Selecting a Travel Trailer

Sparkle Like Sunshine Travel Trailer Life Palm Trees

So, you’re interested in a travel trailer or RV, and you’re wondering which size or type to get….

If you’re still deciding between a RV or travel trailer – see my article here. We received a bit of sound advice from a salesman before we made our purchase, and two months into this lifestyle, I concur with everything the man said.

Back to business. So, you’re looking for a travel trailer and you want to narrow down which size or type to get?

I’d start with a basic question and go from there:

Will you be living in your trailer for extended periods of time (ie.. 10 or more days)?

  • If you answered yes, then I’d certainly recommend a travel trailer of at least 21 feet in size, and 24+ feet if possible. I will go into detail as to why in a bit.
  • If you answered no, and perhaps you’re seeking to use the trailer for weekend trips, or week long trips, etc.. you have TONS of options. Teardrop trailers, popup trailers, custom mini trailers, and 14-17 foot trailers will have everything you need.

Teardrop, custom mini trailers, and pop-up campers, are all ideal for couples who are looking to venture out for short trips or weekend trips. You could realistically live in these trailers for weeks or months if you wanted to, but you will certainly encounter a few obstacles. These ultra small trailers can pack kitchens, sleeping quarters (for 2 and sometimes 4), storage for the trip, and best of all they can be towed by small SUVs and lightweight trucks. It’s tight in these things, and you’ll need to figure out a shower solution, but they’re livable and great for short trips.

14-17  foot trailers solve the shower problem that really small trailers have. You will almost certainly be showering in the restroom (built in shower and restroom combo), but the living space in these 14-17 foot trailers is much larger. With that said, the added living space makes these trailers suitable for 2-6 people, and they’re ideal for small families who’d like to venture out onto weekend or week long trips.

21 foot and up trailers offer full bath/showers, full kitchens, plenty of storage space, and they’re the only realistic option for full-timers (people looking to live in their trailer full-time). From on board water supply, to power supply, to living space, waste tanks, and more, it’s hard to go wrong with a trailer of this size. Small enough that you don’t need a monster truck to tow it, and large enough to live in. We’ve been in our 25 footer for 2+ months and it’s more than livable.

So, now you kind of have an idea as to which size trailer might be right for you. The following is really, really, important as you narrow down your search one level further. All travel trailers are broken down into the following classes:

  1. RL – Rear Lounge – offers a spacious rear lounge with a kitchen along the side of the trailer
  2. RK – Rear Kitchen – offers a spacious kitchen at the rear entrance of the trailer w/ various dining arrangements
  3. RB – Rear Bath – offers a bathroom at the rear entrance of the trailer w/ various arrangements thereafter
  4. BH – Bunk House – offers a variety of bunkhouse style sleeping quarters (2 or 3 bunks depending on the style)

Once you begin to tour (online or in person) the various floor plans you will find the style that’s best suited for your needs and move forward. From there, just know that literally, every manufacturer makes that floor plan, and they typically make that floor plan in every size. If you’re leaning on 20-22 foot trailers, and love the RL floor plan, do your homework and see what every trailer manufacturer is offering in that range. You’ll find that trailer manufacturers offer a wide variety of the following:

  • on board water tank size
  • on board waste tank size
  • air conditioning size
  • ducted air conditioning (several small vents versus one large opening under the A/C unit)
  • storage that fits your situation (they vary quite a bit)
  • insulation
  • electronic features (leveling jacks, awning, heated tanks, TVs, stereos, solar, etc.)
  • aesthetics (leather versus alternate, various trims, leather versus cloth, other details, etc.)

In my world, aesthetics, making the trailer “pretty,” etc., these items can be addressed very easily. My advice is to pay attention to the items that really matter at the time of purchase. Do you want to hop under your trailer and upgrade the fresh water tank because 28 gallons is too small? Probably not. Do you want to upgrade the A/C unit because you bought a trailer with a small A/C unit? Probably not. Find the best trailer for your situation, make sure you’re not getting short-changed with features mentioned above, and negotiate yourself an even better deal than they’re offering – because there’s always room to make a deal in the trailer world.

Here are a few items that I wouldn’t pay much attention to at the dealer:

  • TV – Adding one or even two, yourself, is rather easy. A lot of newer LED TVs will work in a trailer.
  • Brakes – ALL trailers have brakes these days. Yours better too! Ignore that up-sell at the dealer.
  • Aesthetics – Again, you can change/redo just about anything cosmetic.

Last but not least, whether it’s a  24-foot rear lounge you’re looking at, or a 21-foot rear kitchen that peaks your interest – almost all of these models can be found with an outside kitchen. This is nice for those chefs that like to have a bit of counter space outside, too. The outside kitchens typically have a small fridge, storage space, and small stove.

As for us – we’ve opted to go with a 25-foot rear lounge trailer. To be exact – a 25-foot RLXL by Forest River. This is a Cruiselite model, so it’s fairly lightweight (5600 lbs dry), and very easy to tow with our SUV.

The rear lounge is spacious at the rear entry and offering plenty of seating for guests. At 25 feet, we have the benefit of separation inside our trailer, and there’s a bedroom which is separated from the living quarters by our restroom.

I have no idea what the XL stands for, but I believe it has to do with our slide out, which is huge. The slide out extends a good 3 feet or so and it’s about 12 feet in length, so the added living space is much appreciated. I highly recommend a trailer with a slide out for full-timers, as it makes living that much easier.

On board water supply is plentiful (55 gallons) and we have the standard grey and black water tanks that most trailers have. 25 feet has been a nice compromise to the 21-foot trailers that we started off looking at, and the gigantic 38-foot fifth wheel trailers that we wish we could afford.

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Post Author: Nema