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You’re ready to buy a trailer and you can’t decide which one you need. It’s hard! You read the terms fifth wheel, travel trailer, tent trailer, RV, motorhome, and toy hauler, but what do each of those actually mean? Today we are comparing fifth wheel vs. travel trailer.

What do fifth wheels and travel trailers look like?

Let’s start with the basics — travel trailers and fifth wheels look different. A travel trailer connects to a traditional hitch on the back of a truck, SUV, or van. A fifth wheel attaches through a special hitch inside the bed of a large truck.

Here are a few examples:

5th wheel vs travel trailer
Travel Trailer
5th wheel vs. travel trailer
Fifth Wheel
travel trailer vs 5th wheel
Travel Trailer
2018 Jayco Talon  320T
Fifth Wheel

Notice where the hitch is. That is the main difference between a travel trailer and a fifth wheel. They do differ in drivability, space, and price, though.

Drivability

Generally speaking, fifth wheels are easier to drive than travel trailers. They attach closer to the center of the car, so they give you a smaller turning radius. They are also heavier, which can ground you while driving.

Travel trailers aren’t difficult to drive. They are easier to back up and maneuver if you are used to hauling a trailer of any kind. They are light with a low center of gravity.

Size matters, in this case.

The size of the vehicle you are hauling probably matters more than fifth wheel vs. travel trailer. Smaller trailers and fifth wheels are easier to drive and back up than large ones. You hardly notice a small tent trailer hitched to the back of your car.

Fifth wheels can be tall. A large fifth wheel might even be too tall to get into a parking garage or drive-thru.

Think through where you will need to drive your vehicle when RV shopping. If you frequent stores and parking lots with your trailer attached, then consider getting a shorter trailer so you can fit in a double parking spot.

You need a large truck to tow a fifth wheel.

Another big thing to take into account is the car you will tow with. If you don’t either have a big truck or plan on buying a big truck, then a fifth wheel is not for you.

You only need an SUV, mid-sized truck, or van to tow a travel trailer. The only requirement is that it can tow a heavy trailer and has a trailer hitch. Keep that in mind when shopping for your new mobile home.

Space

Trailers and fifth wheels come in all different sizes. In the pictures above you can see tiny travel trailers and large, spacious trailers.

Obviously larger vehicles have more space than the smaller vehicles, but there is more to it than just large and small.

Travel trailers have a different layout than fifth wheels.

Travel trailers are usually one story with lower ceilings. Large travel trailers might have a closed-off bedroom, but smaller trailers will probably be one open space.

Travel trailers are usually more compact. A bonus of a travel trailer is that the bed of your truck is open, so you can use it for storage if needed.

Fifth wheels have a second story. That space above the truck bed is usually a bed or storage space. They are taller, which gives them more headroom and storage.

Just decide how much space you need and start shopping! You can’t really tell how much space a trailer has unless you walk through it in person. You’ll probably be surprised by how spacious it feels!

Travel trailer vs. fifth wheel
Travel Trailer

Price

Fifth wheels are usually more expensive than travel trailers. The price depends quite a bit on its size, model year, condition, and features.

You can find trailers in any condition for almost any price, though. If you are set on a fifth wheel, then look around for a used option that fits your budget.

Fifth wheelers are more expensive to haul.

Smaller SUVs get better gas mileage than large trucks, so the price of towing your fifth wheeler with a truck will be more than towing a travel trailer with a smaller car.

Fifth wheels are heavy too, so the cost of gas can add up when you’re driving a big truck and heavy trailer around.

Research, shop, then purchase from a retailer you trust.

If you purchase through a certified retailer like Wagner’s RV in Wisconsin then your dealer can help you find the perfect trailer. They should be able to tell you the cost of ownership, what vehicle you need to tow that trailer, and how to maintain it.

Give us a call if you are ready to start shopping for your new portable home! We have a huge selection of new and previously owned travel trailers and fifth wheels. Take a look at our online inventory and visit us at our dealership in Suamico, Wisconsin!

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