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Travel Trailer vs. 5th Wheel – 13 Things to Consider Before Making a Purchase

Updated on January 28, 2024



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Deciding between a travel trailer and a fifth wheel is an important decision that can have consequences you may not expect.

It’s more than just picking out what style of RV looks the best – there are numerous considerations you need to think about before making your purchase.

travel trailer vs. fifth wheel

From price and size to towing capacity and maneuverability, we’ll cover 13 of the most important things to look for when choosing between a travel trailer or a fifth wheel.

Whether this is your first RV or your tenth, it pays to educate yourself before buying.

Ready to embark on your RV journey? Then find out the difference between a travel trailer and a fifth wheel and how you can make the best decision for you.

1. Fifth Wheels Are Costly 

Fifth wheels happen to be quite costly in comparison to travel trailers. Fifth wheels require a unique construction process, going above the vehicle’s truck bed. The implementation process can be a little complicated. 

To give a brief idea, an average travel trailer will cost you anywhere around $25,000. You can get a used model for $15,000 as well. However, on the flip side, a fifth wheel will cost you somewhere between $30,000 to $85,000. This is almost a 100 percent price difference, although both offer the same features. 

The cost of the fifth wheel can be a bit hard to explain, but there are certain advantages that users can enjoy on a fifth wheel that they cannot go on a travel trailer. 

2. Fifth Wheels Offer Better Maneuverability 

Fifth-wheel trailers offer better maneuverability to all users. The benefits are visible when you are backing your truck. Travel trailers can be a pain to the back, but fifth wheels are generally easier. The fifth wheel appears to be directly connected to the cabin space. And believe it or not, 5th wheel RVs can also be moved without a truck.

The ease of driving can make a difference and be a good point in favor of a fifth-wheel trailer. The ease of driving can take some pressure off the driver. 

3. Fifth Wheels Come with More Space 

An important factor determining your choice between fifth wheels and travel trailers is that fifth wheels come with relatively more space than travel trailers. A travel trailer will be less in space and will not suit your family’s needs if you have a more prominent family. A couple with three kids or more would want to avoid a travel trailer and think of something else. A fifth wheel can prove to be something else, as it extends the size and meets the needs of all travelers with more prominent families. 

Fifth wheels are also better for design, so the space inside the vehicle meets the needs of most travelers. Travel trailers come with a traditional look and design and aren’t part of the practical and space-saving bandwagon. 

4. Fifth Wheels Offer Bedroom Privacy 

Fifth-wheel trailers offer privacy in the bedroom. If you need privacy and space inside your travel trailer, you can opt for a fifth wheel. A fifth-wheel trailer will give you the privacy and the comfort you need. A bedroom with good privacy will ensure that many people can travel together on a trip even if they are not of the same family. 

Many travelers find the extra privacy to be of great use. The kids in your family will love to have separate bedrooms. 

5. Fifth Wheel Provides Comfort of Home 

A home away from home is usually the perfect definition of a family adventure. Townhouses, vacation farmhouses, and all such vacation ideas gained popularity because of their ability to provide vacationers with a chance to enjoy their vacation without stepping out of their comfort zones. 

Recreational Vehicles like Fifth Wheel trailers provide that very comfort and convenience while you’re traveling around town. They make your journey memorable and ensure that your family remains comfortable and enjoys the trip. The journey to and fro your destination doesn’t need to be a waste, as you can create memories throughout by getting a fifth-wheel trailer for the purpose. 

6. Both Offer Quality Time

If you’re planning a family vacation to get some quality time with your family and to catch up on all the lost time, then a fifth wheel or a travel trailer would be perfect for your plans. With the spacious seating and all other arrangements within both trailers, you get plenty of opportunities to catch up on memories with your family and make the vacation memorable. 

For starters, most fifth wheels and travel trailers come with their kitchens, so you can always cook and neat during journeys and make them way more fun than they are. Additionally, since the seating is conducive, you can play board games and read your kids a book. 

7. Travel Trailers are Affordable

Many families feel traveling on a travel trailer is way more expensive than all other options. We believe this flawed perception stems more from a lack of education and experience about travel trailers than the actual cost of traveling on one. 

As vacationers who have traveled on travel trailers before agree, these vehicles tend to be highly convenient and affordable for your vacation. If you weighed all the benefits compared to the costs, the cost would look affordable to you. 

8. More Freedom in a Fifth Wheel 

Traveling on a fifth wheel gives you and your family a lot of room to exercise your freedom for customizing the space according to your interest. You can stop whenever and wherever you want and can customize the fifth wheel based on your preferences.

 Moreover, you can also make sudden spots at locations you hadn’t prioritized before but had a spontaneous attraction to on the way.

9. Fifth Wheel Requires a Lot of Practice 

Once you have decided to buy a fifth wheel, it is advised that you practice as much as you can on your new big ride. Find a safe open space anywhere near your home and drive the big vehicle out in the open to get some much-needed practice under your belt. 

Regardless of how good a minivan driver you think you are, there is nothing comparable to driving a fifth wheel. So, get the desired amount of practice before setting out on the adventure with your family.

10. Both Require Inspection 

Since you are out on a trip and may have to go on roads that are miles away from the nearest rest house, you wouldn’t want your travel trailer or fifth wheel to break down or have problems in the middle of nowhere. While stacking up an emergency kit can be an excellent way to prepare for such a situation, you can stop this from happening in the first place by doing regular inspections before you head out on your trip and while you’re making small stops all along the way.

Just take a small round of the whole vehicle and see if there are any amendments that you can carry out and if there are specific faults that need to be addressed. Ensure that you address any fault and do not leave them until the last moment, as this can be detrimental. Experts suggest that you should always watch the tire pressure on your fifth wheel since it is the cause of much concern.

11. Fifth Wheel Offers a Big Picture Perspective 

The most significant benefit you have over other vehicles while driving a fifth wheel is that you’re sitting way above all other drivers in their automobiles. This works in your favor as it can give you a more comprehensive and longer view of the road. 

You can use this advantage to fully focus on the road and locate any obstructions, including vehicle accidents and construction work above. Considering you have a vehicle as big as the fifth wheel in your hand, you wouldn’t want to take your eyes off the road even for a split second, as maneuvering the vehicle sharply or taking fast cuts can damage.

12. Fifth Wheels are Heavier than Travel Trailers 

Fifth-wheel trailers happen to weigh a lot heavier than travel trailers. The weight matters a lot because both vehicles are towed by another vehicle. A fifth-wheel trailer is relatively longer than a travel trailer, making it difficult to maneuver around challenging terrains and trails. 

The heavy weight can also make a difference. Weight matters because the truck pulling the weight may not be well-equipped

13. Fifth Wheels Need More Maintenance

Finally, the last thing you need to consider is that fifth wheels need more maintenance than a travel trailer. Fifth wheels require routine maintenance because they have multiple components that can fall apart with time. This means that while fifth wheels are costlier to buy in the first place, they can also be more expensive to maintain and take care of. Hence, the purchase can cost you a lot in the long run.

The Bottom Line 

Fifth-wheel trailers provide more luxury and more options than a travel trailer. But it is best to mention that your ultimate choice should come down to your budget. 

Travel trailers can come at a lower budget, while an excellent fifth wheel will require a hefty investment. Families and buyers that don’t have the required budget will have to settle with or instead enjoy the facilities of a travel trailer. 

Are you team travel trailers or fifth wheels? 

We would love to know which option you’re leaning towards in the comment section below.

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<span style="color: #01343d">About</span> Editorial Staff

About Editorial Staff

We’re passionate about all things RV and camper, and love sharing tips, “how-to”, and reviewing the latest products to help make your camping experience a success!

<span style="color: #01343d">About</span> Editorial Staff

About Editorial Staff

We’re passionate about all things RV and camper, and love sharing tips, “how-to”, and reviewing the latest products to help make your camping experience a success!

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