What Is The Difference Between a Trailer And an RV?

When most people plan vacations, shorter or longer trips, or even camping trips, the first thing they try to find is some accommodation – a hotel, lodge, apartment, or even a cabin. They rarely think of RVs or trailers as accommodation options because there is a stigma about them being less comfortable and convenient. We need to break the stigma because trailers and RVs are super fun and an excellent option for anyone.

In today's guide, I want to tell you that investing in a trailer or RV is wise. I will also help you choose the best option for you. Stick around if you want to learn more about these two options, their similarities and differences, and everything you need to consider before investing. Let's get right into the guide!


rv camper at night

What Is a Trailer?

Trailers have been around for quite a while. They are an excellent option for people looking to travel often without worrying about finding accommodation in the city or country. That is because you get to bring your accommodation that you tow around with your vehicle.

Of course, an important note is that trailers do not have engines. To take one on a trip, you will need a car or truck that can pull the trailer to a particular location. The trailer is nothing more than private accommodation. You get to drive around.

Various trailers are available, which can vary in size, price, and amenities. As for the types, you will come across names like a travel trailer, truck trailer, popup trailer, or even fifth wheel trailer. Let's see what these names stand for:

  • Travel trailers – these are small trailers that are pretty simple on the inside. They are usually used to accommodate people, while they can fit anywhere from two to six people and, in some cases, more. So, they are an excellent option for traveling with a large family.

  • Truck trailer – the truck trailer or camp trailer is something you use with a pickup truck. They are small enough to fit on the back of the truck, while they can accommodate only a few people. On the plus side – they are very affordable and easy to use, which makes them an excellent option for couples that are often on the go.

  • Popup trailer pop up campers are quite light but also a bit less convenient than the rest, mainly because they are made from canvas. They come folded, and you can open up the canvas sides and top to create an actual room. They are not as warm and waterproof as some of the other trailers you will come across.

  • Fifth wheel trailer – fifth wheel trailers are my favorite because they are comparable to a mini apartment you get to tow. They have enough room to accommodate several people, while they might feature a small bathroom and kitchen area. Still, they are larger and heavier than the rest, so you need a powerful vehicle to be able to tow them.

Many companies produce and sell trailers of all kinds, so I trust you will find one that fits your needs best. A trailer is always a good option, especially for small families who like to travel often and want to be open to more than just the regular accommodation options available in a given area.

oldschool camping trailer

What Is an RV?

Trailers are just some of the recreational vehicles you can look into. For argument's sake, let's say you do not have a tow vehicle for the trailer – what then? Moving the trailer without the vehicle will be impossible!

Since this is not the most convenient option for those who do not have a vehicle available at all times, I would like to present an alternative option – the RV!

The RV is somewhat like a trailer, but unlike the trailer, it does not need to be towed because it has its own engine. You can ride it like you would a car, which makes it very easy to use. Then, you can park it anywhere you want, step into the back, and have an actual room you can use to relax in.

Like trailers, RVs also differ in price, size, and amenities. There are three types of RVs, known as the three classes. Let's look into them briefly:

  • Class A RV – Class A motorhomes are the most luxurious and spacious RVs. They usually have a sleeping area, a fully equipped kitchen, and a sitting area. They can accommodate four or more people, depending on the specific RV. They are a bit more expensive, but the investment is worth it if you ask me.

  • Class B RV – Class B motorhomes are somewhat simpler RVs. They can have the same amenities but might not offer extra storage space. They are less expensive than Class B motorhomes, making them perfect for couples who want to travel around in their own little paradise.

  • Class C RV – Class C motorhomes have Class A and B features. They are very convenient and an excellent option for traveling couples or families. Since they come in various sizes, you can get one that fits your needs best.

RVs are a great option because they give instant access to a sitting area, kitchen, and sleeping area. When headed on long road trips, you can park the RV and go right from the driver's seat to the back to relax – no ifs, and, or buts.

What Is The Difference Between an RV And a Trailer?

Now that I have gone over all the different types of trailers and RVs, including their unique features, this would be an excellent time to get into their differences.

Knowing the differences between the two options is important because it can help shape your decision on which one to get. Remember that there is no right or wrong choice in this case – you have to consider which option you like best and which comes with features that fit your needs.

With that being said, let's talk about the differences between RVs and trailers in more detail:


The absence or presence of an engine is the most significant difference between an RV and a trailer. I mentioned this in the previous sections, but I want to stress it again.

The term RV is used for a type of recreational vehicle that has an engine. The driver's seat is inside the RV, in front of the lounge or sleeping area. It is all one big area that is internally divided into other areas, depending on the type of RV in question.

In opposition, the term trailer is used for a recreational vehicle with no engine. It has to be used together with a towing vehicle - a car or truck. Depending on the towing vehicle available to you, you can choose between the various types of trailers.


The price is another essential difference between trailers and RVs. If you look into these two options, you will find that RVs are more expensive than trailers, at least when talking about brand-new models that have never been used. If you look into used RVs and trailers, the prices will vary.

Trailers are a better option for people on a tighter budget, but only if they have a towing vehicle available. Otherwise, they will need to buy a car that can tow the trailer, bringing the costs quite high. So, consider this before investing in a trailer.

Maintenance Cost

The maintenance cost is also something to consider, but it can vary between trailers and RVs. The main reason why I bring this up is that with the RV, you have only one vehicle you need to maintain. Even if the maintenance is expensive, it is still one vehicle.

With trailers, there are two vehicles you need to keep in pristine shape – the towing vehicle and the actual trailer. So, both vehicles could be more expensive to maintain than the RV. Still, this depends on the type of vehicles you have as well as their maintenance requirements.


Freedom is something you always need more of, especially when you are traveling to a place you have never visited before. You will want to explore everything, so it might be more convenient to drive to different locations and stay there while you explore.

This will be a bit more challenging with the trailer since there are only so many places where a car can tow your trailer. You can even do off-road driving with an RV to reach amazing locations to explore. So, it is better to go with the RV if you want to feel free while traveling. 


Thank you for sticking with me through this guide on RVs, trailers, and their similarities, differences, and unique features.

Remember that RVs have engines, whereas trailers must be towed by a separate vehicle. At the same time, the RV offers more freedom and space, whereas the trailer is a bit less expensive with much less space to relax.

Use these points to decide if the RV is the best option for you or if you want to look into the trailers more closely!

Andrew Mullen

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