Begin RV

Travel Trailer

What Is A Travel Trailer? 

A Travel Trailer is a non-motorized compact home on wheels that you can tow behind your personal vehicle. The Travel Trailer employs a hitch secured to the frame of the tow vehicle along with specialized hardware to make towing safe and easy. 

Travel Trailer Parked at Night

The Travel trailer is the most common type of  RV. It comes in a wide range of sizes and sleeps up to 10 people [1]


  • The most common type of RV in United States and Canada.
  • Non-motorized; require a “tow vehicle” to pull.
  • Can be unhitched from vehicle and used as standalone home/shelter.
  • Different sizes, floorplans and models can sleep from 4-10 people.


Understanding Travel Trailers

Unlike Class A, Class B and Class C motorhomes which are motorized, travel trailers do not move with their own power and require another vehicle to pull them (the “tow vehicle”). Travel trailers have the convenience of being unhitched and left at a campsite while the owner takes his/her vehicle into town. 

Essentially a miniature home on wheels, a travel trailer provides a more luxurious alternative to camping.  Travel trailers contain convenient amenities such as beds, stoves, sinks and refrigeration. Travel trailers come in a wide range of types and sizes each with different layouts and sleeping capacity. 

Here are the features of the basic types of travel trailer: 

Conventional Travel Trailer

  • Ranch-style single-level living  
  • Smaller models can be towed by family car or SUV 
  • Separate bedrooms and large living space
  • Can sleep up to 10

 Fifth Wheel Travel Trailer

  • Two level floor plan
  • Most storage space of the travel trailers
  • Must be towed by pickup truck 
  • Sleeps up to 6

Expandable Travel Trailer

  • Ends pull away for more sleeping room at front and back of trailer
  • Highly customizable with added room for living, sleeping, kitchen 
  • Lightweight – may not require pickup for towing
  • Sleeps up to 8

Pop-up (Folding) Camping Trailers

  • Cross between a caravan and a tent
  • Folds in for easy, lightweight towing with family car or SUV
  • Easily stored – even larger units can fit in garage
  • Sleeps up to 8

Bumper Pull Trailers vs. Gooseneck Trailers

One of the most important questions to ask when looking into purchasing a travel trailer is whether it is a  gooseneck or a bumper pull. The main difference between a gooseneck trailer and a bumper pull trailer is the way they attach to the tow vehicle.

Bumper Pull Trailer 

Bumper pulls, also known as the “drag” or “tagalong” trailer are the most common type of hitch. The “bumper pull” comes from the 1950’s when trailers were attached to the tow car’s bumper. Modern bumper pull trailers are attached to a ball hitch that juts out from the tow car’s frame at the rear of the vehicle. 

The advantages of the bumper pull trailer are: 

  • Rear end Ball hitch standard on many SUVs. 
  • Due to smaller trailer size, generally more affordable than gooseneck trailers. 
  • Normal turn radius, so the trailer will follow the towing vehicle as it makes a turn.  
  • Less intimidating for first time trailer buyers.

The disadvantages of the bumper pull trailer are: 

  • Less living space due to smaller trailer size;
  • Uneven weight distribution can lead to swaying (and potential hazardous situations)

Gooseneck Trailer

The gooseneck trailer slides over a ball hitch in the bed of a pickup truck. It’s called gooseneck due to the long “neck” that reaches up over the back of the tailgate and slides over the hitch. 

The advantages of the gooseneck trailer are: 

  • Increased stability. Since the tongue weight of the trailer is over the truck’s rear axle instead of the back bumper, the potential of the trailer to sway is minimized. 
  • Possibility for greater living space due to heavier tow capacity. 
  • Can haul heavier loads. 
  • Good for commercial and farming purposes. 

The disadvantages of the gooseneck trailer are: 

  • Less common than bumper pull trailers. Most pickup trucks don’t come equipped with a gooseneck trailer ball in their truck bed – requiring a professional mechanic for install. 
  • Large size and weight requires that it be towed by pickup truck. 
  • More intimidating for first time users than bumper pull. 

Related RV Terms 

For related RV terminology, please reference the RV definitions below:

  • GVWR (Gross Vehicle Weight Rating): The maximum loaded weight of a car vehicle that has been determined to be safe by the manufacturer. It encompasses the weight of the passengers, cargo, and the weight of the vehicle itself.
  • Hitch: the primary connector between a tow vehicle and trailer.
  • Payload Capacity: is the manufacturer-determined maximum amount of cargo weight that can be safely added to a vehicle. 




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