What type of RV should I get?

First off, what does RV stand for?

Recreation Vehicle. Motorhomes, campervans, and trailers all count as RVs. If it has a bed and wheels, its probably an RV.

What is a motorhome?

Motorhomes are homes with motors and can move on their own.

Class A Motorhomes

These are the big beasts that look like a bus. In fact, some Class A motorhomes are built on the same chassis that buses use. Some major Class A manufacturers include Prevost and Tiffin. These are generally the most expensive RV type.

Class C Motorhomes

Class C motorhomes are built on van or truck chassis. If the front of the motorhome looks like a regular pickup truck or van and the back is a big box, its a Class C. Usually, Class C motorhomes offer the most space per dollar, though that can vary wildly by manufacturer and materials used.

Class B motorhomes

These are also known as camper vans. These usually start as commercial vans like a Mercedes Sprinter, Ram Promaster, or Ford Transit. Sometimes, people convert these vans into RVs on their own, but usually the conversion is done by an RV manufacturer. Class B motorhomes can be fairly expensive, often costing more than a Class C more than double the size. However, a camper van can go anywhere and many people find this freedom worth the price.

What types of RV trailer are there?

RV trailers can either be a fifth wheel, travel trailer, teardrop, or popup.

Fifth Wheel

Fifth wheel trailers can only be pulled by pickup trucks and hitch up directly above the rear axle. Due to this configuration, they transfer 20%-22% of their weight to the tow vehicle, which is as much as twice as much by percentage compared to other trailer types. Considering that fifth wheels are often far larger than other trailer types, you’ll need a big truck to pull one, but you get the best towing experience.

Travel Trailer

Travel trailers are sometimes called bumper-pulls because the hitch location is at the rear of the tow vehicle. Don’t actually use your bumper, though. Your tow vehicle will need a dedicated receiver hitch with connections for lights and sometimes brakes. Travel trailers provide some of the best dollar-per-square-foot value in the RV world. Unsurprisingly, travel trailers are the most purchased RV type and the starting point for many RVers.


Teardrop trailers are a smaller, more aerodynamic version of a travel trailer. While most travel trailers require a truck or large SUV, some teardrops are light enough to be towed by cars. Teardrops look like sideways teardrops and usually consist of a bed for two and some storage. Larger units have small kitchens on the outside.

Popup Trailer

Popup trailers are another great entry point into the RV world. Popups are bumper pull trailers that are quite short for towing, but “pop up” into a full trailer at the campground. From the waist down, a popup has hard sides. It also has a hard roof. The middle is basically a tent. Popups are affordable and more fuel efficient because of their low towing height. While they expand to be quite large, popups are harder to heat and cool so have are limited to a smaller range of temperatures.

Hybrid Trailer

Hybrid trailers are a combination of popup and travel trailer. Usually a hybrid trailer will have a kitchen and bathroom with solid walls and then beds that pop out with canvas sides. Hybrids are a bit better in the heat than a popup because you only need the tent parts at night.

What type of RV is best for you?

Great question, first we need to talk about motorhome vs trailer and then we can compare the subtypes.

Motorhome vs Trailer

From Class Bs to Class As and from teardrops to fifth wheels, there is a broad range within the drivable and towable RV categories, so the answer to this question has to be somewhat broad.

Motorhome Pros

  • Easy to park and setup. No complex backing up.
  • Easier to drive. The whole RV is one piece.
  • Often nicer interiors (though it varies by brand)
  • Lots of storage. Class As are like Greyhound buses, with large storage compartments underneath.

Motorhome Cons

  • More expensive. While you need to also buy a tow vehicle for a trailer, most people would already own a vehicle, so its a matter of buying one that can handle a trailer.
  • More maintenance. Motorhomes have engines that need maintenance.
  • Harder to get around once at destination. Either you need to disconnect your motorhome every time you want to go somewhere or you need a separate vehicle. Most motorhome owners tow a vehicle behind them.
  • Few family-oriented floorplans, and of those few offer bedtime privacy.

Trailer Pros

  • Cheapest way to get into RVing, especially if you already own a capable truck
  • Fifth wheels offer the highest ceiling heights of any RV type

Trailer Cons

  • Towing is hard and complicated to setup correctly
  • Backing into a site is harder with a trailer, where a motorhome is a bit more car-like
  • Understanding tow ratings is not as straightforward as you would think
  • Some travel trailers are short
  • Low cost travel trailers can be low quality

What type of RV is more popular?

First off, over 90% of RVs sold this year will be trailers. The majority of RV purchasers believe that a trailer is the best option for their situation.

Due to the lower sales volume, motorhomes offer far fewer floor plans. Most families, especially those with multiple kids, will find trailers to have better layouts. Its fairly common to find bunkhouse models with 3 or 4 beds in a separate kids room. They can even have their own TV for rainy days.

Who should get a motorhome?

The majority of motorhome owners we see are either younger couples or retired couples.

  • The luxury and simplicity of a Class A tends to draw retired couples, and they’re the ones that can afford them. Class A owners usually tow a smaller vehicle for around-town trips.
  • Younger couples tend to lean towards the flexibility of Class B camper vans, though I’ve seen a fair number of retirees in camper vans as well.
  • Class C do work for some families and a reasonably priced

Who should get an RV trailer?

Most people will end up with a trailer, and if you don’t mind driving around in a truck, its a good way to travel.

  • If you like tent camping but are done with sleeping on the ground, popups are for you.
  • Trailers under 20 feet offer a lot of flexibility in tow vehicles while also being able to fit in any park.
  • Around 25 feet, trailers gain a lot more sleeping spaces but you’ll need a half-ton truck or a truck-framed SUV like a Suburban.
  • Longer travel trailers are great for families
  • Fifth wheels are good options for long trailers as part of the trailer sits over the truck, making for a short combined length. They also tow better. Those looking to travel for weeks at a time often choose a fifth wheel.

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