. This gives them a less stressful ride with more freedom to stretch their legs.

Two dogs in the backseat of a truck. Traveling with pets should factor into your decision of motorhome vs travel trailer.

Off-Road Driving and Boondocking

If you’re going to be doing a lot of off-road driving or boondocking, you’ll likely experience a smoother and safer ride by going the travel trailer route. In fact, there are some travel trailers tailored for off-road capabilities. 

While there are some decked out motorhomes that can handle off-roading, when people think of a traditional motorhome, off-roading likely will not be a regular part of your travels. 

Maneuvering on dirt roads and getting in and out of boondocking locations is much easier with a smaller vehicle. So, you might drive a shorter motorhome and be ok. But, most of the time, manufacturers don’t design motorhomes to handle this kind of terrain. 

If you are boondocking on relatively tame roads, though, boondocking in a motorhome is a snap. One of the best things is that the motorhome charges the batteries while driving, while this is not the case with a towable travel trailer. A larger motorhome will also likely have larger tanks and more surface area for installing solar power. This allows you to boondock for longer. 

Set Up Differences

The setup process for a motorhome is quite simple. Once you pull into your site, all you have to do is level your rig and hook up to water, power, and sewer. 

Getting setup in a travel trailer is slightly more involved. The primary difference is the need to unhitch the vehicle and lower the stabilizing jacks. Depending on your trailer’s age, you may not have the auto-leveling features that come with many motorhomes. However, there are travel trailers that have these features. 

Pro Tip: If you find yourself leaning towards a motorhome, you have to check out these 10 Best Small Motorhomes in 2022 (With Video Walkthroughs).

Maintenance Differences

Since a travel trailer isn’t doing the work to actually drive from place to place, it usually requires less maintenance than a motorhome. You may feel comfortable doing work on your own truck, such as changing the brake pads, doing oil changes, etc. But you might not feel so comfortable doing this for a motorhome. As a result, you will have more costs from having to pay a professional.

Both a motorhome and a travel trailer will require regular maintenance and upkeep to stay in tip-top shape, though. So, you aren’t off the hook if you go with a travel trailer vs a motorhome. 

Cost Differences Motorhome VS Travel Trailer

In general, the cost of a motorhome will exceed that of a travel trailer. Both the upfront costs and the other associated costs are higher for a motorhome. This is especially true if you already have a truck capable of pulling a travel trailer and don’t have to make that additional purchase. If not, you’ll have the cost of the truck to factor into your travel trailer’s overall expenditures. 

You’ll also most likely pay more for repairs and insurance with a motorhome. Vehicle registration also tends to be higher the more expensive the vehicle, so a motorhome will probably be more expensive to register with your state. 

Another major cost difference is related to gas costs. Even when hauling a travel trailer, you will probably have much better gas mileage than a motorhome does. Those things are gas guzzlers! 

You might also need a longer site at an RV park to accommodate a motorhome and tow vehicle. A larger site could cause increased site fees. 

A motohome is parked along a beach with a blue ocean and blue sky. A motorhome vs a travel trailer is easier to pull up and park somewhere like this.


Motorhomes typically start with a higher price point, so they may be worth more for longer, but only because of where they started. 

Both travel trailers and motorhomes depreciate rapidly and significantly, especially in the first 5 years. 

If you’re looking for something that holds its value or increases, an RV is not what you want. 

Interior Space Motorhome VS Travel Trailer

When considering a motorhome vs travel trailer, you will get more living space with a motorhome. Motorhomes also may have many more slides than a travel trailer. The slides can supersize the amount of interior space you have. 

Day-Tripping Options

One really pleasant thing about a travel trailer is that you’ll always have a vehicle to drive around. Once you park your trailer at your site, you can take your truck anywhere you want to go. 

While you can day trip in a motorhome, it would be an enormous hassle. Not only would it be hard to find places to park, but you would also have to hook up and unhook every day. That means you must have a tow vehicle for the best day-tripping experience. A tow vehicle may need modifications to be towed or might have to go on a trailer. This can be an additional expense. 

Selection of New or Used

Because of everything that goes into designing a new motorhome, there aren’t quite as many options. You will have a greater selection of layouts, sizes, and price points when purchasing a travel trailer vs a motorhome.

1 comment
  1. I think you hit most of the major points very well. We had a 32′ Class A and now a 30′ tt & pickup. I think the Class A was better built and held up better. It worked for us at the time. It was not well suited for boon-docking though. We did like it a lot though. With the tt I like the fact I can now drop the trailer and still have a car. I can back up the trailer. Backing a “toad” is difficult. They both have pluses & minuses. It’s just which one has the one or two more pluses for YOU and your style & budget at any given time. We are not full timers but use our RV a lot

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