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What is the difference between each type of Travel Trailer and Fifth Wheel?

posted by PaulSherryRVs @ 12:33am, Tuesday 19 June 2012.

**A "Travel Trailer" is a towable trailer that is mounted onto your vehicle by means of the ball hitch in the back. There are a variety of sub-types of travel trailers including: expandable, teardrop trailers, park model, and toy haulers.

Travel Trailer

Travel Trailer sub-types

**An "expandable" travel trailer is one that can be expanded or collapses vertically or horizontally. When they are fully opened, they look like a standard trailer.

**A "teardrop" trailer looks just like you would expect it to. It is pointed in the back and round in the front, just like a sideways teardrop. Often they are smaller and only have basic amenities, such as a bed and small storage space.

**A "park model" travel trailer is one that requires park facilities in order to power the appliances. They are generally placed on permanent RV or semi-permanent RV lots or campgrounds. They can still be towed and and stored when not in use.  While this can be rather limiting, park model travel trailers are larger and more comfortable than a regular travel trailers.

Travel Trailer Park Model

**A "toy hauler" travel trailer is designed to haul and transport heavy items like motorcycles, golf carts, or four wheelers. Usually they have a large door in the back used as a ramp to load these items. When not in use the area doubles as a living or sleeping area. 

 Toy Hauler Travel Trailer


**A fifth wheel travel trailer is a type of RV that connects to the towing vehicle by means of a special fifth wheel hitch located above the rear axle in the bed of the truck. This method distributes the weight of the trailer between the front and rear axles allowing for heavier loads and more control.  For this reason, fifth wheels can sometimes be built larger and more plush than a bumper mount trailer. Like travel trailers fifth wheels can also be toy haulers.

 Fifth Wheel

What are the advantages and disadvantages of a Travel Trailer versus a Fifth Wheel?


Advantages of a Travel Trailer:

  • Some models are spacious
  • Can be used for many purposes
  • Lower height to allow height clearance
  • Fits on a standard ball hitch
  • The towing vehicle can be detached. This is especially helpful when you want to drive around town
  • Often has a relatively big living area since the driving and living spaces are not combined

Advantages of a Fifth Wheel:

  • Easier to maneuver when in reverse
  • Often has more storage space then other models of trailer RVs
  • Often spacious with open living spaces
  • Can be easier and safer when towing than other types of travel trailers
  • The towing vehicle can be detached and used as a vehicle to drive around town

While Travel Trailers and Fifth Wheels have several advantages, both have a few disadvantages.

Disadvantages of a Travel Trailer:

  • Requires skill to maneuver and reverse trailer
  • Separate living and driving areas (can also be an advantage)
  • Some models may require large storage areas when not in use
  • Cannot tow another vehicle behind the travel trailer
  • Larger models of trailers may require larger towing vehicles

Disadvantages of a Fifth Wheel:

  • Requires a fifth wheel hitch
  • Larger models of trailers may require larger towing vehicles
  • Cannot tow another vehicle behind the fifth wheel
  • Some models may pose a top clearance problem
  • May require large storage areas when not in use
  • Some models may be difficult to maneuver in small areas

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