Travel Trailer vs Camper Trailer: The 4 Big Differences

The main difference between a travel trailer and a camper trailer is cost and size. Campers are smaller and less expensive, whereas travel trailers can have all the modern luxuries of the largest motor homes. 

A travel trailer is better if you want modern conveniences like a full bathroom, and a camper will suit you if you just want to get out among the elements. 

But when comparing a travel trailer vs camper trailer, it is true that they share a lot of similarities, and sometimes the differences are a matter of opinion.

Some people even use the names interchangeably.

So below we will explore what makes them similar, what makes them different, and give some examples of each type.

What are the Similarities Between Camper Trailers and Travel Trailers?

The main similarity is that they are both towed behind your main vehicle, meaning they don’t have an engine to propel themselves. 

This has plus points and negatives. 

It means that the number of people you’re able to carry is limited to the space in your pull vehicle, usually a driver and 3, maybe 4 passengers. 

It is not safe or in most cases legal for passengers to remain in the tow vehicle while it is being towed. [1]

But having separate driving and living space has its benefits.

It means that after setting up camp, someone can still use the vehicle to get around and run errands, and not have to take the whole family and camping setup with them. 

Having no motorized parts also means you won’t have to worry about mechanical faults derailing your vacation or road trip.

And the fact that they are not motorized also makes them easier to buy and sell on the used market.

Travel Trailer vs Camper Trailer

Travel Trailer Pros & Cons

Travel Trailer

More Cargo Space

This goes without saying, given that travel trailers are typically bigger vehicles, you’re going to have more space for all your things. Just like with larger motor homes, travel trailers can be fully kitted out with large interior wardrobes, as well as outside hatches or ‘garages’.

More Facilities

This is the biggest thing that sets travel trailers apart from a camping trailer. Travel trailers can have full kitchen with all modern conveniences. Bathrooms with proper showers or even a bath. A separate bedroom with a fixed bed. As well as slide outs and everything else you might expect from the most luxury RVs.

Basically, a travel trailer can come kitted out with almost everything you’d expect to find in an apartment. They are very much ready to live in comfortably, full time.

More Expensive

Due to the extra size and facilities, you can expect to pay a bit more for a travel trailer. But they are still great value when compared to motor homes, with some top of the line travel trailers being available brand new for around $30,000.

Worse Fuel Economy

Again, due to the extra size and extra weight, fuel economy is going to suffer any time you are pulling a larger load.

Camper Trailer Pros & Cons

Camper Trailer

Less Expensive

A camping trailer can come in many styles and types, including small pop-up campers. These are some of the most budget friendly RVs available, with used models in good condition starting at around $5,000, and even some brand-new models available at under $10,000.

Lighter Weight

With some of the smallest models weighing only around 1,000lbs, and with great aerodynamics that reduce drag, this light weight and small stature can result in excellent fuel economy.

The small size can also make them much easier to maneuver and park.

Less Cargo Space

You will have to be more mindful of what you pack with a camper trailer, don’t expect to find a slew of internal wardrobes and extra space. Some models, like your typical teardrop trailer, are very bare-bones when it comes to available storage space.

Fewer Facilities

This is where the difference between the two really stands out. Some camper trailers do have small toilet facilities and kitchens. But many will also have exterior kitchens, exterior showers, and no toilet at all.

Saying that, on the upper level of the scale, the lines begin to blur between camper trailer and travel trailer. As some of the models I might consider to be a camper trailer, have great interior facilities that almost match a travel trailer.

Should You Buy a Travel Trailer or a Camper Trailer?

For those who have a larger budget and would like the luxuries that a motor home normally offers, but don’t want to spend a fortune, then I would recommend you choose a travel trailer.

An inexpensive camping trailer may be an excellent option if your budget is a bit smaller, you like travelling small, and don’t mind getting a little closer to the elements when camping.

In any case, your next great adventure, road trip, or family vacation are well within reach for almost any budget. As both these types of trailers are the most budget friendly recreational vehicles you can find.

Gary Michaels