Knowing the length of your travel trailer is essential when traveling, especially when it comes to finding a place to park or a campground. However, knowing the length can be tricky as you can’t just rely on the listed manufacturer’s length. So, what’s the best way to measure the length of a travel trailer?
The length of a travel trailer is measured in two different ways. Either the “interior usable floor space length” or the “campsite length” which is the entire exterior length from ball hitch to the rear bumper. Make sure to clarify with your salesperson which method is being advertised.
Keep reading if you want to know the best way to measure your travel trailer, the best size for you, or whether or not you should purchase a travel trailer.
Length Measurements of a Travel Trailer
The measurement information provided by travel trailer manufacturers just includes the length of the trailer unit itself and doesn’t include the tongue, hitch, or tow vehicle. Therefore, the overall length of the entire setup requires multiple measurements: the interior, exterior, and overall length.
- The interior length of a trailer is how much living space the trailer has, which is one of the easiest measurements to get. It’s simply the length from the front wall to the back wall inside the trailer.
- The exterior length should be measured without the trailer tongue.
- The overall length is the length of the entire trailer. You should know the length of the trailer without the hitch and with the hitch and tow vehicle. The second measurement will be useful when choosing a parking spot or a campsite.
According to the Recreational Vehicle Industry Association (RVIA), the advertised length should be the floor plan length. This measurement would not include the tongue or rear bumper. Therefore, the length measurement you see when you purchase your travel trailer may not accurately represent how much space you actually have, especially when you’re picking a parking spot.
However, note that state-run campgrounds base their length on the unit itself since there’s usually a separate place to park the tow vehicle.
Ultimately, the best thing to do is to collect as many measurements as you can so you have a complete idea of how much space you need for just the trailer unit itself, as well as the space required for your entire setup. Knowledge is power, so the more you know, the better!
What Is the Best Length for a Travel Trailer?
The best travel trailer length is 19 feet (5 meters) because it will allow you to utilize the largest amount of campgrounds (including 98% of National Parks). Ultimately, the best length for a travel trailer will depend on how many people will be sharing the space and finding the appropriately sized trailer for your specific needs.
You have many options when it comes to travel trailer size. These units can range from 15 to 45 feet long (4 to 13 meters), with an average of 25 feet (7 meters).
If many people are sharing the space, your first impulse may be to buy or rent the longest travel trailer you can, but storage and parking could become an issue if you go this route. For example, the maximum trailer length for most national parks in the United States is 27 feet (8 meters).
Nearly 98% of national park campgrounds accommodate RVs that are up to 19 feet (5 meters) long, and 90% of parks permit up to 25 feet (7 meters). Some of the larger parks have campsites that allow larger sizes. For example, Yosemite has a campground that permits trailers that are 40 feet long (12 meters), and Yellowstone has campgrounds that can fit 40 to 50 foot (12 to 15 meters) long vehicles.
Travel Trailer Length Restrictions
Here are some trailer length restrictions at popular United States locations to keep in mind:
- Grand Canyon National Park in Arizona: It can fit trailer setups up to 30 feet (9 meters) at two campgrounds, and one campground can accommodate a setup up to 50 feet (15 meters) long.
- Acadia National Park in Maine: It has no length restrictions at any of the campgrounds, so you can explore this location without fretting about your setup length at all!
- Denali National Park in Alaska: The maximum setup length in this park is 40 feet (12 meters).
- Everglades National Park in Florida: The maximum length is 45 feet (13 meters).
- Great Smoky Mountains National Park in Tennessee: The maximum length is 35 feet (10 meters) for trailers.
- Mount Rainier National Park in Washington: The maximum length for trailers is 27 feet (8 meters).
- Rocky Mountain National Park in Colorado: This park can accommodate setups up to 40 feet (12 meters).
The best length of your travel trailer also depends on your tow vehicle. In general, the longest trailer that your vehicle can pull cannot exceed 75% of the maximum loaded weight of your tow vehicle.
Pros and Cons of Travel Trailers
There are many benefits to owning a travel trailer. Here are some to consider:
You can camp in luxury. Travel trailers have a kitchen, shower, bathroom, air conditioning, heat, and hot water. Bigger ones even have separate bedrooms. If you like to explore and be outside, but you also like being clean and comfortable, purchasing a travel trailer could be a good investment.
Travel trailers have a lower price than motorhomes and therefore cost less to insure. Travel trailers don’t drive, so insurance costs are lower than motorhomes. In some cases, the tow vehicle’s insurance covers the trailer being towed.
Travel trailers are more affordable than motorhomes. In addition to the insurance costs being lower, the initial cost of purchasing a travel trailer is lower than purchasing a motorhome.
Travel trailers are among the most popular vehicles sold in the United States and there’s a healthy used market available. Because they’re affordable and easy to use, many travel trailers are sold every year. That also means that there are a lot of used travel trailers on the market at any given time.
Travel trailers can be easier to drive than motorhomes. A tow vehicle pulling a trailer has a pivot point that makes it easier to maneuver and will make it easier to drive around sharp corners or in campgrounds with limited space.
However, there are some disadvantages to owning a travel trailer. Here are some cons:
The total setup can be quite long. A travel trailer setup can be much longer than a motorhome because you have to include the vehicle, the hitch, the trailer, and any additional accessories you may have on the back. This length will impact the roads you can drive on, where you can park, and how many campgrounds are available to you.
More effort is involved in parking. When you arrive at your parking spot or campground, you’ll need to level your trailer with leveling blocks, unhook the trailer from the vehicle, put down the stabilizing jacks, and then hook up the power, water, and sewer.
You’ll need a portable generator and fuel. This is just a hassle, and generators can be heavy and annoying to move around.
Some vehicles struggle to tow travel trailers. Before you purchase your travel trailer, make sure you have a vehicle that is capable of towing it. Many four-cylinder vehicles have a towing limit of 1,000 pounds.
People can’t travel inside a travel trailer. Unlike motorhomes and RVs, people aren’t allowed to stay inside a travel trailer while it’s on the road. This means the number of people you can transport is limited to the number of seats you have in your vehicle.
Ultimately, whether or not to purchase a travel trailer depends on how often you travel and what your priorities are.
Travel trailers are a great way to get out and about and travel while maintaining comfort and luxury. Still, to successfully navigate and park, you’ll need to have a good idea of the length of your travel trailer and your entire setup. Once you have those measurements in mind, you’ll be able to explore worry-free!
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David is an accomplished mountain endurance athlete who has completed over 25 ultra marathon races (follow on Strava). He is most proud of his finish at The Drift 100 – a high elevation, 100 mile winter foot race that zigzags along the Continental Divide in Wyoming. In the future he hopes to compete in the ITI 350 and ultimately the full 1,000 mile Iditarod Trail Invitational that follows the same path as the historic dog sled race.