Class C RV vs. travel trailer: What’s the difference?

Adventure 3 min read

Are you thinking about buying a Class C RV or travel trailer this year for the first time? If so, the choice can be difficult. There’s no clear winner in the Class C RV versus travel trailer battle, and there probably never will be. Each has its pros and cons. Picking the one that’s right for you is not about which one is better. It’s all about picking which one is right for you and your traveling crew, if you have one. So how should you decide which one to purchase?

You should decide by looking at the pros and cons (and unique characteristics) of each and seeing which one fits your budget and your personal travel style the best. Let’s dive in and take a closer look at Class C RVs versus travel trailers.

kids sitting around table in front of rv

Class C RVs

A typical Class C RV with a gas engine can cost anywhere from $65,000 to $125,000 dollars. If you don’t currently own a truck or SUV that can tow a travel trailer, then you should consider getting an RV for the following reason: A truck or SUV and a travel trailer combined cost about as much as a Class C RV. So why not consider getting one and travelling in the lap of luxury?

Class C RVs are built on truck chassis and can often be easily distinguished from Class A RVs because of the bed that overhangs the driving area. They’re relatively easy to drive and don’t require a special license of any kind. If you’ve driven a moving truck, then you can drive a Class C RV. With a Class C RV, the adventure starts as soon as you pull out of the driveway in comfort and style.

couple sitting around fire in front of rv

Major pros of Class C RVs:

  • Family-friendly floor plans with lots of sleeping options
  • Automotive truck chassis, which is relatively easy to maintain and service
  • More spacious and comfortable for road trips than a pickup truck or SUV
  • Ample storage space for food and gear

Major cons of Class C RVs:

  • More maintenance than a towable RV (because of the engine)
  • You may need to tow a smaller vehicle behind it to explore your destination
  • Poor gas mileage compared to other RV options
  • More expensive than a travel trailer

Travel trailers

A typical travel trailer can cost anywhere from $10,000 to $40,000 dollars. If you currently own a truck or SUV that can tow a travel trailer, then you should consider getting one instead of a Class C RV, because you’ve already spent a good chunk of the money that you need to spend to go on an RV trip. Trucks and SUVs often cost twice as much as the travel trailers that are towed behind them. It might make a lot of sense to take advantage of the money you’ve already spent and get a travel trailer.

Travel trailers come in all kinds of shapes and sizes, and the variety of options and floor plans is almost endless. Travel trailers are conventional, towable RVs that have hard walls on all four sides. Most of them have bathrooms, kitchens, and bedrooms that can range from basic to luxurious. Towing one of them over a great distance with a truck or SUV may not be as comfortable as driving a Class C RV, but you’ll be thankful to have your vehicle when you arrive at your destination.

Major pros of travel trailers:

  • No engine maintenance
  • Ample storage for gear, bedding, and food
  • Affordable compared to Class C RVs
  • Floor plan options for solo travelers, couples, and families

Major cons of travel trailers:

  • Can be large and difficult to store in your driveway
  • If you live in a homeowner’s association, it may not be allowed in your driveway
  • Interior space can be dark and cave-like and lack natural light
  • Larger travel trailers may require expensive heavy-duty trucks to tow them

Is there a clear winner in the Class C RV versus travel trailer battle? Probably not. But there’s also no wrong choice to make when deciding which one to purchase. Both of these options are guaranteed to get you out on the open road and give you a comfortable home on wheels for your next great adventure.

Whether you decide on, always remember to keep it protected with Progressive. To learn more about comprehensive RV insurance, click here.

Jeremy Puglisi is the co-author of See You At The Campground: A Guide to Discovering Community, Connection, and a Happier Family in the Great Outdoors, and the co-host of “The RV Atlas” podcast.

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