Are We a Travel Trailer Nation?

15Feb
Are We a Travel Trailer Nation?

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After a two year infatuation with the possibility of motorhome ownership I find myself firmly back in the camp of travel trailer owners.   I still think that I will eventually find myself behind the wheel of a Class A or Class C, but I am fairly certain that day is decades away. So why the change of heart? Is it just an economic reality?  Does a motorhome simply not  fit into our current budget? Or is it a matter of taste? Do I actually like travel trailers better?

It’s actually a combination of both.

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When I look at the price of the Class C’s that would work for our family ($75,000 give or take) I can’t help but thinking that I could get a new truck and a new trailer for that same price.  That thought gets me an awful lot more excited than the thought of just getting a motorhome.  Two purchases are always better than one in my book. I can look forward to purchasing a new truck, and then look forward to purchasing a new trailer at a later date.   This is also more financially sound for me as opposed to spending all of that money at once on a new motorhome.

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My truck is 8 years old and has over 120,000 miles on it.  She’s still running strong, but I can’t help but think she won’t last forever.  Plus–the new F-150’s and Silverado’s are light years better than their older brothers and sisters. Just ask our Utah correspondent Brett Neilson. He bought a shiny new aluminum F-150 last fall and he hasn’t stopped smiling since.  Come to think of it, he bought a new travel trailer a few months later.  Great minds think alike, right Brett?  Our White Hawk travel trailer is a 2012 and it’s in great shape. We don’t need to trade it in but we definitely want more floor space.  We purchased our rig when we had two small children.  Now the boys are getting big and we have young Master Wesley and Sweet Maggie.  Our RV is going to feel pretty crowded this season.

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RVFTA will be a travel trailer family for a long time to come, and it looks like we won’t be alone.  According to wholesale numbers provided by the RVIA for 2015, sales of travel trailers are dominating the industry.   A total of 374,246 RV’s were sold in 2015. Of those 239,255 were travel trailers, 21,948 were Class A’s, and 22,068 were Class C’s.   That means that almost 64 percent of RV’s sold were travel trailers.  When the average American imagines an RV they may picture a motorhome, but when it comes time to buy one they purchase a travel trailer.

So why are we a travel trailer nation?

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Because we can afford to be.

Travel trailers are simply the best value in the RV marketplace.  A family with kids can purchase something super comfortable, and at least somewhat durable, for less than the price of the family car.  On occasion I have seen nice new 20 foot travel trailers for under $10,000–which is a pretty incredible value.  If you are willing to spend over $20,000, then things start to get really nice, really fast.

A 12 year payment on a $20,000  travel trailer could easily end up costing less than your monthly cable and internet bill.  Which do you think is going to bring more fun and joy to your family?  If you’re reading this article I’m pretty sure you know the right answer to that question.

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We look forward to seeing you at the campground in 2016, and we look forward to many happy years to come as travel trailer owners.  How about you? Are you a member of travel trailer nation? Or do you own, or want to own a motorhome?  Drop us a comment below and let us know!

 

 

 

 

15 Comments

  1. GaryandtheLogans

    Good stuff guys!
    I think most “family” campers are in TT’s. I do believe the only way to go “motorhome” is in a Class A. But who can afford a motor just sitting in the drive not running? We all want to be full timers like the Simms, but just not there yet. We have to set goals though, right? Family life is always changing like the seasons. Right now, we Logans are in the just want to weekend camp season. In a couple of years, we’ll finally go see all those sights Kerri, Brett, and the other RVFTA’s write about. Later there will be another season of just the wife and I enjoying great views, ellemental coffees, and no plans for the day. I like this season! Maybe it’s because it is what I can afford, or maybe it is what is at my reach right now? So until I can get to Inntown Campground, local lake, here we come!

    • RVFamilyTravelAtlas

      Thanks for reading this guys! Yes, family life has its seasons. Couldn’t agree more. By the way, The Simms are not full timers–at least not yet! They do get a whole lot of use out of that beautiful Newmar though! Your local lake sounds great! Can we join you there? We have got to do a Missouri Rally at some point. We have such great readers and podcast listeners there! If we can’t make a rally we think Kerri Cox should run one!

      Best–Jeremy

      • travelswithbirdy

        I’m totally in for a Missouri rally! We would love to meet all the local RVFTA peeps. Of course, it wouldn’t be nearly as cool without Jeremy and Stephanie there. Of course, judging by the RVFTA forum, maybe we need to host a rally in Yellowstone this summer. Looks like a lot of us will be heading that way.

        As to the topic at hand, my in-laws have owned everything from a popup to 5th wheel to a Class C and Class A. I love that we got to learn the pros and cons of each by staying in theirs. For us, the travel trailer is great because we don’t have 2 different engines to maintain. I also like that our TT worked with the tow vehicle we already owned. We would love to get a bigger TT but really don’t want a payment on both a TT and a different vehicle. So, I agree, travel trailers are great! hat being said, if we retire and do some full timing, I could see the potential for a Class A. I’ll let you know what we decide in 13 years! 🙂

  2. Celeste&BoSmith

    I think you are right about everything but the truck(I am a ram guy ;)).
    We spend a lot of time camping as a family and the campground is alreays packed with mostly families in travel trailers. Like you said most people cannot afford a big motor home to just let it sit in the driveway most of the year. Besides there is nothing better than upgrading your truck and then thinking “wouldn’t a new camper be really nice”.
    We love what y’all are doing keep up the good work.

    ps. We need an official rally in the central U.S.

  3. JP

    I like the article, keeps us thinking about that class B that we are thinking of and why it will and/or won’t work for us. The biggest advantage of the travel trailer (hybrid in our case) is that you set it up, unhitch the van, and the RV stays in place, nice and level and secure. We can then go out and explore in our van and come back to the RV “home” and not have to worry about setting things up again. I shutter to thing the idea of a 12 or 15 year loan, in our youth (back before the invention of language and the like) that was a mortgage on a home, and our first home, no wheels, was $22K!
    But, as usual your thoughts are right on the mark, keep them coming so we can keep on thinking!

  4. Haley @ Hobson Homestead

    I totally agree. We will likely buy a travel trailer in the next month or two when our house sells. Can’t beat the value. The biggest drawback is my husband is 6′ 2 and there are only a couple models with barrel ceilings so it makes it comfier for him.

  5. Laura

    Adding a dog changes everything. A/c when it’s hot, so no boondocking. Food, leashes, toys, crate takes up room. With our floor plan we use the crate as a coffee table. Then folds down when slide is in.

  6. DeanCHS1980

    Hi Jeremy and All,

    Once again, this is a topic that resonates with me. When I first started thinking about RVing in the Fall of ’14, it was a distant goal maybe 10 years or 5 if I was lucky, so I focused on pricier (compared to TTs) smaller Class C and B+ rigs, but the price on a Winnebago View, Pleasure Way Plateau XL, or Lazy Daze 27′ all top out at $100,000 to $135,000 MSRP. For me, they are, if I am lucky, potential retirement rigs. Laura and I like “smaller” so I don’t ever see us doing the Class A despite their beauty. Just not us.

    As most of you know, Laura and I are soon to be empty nesters. Laura never returned to work outside of the home after Natalie was born in October of ’94. So, we raised our kids with one income and a wonderful stay-at-home mom. This choice had financial implications, but we still considered ourselves lucky that Laura was able to choose to stay at home. In addition, I have 9.5 years of work left. Thus, our choices and fortune to be straight middle class folks with a near decade of work left, I think it is hard to justify the price tag of a motorhome sitting in the driveway 90% of the time.

    The travel trailer is “the ticket” to the RV ride in my opinion for most of us. It allowed us to realize our dream now, not 5 or 10 years from now. If I was as smart as everyone on the RVFTA forum, I would have done this 20 years ago when we were just starting our family.

    Plus, I like Jeremy’s reasoning that a travel trailer means two toys!!! I grew up around trucks, but have driven small cars and a minivan for the last 35 years. OK, Jeremy quoted a price of a decent Class C at $75,000. You can easily spend more. For less than 1/3 of that $75,000, we bought a very cool little new-to-us Casita travel trailer AND an ’09 Kia Borrego V8 with 337 hp and 323 ft lb of torque. Two really cool toys NOW.

    The travel trailer allowed us to get into RVing NOW. I am a Warrior in Travel Trailer Nation!!! 😉

    Gosh, I love talkin’ RVs!!!

    Take care,

    Dean

  7. April

    I totally agree with you that the travel trailer is the economical way for families to camp. We had an older motor home when we first married and something that many don’t consider is the cost of maintenance on another engine (assuming you are the standard 2 vehicle family) and the cost of insurance. A motor home’s insurance is higher because it’s a motorized vehicle than just a travel trailer. Also, if the motor home’s engine or other components mess up, you have to pay more to fix them usually and you can’t just get a newer tow vehicle. We just never liked the idea of having to maintain an additional vehicle that we only drive occasionally. We will probably always be a travel trailer family too.

  8. Brett

    We had not intended on buying both the F-150 and the trailer so close together but it just worked out that way. The F-150 is my daily driver and I couldn’t be happier with it. The real test will be pulling the new trailer this summer over some of the mountain passes in my area.

    Would we consider a motorhome? Not at this point in our life. We are very happy with the TT setup and think that it will serve us for a long time to come. I will say though that you have made us strike up a conversation or two about toy haulers…

  9. jzmorris

    My wife never thought we could afford a RV, and buying used in her words was not an option. We found our TT at a no haggle price of $8,900. our payments are nothing! In a time where going to the movies cost me close to $50 for 3 people, the RV wins.

  10. GaryandtheLogans

    I’ve been thinking about this for a few days(to distract me at work), and I don’t think my long term goal is a 5thwheel or class A. I’m a DIY guy. I like to honor things of the generations before me. I really think I want to retire into camping trips with my Wonderful in a refurbished Vintage Trailer. Pulled by a classic old truck! Things that I’ve labored, and will want to enjoy. I don’t think I’ll be an empty nester cause I gonna evict my kids when they’re old enough. I look forward to times when I can tell time by the color of the sunset, or how empty my coffee cup might be. Still travel trailer, just a different era! Trying to figure out how find archive podcasts on whatever we will have for technology.

  11. RVcircus

    Travel trailers seem to be the way to go for families. The cost of entry is so low compared to other RV’s and there are soooo many options available. We still loce to drool over the Class A’s and Super C’s, but for the next 15-20 years or so we’ll be in travel trailers. I can’t see that changing until I retire.

  12. patsfan51

    There is no such thing as ‘one size fits all’ when it comes to RVing. As senior citizens, my wife and I want the luxury and space of a cushy Class A and I don’t want to tow anything, period. We’re getting a used rig [1999 Tiffin Allegro Bay 34′ gas] but it’s beautiful with only 38k miles on it. For us, it’s the perfect fit!

  13. DeanCHS1980

    Yup. Vintage trailers are amazingly cool. I have a ’67 Chevy PU fleet side that I would LOVE to restore and tow a vintage egg camper. I was at an egg rally in November. We met a couple with an orange ’66 Chevy PU towing an early 80s U-Haul that he had trimmed in Orange. Way cool!

    It would help if I had some talent in restoration! 😉 But, I do love to look!

    Dean

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