The Difference Between Motorhomes, Trailers and Campers?

What’s the Difference Between Motorhomes, Trailers and Campers?

Life is too short not to enjoy it. Spend some time outdoors and enjoy nature.

Go camping with family and friends and roast some marsh mellows as you enjoy the camp fire. However, before getting started on that adventurous trip, you have to be well prepared.

The first thing that you need to do is get yourself a camping vehicle because a tent can be a bit risky and not protect you enough from natural elements.

There are different types of camping vehicles. What differentiates them from each other is size and unique features.

The bigger the vehicle, the more expensive it will be. In addition, a camping vehicle that has more tech and features is more expensive than one that just has the basic amenities.

Some of the common camping vehicles are campers, trailers, and motorhomes.

1. Campers

campers / trailers with a beautiful sunset in the background

Campers are different from trailers and motorhomes in that they are smaller. However, it’s very easy to mistake a large camper for a motorhome because they may have similar features.

A motorhome is designed for camping. You shall learn more about motorhomes in the subsequent sections.

Unlike the motorhome, the camper is built to serve the needs of those that love to go on nature trips. The camper is used by those that believe in freedom and don’t like to stay in one place.

It is simply a van designed to provide basic accommodation.


The amenities that come as in-built features are often basic. They include a refrigerator, cooking facilities, a limited inclusion of gas hobs, and a simple grill.

In some versions, you can go to the extent of using an external power supply such as a ‘deep cycle’ leisure battery or a campsite AC supply.

Most companies that manufacture campers will target the middle class, which makes them more affordable.

Larger camper vans are not as popular because they are a bit pricey. However, they come with extra features such as a wastewater tank, canvas shade, a cassette toilet, a bike rack, a TV, and microwave.

One of the main things to remember is that there are no added toilet facilities and showers in any type of camper.

Different Types of Campers

Now that you have a rough idea of what a camper is and the type of features that it has, you should know that there are different types of campers.

Below are the two main types of campers that you’re likely to come across:

• Camper Van

This is a type of camper that’s built on the chassis of a standard van. It has the driver’s and passenger seats at the front while the back contains the bed and other amenities. It has a small kitchen and dining area.

The back of a camper van is also raised to allow adults to easily stand up and move about. Since the space is limited, you cannot do much inside a camper van.

• Truck Camper

Here, the camper sits at the back of a pick-up truck. Unlike the camper van, the driver can’t access the camper directly.

They have to get out of the truck and access it from the back where the main entrance is located.

Since the camper is an add-on, it can be lifted and separated from the main truck using a hydraulic lift. This makes it more flexible than a camper van.

However, the biggest problem is that the size may be too big to fit inside a standard garage, which means that you have to find extra parking space if you want to purchase it.

Advantages of Campers

Unlike trailers, campers are easy to drive and move around because the camper and vehicle use one chassis. You can easily make corners and go off-road.

Since campers are small, they have a better fuel consumption when compared to trailers and motorhomes.

2. Trailers

In very simple terms, a trailer is an unpowered vehicle that is usually towed or pulled by another powered vehicle. This is why a truck camper cannot be categorized as a trailer – it has no wheels for the truck to pull it along.

The main purpose of a trailer is to provide the driver and passengers with extra room and storage space when they are going on long journeys. A trailer used to be identified as a mobile home or travel trailer in the past.

Nowadays, a mobile home is something different while a travel trailer is just one type of trailer.

Like campers, trailers are efficient for long distance traveling. However, you are cautioned against going for too long on a rough road because the camper is just an attached compartment.

If there is too much ‘up and down’ movement on the road, the camper could detach from the rest of the vehicle.


A well-equipped travel trailer can turn a long and tedious outing into a more thrilling and comfortable one, be it a short or long kind of travel. Most of them come with beds and an inbuilt kitchen.

They also have tiny toilets and bathrooms because they have a water supply system. You may also find a small refrigerator inside.

According to current motor vehicle statistics, a travel trailer is the most commonly used type and can be acquired for as little as $20,000.

It’s important to note that other bigger companions such as a motorhome will most likely cost a lot more, but offer more space and come with more value-added gear.

Pop-up trailers can only accommodate about 6 individuals. This makes them quite affordable when compared tp the travel trailer.

Some can be go for as low as $4,000. Given the size and limited capabilities, a pop-up trailer is preferable for shorter travels that last 1 to 3 days.

Power for Towing

Trailers are quite heavy, and that’s why most of them are pulled by SUVs and pick-up trucks.

And it shouldn’t be just any SUV or truck; the vehicles need to have the right amount of horsepower so that they are not overwhelmed by the weight of the trailer.

The size of the trailer also determines the type of vehicle needed to pull it. For example, a fifth wheel trailer is heavier and harder to tow than other types.

This means that you’ll need a heavy-duty tow truck to move it – 15%-25% of the fifth wheel trailer’s weight rests on the truck’s bed.

Different Types of Trailers

• Travel Trailer

These are the most common type of trailers. The travel trailer is usually constructed using a standard trailer chassis.

This means that they can be quite large. Depending on the manufacturer’s specifics, a trailer truck can either be simple and include the most basic amenities found in any home or it can be high end and have some of the latest technologies.

Despite their size, travel trailers are light in weight and lower in height than the car towing it so that they can be more aerodynamic and reduce drag.

• Folding Trailer

As the name suggests, these are trailers that can be folded. These trailers are also known as pop-up tent trailers because most of them contain extendable tent canvas compartments to increase their size when they are parked.

They are the smallest when talking about campers, trailers and motorhomes.

Despite their size, all folding trailers come standard with a kitchen area, dining/living quarters, and a sleeping area. In most cases the folding sides of the trailer contain the beds.

• Fifth Wheel

a camper getting dropped off at a campsite

A fifth wheel trailer gets its name from the fifth-wheel coupling system that it usually uses to connect to the back of a truck. These trailers are larger and heavier than most standard trailers. As a result, the living quarters and bed are larger than what you find in ordinary trailers.

An advantage that these trailers have over pop-up and travel trailers is that they are more stable because the fifth wheel puts most of the trailer’s weight on the rear axle. The bed of the fifth wheel trailer is usually raised and higher than the rest of the living quarters – you have to climb a small set of stairs to access it.

• Toy Hauler

A toy hauler is a large trailer that has all the basic amenities that you can find in a standard trailer.

The only difference is that it has a large extra compartment at the back where you can store utility vehicle such as a motor cycle or a quad bike.

If you want to have fun on your great trip outdoors, you can bring your quad bike with you. After you arrive at the camping spot and park the toy hauler, you can take the quad bike out for a spin.

When it rains, you can safely store the bike in the ‘trailer garage’. You can also use the additional compartment to store bicycles for you and your family if you don’t want to bring the quad bike.

Given their size, a toy-hauler is a type of fifth-wheel trailer. 

Advantages of Trailers

  • Since trailers are bigger than campers, they are more spacious. 
  • They are also more affordable when compared to motorhomes. 
  • Since you can detach the trailer from the towing vehicle, they are more flexible. You can leave the trailer at the camping grounds and use the towing vehicle to run errands.

3. Motorhomes

A motorhome is a luxurious camping vehicle. Motorhomes are the biggest mobile camping homes out there.

In fact, most of them come equipped with all the amenities found in an apartment. As a result, they are more expensive than trailers and campers.

They’re best used for people that want to enjoy the outdoors without missing out on all the luxuries contained in modern homes.


Motorhomes are usually built with adequate sleeping spaces of about 2-8 people depending on the type. The sleeping spaces are called berths and can convert from the motorhome’s interior.

Not all trailers and campers have this option like Motorhomes do!!

The mobile home also comes with a small kitchen referred to as a kitchenette and holds various cooking equipment such as a stove, sink, oven, and refrigerator. A motorhome makes camping more convenient because it has a small bathroom and shower for nature calls and hygienic needs respectively.

The kitchen area may also slide-out to make the space bigger.

In addition, some luxury models are made with an in-built microwave and dish washer. Smaller motorhomes come with a portable toilet referred to as a ‘cassette toilet’ that can be accessed from the outside.

The motorhome also has a cab area that has a driver and passenger seat. These seats can rotate to become a part of the living space.

There is also a small dining area called a ‘dinette’ that has a table and seating space. It is used primarily for eating meals.

However, some people can use the dining space as a work area. Some luxury motorhomes also come with a lounge area that has a U-shaped sofa at the rear or side of the motorhome.

Types of Motorhomes

Motorhomes come in different shapes and sizes. The smaller ones are considerably cheaper than the larger ones. Here is more information on these motorhomes:

• Class A (Integrated motorhome)

This class of motorhomes is the most luxurious and expensive. They are very big because most of them use the chassis of a bus.

Even though some class A motorhomes can be as big as a bus, you don’t need a special license to drive them.

This type of motorhome comes with a fully stocked living space that comprises of a driving area that can be integrated into the main living area. Some of them have a master bedroom ensuite for the owners.

These motorhomes also have a washing machine and laundry area. There are also some that have huge TVs, the latest sound system, and are internet-enabled.

This type also comes with a large and expansive window that gives the driver a better view of the road and surrounding landscapes. Most of the berths convert from the dinette or lounge areas.

The main disadvantage that comes with owning such a huge mobile home is that it can be a bit intimidating to drive. You may also be limited in terms of mobility – after you have parked the truck at the campsite, it may be hard to drive it anywhere else.

If you want to avoid this, you can tow an extra vehicle with the mobile home. You will use the smaller vehicle to run errands.

• Class C

a riding trailer with mountains in the back ground

The class C category of motorhomes is commonly referred to as coach built. It’s mainly designed with a caravan-style or body that can be mounted onto a van or pick-up truck chassis.

It contains most of the amenities found in a class A motorhome. The only difference is that it is smaller and less costly than the class A type.

Since the class C motorhome doesn’t want to compromise on amenities, it maximizes on the living space which you can’t say for trailers or campers. It comes with a double berth located in the driving cab area. The raised roof also contains another sleeping area.

The sofa in the living area can also convert to a bed.

Advantages of Motorhomes

  • Motorhomes are convenient if you have a large family or group of people. 
  • They also have plenty of amenities that allow you to enjoy modern luxuries on the go. 

A Special Note

Due to changes in technology and consumer taste, there are some camper vans that now have a toilet and bath area. These ones are referred to as class B motorhomes. This means that a camper can be a type of motorhome.


Before you decide on the type of camping vehicle that you want to hire or buy, figure out your camping needs first. If you are a small group, and you intend to camp for only three days, it may be cheaper to acquire a pop-up trailer.

However, if you have retired and want to enjoy the great outdoors or countryside without compromising on comfort, you can purchase a motorhome.

So just make sure you know what you want to enjoy prior to making going. Because depending on what you want to experience will decide if motorhomes, campers or trailers is the way to go!

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