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What is the Difference Between a Camper and a Travel Trailer?

What is the Difference Between a Camper and a Travel Trailer?

If you are out there looking to invest in your newfound hobby of journeying beyond the road’s end, then you probably are looking for the best fit for your adventure needs. We are here to answer all of your questions to help you begin this venture. Let’s start!

So, what exactly is the difference between a camper and a travel trailer?

The short answer:

A “travel trailer” is typically a larger RV that is towed by a vehicle’s tow hitch. A “camper” is a more generalized term that many people use interchangeably between camper vans, tear-drops, small RVs and all the other wide assortment of RVs and tow behind trailers.

What is a Travel Trailer?

A travel trailer, which is towed behind another vehicle, is the most common type of RV. While floorplans vary, most trailers have a seating or dining area, a kitchen, a toilet (and occasionally a shower), and one or more sleeping areas.

Even though most are custom-built by manufacturers, a growing number of people are turning freight trailers into campers.

There are a variety of trailers to suit a variety of travelers’ needs, from tiny teardrops with galley kitchens in the back to massive 39-foot trailers that can seat up to 10 people.

A travel trailer is a fantastic first RV, whether you’re a family of six or a single traveler, because of the diversity of floorplans and styles available. The Jayco Jay Flight pictured above is a perfect example of a travel trailer.

What is a Camper Van?

A campervan (also known as a Class B motorhome) is a conventional vehicle that has been outfitted with a bed and cooking amenities (as well as a toilet or, in some circumstances, a toilet/shower combo).

Campervans can be custom-built (several RV manufacturers have recently jumped on the van living trend) or adopted by their owners. Because these vehicles start off as regular vans before being converted into living quarters, they feature limited living space and storage.

In a nutshell, a campervan is a van with sleeping and kitchen rooms attached to it, and it’s a great alternative for a tourist who merely intends to spend time in it while not driving. The Winnebago Era pictured above is a perfect example of a camper van.

Comparing the two:


With a travel trailer, you can disconnect your vehicle from your trailer. You may simply uncouple your trailer at your campsite and drive to the grocery store or down a winding mountain road to a trailhead.

It may not appear like being able to drive around without your little home on wheels attached to your automobile is such a big deal.

Every time you want to go to the supermarket to buy your essentials, you must put away and secure all of your belongings in a campervan ( any moveable object, like a teapot on your stove, will become a projectile that can break expensive stuff while your vehicle is in motion).


You may not find securing everything before relocating every 2 or 3 days a hassle, but doing so every time you wish to move anywhere will be a big pain. The travel trailer, without a doubt, has won this round!

Campervans are easy to park. While the small footprint of camper vans has some disadvantages, it also has some advantages, such as the simplicity with which they may be parked.

As previously stated, campervans have a maximum length of 24 feet, whereas a compact trailer has dimensions of 15 by 17 feet, equating to a 32-foot rig.


Unlike a camper van, your car and your home are not the same, so if one of them breaks down, you aren’t utterly stranded. Our research has revealed one irrefutable reality about van life: campervans frequently break down or require maintenance.

But what if your broken-down truck also serves as your daily dining and sleeping quarters? If your van breaks down while you’re on the road or far away from home, you’ll have to hire a hotel room (and potentially a car) while you wait for it to be fixed.

Because many campervans have specialty parts with limited availability, you could be stranded in that hotel room for a long time.

Trailers are much easier to maintain. As previously said, campervans may be a pain to maintain, ranging from high-priced Sprinters to unusual antique models with difficult-to-find replacement parts.

A campervan can have a lot of problems—after all, it’s just a standard van with a bed and living area built in that gets driven a lot more than a typical passenger van. The only external pieces of a trailer that need to be serviced are the brakes and tires.

Because tow vehicles are more common than big cargo vans, you’ll have an easier (and thus cheaper) time maintaining them.

Campervans receive excellent gas efficiency, averaging between 18 and 25 miles per gallon, and are considered the most fuel-efficient RV.

Travel trailers, on the other hand, reduce a towing vehicle’s fuel efficiency by about seven miles per gallon, and because towing cars aren’t the most fuel-efficient vehicles, you’ll probably get around 14-18 mpg.

Cost and Storage

Purchasing a trailer is far more cost-effective than purchasing an RV. The majority of people feel that traveling in a van saves money, which is correct.

After all, a campervan is just a van with a bed in the back; hundreds of people, including the vans themselves, have converted vans for $2,000 to $5,000.

However, due to all of the plumbing, electrical wiring, insulation, flooring, and other items that must be installed, changing a bare-bones van into the wonderful campervans you see online can take months, if not years.

So, if you don’t want to convert a campervan and instead want to buy one that’s already made, expect to pay a lot of money. Campervans range in price from $40,000 to $80,000, depending on whether they are new or used.

Trailers, on the other hand, are far less expensive, with prices ranging from $11,000 to $35,000.

The extra space provided by trailers is beneficial to storage, holding tanks, and toilets. In this regard, the camper van’s small footprint proves to be a disadvantage—the tiny form of campervans allows for little storage (usually under the bed area and on shelving along with the ceiling).

Most trailers, on the other hand, have a lot of storage, including cabinets, drawers under the bed and seats, and sometimes even externally accessible compartments.

People also ask:

Is Owning a Camper Van Worthwhile?

Unlike vehicles, campervans have a high resale value, and many people will recoup their investment or even earn a profit when they sell them. This is especially true with antique campervans, but even well-maintained campervans can hold their worth, especially if any changes are made.

What is the Typical Cost of a Camper Van?

The average cost of a camper van can be around $80,000 if you add up the most popular camper van models from each category and take the average of the lot

How Long Does a Camper Van Usually Last?

The lifespan of a camper van is estimated to be 10 to twenty years. They tend to last a little longer because they have fewer functioning components. The lifespan of these vehicles can be influenced by both maintenance and care.

What is Easier? Driving a Motorhome or Towing a travel trailer?

Many people believe that towing a vehicle is easier than driving a huge RV, but everyone’s driving preferences are different. Some individuals prefer driving an RV or overhauling a trailer, however, this is a personal preference.

Is it Feasible To Spend the Entire Year in a Travel Trailer?

Trailer living is significantly less expensive than maintaining a typical home, and with planning and preparation, you can live comfortably in a travel trailer all year. Although all of the amenities listed aren’t required for your trailer, they will make living easier and more comfortable.


Up Next:

What Campers are 5000 lbs or Less? (4 top picks)

What is the Lightest Trailer with a Bathroom?

What is the Lightest Airstream Trailer? (weight rankings)

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