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Key Takeaways

  • Travel trailers will cost between $10,000 and $200,00, depending on model and quality.
  • There are many different types of travel trailers that offer a range of features.
  • They will be smaller than traditional RVs, but offer greater flexibility.
  • Prepare your tow vehicle to handle your travel trailer, and buy the right accessories too.

Mobile living is on the rise in many parts of the world, with many preferring a minimalist RV lifestyle and the freedom to travel. But how much does it cost?

A travel trailer typically costs anywhere between $20,000 and $50,000 to purchase, although the type of trailer and the build quality will affect that pricing. There are also other travel trailer costs to consider, but purchasing one can be manageable.

We’ll review the different types of travel trailers and the average cost of each, as well as some basic travel trailer information, to help you make the best purchase for your travel trailer needs.



What Is a Travel Trailer?

A travel trailer (also called a camper trailer or caravan) is a type of recreational vehicle (RV) that is towed behind your own vehicle. It differs from a traditional recreational vehicle in that it is not able to operate as a standalone vehicle.

Benefits of Travel Trailers

There are numerous benefits of travel trailers over other types of RVs. First, you have the flexibility of using your tow vehicle to travel around your campsite at will, instead of being hampered by a bulkier RV.

They are also much less expensive than a traditional RV, and are light enough to be towed by multiple kinds of tow vehicles.

Furthermore, they will require less maintenance than an RV because there are fewer components to consider.

Disadvantages of Travel Trailers

While the benefits of travel trailers are many, there are some drawbacks. They are smaller than an RV and can offer fewer amenities, which can become a problem on longer trips. You also need to make sure you have the right tow vehicle, which may mean purchasing that as well.

They may also be less stable, and should not be used as space to actively transport passengers.

How Much Does a Travel Trailer Cost?

Many factors can affect the cost of a travel trailer. The size of the travel trailer is the first factor - the bigger you go, the more you will pay. Brand, build quality, features, and amenities will also play into the final purchase price.

This means that new travel trailers can range anywhere from $10,000 for a stripped-down baseline model, to up to $200,000 for a top-of-the-line luxury model. However, most kinds of travel trailers will have more manageable average prices of between $20,000 and $50,000.

By contrast, RV prices can be upward of $200,000 on up to $500,000, which is much more than an average travel trailer.

Additional Costs and Supplies for a Travel Trailer

In addition to the base sticker price, you should think about the following supplementary costs associated with buying a travel trailer:

  • Sales tax, title, and registration fees (which will vary by state)
  • RV Insurance policy
  • Power supplies, like batteries, generators, and propane tanks
  • Utility hoses and cords for water and waste
  • Spare tires
  • Storage when not in use (either on property, or through a third-party company)

Additional considerations such as campground fees when you do travel will now be part of your overall trip costs.

Should I Buy New or Used?

You can find much lower prices by purchasing a used travel trailer or a used RV, if you are comfortable with a second-hand vehicle. However, there will understandably be wear and tear on a used travel trailer or used RV, and some components may not have held up over time. This becomes a problem when failures make the travel trailer unsafe or unsecure.

If you are buying a used travel trailer, inspect the vehicle carefully yourself or have a mechanic look it over (if you are able) before closing the deal.

Logistics of Travel Trailers

Tow Vehicles

Because a travel trailer does not have its own engine or drivetrain, you will need to select an appropriate tow vehicle.

Review your vehicle’s specifications to ensure it has the right towing capacity for your travel trailer, particularly for the weight and ability to outfit it with the right equipment.

Some upgrades to consider include a lighting harness to power the rear and backup lights on the travel trailer, the right trailer hitch (including installation), tow mirrors, wheel chocks for keeping your travel trailer in place at your destination, utility regulators for power and water, and more.

Don’t forget about these needed accessories to keep your investment secure and your travel trailer ready to house you on the open road.

Types of Travel Trailers

Expandable Trailer

An expandable travel trailer or tent trailer is much more compact, and allow you to “pop up” your campsite for a more spacious interior and extra sleeping space once you arrive, then let you pack everything away when you are ready to hit the road again.

A tent trailer may include sleeping and living space in expanded compartments, and will provide basic protection from the elements.

An expandable travel trailer is ideal if you want something compact to go over rougher terrain, or have a smaller or more remote campsite. They can usually house up to four people.

An expandable travel trailer (or tent trailer) will cost between $10,000 and $50,000.

Lightweight Trailer

A lightweight travel trailer is what its name implies: lighter in weight than its larger counterparts. It is a towable travel trailer that can be towed by trucks and SUVs, as well as some sedans.

They tend to be more aerodynamic, and while they offer fewer amenities they can offer a fun camping experience for those who are just starting out.

A lightweight travel trailer will cost between $12,000 and $60,000.

Travel Trailer

The “standard” travel trailer can be short or long, and can accommodate up to ten people at a time. Some can expand to include additional living and camping spaces, can accommodate larger luxuries like a queen sized bed or even a king sized bed, and can offer better security and stability than lighter versions.

There is also much more variety in floor plans and privacy as well.

A travel trailer will cost between $20,000 and $50,000.

Fifth Wheel

The “fifth wheel” label is a bit of a misnomer: this actually refers to the coupling that mounts to a truck bed for towing. Also called a truck camper, fifth wheels have an overhand resting area over that mounting that offers more sleeping space or storage space.

These trailers are usually much larger, which is better for extended trips, and some models include full-sized living rooms or kitchens with overhead cabinets.

Fifth wheels will cost between $35,000 and $135,000.

Toy Hauler

A toy hauler trailer is a hybrid trailer, and is built for those who want to travel with another sports vehicle, like a bike, motorcycle, or ATV. Half of the trailer is used for these vehicles, while the other half is dedicated to living and sleeping space, although the rear storage space area can be retrofitted for additional living space once you arrive.

Because this class of trailer is built to transport vehicles, it will have some hardier construction features and be built to handle stronger weights (although you will also need a stronger vehicle to tow it).

Toy hauler trailers will cost between $60,000 and $200,000.

Average Lifespan of Travel Trailers

Most travel trailers will last an average of ten years, depending on the quality of maintenance and upkeep. Some trailers can last for decades if cared for properly, while others may break down if they are more cheaply made or used beyond their intended capacity.

The amount of travel, and where you go, will also play a role in how long your travel trailer will last.

Where to Use Travel Trailers

Travel trailers can be used almost anywhere a traditional RV can be used. Trailer parks and RV campsites are the most obvious choices, although many state and national parks provide parking and hookup areas for travel trailers alongside cabins or tent campsites.

Some travel trailers can be taken off the beaten path, depending on how rugged they are. Again, also keep in mind where your tow vehicle is able to go, and plan accordingly.