Motorhome vs. Travel Trailer

Which is right for you? It depends.

Jordan & Brittany Griggs Jordan & Brittany Griggs  |  04.09.2017

One of the most common questions we receive from interested future RVers is, “Why did you choose a motorhome over a travel trailer?”

It’s a question we’ve contemplated quite extensively, and one my wife Brittany and I also asked ourselves a few years ago before jumping into the RV lifestyle. After a good deal of back and forth, our first purchase actually landed us with a 28-ft travel trailer that we pulled with a half-ton diesel truck.

Our former truck/travel trailer combo, parked outside a Prada store art exhibit (Marfa, Texas)

We lived and traveled full-time throughout North America in the combination for the duration of 2016, before more recently switching to a 24-ft Winnebago View.  We also live full-time in the View while we travel across America for our 2017 project, The Ultimate Golf Road Trip.

While we don’t claim to be seasoned RV veterans, our research and experiences traveling full-time in both a small motorhome and a travel trailer have lent us a great perspective to address this common question.

The short answer? It all depends on your wants and needs. Below we take a look at some of the most important considerations and specifically compare a class C motorhome to a mid-sized travel trailer.

Cost: Weighing the impact to your bank account

1) Upfront Cost

Simply put, a class C motorhome is sure to cost more than a like-condition travel trailer. There are a lot of variables that can come into play here (i.e. new vs. used, the need to purchase a vehicle capable of towing the travel trailer, etc.), but generally speaking, a travel trailer can be acquired for less.

For example, we initially purchased a used 2007 travel trailer and a used 2002 diesel truck. Including renovations and a few upgrades, our initial cost was around $33,000. By comparison, our used 2012 Winnebago View was nearly double that upfront cost (although it is a much newer unit).

Comparing a new class C to a new travel trailer/truck combination, you’d likely arrive at prices that are much closer in value, but the bottom line is if you’re on a tighter budget, the travel trailer can certainly provide an attractive price point.

2) Ongoing Maintenance

As you might expect, the ongoing maintenance of the class C motorhome tends to be higher than a travel trailer. In part, because you have both the RV components and the vehicle components (i.e. engine, filters, etc.) to maintain. This cost will fluctuate with the frequency of use (and luck!), but for full-time traveling, we’ve budgeted around $200-250 a month on average for our View, and about a quarter of that amount for the travel trailer/truck combo.

3) Fuel

Powered by a diesel engine, we get around 15-16 mpg in the class C motorhome (with no tow car) compared to 10-11 mpg pulling the travel trailer. Though you might see a slight decrease in the 15-16 mpg if you pull a tow vehicle, you could enjoy zipping around town at 40+ mpg with a fuel-efficient car for use once parked.

No truck stop needed with the class C Winnebago View; any gas station will do!

4) Depreciation & Resale Value

We often hear that cars are a “terrible” investment. Why? Well, when’s the last time you sold a car for more than the purchase price!?  Both motorhomes and travel trailers sit on wheels and fall into that dark category of a depreciating asset – you will, inevitably, likely sell either for significantly less than purchased.

However, you may experience less (or slower) depreciation in a travel trailer, because it doesn’t have an engine, like a motorhome. In fact, we ended up selling our travel trailer one-year after purchase for a few hundred dollars more than the overall purchase cost. It’s a topic that can be addressed from various angles – for more on how to think about the depreciation and resale topics, check out A Business Approach to Buying a Motorhome.

Travel Days: The experience between destinations

1) Frequency of Use

While full-time RVers like ourselves get their money’s worth, those who purchase for part-time use like weekend trips and annual vacations need to consider how frequently they’ll be out on the road. A class C can be a big investment if it’s only being used a few weeks out of the year, and it may be less painful to see a less expensive travel trailer sitting idle in the driveway.

Consider how often you’ll be able to do trips like this (Fort McAllister State Park, Savannah, GA)

I will note that there are ways to get creative and earn income while you’re motorhome (or trailer) isn’t in use. New companies like make it easy for RV owners to rent out their units while not in use.

2) Accessibility

I vividly recall our first “wrong turn” into a crowded Chick-fil-a parking lot while pulling our 28-foot travel trailer. While we did come out unscathed, it was a dicey situation, to say the least! With our class C Winnebago View, we have no issues whipping in-and-out of crowded areas with relative ease.

The compact nature of the class C motorhome allows far greater flexibility than a trailer during “travel days.” It makes the little things like stopping to fill up gas, to more impactful experiences like the ability to drive iconic Highway 1 on the California coast, more accessible and possible than when pulling a travel trailer from destination to destination.

3) Comfort while driving

When you’ve got an all-in-one unit like the class C motorhome, things like napping, bathroom breaks, grabbing a quick snack, and working from the “office” (aka dinette table) are all still possible without a stop required. Brittany routinely enjoys these activities while I continue to pilot the drive to our next destination. These all require a stop when traveling with a trailer.

Brittany’s workstation during travel days in our View. Built in seat-belts make for a safe journey, too! 

Also, the compact Class C is very easy to drive (in my opinion, it maneuvers much like a large SUV) relative to pulling the travel trailer. I used to do all the driving (yes, all 20,000 miles in 2016!), but Brittany is able to comfortably drive our Winnebago View, allowing us to split driving time.

One other key factor is driving speed. Though I sometimes see others ripping down the highway with their trailers, we were never comfortable going faster than 62-65 mph – especially in windy conditions. In the Class C, we’re able to drive the speed limit, which comes in handy for those 75-80 mph speed zones you often find in less populated areas of the country. It makes a big difference over the course of a few driving days.

Brittany at the helm of our Winnebago View. The compact nature of the Class C makes for easy driving.

Camping: Enjoying the destination

1) Living space and storage

Although the Class C View has a great use of space, at the end of the day we’re still talking about 150-sq feet of livable area. We’ve gotten used to small spaces, but it doesn’t compare to our 28-foot travel trailer that boasted 275-sq feet. Perhaps the toughest adjustment going from a full queen-sized bed to a much smaller mattress in the class C (especially when the dog and cat insist on joining). If you’re only in your rig for a few days or week at a time, space may not be a big deal. But for longer stays, be sure you’re comfortable with the size.

Room for us, mom and dad? Sometimes we miss the queen-sized mattress offered by our travel trailer.

Before any purchases, head to an RV dealership to walk through various models of both motorhomes and travel trailers. It will give you a good sense of what is doable for your lifestyle.

2) Go-go-go vs. stay and play

Once you arrive at your destination, the set-up is pretty quick and easy with a class C.  Pull or back into the spot, ensure you’re level and hook up to water/power/sewer (assuming you’re at a campground/RV park).  A travel trailer requires the same steps, with the added step of unhooking the chains, sway bars and hitch.

It’s not a big deal if you’re not moving around much, but for those planning to go-go-go, it’s enough of a burden to quickly make you consider a class C. On the flip side, if you’ll be staying in one location and exploring the area, without a tow car, you’ll need to drive the class C around town. It’s a slight inconvenience, but setup is so quick it hasn’t been a big deal for us. Also, a few bicycles can make all the difference!

No tow car, no problem! Bikes can be a fun way to explore (or run a quick errand) while parked

3) Be our guest

It’s fun to travel or camp with others, but the more people along for the ride means the more cramped living quarters become. Most class C motorhomes sleep 4-6 people, while travel trailers can sleep upwards of 8-10 (depending on layout).

We found that 4 people in our travel trailer were no big deal, however it makes for pretty tight quarters in our Winnebago View.

It’s not as spacious, but entertaining dinner guests in our View is still possible and fun!

So which one trumps the other: class C motorhome or travel trailer? Well, as the old saying goes, it’s all in the eye of the beholder. Evaluate which aspects are most important to you and will best suit your own personal needs. Either way, I can promise that the experiences and memories you’ll create RVing, are well worth the investment.

Nothing beats the experience of traveling by RV (Biloxi, Mississippi) 

Learn More about the Winnebago View

Similar Articles


Comments on this site are moderated for appropriateness and relevance. While differences in opinion, questions and other constructive comments are welcome, we will not be posting offensive, argumentative or unrelated comments. If you have a service, parts or product related question, please contact us to reach out to Winnebago Industries staff directly.


  1. Chuck Posted on 10.17.2018

    Great article! Thank you!
    We’re a family of four (2 young children) with three dogs and a cat. We’re selling our house to go full time RVing. I have a truck that can pull almost 8,000 lbs, but we’ve vacationed in a Class C in the past.. we see the pros and cons of both, but are nervous about choosing the wrong one.. Any advice for a heard of mammals?

    1. Brooke Baum Posted on 10.18.2018

      Hey Chuck, Here is an article about why one of our GoLife families chose a towable: They had a Class A & Class C as well and touch on why those didn’t work for them, which may help you make a decision for your family. Thanks! Brooke (GoLife Editor)

  2. Chavone Posted on 08.06.2018

    My husband and I loved the article. We were wondering if you had any thoughts about TT vs. Winnebago for traveling mountains and such? We are planning a road trip to Alaska in 2020. We were looking into renting an RV. However the price after mileage would cost almost $8,000. We have decided to look into purchasing. We obviously need to weigh all options.
    We love to travel however are not full time travelers (yet). We still have young children, four to be exact and definitely like the spaciousness of a TT. Especially since our oldest is like having another adult. I also love the kitchens in the TT because I enjoy cooking. The Winnebagos seem like they’re all sinks and stoves.
    Thank You so much Safe Travels!

    1. Brooke Baum Posted on 08.07.2018

      Hey Chavone, Glad this article was helpful! One of our other contributors, Bryanna Royal, travels in a Winnebago TT with her family of 6! This story of why they went from a Class A to a Class C to a travel trailer may offer some helpful insights: And you can check out all of Winnebago’s motorhome and towable options here:

      Thanks! -GoLife Editor

  3. shirley Posted on 08.04.2018

    One other thing to consider if your RV. Goes into the shop you would need to stay in a hotel. If you have a TT you would still have a place to stay

  4. ko Posted on 07.27.2018

    We had a motorhome for years, then switched to a tt. We have small kids, and big kids. We found we didn’t use the trailer nearly as much as a motorhome. The trailer was better when parked, the drive is way better in our class a. I should mention we have seven kids. During our last soul search we noticed many trailers “like new”. Seems other people don’t use them much either. Motorhome have lots of miles on them. Diesels more than gas models. We are very happy to be back in a motorhome.

  5. Robert Posted on 06.19.2018

    I did Nov-Mar this past winter in a trailer and am truly considering the Winnebago View upcoming winter. I love my trailer when it’s parked but the hitch process and backing in is a super pain for me. So for me I was booking a month here, two weeks there but my preference is go-go-go with no plan.

  6. Patrick Posted on 05.24.2018

    Well written, useful, and to the point.


  7. David Blood Posted on 05.07.2018

    As I am considering the move to get an RV and travel full time I am finding this to be my biggest pain point, trailer or Class C. This helped with some of my thoughts. Thank You

  8. Daniel Posted on 04.16.2018

    This article was a great find. Well written.
    I’m just about to get into the RV life this year and I find myself asking the similar question, “Should I go motor or trailer?”

  9. sandra Posted on 03.07.2018

    Hi. A very nice article. We discussed a motorhome versus a travel trailer for a year. At first, we both wanted a motorhome. I did a lot of thinking while my husband was at work. I decided…we have a truck, an SUV, a 4×4 with a blade, a riding lawnmower, a Harley, a snowblower and two big generators for the house. That is enough motors to maintain for me. So, I decided to look at travel trailers. Of course, I love to cook so needed a nice kitchen and I needed storage for sure. So I searched and researched. We bought a 24 foot travel trailer with bunkbeds and a Murphy bed above a couch. I found my storage!! If grandkids go with us I just move my linens and DVD’s etc to the truck . Or /and there is also the dinette bed. I love our little cabin on wheels. No motor maintenace on the trailer, just the truck or SUV, whichever we decide to pull it with. Those are my reasons for the travel trailer over the motorhome for now.

  10. Marlin Posted on 03.04.2018

    Thanks for such an informative and fun article. I am 60 and considering going camping again but not with a tent. So I was wondering which type of camper would be best. I’m leaning toward a motorhome but I will rent each type a few times before I make a decision.
    Very good article! Thanks again!

  11. Qwu Seli Posted on 01.16.2018

    Thank you for the read. We are planning on trading in our toyhauler for a class c, and we are looking at the Winnie’s or a Class A. We have 4 children under 11, a cat and puppy. But I think the most motivating cause for change is that my children are getting tired of being in our tow vehicle for extended amounts of time. And the view and iPads don’t make up for the restlessness. Along with bathroom stops (which the motor home will omit yay) Upon reading your well written comparison, I must say that we are not just making the much more expensive transition to a motor home, but we are considering Winnebago as our choice of manufacturer. Can you tell us or me a little about your maintenance cost or repair fequencies please? Again,, thank you so much for the article. Both myself and my wife thoroughly appreciate and enjoyed it very much. Take care and safe journeys!

  12. lucia aguilar Posted on 01.16.2018

    I’m a single mother living only with my daughter and two little chihuahuas, in mexico I’d like to buy a RV trailer to live with my daughter in Texas. Im new on these kind of vehicles, can some one help me to know more about it.
    Like what brand, ft, gas or electricity, pay taxes like vehicle or like a property (house), please send to my email tips to buy something accord, what I have to know to decide to buy an RV trailer or motor trailer or trailer home. which is the best option. not enought money.

  13. Catherine Larned Posted on 12.26.2017

    thank you. very helpful as we begin to plan our adventure!!

  14. Dave Miller Posted on 11.18.2017

    Well written article….thank you.

  15. monica Posted on 10.24.2017

    can your pets ride in the travel trailer while you are driving the truck ? is it easy for one person to unhook the trailer ?

  16. dawn mosely Posted on 10.23.2017

    Awesome article ….what TT did you have? TY

  17. Sara Michaels Posted on 09.03.2017

    Thank you for the very thorough assessment and comparison of each.
    This article offered very practical insights that one could only gain from experience and makes it relatable to prospective RV’ers!

    Especially the tip about entertaining guests or space required to do that. I’d never considered that a factor prior to this article!


  18. tammy Posted on 08.05.2017

    wondering about remote sites with the Class C, some of those mountian roads can get pretty rough. thoughts?

  19. france laverdure Posted on 08.01.2017

    Hello, thank you for the well informed comparison. My husband and I are planning on rving when retirement comes. 4 years left. We would prefer a ClassB, this may be a silly question but we will be traveling with our cat, where do you put the litter box ? In the class B.

  20. Kevin Posted on 05.01.2017

    As you mentioned it really does depend on how you want to use it. We aren’t full time and use our classB not just for weekend overnights and vacations but as a day base camp for hiking and fishing. It’s great to zip out for a morning hike and have bathroom, fridge, lunch etc right along with us. This use was one of the main reasons we didn’t go with a trailer and we use the van almost every weekend.

  21. Susan Jane Hill Posted on 04.24.2017

    Very good comparison for travel in a Class C or a truck and travel trailer. I may be by myself for some trips, so need a small trailer or a small Class C with a good bathroom. I’m concerned about the price of a new one. Then I’m concerned about the mechanical welfare of a used Class C.